EP 16: Paris History Avec a Hemingway (Marie Antoinette Part 4)

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Jun 22 2020 30 mins  

In episode four in our series of Marie Antoinette we are in the final moments of her life. Convicted and sentenced to death they didn’t give her much time. In the early hours of the morning she wrote a long letter to her sister in law Madame Elisabeth asking her to look after her children. The letter would never be delivered. At 8am on October 16, 1793 a priest arrived at her cell followed by the executioner, Samson. She was dressed in a simple white dress from her dressmaker Rose Bertin and her best black satin shoes. Samson cut her hair short, tied her hands behind her with a rope and led her up the stairs to a cart in the courtyard of the court house. Her husband Louis XVI was taken in a carriage, but Marie Antoinette sat in an open cart, seated next to the priest. Arriving at the Place de la Revolution, she walked up the scaffolding and stepped on the executioner's foot. Her last words were “I am sorry sir, I did not mean to put it there”. At 12:15pm on October 16, 1793 the blade fell and her life was over. Her body and her head were placed in a coffin and tossed into the Madeleine cemetery. The Dauphin of France, Louis XVI would die in jail as her daughter Marie-Thérèse Charlotte was in the cell below him.  Her uncle Louis XVIII was now in exile and Madame Royale as she was known followed him around Europe while her husband was away. In 1814 during the Restoration she was finally allowed to return to France. As soon as she arrived she asked to be taken to her parents graves. A kindly neighbor watched over their spot they tossed her parents in and when Louis XVIII arrived he let them know where they were. The next year Louis XVIII ordered the construction of the Chapelle Expiatoire to be built on the site. Marie-Thérèse would visit every day and would personally pay for two statues of her parents. Marie-Thérèse traveled all over France as Madame Royale even when her uncle Louis XVIII fled to Belgium.   Leaving for Italy with Charles X and her husband they settled into a quiet life. As for the Duchess de Berry, now a widow she traveled to France to try to gather some favor for Charles X.  Fleeing arrest she hid in a fireplace and was discovered when her dress caught on fire and her screams could be heard. She was also pregnant and unwed and ousted from the Bourbon family. Her children were sent to live with Marie-Thérèse who spent her time educating them on the principles of the ancient regime. She and her husband had a wonderful marriage but never any children of their own. He would die in 1844 at the age of 64. On October 16, 1851 on the 58th anniversary of her mother's death after attending mass she returned to her bed and died three days later. According to her wishes she was buried with her husband and her uncle in the small monastery of Nova Gorica laying on a slab of French stone. 

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