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What Life Was Like For Marie Antoinette's Children

Updated July 1, 2021 581k views14 items

Marie Antoinette faced tragedy as the queen of France - but what was life like for Marie Antoinette's kids? As queen, Marie Antoinette gave birth to four children, but only one of them survived the French Revolution. Although the queen's children grew up in luxury, living in the lavish palace of Versailles, two spent years locked in a tower during the Revolution. 

Marie Antoinette was the youngest daughter in a family of 16 children. After marrying into the French royal family, Marie Antoinette's job was to give birth to royal children - and when she gave birth to her first child, 200 people crowded into her bedchamber to watch the labor.

The queen's children grew up under a microscope and the situation grew much worse with the French Revolution. Declaring the queen's son a bastard and the son of a tyrant, the revolutionaries imprisoned the young dauphin, heir to the French throne, for years. Marie Antoinette's children faced mistreatment, including being forced to testify against their mother during her trial. And when Marie Antoinette was sent to the guillotine, her children's jailers didn't even tell them their mother had perished. 

  • Marie Antoinette’s Marriage Was Unconsummated For Years

    Marie Antoinette, daughter of the Holy Roman Empress and his 11th daughter, married into the French royal family on May 16, 1770. The next morning, rumors swirled that the couple had not consummated their marriage.

    For the next seven years, Marie Antoinette remained a virgin. The Austrian had become queen of France before the union was consummated, but in 1778, the queen gave birth to a daughter, Marie Therese. The long gap between the royal wedding and the birth of the couple's first child left many wondering if Marie Antoinette was a good queen.

  • Marie Antoinette Was Known As A Doting Mother

    In 1778, Marie Antoinette gave birth to a daughter, and in 1781, she had a son named Louis Joseph. France now had its heir, and Marie Antoinette acted like a doting mother to her young children. 

    However, royal protocol tried to separate the queen from her children. In response, Marie Antoinette often took her children away from the royal court to her retreat, the Petite Trianon, where her children could escape from the pressures of court.

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Rumors Swirled That Louis XVI Was Not The Father Of Marie Antoinette’s Children

    Even before the French Revolution, the queen's enemies attacked her relationship with her children. 

    Although Marie Antoinette was often described as a devoted mother, the queen had a reputation for infidelity. In the 1780s, Marie Antoinette had an affair with Axel von Fersen, a Swedish diplomat who fought in the American Revolution.

    When the queen gave birth to Louis Charles, her third child, in 1785, many assumed von Fersen was the father rather than Louis XVI. 

  • The Queen’s Last Child, A Girl, Perished As An Infant

    In 1786, barely a year after giving birth to Louis Charles, Marie Antoinette gave birth to her last child. Sophie Beatrix was born prematurely on July 9, 1786. The infant perished before her first birthday.

    It was the first time Marie Antoinette mourned the loss of a child, but it wouldn't be the last. Two years later, Louis Joseph passed, and then Marie Antoinette watched her two surviving children get locked in a fortress by the revolutionaries. When she went to her execution in 1793, Marie Antoinette left two children, Louis Charles and Marie Therese, who were still locked up. Only Marie Therese would live through the French Revolution.