Each October AESU likes to explore the strange sides of well-known, destination cities. This week we take a slight departure from that to tell you some facts about Marie Antoinette, who may not have been that scary, but her violent death has inspired more than a few horror stories.
Marie Antoinette has long been vilified as a spoiled brat who feasted while the French people starved. But was she really a just a wicked, selfish queen? Probably not, but she was tremendously unpopular with the French people. Marie Antoinette became a symbol of the aristocratic decadence that led to the French revolution. October 16th is the anniversary of her execution by guillotine in 1793.
Take a look at our list of little known facts about Marie Antoinette and decide if she was the monster history has made her out to be or not.
- Her last words were very polite. Her hair was cut off and the sentence was carried out later that day. Her last words were, “Pardon me sir. I did not mean to do it.” She had stepped on the executioner’s foot and, true to her aristocratic upbringing; she was courteous until the very end.
- Marie Antoinette had braces. Well no, not really. Braces didn’t exist back then but she did have invasive oral surgery without anesthesia to straighten her teeth. Her teeth were corrected after the French court commented on how crooked they were.
- A popular rumor said Marie Antoinette had an affair with a Swedish military officer. If the gossip was true, her husband, King Louis XVI, knew about the affair and allowed it to happen. The Swedish officer spent much of his time with Marie Antoinette at her private village and some rumors stated he may have been the father to her royal children.
- Wait, Marie Antoinette had a private village? Yep, it was called Hameau de la Reine. It was built as a refuge for Marie Antoinette, her friends and her children when the pressures of life at Versailles became overwhelming. She would often pretend she was a milkmaid and spend time with her heavily perfumed sheep and goats.
- Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” That phrase was recounted in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiography which was published several years before Marie Antoinette joined the French court.
- She almost escaped the guillotine. Marie Antoinette attempted to abscond to Austria with the king and their children. They dressed in commoner’s clothes but their desire to travel in style betrayed them to the locals. Their carriage was weighed down with all of their comforts and they had to switch horses several times. In the time it took for them to reach the Austrian border, they were recognized. They royal family was caught and paraded back to Paris while their subjects taunted and jeered them.
So what do you think? Did she deserve to be beheaded? Join an AESU tour, visit Versailles and learn about what Marie Antoinette’s life was like for yourself!
Booking Your Trip to Versailles
AESU offers unique, exciting travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group. AESU offers several trips to Paris, France, including Cosmopolitan, Explorer, Euro Focus, Great Escape, and Euro Spree. All our tours in Paris have the chance to go to Versailles to see where history was made.
If you have any questions or want help booking your Versailles adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640 or fill out the contact form found on our website.