DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Marie Antoinette (aged 37)
Last Queen of France
Marie Antoinette (born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was the last Queen of France before the French Revolution. She was born an Archduchess of Austria, and was the penultimate child and youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor.
DEATH: Early on 16 October, Marie Antoinette was declared guilty of the three main charges against her: depletion of the national treasury, conspiracy against the internal and external security of the State, and high treason because of her intelligence activities in the interest of the enemy; the latter charge alone was enough to condemn her to death. At worst, she and her lawyers had expected life imprisonment. In the hours left to her, she composed a letter to her sister-in-law, Madame Élisabeth, affirming her clear conscience, her Catholic faith, and her love and concern for her children. The letter did not reach Élisabeth. Her will was part of the collection of papers of Robespierre found under his bed and were published by Edme-Bonaventure Courtois.
Preparing for her execution, she had to change clothes in front of her guards. She put on a plain white dress, white being the color worn by widowed queens of France. Her hair was shorn, her hands bound painfully behind her back and she was put on a rope leash. Unlike her husband, who had been taken to his execution in a carriage (carrosse), she had to sit in an open cart (charrette) for the hour it took to convey her from the Conciergerie via the rue Saint-Honoré thoroughfare to reach the guillotine erected in the Place de la Révolution (the present-day Place de la Concorde). She maintained her composure, despite the insults of the jeering crowd. A constitutional priest was assigned to her to hear her final confession. He sat by her in the cart, but she ignored him all the way to the scaffold.
Marie Antoinette was guillotined at 12:15 p.m. on 16 October 1793. Her last words are recorded as, “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès” or “Pardon me, sir, I did not do it on purpose”, after accidentally stepping on her executioner’s shoe. Her head was one of which Marie Tussaud was employed to make death masks. Her body was thrown into an unmarked grave in the Madeleine cemetery located close by in rue d’Anjou. Because its capacity was exhausted the cemetery was closed the following year, on 25 March 1794.