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Biography of Marie Antoinette

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Biography of Marie Antoinette

Born with the name Antonia, Marie Antoinette was born in Vienna, Austria on November 2, 1755. Marie-Antoinette was one of the 16 children of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa, queen of Hungary and Bohemia. She was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of all. Marie Antoinette was brought up believing her destiny was to become queen of France. Marie Antoinette's first child was Marie Therese Charlotte(Madame Royale).

Unpopular Queen
Marie Antoinette supposedly had numerous affairs, especially the one with Count Hans Axel Fersen, who was a Swedish diplomat. Yet Marie Antoinette was reviled in pornographic songs, pictures and pamphlets. Someone even published a fake autobiography in which the queen supposedly confessed her sins, calling herself a prostitute. Marie Antoinette was also called Madame Deficit and was blamed for the country's financial problems. It is true that she enjoyed a lavish lifestyle; her mother wrote to warn her that "a queen can only degrade herself by this sort of heedless extravagance in difficult times." But Marie Antoinette was not quite as foolish and spoiled as the public believed. It is not true that she said "Let them eat cake" when told that people were starving. As a woman and a foreigner she made a convenient scapegoat for the nation's problems, and it seemed that no insult against her was too crazy to be widely believed.

The stories of Antoinette's excesses are very much overstated. In fact, rather than ignoring France's growing financial crisis, she reduced the royal household staff, eliminating many unnecessary positions that were based solely on privilege. In the process she offended the nobles, adding their condemnation to the scandalous stories spread by royal hopefuls. It was the nobility that balked at the financial reforms the government ministers tried to make, not the King and Queen, who were in favor of change. In truth, Antoinette and Louis were placed in harms' way not only by elements of their personalities, but by the changing face of political and social ideology in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI, the heir to the French throne, when she was 15 and he was 16. She was intended to cement an alliance between France and her parents' dynasty, the Habsburgs of Austria. She and her husband had a daughter and two sons...

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... loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

Edmund Burke -1793

Marie Therese and Louis Charles; The Aftermath
Her son, Louis Charles (now King Louis XVII) was kept in a dark, dirty cell until he died of tuberculosis in 1795. In future years many men came forward claiming to be the long-lost prince. The most believable was Karl Wilhelm Naundorff, who died in Holland in 1845, but DNA tests later established that Naundorff was not related to Marie Antoinette. Marie Antoinette's daughter, Madame Royale(Marie Therese), survived the revolution. She became the duchesse d'Angouleme and had great influence during the reigns of her uncles Louis XVIII and Charles X.

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