Who was Marie Antoinette? What was so significant about her?
Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was the Queen of France--married to King Louis XVI--until her death by the guillotine during the French Revolution. Born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, she was the daughter of Austria's rulers, Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I. She married the dauphin and future King of France, Louis-Auguste at the age of 14 and became the French queen in 1774. Renowned for her beauty, she eventually became the mother of four children. Highly popular at the beginning of her reign, her Austrian roots eventually worked against her, and her influence over her husband led to several unpopular decisions made by the king. It was this influence that caused many people to question the wisdom of the king, leading to a weakened monarchy. When her husband was dethroned during the Revolution, she was imprisoned along with him. Louis was executed in early 1793, and Marie was guillotined nine months later. Marie Antoinette is perhaps most famous for a quotation that she never made: When told that French peasants were starving and had no bread to eat, Marie supposedly said "Let them eat cake."