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 Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.? 
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
From a strictly legal point of view (despite the sham trial) Marie Antoinette was guilty of the three charges brought against her: principally of treason in as far as she gave information on troop movements endangering French lives. However I understand why she did it, and one could also say that she justifiably rejected the authority of a court which had risen to power through the use of force and terror.

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Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:14 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
baron de batz wrote:
From a strictly legal point of view (despite the sham trial) Marie Antoinette was guilty of the three charges brought against her: principally of treason in as far as she gave information on troop movements endangering French lives. However I understand why she did it, and one could also say that she justifiably rejected the authority of a court which had risen to power through the use of force and terror.


Well, see, she may have been guilty, but was it really proven in court? And even if it were proven, is the guilty verdict still legal when the outcome of the trial was already decided beforehand? Not to mention that she didn't have a proper defense etc etc. Today such a verdict would (hopefully!)not be upheld. There's a difference between being guilty and being found guilty in court. She could be as guilty as sin, but if the legal process by which she was convicted was corrupted, then none of it counts as legal.

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Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:30 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
I agree.

She was guilty but not guilty in court, as the damning evidence against her was only found many years after her death. They had really nothing on her, except vague claims of extravagance etc And she was the Queen.

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Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:02 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
Aha! We agree! :D

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:47 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
I think "treason" has been misapplied. One cannot betray a government to which one never supported in the first place. One cannot betray one's jailers. If anything, MA was betrayed by her people, not the other way around. Also, we mustn't forget, that the Revolution never represented all of the French. She remained loyal to the crown, and to those who supported the crown. She conspired against those who rebelled. This is not treason.

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Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:04 am
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
First of all the "rebels" and legitimacy goe, well, it boils down to saying that legitimacy is a relative thing. And this is indeed so. Legitimacy is posterior to the given event, and always depends on who is victorious in the first place. Had the monarchy eventually thwarted the revolution, Marie-Antoinette would have been branded as a heroic resistant.

Now if you resort to the argument that the Revolution did not represent everybody in order to account for MA's behaviour, well, even a democratic regime does not. You always wind up choosing the candidate that matches most of your interests. As a citizen, you do not agree with 100% of your candidate's platform and 100% of the actions he will take later on. Secondly, a democratic regime is representative of about 50% of the population at best. No regime, whether democratic or not, can rise to the pretention of representing everybody. So are the other 50% free to assert that they are not represented by the governement in charge, and, if need arises, to side with the country's enemies ? Do you think a governement should resort to referenda all the time to ensure the public support of its actions ? Is disobedience and treason legitimate every time you disagree with your government ? No country would stand if that was so.

Patriotism is all the more necessary when a country is a war, whatever the origin of the war was. In any country at war, as for instance France during the 1rst world war, there is a duty of union and solidarity whatever the regime is : "l'union sacré" as we used to say back then. The collapse of France in 1939 was partly due to interior strife and divisions, as Pétain rightly pointed out.





One must be patriotic not only for the sake of moral -for this is not always moral. Patriotism, especially at war, is also grounded on a coherent and realistic analysis of your own interests, which obviously Marie-Antoinette had not done.

As a free-thinking individual, you may indeed feel that your government is at odds with your ideals, interests, etc. You may prefer to restore the monarchy rather than settle for a parliamentary regime. It is naive to believe that the enemy will consider you as part of their family More likely than not, you will be lumped together your fellow citizens and treated the same way as them. So treason is not only immoral, it is a pointless game.


If the allied had eventually stormed into France by the time of the Revolution, it is very unlikely that Louis XVI would have recovered his lost power: France would have been split between the victorious nations, and the King placed under the jackboot of Austria. Nobody wages a war to help an unfortunate monarch without any other interest at stake.

After an allied victory, she might have gained back some of her personal safety, but it is dubious whether she would have been any freer. It must be recalled that the Austrians resented her endeavours to assert herself instead of being an Autrian pawn on the French chessboard.


Marie-Antoinette deluded herself in believing that the Allied would, somehow, "save" her put an end to the turmoil. As it happens, they did not lift a finger to help her out.

I also believe that Louis XVI was far less keen to side with the enemies of France and that had well in mind what the outcome of a foreign intervention would be.

It would have been a far wiser course of action to take for granted some of the changes implemented and redeem herself in the eyes of the Parisians and the French, but she never made serious efforts to do so. Her understanding of the events she witnessed and of her interests was skewed, flawed and extremely naïve



For all these reasons, I have always been very reserved as far as "legitimate betrayal" goes, even in the most extreme case i.e the Nazi Regime. I think treason at time of war is an extremely serious thing, which should be answered to with the utmost severity.

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Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:41 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
Patriotism, betrayal, treason; these things require that one first be a member of the cause. MA could not betray a cause of which she was never a part. To lable her a traitor is as ludicrous as calling King George a traitor for not supporting the American Revolution. It's as impossible as stating that Czar Nicolas was a traitor to Russia for not supporting the Bolsheviks. Marie Antoinette was a "patriot" of Bourbon France. She remained loyal to Bourbon France to the end. There was no betrayal on her part.

As for the allied coalition, they were not "enemies" of France. They were enemies of the Revolution. Their stated purpose was to restore the monarchy. Whether they had ulterior motives or not is irrelevant, as they kept their word and did just that, in 1814.

Given Louis and Antoinette's options between trusting in foreign allies, or Revolutionaries who were activily hostile to them; one can hardly blame them for looking to foreign friends for support.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:56 am
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
It is your right to think that way. I beg to differ.


I think that your comparison with the rebels in the US is irrelevant, because in the case of France, first of all, the King had made some steps towards the revolutionaries by coming to terms with some of the changes implemented.

Secondly, in the case of America we are dealing with a colony, which was officially part of the United Kingdom but was nonetheless in fact an exterior element in the same way that Quebec was exterior to the French metropolitan territory. Your comparison In such a way, England's immediate interests were not targeted by a potential independence of the US.

Thirdly, your comparison is all the more irrelevant that in no way did England, to my knowledge, asked for help another nation to put an end to the upheaval. Had she done so, it would have been obvious that this potential other power was to claim its due over the American territory after a hypothetical British victory.

We are here dealing with the case of a nation facing with interior turmoil, or at least demand for changes on its very own territory, with a King that partially agreed with those changes. The King in the same way that the Crown is attached to this territory : the Crown is not exterior to it. The immediate interests of France, and thus of the Crown, were at stake. If the French territory is dismembered, the Crown would have become a fiction as well. So in doing so, the King would have acted against the interests of the Crown as it is obvious that a foreign intervention would have led to the dismemberment of France.



Whether they liked it or not, the Queen’s and the King’s immediate interests consisted in reaching an agreement with the rebels, which had already partly been done.


I would like to make a more relevant comparison with Jaruzelski's Poland, when the Soviet intervention was refused by closing the borders and imposing the martial law from 1981 to 1983. The revolt was subsequently crushed by the Polish army only and there was no foreign intervention.



This to me seems like a coherent method, all the more that France, being the most populous and wealthiest nation back then, did not need any foreign intervention to put an end to the upheaval, had there been sufficient political will power to do so.


Saying that the interests of the Bourbons may not tally with the integrity of the French territory seems to me absurd in meaning.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:53 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
Christophe wrote:
As for the allied coalition, they were not "enemies" of France. They were enemies of the Revolution. Their stated purpose was to restore the monarchy. Whether they had ulterior motives or not is irrelevant, as they kept their word and did just that, in 1814.



This is extremely naive to me to say so. Their actual interests was IN NO WAY to crush the revolution but to make the most of the situation and take back some territory and put an end to the French supremacy. The proof is that they did not lift a finger to bail MA out -they were not in the least preoccupied by her fate.

Your comparison with 1814 is interesting and in fact proves my point. Indeed subsequently to Napoleon's defeat, France was under the Russian jackboot, and the Russians had control over the interior affairs of the country. Certain territories were lost -the part that has become the ridicoulous and absurd Belgian nation.

The reasons often invoked to intervene in a sovereign nations are, more likely than not, excuses to avail oneself of a profitable situation. Back then, it was "the legitimacy of the Crown" now, it's the "human rights". Do you believe that the interventions in Iraq and Libya are motivated by the protection of human rights ? :lol: Do you think the foreign intervention in the Russian civil war was solely motivated by the wish to prevent the spread of communism ?

So my argument is central to the argument. Your comparison with the US is totally irrelevant on the other hand.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:01 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
Christophe wrote:
It's as impossible as stating that Czar Nicolas was a traitor to Russia for not supporting the Bolsheviks.


But to my knowledge the Czar never asked for a foreign intervention. I think the foreign intervention began after his death.


It is one thing to crush a revolt, and I agree this is a legitimate thing to do for a monarch, it is another to ask for a foreign intervention or to help the enemies of the nation.


The Jaruzelski example proves that an other course of action was totally available.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:12 pm
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
This is merely your assertion. We have no way of knowing what the true intentions of the coalition actually were. Historians can only go by what was stated at the time. The coalition, of which many Frenchmen were a part of, specifically stated that their first concern was the safety of the royal family, and secondly, ending the revolution.

Personally, I think you are correct that they would have liked to add French territory to their own domains, and perhaps, were not as concerned for Louis & Antoinette as they claimed at the time. But the King and Queen had no way of knowing this, they did not have our hindsight. What is revealing to me, is that the coalition did not act immediately against the revolution as they should have, but waited until the revolution started the war against them. They waited, literally, until they had no choice but to fight.

There is long precedent in history for leaders reaching out to their allies when faced with peril.

Your comments about Belgium are bizarre, to say the least. The territories that the allies took after Bonaparte's defeat, were for the most part, territories that Bonaparte stold during his many conquests. They did not rightfully belong to France to begin with.

Even the revolutionaries themselves, or at least, the more intelligent ones, were very much aware that Louis' seeming cooperation in the early days of the revolution were insincere; that it was extracted only through force and intimidation. Louis was very aware that his situation in France was untenable, that he was powerless to exert his own will. From the time he was forced from his home at Versailles and dragged unwillingly to Paris, he was a prisoner of the revolution. It is a point that was brought home by the fact that he had to slip away in secret when he tried to make his escape, and was again brought back against his will by force. He was not free to act according to his own wishes; therefore any cooperation with the revolution was merely to preserve his family.

The argument here is over the word "treason." Again, one can not betray one's enemies. And Louis and Antoinette's enemies were the revolutionaries. These were far more dangerous than the designs of their foreign allies---as time would tell. As reigning monarchs, they were France. They saw themselves as France, and every thing they did was in the best interests of France. It is what they believed.

It was to the benefit of the Jacobin regime to label the royal couple "traitors," in an attempt to legitimize their own actions. This attempt failed. It may be politically expedient in France today to continue supporting this propaganda, in some patriotic need to glorify the revolution by excusing it's crimes, but outside of France, the murder of the King and Queen is seen as a black mark on French history.

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Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:42 am
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
We have to agree to disagree.


I have to disagree that the revolutionnaries were the enemies and that they were aware Louis's steps towards them were insincere. They were aware the Queen was not in favour of such changes. But they had excellent reasons to believe that Louis XVI supported the new regime. In fact, it the Brunswick manifesto as well as the double veto and other clues -such as the support the Emigrés- which convinced them that the King had not been genuinely backing them up since the beginning.

At the beginning of the Revolution, only a very scanty minority supported the idea of a Republican regime, even Robespierre did not. The Cordeliers and people like Brissot were, as a matter of fact, rather isolated and even scoffed at.

It is all the truer that after the Varennes escape, the Revolutionnaries tried to make up a tale about Louis XVI being abducted. In fact, everybody was extremely keen to maintain the monarchy at all costs. The fact that it was ovethrown is not due to a conscious, well-prepared plan, but was the concequences of uncontrolled events and was also due to the fact that the King's hypocrisy had become too obvious.


I believe, personnally, that there were only two courses of action open :

1° Either you decided to put an end to the upheaval, and if so, this should have been done at the very beginning, i.e during the storming of Versailles -before the revolutionnaries garnered too much public attention.

2° Or you strove to reach an argument with the revolutionnaries by getting involved in the drafting of an appropriate consitution. As soon as Louis renounced cracking down on the rioters, this course of action should have been chosen and pursued.




As for the Allies' designs, I agree I am not precise enough, but this is not my assertion either. You can find some ground in Bertière for instance : the military strategy resorted and notably the decision to skirt Paris indicated that the point was to gain terriories. So some historians make that point, if I find some more information, I'll write them down here. But I think it was reasonably forseeable that the point was not to stifle the revolution, or at least not the only point. It is an obvious assumption to make for any monarch.


I think it is indeed pretty obvious, for any leader, that any foreign intervention will subsequently lead to the country being if not dismembered, at least subdued. And his role is to foresee such consequences. This is why, to hark back on this example, Jaruzelski decided to shut Poland's borders.

So the term treason is appropriate when dealing with a monarch that fails to carry out his duty : i.e to preserve the country's independence and integrity.

As for Belgium, well, it is a point of view. The territory was annexed by the time of the Revolution, not by Bonaparte. It is French speaking an Catholic. I you abide by the German conception (contrary to the French national ideal as explained later on by Renan, which I am sure you disapprove of) of the nationality as being grounded on blood, language and religion, this terriotry should be French. But I agree, as a French citizen that such a decision is pretty much out of our hand and boils down to the Belgian people's preferences.

It was hardly legitimate, in my book to take it away from France. in fact during the treaty of Vienna, not only was France occupied militarily, but it suffered severe territorial and financial losses.

At last, I would like to ask you a question : do yout think that Philippe Pétain decision to allow the German army into the Vichy zone in 1942 was appropriate ? He too claimed that he accepted such an invasion to protect France both against the interrior terrorists (the resistants) and against the Anglo-American invasion of the French African colonies. So this is a very similar situation.

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Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:16 am
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
Anglo-American invasion of the French african colonies?!!

So Vichy is our fault now? :) What about Bir Hakeim, Our fault too?! A wrong decision by Churchill?

Pétain had his own reasons to let the German army into the occupied zone. He no doubt didn't have much choice militarily anyway...he was an old man and no doubt as defeated inside as the Nation he claimed to represent. It is difficult in such times to talk of an intact Nation. No doubt each man thought in the back of his mind of his own survival and that of his family. People who put the Nation above the price of their own skin are rare but then we see that in the Great patriotic war in Russia there was a willingness for mass sacrifice which defies our understanding (Anthony Beevor's "Stalingrad") And of course Russia was organized in such a way that any traitors or defeatists were summarily shot by the NKVD. And thousands were! I don't know whether any West European nation was prepared to make the sacrifice that it made during the Great War again, and I include England in that. Obviously there was great bravery shown by the Battle of Britain pilots in combating Hitler's invasion plans, but in the face of a massive Barbarossa style invasion, would England have held out? I somewhat doubt it! For me the decisive battle of the 2nd WW was fought out on the plains of Russia in a scale that defies any comparison. It was the classic clash of two opposing idealisms, fascism and Bolshevism, or Judeo Bolshevism as Hitler preferred to call it! France by that time had become the wine cellar for the German troops, who always had a good bottle of cognac or calvados to warm them in the Russian Steppes. I think many of them even longed for Paris leave! Home from home...how tragically sad for a proud nation as France is!

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:01 am
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
baron de batz wrote:
Anglo-American invasion of the French african colonies?!!

So Vichy is our fault now? :) What about Bir Hakeim, Our fault too?! A wrong decision by Churchill?




I suggest we stick to the subject discussed.

Pétain was used, in my thread, as a mere example. I never hinted at Russia, and this thread has nothing to do with Russia !!!!


Anyone thinks that MA was wrongly beheaded ?

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:57 am
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Post Re: Anyone think that Marie Antoinette was wrongly beheaded.?
Yes.....I do!! :blob7:

But then I am the Baron de Batz!!

I think that there is every reason to agree with the point that even if she was clearly guilty of treason according to the laws of revolutionary France, that power had been usurped by the means of mob violence and coertion, and therefore could not be recognized as legitimate. So I would say guilty of the charges made against her but innocent because the court making those charges was not legitimate, at least in the eyes of those who formerly held the power.

Against this one could argue that the Assemblée Nationale which ruled and set up that Court was, if not democratically elected, at least representative of the Nation or what the Nation had become.

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:22 pm
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