La Conciergerie is located on the banks of the Seine on the Île de la cité. It was a part of the Palais de la Cité, which also consisted of the Palais de Justice and the Sainte-Chapelle. During the Reign of Terror, La Conciergerie became known as “the antechamber to the guillotine” for the hundreds of people held prisoner here before their execution. Marie Antoinette was famously imprisoned in the Conciergerie Prison for nearly three months before she was beheaded at the guilotine.
“I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long,” Marie Antoinette is reported to have said after her indictment three months before her death.
Under constant watch and horrid conditions, Marie Antoinette returned deeply to her catholic faith in the months of her imprisonment. Often praying for hours per day for forgiveness for crimes she did not admit to and for the soul of her husband who was executed months prior to her trial. Among the accusations, many previously published in the libelles, were: orchestrating orgies in Versailles, sending millions of livres of treasury money to Austria, planning the massacre of the gardes françaises, embezzlement, conspiracy, high treason, and even incest. She was found guilty of depletion of the national treasury, conspiracy against the internal and external security of the State, and high treason which carried the sentence of death.
Marie-Antoinette was condemned to die on 16 October 1793. On the day of her execution, she was dressed in a common white shift, her hands were tied tightly together, and her hair was cut off by the executioner who kept her hair as a trophy. She was taken to Place de la Revolution in a handcart with a priest walking beside her whom she refused to talk to. She was guillotined in front of a crowd of thousands who cheered, “Vive la République!“.
Her fairytale was darker than anything Brother’s Grimm could have written. Despite her prayers and Ave Marias, after her execution her body and head were tossed in to a mass unmarked grave of other casualties of the day. She may have been better off with Ave Satanas, as her devotion to Catholicism did her little good in the end.
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