Personal Reflections: My take on Marie Antoinette is that she was rather attractive and lively. Though naturally thoughtless, she was a kind-hearted woman and her intentions were good. Indeed, she detested the etiquette of the rigid court, but she was also perhaps too ostentatious in her taste for privacy which only alienated her from the courtiers of Versailles, allies dearly missed in troubling times
Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family’s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turned prison. It was also known as the “waiting room for the guillotine” because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their
Fifteen years before the arrival of the new dauphine of France, on the 2nd of November 1770, the city of Lisbon woke to a devastating earthquake, in which some thirty thousand lives perished. On the very same day, All Souls’ Day, far from the terrible disaster, Marie Antoinette was born in the gay city of Vienna. The pretty, strawberry-blond daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa
Follow me on Goodreads! Goodreads Reviews for Marie Antoinette’s Head Reviews from Goodreads.com
10 VOLUMES EMILE ZOLA, FRENCH, LES ROUGON-MACQUAR
Marie Antoinette was a rather attractive and lively image. Though naturally thoughtless, she was a kindhearted woman with mostly good intentions. Indeed, she detested the etiquette of the rigid court, but she was also too ostentatious in her taste for privacy at her Petit Trianon, which only alienated her from the courtiers of Versailles. These were allies dearly missed in the troubling times on the horizon.
An excellent example of Marie Antoinette’s thoughtlessness was her sleigh rides on the boulevards of Paris. Wrapped in a fur-lined velvet cloak with gold braid, she was a “delight for any eye” according to her chambermaid. But her timing was harshly criticized; the poorest of her subjects were freezing to death on the streets at the time.
Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie
This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family’s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turned prison. It was also known as the “waiting room for the guillotine” because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their conviction and subsequent execution. The ex-queen surely knew her days were numbered, but she could never have known that two and a half months would pass before she would finally stand trial and be convicted of the most ungodly charges.
Will Bashor traces the final days of the prisoner registered only as Widow Capet, No. 280, a time that was a cruel mixture of grandeur, humiliation, and terror. Marie Antoinette’s reign amidst the splendors of the court of Versailles is a familiar story, but her final imprisonment in a fetid, dank dungeon is a little-known coda to a once-charmed life. Her seventy-six days in this terrifying prison can only be described as the darkest and most horrific of the fallen queen’s life, vividly recaptured in this richly researched history.
It was incredible that Charles-Henri Sanson was asked to assist with the demonstration of the new invention, the guillotine, for Louis XVI.
The next time that Sanson had an audience with the king was on the scaffold, when Louis was the national razor’s victim.
With the published memoirs of Marie Antoinette’s hairdresser, Léonard Autié, as his starting point, historian Will Bashor takes readers inside the court of Louis XVI and the aristocracy of 18th century France. The story-like accounts of daily life, behind-the-scenes finagling and ill-advised decisions gains credibility and value from Bashor’s meticulous documentation and cross checking of historical accounts of this period. Also helpful are frank disclosures of memoir accounts that could not be verified but that are plausible elements in the story.
An accomplished social climber, Léonard as protagonist offers insights into the character of life in the broader social milieu as well as within the court‘s inner rooms. His affectionate loyalty to Marie Antoinette and attention to her emotional state as well as to her elaborate hairstyles are balanced throughout the book by his awareness of the world as it changed around her. The seeds of revolution are woven expertly throughout the work, even as the reader develops sympathy for the young and often unaware Marie Antoinette. Overall, this nonfiction book is an engaging account of a pivotal moment in French history told from a fresh and revealing perspective.
The Executioner of Louis XVI—Mr. Sanson, the public executioner, who died lately, was remarkable for the horrible task he had to perform in 1793; when, by virtue of his office, he had to bind the hands of Louis XVI, and afterwards, place the monarch’s head under the guillotine. He was the third of his name who had filled the same functions, and ho has left a son and grandson. He had acquired some property, and become an elector, was a well-informed man, was fond of the arts, and passed most of his evenings in playing on the piano.
MARIE ANTOINETTE’S DOG FROM THE TEMPLE TO THE CONCIERGERIE
I’ve just found a document from the early 1800’s telling the story about the dog that went from the Temple to the Conciergerie Prison with Marie Antoinette. He was not allowed to enter the gate, so he remained by the guard’s station (only to be abused by the guards who hit him with their bayonets). The dog only left his post when he wandered off for food at neighboring houses, always returning before sunset. Moreover, the dog remained long after the fallen queen’s execution, and the inhabitants of the area referred to him simply as the “Queen’s dog.”
There was also an account of a dog that followed his master (a butcher by profession) behind the execution cart from the Conciergerie to the guillotine. After the execution the dog could not find his master, so he returned to the prison following the fatal cart. Every morning for several months the dog followed the cart back and forth from the prison to the scaffold…still searching for his master. I know, very sad.