Who Was Marie Antoinette’s Husband?

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette’s Husband – King Louis XVI

King Louis XVI of France was the ill-fated husband of Marie Antoinette. Louis, the last real French King, tasted monarchical power beginning in 1774. But he didn’t complete his expected life tenure due to interruptions by French Revolution.

Born in August 1754, Louis executed had to die in January 1793 by getting his head chopped off by the guillotine machine. He was caught trying to escape with his family during the explosion of the French Revolution. After standing trial, the domineering and extravagant Mary Antoinette had to die through the same process, within the same year.

Looming Crisis

In 1774, Louis succeeded his grandfather Louis XV. At this time, the French kingdom was in economic troubles. France extended their helping hands to the American colonists’ fight for Independence from the British, but their economy reached an unsustainable tipping point of bankruptcy. In the wake of the French financial struggles, queen Antoinette lived lavishly to the vexation of the masses. By being frivolous and scandalous, Antoinette was plunging the monarchy into disrepute.

In 1789, as the crisis loomed, King Louis tried to stabilize matters by calling for a meeting with the estates-general (a powerless parliament comprising 1. the clergy, 2. the nobles, and 3. the commons). His plan was to increase taxes. Instead of scheduling a general parliamentary meeting for the three bodies, Louis failed to do that — he preferred separate meetings. This move angered the Third Estate; so they declared themselves as the national assembly; the mouthpiece of the nation.

Chaotic Events Shake Bastille

The national assembly, upon hearing that King Louis had intentions to suppress them, became more provoked. This led to the July 1789 storming of the Bastille prison. Back at the royal palace at Versailles, heat was developing. King Louis and his family were sent back to Paris, the French capital. In June 1791, they made an unsuccessful escape attempt. The escape attempt worsened the future of Louis as it sent bad signals about his foreign deals.

A new Constitution was drafted — Louis had no option than to accept it. In September 1792, the French monarchy was thrown into the gutters by the National Convention — the French Republic had been birthed. In 1793, Louis and his wife then faced executions for their treasonable crimes.

What Contributed to Louis XVI’s Downfall?

King Louis XVI (1754 – 1793)

The following are two major reasons that contributed to King Louis XVI’s downfall:

An Inconvenient Leader

When a 19-year-old Louis climbed the French throne, his ideas were about religious freedom, establishing foreign connections and trying to please people. For a country that was getting eaten up by debts, the people realized that Louis was too naive to rule. They rode on his incompetence to cause confusion and eliminate him.

Wrong Marriage

Louis married Mary Antoinette, an Austrian princess. But the patriotic French citizens found deep faults in the relationship. The French alliance with Austria pushed France into the fruitless Seven Years War which saw the British & Prussians tear down France. Partly blaming Austria for their woes, the French people didn’t see any good thing to smile about the king’s wife. When the opportunity presented itself, they killed the royal couple.

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