The aftermath of Marie Antoinette’s falsification as the foreign “wicked queen” was extreme. In midst of the French Revolution, after her husband was beheaded, the Queen was held for trial on 14 October 1793 for high treason, sexual promiscuity, and even claims of incest with her son. These claims, while obviously absurd, were also invalid due to the fact that her son had been previously removed from her care for his safety during the revolution (Goodman 7). She was also accused of being a “child-killer” at this time, as the charges began to feed off of each other. Although she did suffer the loss of a child, this was due to a miscarriage and not a brutal murder, as the public would have liked to have seen.
During the trial, Marie Antoinette was reduced to the status of “just another citizen”, instead of being treated like the country’s Queen (Goodman 6). After the three-day trial, she was executed on the 16th by use of the guillotine in the center of Paris, as the crowd cheered “vive la nation!” (Goodman 7). The sheer interest in the public execution of her figure summarizes the hatred she inspired as a symbol of the distanced and indebted monarchy.
She was then buried in an unmarked grave until later exhumed, which is significant because it shows how little she was cared for at the time of her death. Marie Antoinette was not buried as a royal, or even with a marking of her existence.
The image above is a word cloud displaying the most frequently used words in a newspaper article from the London Times in 1793 documenting the interrogation of Marie Antoinette during her trial. An analysis of the language used in this newspaper article is useful in its comparison to the pornographic language used in the pamphlets published about the Queen at this time. It is clear that the writer of this article was willing to publish bias about the Queen, even though its place of publication was England, separated from the troubles of the Revolution. This reveals that there was a concern about the actions of Marie Antoinette in both the formal public and scandalous private spheres.
The word cloud reveals that, along with the description of the crimes, the author and interviewees focused on sentiment-inducing words like “mother”, “child”, and “crime”. The prominence of these words reveals the particular distaste for Marie Antoinette’s crimes because of her role as a woman and a mother. The women of France would have been satisfied with this particular angle of distaste given to Marie Antoinette, as they were dissatisfied by her etiquette as a frenchwoman. This shaming of the Queen’s role as a woman was especially rooted in her struggle for motherhood, as revealed by the word cloud.