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 of Austria was best described by the great historian of the French Revolution, Thomas Carlyle, as that “Beautiful Highborn that wert so foully hurled low.”
Yes, the princess would become one of the best-beloved, the best-hated, and the most miserable women of her time. First known for her dignity and grace, later her faults and follies would help fuel the fires of a revolution that would make her the last queen of France.
Whether despised or pitied, Queen Marie Antoinette’s remains, after more than two hundred years later, one of the most fascinating characters in history.