The martyrdom of Marie-Antoinette

Catherine Delors also remembered la Reine-Martyre with a time line of the events...

The last few posts have brought back memories of the dethroned Queen while she was imprisoned in the Tower of the Temple, beginning in August 1792.

The following December, her husband, Louis XVI, stands trial before the National Convention, the elected body that now governs France. Louis is executed on the 21st of January 1793. Then, the following August, Marie-Antoinette is transferred, alone, without her children or sister-in-law Madame Elisabeth, to the jail of La Conciergerie. It is located within the premises of the main Courthouse of Paris, next to the Revolutionary Tribunal. For an ordinary prisoner that would mean that trial is imminent.

Yet Marie-Antoinette is no ordinary prisoner. She may have some value as a hostage in war negotiations with the Austrians, and the National Convention sends emissaries to that effect to the enemy. But Marie-Antoinette's brothers, Joseph II and Leopold II, no longer reign over Austria. The new Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, her nephew, has never met her. He is not ready to compromise the hopes of a victory against the French armies for the sake of an aunt he does not know.

This is the context of her transfer to La Conciergerie: the National Convention hopes to step up the pressure and show Francis II that a trial is a real possibility. To no avail: the Emperor is content to express his indignation. For the National Convention, there is political advantage in executing a hated public figure, and none in keeping her alive.

I am struck by the visage of the juring priest in the portrait above. The Pope had promulgated a bull which excommunicated any priest who swore alleigance to the new code which removed Rome as the head of the church in France. Marie-Antoinette properly refused his ministrations. He appears in a shadow, and as shady charecter.


1 comment:

Leonard Greco said...

Thank you for this remembrance.