The Testament of Marie Antoinette

Friends and regular guests of The Courtier know that he does not celebrate July 14th, i.e. Bastille Day. Instead he usually dresses appropriately – wearing either Royalist white (as today), funereal black, or his tie of Marie Antoinette’s initials interlocked with fleurs-de-lis taken from the wallpaper of her apartment in the Petit Trianon. He also prays for the victims of the French Revolution, some of whom were his ancestors, even as he realizes that had it not been for the Reign of Terror, he himself might not be here to condemn it, since some of his relatives fled France for America as a result.

The Courtier draws the gentle reader’s attention to the last letter of Marie Antoinette, known as “The Testament”, with which many may not be familiar. It was written after the Queen was condemned to death following a sham trial based on a number of spurious accusations, including that she had sexually abused her own son. Again, many are not aware of this Leftist monstrosity, but then the Left has always been very good at decrying Right-wing atrocities while coming up with apologias for its own.

During her show trial the Queen showed herself to be every bit the Hapsburg, rather than a Bourbon: a woman very much aware of who and what and where she is, and not afraid to stand up for herself. In this final letter however, after her condemnation, the Queen chose to pour out her heart in private by writing to her sister-in-law Madame Élisabeth, Princess of France and sister of her late husband Louis XVI. I highly recommend a visit to the Tea at Trianon site, which not only produces the full text in French and in English translation of this letter, but also images of the actual letter. Sadly, this final, comforting communiqué never reached Madame Élisabeth: Robespierre, architect of the Reign of Terror and one of the great turds of history, kept it for himself and had Madame Élisabeth executed a few months later.

The Queen tells her sister-in-law not to worry, because she knows that upon her execution she is going to see her husband again. The letter then continues with her concerns over the welfare of her children and for Madame Élisabeth herself. The Queen also very presciently writes that she knows her son was tortured to lie on behalf of the prosecutors against her, and that she forgives him this; had he survived no doubt this would at least have provided the Dauphin some consolation.

Catholic readers may be surprised to read that Marie Antoinette writes that she is lacking in spiritual consolation, but again, this is due to Leftist shenanigans. Priests who sought to keep their heads were made to swear oaths of loyalty to the atheist Republic against the Pope, among other acts; these priests were subsequently excommunicated by Pope Pius VI. Marie Antoinette naturally refused to give her last confession to such a man, who would no doubt have immediately gone to Robespierre and disclosed everything she had said in the confessional.

The paragraph that is most touching, and which is reproduced here by way of conclusion, concerns the Queen’s steadfast faith under such circumstances:

I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.

Marie Antoinette and her children, engraving of c. 1785

5 thoughts on “The Testament of Marie Antoinette

  1. Thanks for this, William. It wasn’t until very recently that I learned just how awful the French Revolution was, especially for Catholics. Public schools (back when we were young) presented it as all kinds of sunshine, wonderful because of Democracy. The fact that the Church was oppressed didn’t matter at all, and wasn’t even mentioned in passing. The only mentions of the Church in my history texts were to talk of corruption.

    I know we aren’t supposed to promote one religion over another in public schools, but facts would have been kind of nice.

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    • Thanks for reading, I’m glad I dug that out of the archives. And you’re right: all we hear is one side of the story, and as bas as things were, the way this was dealt with was completely uncivilized.

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  2. Pingback: REPORTS: Truck Mows Down Pedestrians at Bastille Day Celebration in Nice, France

  3. There is an aspect of this story which had eluded me in all the years I passionately researched her and the dreaded revolution. There was a rather strange and very long lawsuit and legal battle between one of le Conte de Provence’s cronies (and rumoured gay lover) and another man, Monsieur Courtois, after the revolutionary dust had somewhat settled. Le (fake) duc Decaze, (a title given to him by his buddy Provence) had brutally raided M. Courtois’ home in the middle of the night, in Paris years earlier when D was working as ‘head of the Police’ for Provence. His real task was to retrieve any incriminating evidence against Provence and there was much to be found as he had worked closely with the enemy to bring down his brother the king and anyone else standing in his way to sit on the throne.
    But I digress, Decaze raided Ramblazin, the home of Courtois and seemed to hit the “jackpot.” He and his henchmen found M.A.’s last Will and Testament, a lock of le Dauphin’s hair, a pair of her gloves, many incriminating letters against Provence’s deplorable behaviour between Robspierre, Provence and others. And last but not least, what could be described as the “Holy Grail” for the French crown, ancient and very sacred ‘relics’ which belonged to the crown or the Monarch on the throne more accurately. It’s an odd story because Courtois swore under oath that M.A. gave these precious items to him as a gift, thus they were his rightful property. Decaze claimed otherwise.
    M. Courtois fought until his last dying breath to win back those items and once he passed on, his son continued the case. I believe, though I cannot prove this, that somehow she was in touch with Courtois prior to her death and gave him these items to hide and protect until it was safe for her son the dauphin to step forward and claim the throne. Perhaps she was aware of the plot to rescue him?
    He claims that she instructed him to divide the lock of the dauphin’s hair and give a piece to a trusted friend in Paris of the former queen, a Princess who escaped persecution. And he says he did that.

    Back then, without DNA testing, it would be very difficult to know if someone claiming to be the dauphin, years after the fact, was definitely him or dismissed like so many imposters, unless he, of course, had proof of his identity. The splitting up of the hair sample is one detail that stands out to me. And being in possession of such important items would surely bode well for him. I won’t get into my research into his possible survival in this comment.
    So, this court case dragged on for decades and the ruling by the court, in the end, was most saddening. Decaze was a despicable, social-climbing opportunist who many say personally arranged, by order of Provence, the cold-blooded assassination of his nephew, le Duc de Berry, outside the Paris Opera house, le 13, fevrier, 1830. It was a known fact in Paris that le jerk Decaze personally knew the assassin, Louvel.
    Berry was, of course, the heir to the French throne during the restoration. So, with King Louis, his son, the dauphin and le Duc de Berry out of the way, the evil, murderous plot of Provence came to fruition, making him next in line to the throne. Though, little did he know, the then newly widowed la Duchesse de Berry was secretly carrying a son, who would by all counts be the next heir, le Comte de Chambord. (Another fascinating aspect of French royal history!!)
    Interestingly, le creep de Provence, when he finally seized the throne, took the title of King Louis 18th, skipping the 17th, perhaps a clue that he knew the dauphin was alive yet, did all he could to ensure he was never able to prove his birthright but just in case. I doubt it was out of respect for him. The man was truly a monster!!!
    So in conclusion, who was this man Courtois and how did he come to have in his possession such important personal effects, even priceless ancient sacred relics of the crown, documents pertaining to the crown? Was he really assisting her and the dauphin in some way? It is noteworthy that he was never under suspicion of stealing them. Could she, in her most agonizing last days trusted this man who technically was working for the other side? Or was he someone she trusted with the future of the monarchy, yet he failed miserably to safeguard her most precious possessions and carry out this secret plan? This could explain why he fought so hard to retrieve them.
    Lastly, I will say this, I have found compelling evidence in favour of the dauphin having survived and a similar-looking boy died a dreadful death in the tower. It could explain why, at some point, his prison cell was sealed up for a year with only a small hole for food, thus no one saw his face. By the time they took down the wall, he was gravely ill, unrecognizable and emotionally broken. I hope one day these and so many more questions will be answered but that may not be a realist wish. I also wish I had known all this when I produced my film about her last days. Thanks for posting about her, the truth of that awful atrocity must be shared. Wishing you all the best!! LC

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  4. I didn’t see how to edit my comment but in regards to the assassination of le Duc de Berry, he was attacked and stabbed on 13, fevrier, 1820 (not 1830) Though he actually succumbed to his wounds on the 14th.

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