ARTICLES: "Marie Antoinette: a victim of the revolution or of the masculine gender?"

"Marie Antoinette: a victim of the revolution or of the masculine gender?"   

by Lorenzo Crivellin

Federico Zeri was right on saying that before dying he would have liked to write a thesis to demonstrate that the History doesn’t exist. There are only sequences of contingent episodes (the chronicles) which are lived and accomplished as they happen. Only afterwards men try to catalogue everything and to find a link through historical events to create a sort of account according to the needs of a precise moment. Actually history is often revised in order to suit political requests properly.

The upside-down history of Marie Antoinette begins with her head showed to the people by the executioner, while the eyelids still move: in fact the brain activity is maintained for a couple of minutes after the cut of the head. Her vivid eyes stare at the exulting crowd, though imprinting those souls with thoughts and reflection. Due to this useless murder the French suffered for a serious sense of guilty and the tons of books written through the years haven’t washed away the shame yet.

The Austrian were not less guilty as they didn’t even try to save the daughter of Maria Teresa from her cruel destiny.

The guillotine made a lot of innocent victims, no ‘right’ motivations justified such a similar brutality. It was the result of an extreme wrath and slanders as well.

We are not describing the Middle Age but the end of 18th century, a period full of culture, intellectually alive, where scientists and artists were taken into great consideration. Due to the flourishing of new ideas and scientific discoveries we can consider 1700 closer to our century than the 1800.

The male gender with his old way of thinking has been trying to find excuses to feel free from the blame: “She was a nasty woman” men used to say to justify the murder of an innocent. Fortunately the real feminism has been growing strong through the centuries, gaining awareness and a new point of view: women got rid of the guilt to play the role of protagonists. Most of the modern essays about that unlucky Queen are written by women. The usual iconography shows the image of this woman consumed by the suffering but still dignified in affronting her horrible death; soon before she is pictured on a carriage, her hands tied-up while she is reaching the gallows. David, a painter as well as revolutionary and chameleon, quickly sketches her in black and white: soon after he became the official painter of the newly consecrated Emperor, Napoleon I.

Before being taken to the gallows the Queen was imprisoned at the Conciergerie, where she wasn’t even allowed to change her underwear without being constantly observed by a “cannibal” of the Terror. At that period when an “enemy of the revolution” was killed it was used to grill some parts of the body or to cook them in “Venetian style”.

The culture of that historical period produced a well-known author, De Sade, whose wicked work is still an inspiration for various sexy-shops.

Lucifer, the fallen Angel, chose the role of Satan definitely and enjoyed witnessing the terror.

The trial of Marie Antoinette was memorable because of all the slanders against her, she was even accused of sexual intercourse with her son, but none of the people in the court believed such a miserable lie. Even Robesbierre became furious on knowing that. Her lawyers were scared by the Jacobins so acted as dummies.

Before the trial she is showed us prisoner of the temple, widower, separated from her children. Here Marie Antoinette had to witness the horrible execution of her best friend, the Princess of Lamballe: on following the “usage” the poor woman was literally disembowelled and her head pierced through a stick. Needless to say, the Queen fainted. A sort of educator looked after the Dauphin (the Crown Prince) who taught him how to drink alcohol, to swear, to sing obscene songs not to mention other indecent activities.

The Prince successfully past his “examination” when he said:
"Est-ce que ces sacrèes p..... -là ne sont pas encore guillotinèes ?" (1) (“Are those crowned p.... not beheaded yet?” )

Having been at the Jacobins mercy, the Dauphin change his mind completely, he was another person and ready to support the false accusation against his mother. Then he was abandoned and, without the proper medical cures, died alone. His sister left the prison after many months and had to be taught to speak again. The sister of Louis XVI was beheaded like the rest of the family.

This is the end of the first act.

(1) This episode was eye-witnessed and reported by DAUJON (G. Lenotre " Le Roi Louis 17 et l'enigme du temple" Librairie Acadèmique Perrin 1932.)