Marie Antoinette was born on November 2, 1755. She would later become the Queen of France as the wife of King Louis XVI. Marie was a girl who lived a life of privilege form the very start, a fact that may very well have lead to her death in 1793. As a child, Marie did not want to study her school work and so was overindulged and allowed to spend her days as she wished. At the age of eleven Marie was thrown into the political position of being engaged to Louis XVI who would one day rule France. Because of Marie’s poor education when it came to politics and any other scholastic venture, she was not included in many of the formal gatherings and meetings that took place among the royals.
As a bride at such a young age, Marie still wished to live the only kind of life that she knew, one of overindulgence. The only problem was that as an official member of the royal court, her excessive wants were now at the cost of her subjects. Marie was very much alone. Marie did not find the companionship in Louis that she wanted and so took even more solace in absorbing all of her time in the lavish things of life. Marie was just eighteen years old when she became queen.
Until 1778 Marie continued to live a solitary life with only a few friends (mostly a couple of relatives) to keep her company. In 1778 she gave birth to her first of four children. Marie’s children gave her great companionship. Marie is described by historians as being a dedicated mother who loved and nurtured her children well. Although Marie’s life was improving because of her improved relationship with her husband and the joy of being with her children, that joy was short lived. Marie’s youngest daughter and oldest son died of illness and her kingdom was suffering from poverty.
Rumors were started that pointed the blame for the poor conditions of the country people on the royals. The members of the court were accused of hoarding all of the bread for themselves. This is where the rumor began that Marie suggested that the people “eat cake” if there was no bread (a comment that has never been verified as actually having been said). These rumors, combined with the frustration and anger of their own suffering led the people to convict Louis of treason, and he was subsequently put to death on January 17, 1793.
After the execution of her husband, Marie and her children (along with other royals who included her close friend who was also her sister-in-law) were imprisoned. Losing her will to live after her husband’s death, the thing that kept Marie alive was her need to care for her children. However, Marie was soon separated from her son, the heir to the throne, who was taken away to be imprisoned in solitary confinement. The boy died in imprisonment in 1793.
In 1793, Marie was condemned to death for treason. Historians recount Marie’s march to death as a moment where Marie felt that her troubles would soon be over. Some accounts reflect Marie’s complacent attitude about her death when it is recorded that the last words Marie ever uttered were words of apology to her executioner whose foot she had accidentally stepped on. Marie was be-headed by the guillotine, and her death was followed by a cheering crowd.
The life of Marie Antoinette has been described as honorable and courageous by some and as excessive and heartless by others. It seems as if it is up to the reader to interpret how they feel about Marie. Was she simply an innocent child who was forced to grow up too quickly and simply did not understand the plight of her people? Or was Marie rightly put to death for her neglect of her county and its people? At this point, it is almost impossible to know exactly what Marie’s motivations were for doing some of the things that she did. However, along with all of the mistakes that she probably made, was an honorable amount of good things that she did. Unfortunately, in the end, it was a poor reputation that cost Marie her life.