Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter

Ruth Scurr writes:

Marie-Thérèse was 13 when she entered the tower, 17 when she left. She had witnessed much violence during the Revolution; she had seen at Versailles in October 1789, for example, the severed heads of two of Louis XVI’s bodyguards, men who had once looked after her. Later, the royal family moved to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. From here, 18 months later, they tried to escape to the Austrian border in a custom-built coach. Arrested at Varennes, the party was jeered, threatened and spat at all the way back to the capital, Marie-Thérèse taking turns on her aunt’s and governess’s laps to make room inside the coach for representatives of the nation. At the final collapse of the monarchy she and her brother hid in the Cabinet du Conseil from the slaughter in the Tuileries gardens. She was, as her mother remarked, ‘old enough always to remember these scenes with horror’.

(LRB 3 July 2008)

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