Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days

Will Bashor

A pre-publication copy of this book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Most prisoners spent only a day or two in the Concergerie before taking their final voyage to their death at the guillotine. Marie Antoinette spent 76 days waiting for her fate to be decided. Stripped of everything but her dignity, she grew into the woman that she had not shown herself to be in the days of prosperity. Even when her children were taken from her, she retained her regal posture.

A bigger change from the days of her happiness is difficult to imagine. Instead of lavish dresses, she she two. Instead of delicious meals, she depended for food upon her jailers. One thing didn’t change—she was still the object of the curiosity of strangers. She was seldom alone, but instead her jailers would bring in groups of strangers to gawk at the queen brought low.

Beside her mental and emotional sufferings, she also suffered from vaginal bleeding. This plus the prison diet, augmented at times by the compassion of the women who attended her, made her weak. Her ‘trial,’ which consisted of hostile witnesses with very little to say, was a time during which she was expected to answer with the help of two lawyers who had no time at all to examine the mound of documents and affidavits, all brought against her. Fasting and bleeding, she made answer as best as she could against their accusations, all the while knowing it was useless.

Finally it was over. Denied the final boon of a closed carriage, she was exposed to the howling mob and taken to the guillotine. Maintaining her dignity to the last, the final days of Marie Antoinette came to a close.

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