What did the once-beautiful queen look like at the time of her death sentence? Charles Lacretelle, a French historian who lived between1766-1855, wrote this:
Sorrow had blanched the Queen’s once beautiful hair; but her features and air still commanded the admiration of all who beheld her; her cheeks, pale and emaciated, were occasionally tinged with a vivid colour at the mention of those she had lost ... she had cut off her hair with her own hands.
Placed in a tumbrel, with her arms tied behind her, she was taken by a circuitous route to the Place de la Revolution, and she ascended the scaffold with a firm and dignified step, as if she had been about to take her place on a throne by the side of her husband.
What did she wear on her last day?
Marie Antoinette wore a white gown, a white handkerchief covered her shoulders, a white cap her hair; a black ribbon bound this cap round her temples ... The cries, the looks, the laughter, the jests of the people overwhelmed her with humiliation; her colour, changing continually from purple to paleness, betrayed her agitation ... On reaching the scaffold she inadvertently trod on the executioner’s foot. “Pardon me,” she said, courteously.
She knelt for an instant and uttered a half- audible prayer; then rising and glancing towards the towers of the Temple, “Adieu, once again, my children,” she said; “I go to rejoin your father." (Lacretelle)
Her daughter had no idea that her mother had been executed. Agonizing in her room at the Temple Prison, she wrote this on the wall:
Marie-Thérèse is the most unhappy creature in the world. She can obtain no news of her mother; nor be reunited to her, though she has asked it a thousand times ... Live, my good mother! whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings ... O my father! watch over me from heaven above, life was so cruel to her ... O my God! forgive those who have made my family die.
Meanwhile, Marie-Theresa’s brother, Louis-Charles, was enduring unbelievably cruel treatment in another room at the Temple.
Revolutionary officials were perplexed what to do with him. Now that Louis XVI was dead, the lad was a titular (Louis XVII) king. What if royalists captured him, attempting to restore the monarchy? Should he, a child of eight, also be killed?
The story of the dauphin’s fate remained a mystery until a human heart - once stolen, then forgotten - went through DNA analysis.