Marie Antoinette Guillotined

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Marie Antoinette was guillotined for treason this date in 1793. She was born an Austrian archduchess, the fifteenth and second youngest child of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis of the Hapsburg Empire. Upon her marriage to Louis-Auguste, heir apparent to the French throne, she became Dauphine of France and on May 10, 1774 when her husband ascended to the throne as Louis XVI, she became Queen of France and Navarre.

France’s financial problems were the result of a combination of factors: several expensive wars, a large royal family whose expenditures were paid by the state, and an unwillingness on the part of most members of the privileged classes, aristocracy and clergy to help defray the costs of the government out of their own pockets by relinquishing some of their financial privileges. Though sole fault for the financial crisis did not lie with her, Marie Antoinette was the biggest obstacle to any major reform and was extremely unpopular for many reasons with the general population of France.

On October 5, 1792, an attack by the populace forced the royal family to move to the Tuilleries Palace in Paris, where they lived under a form of house arrest. La Fayette, one of the former military leaders in the American War of Independence, served as the warden of the royal family in his position as commander-in-chief of the Garde National.

It’s a little known fact that Marie-Antoinette played an important role in supporting the American Revolution by securing Austrian and Russian support for France, which resulted in the establishment of a neutral league that stopped Great Britain’s attack. She also was decisive in the nomination of the Minister of War and the Secretary of the Navy, both of whom helped George Washington in defeating the British in the American Revolutionary War.

Her involvement with Austria contributed to her later being accused of treason for passing French secrets to the enemy (of which she was guilty). After a two-day trial, Marie Antoinette was convicted by the Revolutionary Tribunal of high treason and executed by guillotine. (me and Wikipedia)

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