Something for my dearest Antoinette— a little late in posting, but I’ve been
preoccupied with agonizing over another era–20th century WWI.
“Covering her eyes, sometimes with her handkerchief and sometimes with her hands, now and then putting her head out of the carriage to take another look at the palace of her ancestors which she was never more to enter—Vienna receded in the far distance. Antoinette was on her way into a new life.”
Today marks an event which changed the course of history for not only one helpless individual but an entire nation, the world—and if I may–*my history*. May 7, 1770 was the official “handing over” day or remise for Archduchess Marie Antoinette. Never could she have imagined that when her silken slippers touched French soil, and left the neutral ground which lay in the middle of the Rhine, the divider between the two realms, that her life would be full of one torrential event after another. Of course there were happy times for Antoinette, but limited they were indeed.
On this spring day in May 1770 the foreboding storms that raged outside of the salle de remise, should have been clues to the life she was to live. However, her naivety and youth saved her from the realities of what was in store.
Then again, what a blessing it is to not know your destiny—would she have taken that step from neutral ground? No one would have. For the cataclysmic events that shook France many years after her arrival spread waves of social change across the entire world like ripples in pond. Was she to blame—some argue yes, others no? The answer lies somewhere in between.
So thank you Antoinette for taking that step—who knows what France and the rest of the world may have turned out like if you had not!
Carolly Erickson, To The Scaffold The Life of Marie Antoinette. (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 59.