The Sad Life of Louis-Charles

Born March 27, 1785 to King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis-Charles should have had a charmed life.  He was the second son and named the Duke of Normandy until the death of his older brother, upon which he became the Dauphin or heir to the throne.  Madame de Rambaud was his governess and she cared for him as if he were her own.  Although he had a governess, Louis-Charles was still close to his mother.  He was described as a bright, good looking child, “…his blue eyes, aquiline nose, elevated nostrils, well-defined mouth, pouting lips, chestnut hair parted in the middle and falling in thick curls on his shoulders, resembled his mother before her years of tears and torture. All the beauty of his race, by both descents, seemed to reappear in him.”  His life was set fair.  Then the revolution came.

The royal family was kept prisoner in the Tuileries Palace in Paris under close guard for three years.  His mother devoted her time to her children, but it was difficult.  For example, the guards insisted she keep her hands behind her back to make sure no letters were smuggled in or out to the prisoners.  They family tried to escape, but the attempt failed and a year later the Tuileries Palace was stormed by an armed mob.  The family fled for their lives and sought sanctuary at the Legislative Assembly.  They were then transferred to the tower of the Square du Temple, and Louis XVI was removed from the family for his trial and subsequent execution on September 21, 1792.

The rest of Europe hailed Louis-Charles as Louis XVII, and this did not make the revolutionaries happy.  After another failed escape attempt, they took young Louis away from his mother and put him in the care of a cobbler who had been named as his guardian by the Committee of Public Safety.  Antoine Simon was charged with turning young Louis into a productive citizen of the Republic.  His methods were nothing short of monstrous.  In fact, Louis’ sister, Marie Therese, called this man “monster Simon” in her memoirs.  Louis was only eight years old.

According to later reports, Louis was subject to cruel treatment by both Simon and his wife.  He was beaten and abused in countless ways.  The couple tried to induce him to deny the existence of God, and when he refused beat him brutally.  The taught him obscene songs and how to swear and forced him to do so on command.  There were also reports that he was shown pornography and raped by prostitutes to give him venereal diseases.  The eight year old child.  This breaks my heart both as a parent and a decent human being.  The couple then used the boy’s knowledge of all of this to fashion an accusation that Marie Antoinette had been molesting her son.  The boy signed, but it is little wonder.  Through it all, Louis is reported to have tried to have been a good child.  Simon wouldn’t even give him his own name, referring to him only as “Capet” one of his long dead ancestors.  This exchange was recorded after a regular beating.  “On one of these occasions, when the child had fallen half stunned upon his own miserable couch, and lay there groaning and faint with pain, Simon roared out with a laugh, “Suppose you were king, Capet, what would you do to me?” The child thought of his father’s dying words, and said, “I would forgive you.””   Item:  I am not that nice.  Not long after signing the declaration against his mother, the Simons blessedly left, but child was put in a dark room like an animal where food was pushed through the bars to him.

After six months of darkness, Louis was given some freedom.  They had ordered Louis to have a new attendant and be let out of the dark room.  He was still in prison, but was allowed to walk outside and a clean room and clothes.  A Dr. Desault came to treat Louis and found he no longer spoke.  Jean Jacques Christophe Laurent was put in charge of young Louis with the help of a man named Gomin.  Gomin attempted to be kind to Louis, but there was only so much he could do.  Eventually Louis began speaking to Gomin, and it was clear he was very ill.  A doctor was summoned and diagnosed tuberculosis as well as a severe case of scabies.  There was no way the weakened boy was going to survive.  Gomin stayed with his sad charge until the end.  He reported Louis heard voices, including his mother’s, comforting him until he died.  He states, “At a quarter past two he died …The poor little royal corpse was carried from the room … where he had suffered so long, – where for two years he had never ceased to suffer. From this apartment the father had gone to the scaffold, and thence the son must pass to the burial-ground.”

An autopsy was performed by Dr. Pelletan, head surgeon of the Grand Hospice de l’Humanite and he found his little body ridden with scars from his treatment at Temple prison.  He was buried in Sainte Marguerite cemetery, but minus his heart.  It was French tradition that the heart of the king be removed after death.  Dr. Pelletan secreted Louis’ heart away in a handkerchief and kept it a bottle of distilled wine.  The heart was passed around through the years, and was finally buried next to the remains of Louis’ parents in June 2004.  Hopefully, the little lad found peace.


The Paris Catacombs

Paras Catacombs Photo Credit-
Paras Catacombs Photo Credit-

The city of Paris is built on top of rich Lutetian limestone deposits, and it was this stone that built most of the city.  This stone had been quarried since the time of the Romans, mostly from suburban locations away from the main areas where people lived.  Mines were haphazard and not locations were not documented, and once the vein of stone was quarried the mines were abandoned and forgotten.  As the city of Paris grew, people ran into the mines when they were building with disastrous results.  A series of mine cave-ins in 1774 highlighted the undermining of the Left Bank.  So what to do?  Fill them with bones!

Wait, what?  Let’s back up a bit.  In Roman times, both the Right and Left Bank of the Seine were inhabited.  The first burial grounds were on the southern outskirts of the Left Bank settlement.  Once the Romans left and the Franks invaded, Parisians abandoned the Left Bank and its burial ground.  Because the Right Bank was extremely marshy, cemeteries were put on high ground right in the center of town.  This continued until 1780, when the edict was passed that no graves could be intra muros, or within the city walls.  The problem was there were cemeteries from the previous centuries of life in Paris. On May 30, 1708, the basement wall of a property adjoining the Cimetière des Saints-Innocents collapsed under the weight of the mass grave behind it.  Even before that, people in the area said the smell of decomposing flesh was so strong nothing could cover it.  Disease was running rampant.  Something had to be done.

On April 7, 1886, the former Tombe-Issoire quarries were blessed and consecrated.  From that moment on, the “close de la Tombe-Issoire” became a nightly progression of black covered wagons carrying the millions of Parisian dead.  The remains from five cemeteries were moved into the newly christened Catacombs-  Saints-Innocents, Saint Etienne-des-Gres, Madeleine Cemetery, Errancis Cemetery and Notre-Dame-des-Blancs-Manteaux.  It took twelve years to transfer all the bones into the Catacombs, two years for all the bodies in the cemetery of Saints-Innocents alone.  Some of the inhabitants of the Catacombs were famous.  These included François Rabelais (between 1483 and 1494 -1553), Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1698) and Charles Perrault (1628 – 1703), the sculptor François Girardon (1628 – 1715), the painter Simon Vouet (I590 – 1649), the architects Salomon de Brosse (1571-1626), Claude Perrault (1613 – 1688) and also Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646 – 1708).  During the French Revolution bodies were buried directly in the Catacombs. The Swiss Guard who were killed storming the Tuileries palace and the victims of the massacres in September 1792 were all taken there..  Those notables are Lavoisier (1743 – 1794), Madame Elisabeth (1764 – 1794), Camille and Lucile Desmoulins (1760 – 1794 and 1771 – 1794), Danton (1759 – 1794) Jean-Paul Marat (1743 -1793) and Maximilien de Robespierre (1758 – 1794).  The final transfer of bones was done during the renovation of Paris by Georges-Eugene Haussmann, and was completed in 1860.

Paris Catacombs Well Photo Credit-
Paris Catacombs Well Photo Credit-

During this time, the Catacombs were cleared for visitors by Hencart de Thury, the Inspector of Quarries, and by 1814 people were touring the place.  The Catacombs are open to the general public today, but only part of the tunnel network.  It has been illegal since 1955 to enter any other part of the Catacombs.  The long maze of dark galleries and narrow passages are 20 meters beneath the Parisian streets in the very heart of Paris.  The bones are arranged in designs and patterns that are beautiful if not a bit macabre.  Above the entrance, the Alexandrine verse “Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la mort” [Halt, this is the realm of Death ] is written.  This is only one of the many poetic verses that accompany the bones in their resting place.

Urban explorers called Cataphiles have explored much of the off limits sections illegally, and some of the spaces have been repurposed by them.  In fact a secret amphitheater complete with a movie theater, seats, restaurant and fully stocked bar was found.  There was an Airbnb contest in 2015 to stay in the Paris Catacombs Halloween night.  Brazilian Pedro Arrunda won after submitting an essay on why he was brave enough to spend the night there.  He and a guest were rewarded with a double bed in a candle-lit stone chamber, as well dinner, a violin concert and a storyteller to get them in the Halloween spirit.

I’m not sure I’d like sleeping with the remains of roughly 6 million people, but to each their own.  And on that note, sleep tight, dear readers


Sources available on request

Bastille Day

12705180_221273488214741_6837214422933635845_n Following the seven years’ war which ended in 1763, and subsequent participation in the American Revolutionary war beginning 1775, France was left in an extremely precarious financial position. Consistently poor harvests for several years prior had added to the economic burden the country felt. By the beginning of 1789, she was bordering on bankruptcy. The King, alarmed to hear that the lower classes were growing disillusioned and speaking of revolt, was advised By Comptroller-General Jacques Necker to increase taxes, and to remove the exemption from taxes on the nobility. This reaction was obviously met with strong reaction by the nobility who were already in the throes of losing the feudal systems of land-owning from days of old.
The King, ill advised by his council and worried about angering the nobles, made the decision to remove Necker, who was something of a reformer, and whose ideas were proving unpopular with the nobility in particular. His replacement, Charles Alexandre de Calonne after initial increased spending, realised that the financial situation was in fact dire and also proposed a new tax, also from which the nobles and clergy would not be exempt.

The Assembly of notables, called by de Calonne refused to make a decision on the reforms and so It was decided to reconvene the Estates-General for the first time in 175 years. The Estates-General was, in simple terms, a combination of representatives from the Three Estates – the Clergy, the Nobility and the commons. Elections were held without restriction to vote in delegates for each of the estates.

In an effort to stall the Estates-General, the King claimed that their meeting hall was unavailable, due to some interior work taking place, in preparation for a speech he was due to give within a few days. As there was no other large meeting hall available, and the weather prevented outdoor convention, it was proposed to hold their meeting in an indoor tennis court. The commons gave word that they were taking responsibility for a new assembly, one for the people whereby they would manage their own affairs on behalf of the population, in direct opposition to the monarchy, and that the clergy and nobles were welcome to attend. And the Tennis Court Oath of 20th June 1789 was sworn whereby the new ‘National Assembly’ as they called themselves swore to continue without convening until they had given France a new constitution.

The Bastille of Paris before the Revolution. Photo Credit- Wikipedia

They rapidly gained support, their meeting was attended by increasing numbers of the clergy and noble representatives and word spread amongst the population. Military support followed. By the 27th June, it was understood that the Royal Court had capitulated. Necker had offered support, and on the 11th July, following his misleading public representation of the monarchical accounts, was relieved of his position as financial advisor to the king, which the Assembly took to be aimed directly at them. The time for revolution had arrived.

But let’s pause and rewind for a moment. Revolution had in fact already begun. And not quite in the way history books would have us believe. On 28th April, Jean-Baptiste Revellion, a businessman who had started out small and built up a successful paper factory in Paris and was famous for staging the first hot-air balloon race which took place in the grounds of his factory, (Revellion designed and made the decorative paper skin covering the first Montgolfier Balloon) was quoted as saying that in response to the lowering of the price of bread, in an effort to ease the financial pressure to the working classes, that he planned on cutting the wages for his workers.

As a result, an angry mob arrived at his factory, where his living accommodation was also sited and after a cathartic period of several minutes, spent smashing the place up, burned it to the ground. Revellion managed to wake his family and escape by climbing over a wall, just before the crowd arrived. Troops were called to restore order, and fired into the crowd, killing around 30 of the angry mob. This didn’t really help matters.
The sad thing was, Revellion was misquoted, in a manner later echoing that famous misquote of Marie- Antoinette, who when informed the peasants were starving and had no bread, stated “then let them eat cake”….except she didn’t. Revellion had actually declared that the price of bread should be lowered to enable poorly paid workers to afford it. But he made the decision not to hang around and debate the point. So in summary the French could be celebrating National “we misunderstood a businessman’s words and as a result burned down his factory, but we’re really sorry, honest” day as ‘le Revellion’ is Christmas Eve.

But it would have taken a lot of people to carry that banner, so let’s move forward a bit to Saint-Lazare, July 13th when a large crowd, upon hearing of a large hoard of grain (not a respected situation) stormed the buildings where it was being stored, and successfully took over 50 wagons-full away. So the French could have celebrated instead National “we stole grain meant for the poor, from a bunch of Nuns at a convent” day. Perhaps not.
So the Bastille storming was likely the better plan to celebrate the rising of the French people as the beginning of their fight towards their eventual Republic. In truth, certain sources have it said that the Rebels in actual fact gained their weapons from the city Garrison on the morning of the 14th July. Allegedly the soldiers stationed within didn’t offer much by way of resistance, apparently support for the cause was gaining. Unfortunately the garrison was out of ammo and powder for the muskets. So the mob moved on to the Bastille. The famous prison. One of the few remaining symbols of the old regime.

They arrived late morning, and the gover
nor, Bernard-Rene Jordan de Launay invited the leaders for a spot of Lunch, following which they left empty-handed. A second group met with similar response. By now the natives were getting restless. They demanded ammunition for their weapons and managed to break into the outer grounds of the compound from where the Governor made the regretful decision to have the crowd fired upon from above on the ramparts. Having no ammunition, all they could do in retaliation was shout a bit and wave their empty guns malevolently as around a hundred or so of their number were killed.

Until that is, support arrived in the form of a large band of bored troops armed with a couple of cannon. Which they fired back, until they blew the gates off. The revolutionaries swarmed into the Prison, the Governor surrendered, one of the crowd got a bit squashed when the drawbridge chains were cut and he was under it…. De Launay was dragged off by the crowd towards the traditional point of execution, the town hall steps and whilst suffering a bit of a beating on the way, obviously realising his number was up, gave one of his captors a kick in the happy place, following which he was shot and then stabbed to death. When reaching the Town Hall, the rebels carved off his head with a kitchen knife and paraded it through the streets jubilantly on a spike. The prisoners of the Bastille, all seven of them, remained prisoners. They were after all, criminals…. And nobody wanted criminals on the streets of Paris.

Today much is made of Bastille Day as the beginning of the Revolution. An important part of French History, where the monarchy was dissolved and France became a Republic. Marches by students dressed in military uniform, escorted by tanks and heavily armed helicopters. No governors heads on spikes though.

I hope you have enjoyed a little humour in this post. Credit to Stephen Clarke, for helping show a slightly different version of events.

Madame Tussaud

Portrait of Madame Tussaud at age 42
Portrait of Madame Tussaud at age 42

Outside of creating some of the most renowned wax sculptures of all time, Madame Tussaud lived in a turbulent time which would eventually lead her to a life she would not have otherwise chosen. The life of Tussaud, while a bit underwhelming, is important to understanding how she became the great success she is today, nearly 150 years after her death.

We begin in Strasbourg, France where little Anna Marie Grosholtz came screaming into this world on December 7, 1761 to Anne, a single mother. Tussaud had always been called Marie to prevent confusion since mother and daughter had names that were so closely related. According to Tussaud’s own memoir, her father was a German soldier who had died in the seven years’ war but this has since been thought to be inaccurate. Scholars have studied her memoir and have found a substantial amount of lies, thought to be added on purpose, for unknown reasons. The story of her father is one of those added falsehoods as historians now believe he had been a public executioner.

Another possible candidate for paternity could also have been Dr. Philippe Curtius. Anne had taken a position as housekeeper for the well-to-do physician in Bern, Switzerland where Tussaud began a close relationship with Curtius, even calling him uncle as a term of endearment. Not long after uprooting to Switzerland, Anne, Tussaud and Curtius moved to Paris together as Swiss citizens, by this time Tussaud was only 6 years of age.

But it was in 1770, when a decision made by Curtius would change Tussaud’s life forever, he opened an art space which featured wax sculptures of well known people. This business venture proved successful as visitors frequented the space and Tussaud took the opportunity to learn to sculpt from Curtius. In 1776 Curtius moved his exhibition to the Palais Royal, a place at the time for the respected citizens of Paris.

There seems to be some debate as to which sculpture was Tussaud’s first, one being of Voltaire and the other of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Unfortunately, both works no longer exist, although the oldest surviving sculpture still on display is of Madame du Barry, the famous mistress of King Louis XV.

The oldest surviving sculpture: Madame du Barry, also known as Sleeping Beauty
The oldest surviving sculpture: Madame du Barry, also known as Sleeping Beauty

It is important to remember that only 2 years after completing her first works, the French Revolution began. Curtius himself was known in Paris as a supporter of the revolutionary cause, whereas Tussaud began working for Princess Elizabeth, King Louis XVI’s sister, as a tutor of art and sculpturing in 1789, which she continued to do so for the next 9 years. This put Tussaud in a rather precarious situation, was she revolutionary by her association with Curtius or a Royalist supporter for her connection to Princess Elizabeth?

Royalist supporter. Tussaud had been arrested for supporting the royal family resulting in imprisonment and sentenced to death by guillotine. Obviously she was not executed as her work had barely begun. The most widely accepted truth as to what occurred was that Tussaud was forced to show her support of the revolutionaries by creating masks of those dying by guillotine. What is known for a certainty is that Tussaud did create these “death masks”, as they became to be known; her most famous masks include Marie Antoinette, Maximilien Robespierre and King Louis XVI. What is not a certainty is how these masks were created, but most sources agree that Tussaud would have had to sift through the piles of the executed to obtain the head and then make a plaster cast of that severed head.

During the gruesome life that Tussaud must have endured during the French Revolution, there were moments of brighter days ahead. Unfortunately, Curtius died but fortunately for Tussaud, he left his business and sculptures to her, thus allowing her to continue her work and his legacy. Next, she met a civil engineer by the name of Francois Tussaud, and yes, the surname gives away what happens next: the two marry in 1795.

The marriage produced 3 children, 2 of whom survived infancy, Joseph and Francis. Her two surviving sons would carry on the family legacy after Tussaud passed away. But the marriage may not have been a happy one; Tussaud left Francois in 1802 and took her eldest son Joseph with her to England, later her younger son, Francis, would join her. She never saw Francois again. Tussaud also never returned to France but the Napoleonic Wars prevented her and her sons from doing so.

Death mask of Maximilien Robespierre
Death mask of Maximilien Robespierre

The move to England proved to be a success for Tussaud’s career as the English people flocked to see the men and women who suffered at the blades of the guillotine, especially to see the likenesses of the nobles. From 1802 until 1835, Tussaud took her work on the road for a traveling show, but after 33 years of constant traveling, Marie settled into a shop, the famous Baker Street location. Even though she was the only sculptor from 1795 until her retirement, Tussaud didn’t change the name of her show to Madame Tussaud’s until 1808, before that she had continued to use Curtius’s name.

Tussaud continued to create new sculptures and worked until 1842 when she finished her final work of art, a self-portrait. Her two sons had been running the business by this point and took full control on April 16, 1850 when Tussaud passed away in London. Her legacy is known the world over due to the hard work and dedication of a Swiss citizen, French Revolution survivor, and artist extraordinaire.


Marie Antoinette – A Queen Fallen From Grace

Marie Antoinette, age 12. This is the painting commissioned for Louis-Auguste so he was able to see Marie before the met
Marie Antoinette, age 12. This is the painting commissioned for Louis-Auguste so he was able to see Marie before the met


At the age of 14 the princess and archduchess of Austria, Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna married the dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste. Born into a life of luxury, the one she married into, was to become synonymous with all that was wrong with French Nobility, and the driving force behind the resulting revolution. But how much of it was true?

Life would not end well for this queen and it would all start with the French Revolution, more specifically the storming of the Bastille when she was said to have told the peasants begging her for food, “Let them eat cake”. This is probably the most famous mis-quote we will ever associate with Marie Antoinette. It was not the haughty words of an unempathetic Queen, far removed from the struggles of her people. This quote was actually spoken 100 years before Marie Antoinette, and even then it stems from a mis-translation. Marie-Therese, Queen of Louis XIV when appraised of the issues surrounding the price of bread, driven out of the means of her peasant populations, asked “Why don’t they eat Brioche?” Brioche in its contemporary form was a cheap alternative to bread, NOT a cake. Marie-Therese was attempting to support the people in their efforts to limit the price of grain in order to make it a viable commodity, by refusing to pay the prices demanded for bread.

Marie and her husband, were famously renowned for their efforts in relief of the poor and disadvantaged. Amongst their charitable works, the were patrons of a society which supported widows, the aged, blind and orphans. They distributed alms regularly, and daily the poor were invited to wait at the Palace gates for handouts of leftover food. When achieving the throne, Marie was known to have requested the abolition of a long-standing stealth tax on the poor known as the Queen’s Belt, famously stating “Queens no longer wear belts.” She adopted three poor children, to be raised alongside her own, and paid for the education of several others not to mention the financial support of their families. She provided purpose-built cottages and employment on her farm, and encouraged her daughter not only to forego Christmas gifts so that they may help the poor further, but to actively wait on the poor, as equals. In a famous incident that happened at a celebratory firework display for the royal couple, a stampede occurred in which many people were killed and injured. Marie and her husband donated their entire private spending money for that year, to the families of those killed and to ease the suffering of those injured.12122561_170952166580207_3031754151362743325_n

As a result of the Revolutionary smear campaign, Marie Antoinette is known for her extreme spending that choked the royal coffers to the point of almost death because of her needs of high fashion, parties and gambling. Marie would throw the most expensive of parties where she is said to have participated in unladylike conduct with men. King Louis XVI and Marie took 7 years to conceive a child and he was known as a man whose constitution was not that of a sexual nature. While the two did have 4 children (2 that lived until adulthood), Marie sought her desires outside the royal bedchamber, or so the rumours would have us believe. In reality, she was considered a virtuous woman, faithful to her husband and the vows she made, despite his long-term problems with consummating the marriage, a situation which she bore with the utmost decorum. One or two sources have suggested that Louis took a mistress, but further investigation refutes this. Louis appears to have been the only one of his line never to have done so.

Gambling might be seen to some as a sinful way to spend ones time but it was common among Parisian society, especially those who were higher up on the social scale. So it has been alleged Marie gambled and apparently was not very good considering she dug herself into a deep debt that her constitutionally weak husband just accepted. In reality, sources tell us that Marie was a strict tee-total who ate simply, and banned sexually inappropriate behaviour and foul language from court. Her gambling habits were a folly of youth that she outgrew. Her interests lay in the moral well-being of her ladies and those who came into contact with them.

Fashion. This might be what Marie is best remembered for, the glorious dresses and over-the-top wigs. By over-the-top, I mean just that, some of her wigs were 3 feet high and included all sorts of accoutrements as decorations to really amp up the style. It has been recorded that she received somewhere between 120,000 to 150,000 livres per year to spend on clothing alone and she would exceed that allowance every year as queen. Never once did Marie wear the same outfit twice, until the death of her husband that is, and so every dress would be handed down to the ladies of her household. A very wasteful habit indeed, on the surface. But in reality, Marie-Antoinette probably didn’t spend that much on clothes, in an era when ones wardrobe was hand-made, one dress would easily take weeks to make, if prioritised, therefore an extensive selection could only be built up over several years. Marie in fact introduced a simple fashion into court, and the country at large. We must as a result find her nickname of Madame Deficit was unfair. The Queen was much-loved by the majority of the people, known as a good and kind woman, the acts of charity only ended upon her arrest.

What does any of this have to do with her untimely death? A lot. Because of the French Revolution both Marie and Louis were booted from their thrones and since those in charge of the revolutionary movement needed to ensure the Monarchy was out of the way in order to assume the power, they were out for blood. The two attempted to escape but within 24 hours they were captured and arrested before being escorted back to Paris. This occurred on June 21, 1791. The family were kept under heavy surveillance while the new government were planning a revolution throughout Europe, to completely abolish the monarchy. The only way to achieve this was to sully their names, and attempt to gain the support of the people. They were somewhat successful as far as the revolution was concerned, and that was bad news for the former king and queen. King Louis XVI was tried and convicted of high treason in December of 1792 with his death occurring by guillotine on January 21, 1793. In the 10 months following Louis’ death Marie had her two living children taken from her, as well as her sister-in-law who was also being held against her will. On October 14 of 1792, Marie was taken to her own trial where she was also tried and convicted of high treason against the state. Even more disturbing is that her very own son testified against Marie when he confessed to the court that she had sexually abused him, a charge with which Marie was taken aback and refused to answer until finally forced to. She pleaded to the mothers of the court to know that it was against nature itself to commit such an act. The trial was just really a formality, her death was inevitable long before it even started.

Execution of Marie on October 16, 1793
Execution of Marie on October 16, 1793

So, at the young age of 37, Marie rode a cart to her death by guillotine for trumped up charges. She had been wearing a black mourning dress so often since Louis’ death that it was requested that she not wear it to her death and so she wore a plain white dress on the day of her death. It was October 16, 1793 that Marie would take her last breath. She died not as a queen but as simply Marie Antoinette.