|Young Marie Antoinette|
Born on November 2, 1775 Maria Antonia of Austria led a charming and idyllic childhood in Vienna's Hofburg Palace. Born into a family of ten children, she was the youngest of daughters of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa.
|Marriage of Dauphin and Marie Antoinette|
At first the Dauphine received a warmed welcome by the French people who were charmed by her beauty and personality. When she visited Paris for the first time in 1773, a massive crowd came to cheer her. However, many in the French court disliked her and most notably the Contesse du Barry, favorite of Louis XV.
In 1775 King Louis XV dies of smallpox and his grand son Louis August is crown King Louis XVI in Reims.
|Madame Vigier le Brun|
After 8 years of marriage, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a daughter Marie Therese Charlotte, also called Madame Royale. In 1781, a son Louis Xavier Francois is born and was heir to the throne. He will unfortunately die of tuberculosis at the age of 8 in June 1789. A second son Louis Charles was born is 1785, the future Louis XVII. Finally a baby sister Sophie Helene Beatrice de France was born in July 1786 but died 11 months later.
Marie Antoinette suffered from poor reputation. Many pamphlets and libels portrayed her as a dissolute, adulterous, empty headed, frivolous, spendthrift.. In truth, she did spend excessive amount of money on clothes, jewelry and gambling. Around 1785 she was the victim of a bizarre and scabrous swindle that tarnished even more her reputation. At the center of the affaire, was a diamond necklace which had been commissioned by Louis XV for his favorite Madame du Barry. It was was elaborate in design and consisted in 647 diamonds. A con-artist Jeanne de Lamotte Valois constructed a plan whereby she persuaded the Cardinal de Rohan to buy the necklace on behalf of the queen who was too embarrassed to ask her husband Louis so expensive a present. Jeanne de Lamotte's lover Retaux de Villette forged letters supposedly from the queen imploring the Cardinal to buy the necklace. The Cardinal who wanted to return to the good graces of the queen, acquired the necklace and delivered it to an impostor disguised as the queen. In the hands of thieves, the necklace was smuggled to England where it was taken apart and sold piece by piece. When the jewelers demanded payment to the queen, the queen had no idea what they were talking about. Livid, she demanded that the Cardinal de Rohan be arrested and stand trial. He was acquitted by parliement against the wishes of the king. Though innocent, Marie Antoinette was considered by the public the guilty one.
|Marie Antoinette at the|