In 1770, in a ceremony on an island in the middle of the Rhine river, Marie Antonia, Archduchess of Austria officially became Marie Antoinette, future wife 15 year old Dauphin, the future King of France, Louis XVI.
She was only 14 years old, her mother the Empress of Austria arranged this marriage as means of promoting peace between the two countries and Europe at large. Her future would be one that would never include returning to her home or seeing her mother again.
In the ceremony on the island, she finds herself having to shed all her clothes and leave behind anything Austrian, only to be re-dressed in French fashion. She does this with grace and commitment to help her future husband care for the people of France. In fact, in her first public moments soon after crossing the Rhine into France, she tells all present in Strausbourg to no longer speak to her in German, that she only wanted to hear French from then on.
Thus she embraced her new family and the French people in the splendor of Versailles. Her marriage occurs as soon as she meets the future King, and the country is anxious for there to be a male child and heir to the throne. With love and encouragement towards her husband, she is disappointed and confused as she discovers he will not, or cannot consummate their marriage. But she is still much too innocent to really understand all that happening around her in her new royal life.
Because of her isolation in Versailles within her social circle, she is unaware of the political turmoil and economic crisis going on in the country. As the years pass, she increasingly becomes the target of the peoples frustration and anger due to her seemingly frivolous lifestyle and foreign born origins.
This is when she is alleged to have said, “If they have no bread, let them eat cake!” In fact, this famous remark was made by a different Queen of France, the wife of Louis XIV over 100 years earlier.
Her life was really quite a quest for all things beautiful and loving, yet as the situation deteriorated politically, she became the subject of pamplets characterizing her as living a life of debauchery and drunken orgy. Much of what is currently known dispells these notions.
The figure who finds herself heroically facing the guillotine, in fact paints a tragic figure of a loving woman, eventually a mother (after 7 years of waiting to consummate her marriage) and losing two of her four children to early deaths. She deeply loved France and wanted to serve, but was terribly misunderstood.
If this is a historic figure you thought not of interest, you might want to get acquainted with Marie Antoinette. Her life is a fascinating story.