September 8, 1791: Marie Antoinette on Ending the Revolution

  • Paul H. Beik
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


Marie Antoinette was thirty-six when she wrote this letter, which was a secret document intended to save the monarchy and the inheritance of her children and the dignity of her husband’s position and place in history. She had been married for twenty-one years, and most of that time had paid little attention to politics, but with the coming of the revolution and the terrible responsibility she felt herself to be carrying, in view of her husband’s indecisiveness, she began to play a political role for which her understanding, though not her will, was poorly prepared. Marie Antionette had had much to do with the plans for the escape in June, which turned into a catastrophe. She did not give up, but her renewed efforts contributed to new catastrophes. The letter below, to her brother the emperor of Austria, is from Marie Antionette. Lettres; recueil des lettres authentiques de la reine, publié pour la Société d’histoire contemporaine par Maxime de la Rocheterie et le Marquis de Beaucourt Vol. II (Paris, 1896), pp. 284-304. Although the document is long, only minor cuts have been made in its first half lest the tone and the casting about for solutions be interfered with. It has been possible to eliminate a number of repetitions from the second half without destroying the thread of the argument or deleting any of the principal points.


Unite Power Armed Force French Revolution National Guard Renewed Effort 
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© Paul H. Beik 1970

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  • Paul H. Beik

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