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

Ruth Scurr writes:

‘The most ardent revolutionists and those most wrought upon by hatred and regicidal passions were not able to pass the tower of the Temple when the Terror was at its height, without experiencing certain qualms.’ Baron Arthur Léon Imbert de Saint Amand began his late 19th-century biography of Marie-Thérèse from a place of desolation. Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, Madame Royale, later Duchesse d’Angoulême was the first child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the sister of the dauphin, Louis-Charles. All four members of the royal family, together with the king’s sister, Madame Elisabeth, were imprisoned in the Temple, a medieval fortress in the Marais, after the collapse of the monarchy on 10 August 1792. Told it was to be her family’s new home, under the new republic, Marie Antoinette said: ‘I always begged the Comte d’Artois to have that villainous tower of the Temple torn down; it always horrified me.’

(LRB 3 July 2008)

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