She was loved, hated, and beheaded
Marie Antoinette is one of the most famous queens who ever lived. As the daughter of an emperor and the wife of a king, she enjoyed a privileged lifestyle full of wealth, pleasure, and luxury.
But Marie Antoinette’s life did not end well. The people of France turned on her, and she fell victim to one of the bloodiest events in human history: the French Revolution.
Born in November 1755, Marie Antoinette was the youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I, who ruled over the Holy Roman Empire.
Marie Antoinette’s childhood was idyllic and luxurious. She and her family divided their time between three extravagant homes in Austria: the Hofburg Palace, the Schönbrunn Palace, and the Laxenburg Palace. The young princess had a knack for singing and dancing, and she also enjoyed riding in the summer and tobogganing in the winter.
But her life changed dramatically in 1770 when she was married off to Prince Louis of France, who was heir to the French throne. Though Marie Antoinette was sad to leave Austria, the marriage was welcomed by the French public. Thousands of people cheered the newlyweds as they rode through the streets of Paris.
Just four years later, the young couple became King and Queen of France, and the French public – at least to begin with – embraced the new monarchy.
Marie Antoinette was highly popular during the early stages of her queenship. Indeed, her beauty and charm were talked about throughout France and Europe.
Given her love of fashion, Marie Antoinette became a bit of a trend-setter. French women copied the queen’s clothes and hairstyles, and she soon became the darling of jewelers, dressmakers, and hairstylists.
Socialising was integral to Marie Antoinette’s lifestyle as well. Partying, dancing, and gambling were regular pastimes. With the help of her affluent entourage, the queen often went beyond her generous allowance, and she also insisted that her friends at the French court were given outrageous salaries.
Not even the birth of her own children could stop Marie Antoinette from living a luxurious lifestyle. She gave birth to four children (two sons and two daughters) between 1778 and 1786, and though she was an affectionate mother, she frequently entrusted the care of her children to others so she could maintain a busy social life.
Marie Antoinette’s lifestyle didn’t go unnoticed. Before long, the people were calling her “Madame Deficit”. This hostile sentiment was fuelled by the French press, who portrayed the queen as a wicked woman.
Certainly, there’s no denying Marie Antoinette was careless with her money. Her expensive lifestyle almost bankrupted the royal treasury, and the king had to raise taxes to compensate for his wife’s liberal spending.
To make matters worse, the queen even built her own private village inside the grounds of Versailles so that she and her ladies could playact as members of the peasantry. As you can imagine, this did nothing to improve her reputation.
The queen’s carlessness was particularly infuriating given the troubled state of the French economy. Bad harvests and expensive wars had led to inflation and food shortages. This affected the poorest in society more than anyone else, yet they were the ones who were burdened with high taxes.
Over the years, the French people became angrier and more desperate. It was only a matter of time before the country plunged itself into a deadly revolution.
The French Revolution began with the Storming of the Bastille on the 14th of July 1789. The revolutionaries murdered the prison governor, released the prisoners, and seized thousands of weapons.
Though many privileged citizens fled the country, Marie Antoinette refused to leave her husband. Soon, the inevitable happened: the revolutionaries marched to Versailles, captured the royal family, and imprisoned them in Tuileries Palace beside the River Seine.
They remained here for almost two years before they were moved to the Temple, a large medieval fortress in the middle of Paris. The revolution continued to escalate as time went on, and the king was eventually put on trial. On the 15th of January 1793, he was sentenced to death and beheaded just six days later.
But the revolutionaries still weren’t satisfied. Marie Antoinette, more than anybody else, symbolized the extravagance and corruption of the old regime. From their perspective, she was even worse than the king.
Marie Antoinette was put on trial in October 1793. The public was shocked by the queen’s appearance. The thirty-seven-year-old was no longer glamorous and beautiful: her hair was grey, and her face showed signs of age. Just like her husband before her, Marie Antoinette was sentenced to death.
The queen remained dignified during her final hours. She stayed calm as she was forced into the back of an open cart and transported to the guillotine. The journey took over an hour, and the public mocked the queen as she went to her death.
Shortly after midday, the blade fell, and Marie Antoinette was no more.
Terror, hysteria, and bloodshed continued in the wake of the queen’s death, and the revolution eventually claimed the lives of 17,000 people.
Remarkably, Marie-Thérèse, the eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, survived the revolution. She was exiled from the country but returned to France after the abdication of Napoleon in 1814.
Marie Antoinette has always been a source of debate amongst historians. Some believe she was a spoiled, thoughtless woman who deserved to be hated, while others view her more sympathetically, arguing that her execution was unwarranted.
The truth is somewhere in between. Though Marie Antoinette was certainly careless with her money, the plight of the poor was difficult for her to comprehend, given she was bathed in luxury from the moment she was born.
Marie Antoinette simply wasn’t interested in political or social issues. It’s rather ironic, therefore, that she was killed by one of the most well-known political events in human history.
Einstein’s Attitudes on Different Races
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Where Does the Name Wailing Wall Come From?
The nearly 2,000-year-old Wailing Wall, also known as Western Wall, or the “Kotel” for the Jews), is made up of huge blocks of stones up to 100 tons, built without binders. The space in front of the Wall, where houses used to stand not so long ago, functions as an open-air synagogue.
Between the first Israeli-Arab war in 1948 and the Six-Day War in 1967, the area was under Jordanian occupation, and the Jewish people had no access to the Wall.
During the “Six-Day War”, i.e. the third Israeli-Arab War in 1967, Israel occupied the Old City from Jordan and demolished the neighboring Arab residential area. They created a space in front of the Western Wall where the Jewish people could pray undisturbed.
Jewish men in black hats, long black coats, or simply wearing a kippah (Jewish head covering), and women are praying at an ancient wall with a screen separating them from each other.
Some Jewish men murmur prayers and bend rhythmically. It is a sign that they immerse themselves in the prayer with their entire bodies, hearts, and minds, enhancing their closeness to God, as required by the Torah.
There are shelves with countless copies of the Torah and Talmudic scriptures so that anybody can pick one of them. According to the Jewish conception, the prayers carried out at the Western Wall are much more effective.
People slip small papers containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Western Wall.
Especially on Friday nights and on Saturday, during the sacred time of Shabbat, many families come here to pray. It is also where they celebrate the ritual ceremony of the Jewish children (the bar mitzvah) that marks their entry into adult life. The 13-year-old boys approach the Wall with their relatives accompanied by music and drums. He recites some parts of the Holy Book, the Torah and thus symbolically enters adulthood.
The official deployment of Israeli soldiers also takes place here.
The Jewish folk was first united under King David, who captured Jerusalem and made it his capital. He was probably aware of the tradition that God had designated this place for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, so he wanted to connect his kingdom with the holy place. King David started the Temple’s construction, which his son Solomon completed around 1000 BC.
It became the First Temple.
The laws of Moses, called the Torah, were preserved in the innermost part of the church. The kingdom of Israel reached its zenith under King Solomon. The First Temple stood for 400 years until 586 BC, when the Babylonians subjugated Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, and the Jews were deported to the capital, Babylon.
After returning home from the Babylonian captivity that lasted 70 years, the Jews rebuilt the First Sanctuary in the same place. This became the Second Temple.
Herod, the king of Judea, appointed by the Romans, began massive constructions. He extensively remodeled and enlarged the Second Temple around 19 BC to gain the benevolence of the Jews. He surrounded Mount Moriah (today’s Temple Mount) with rectangular retaining walls and refilled the area. As a result, the Temple could accommodate up to 200,000 people.
The expanding Roman Empire destroyed the Second Sanctuary in 70 AD.
The treasures of the Temple were so valuable that Emperor Titus is believed to have constructed the whole Colosseum in Rome with it. The only part that remained intact out of the Second Temple is the Western retaining wall built by Herod, hence its other name, the Western Wall.
The Wailing Wall is nothing more than a remnant of the walls built by King Herod.
Contrary to popular belief, it did not belong to the church itself; it only bordered the Temple Mount from the west side.
Today, there are two mosques on the Temple Mount just above the Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Jews cannot pray, though they can access it. The Wailing Wall is thus the closest place for them to their former two Temples that once stood and where they now mourn their destruction.
On the feast of Tisha Beav, the ninth day of the month of Av according to the Jewish calendar, the observant Jews fast to commemorate the destruction of the two Temples. People sit around on the ground, recite the book of the Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah and mournful liturgical poems (kinot).
Religious Jews in Israel and those living in the diaspora pray daily for the reconstruction. It is part of many Jewish ceremonies, even weddings, to remember the destruction of the Temple.
They also believe that there will be a Third Temple in the future, but it is uncertain when exactly. Perhaps when the Antichrist reveals himself during the Great Tribulation anticipated by the Bible. And the Third Temple will be destroyed by an earthquake at Jesus’ second coming. Some religious Jewish communities are already collecting donations, and some ultra-Orthodox Jews are ready to begin the construction of the Third Temple.