The Indictment Against Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette au Tribunal révolutionnaire. By Alphonse François From Painting by Paul Delaroche (1857). Courtesy of Library of Congress
Marie Antoinette au Tribunal révolutionnaire. By Alphonse François From Painting by Paul Delaroche (1857). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

An indictment against Marie Antoinette was drawn up by the Public Accuser of the Revolutionary Tribunal, Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville, on 13 October 1793. The indictment considered the Queen’s life, “from the epoch of her marriage in 1770, to the memorable era of the 10th of August, 1792.”[1]

Once the indictment was prepared, it was given to the Queen. At the time, she was imprisoned at the Conciergerie as Prisoner no. 280. She requested defenders, which was granted. She then selected lawyer Guillaume Alexandre Tronson du Coudray and the well-known and respected lawyer Claude François Chauveau-Lagarde. Because her trial was scheduled to begin the next morning on 14 October, her defense team had less than a day to prepare. 

The Norfolk Chronicle published the indictment, and it is provided below verbatim:

“In the Name of the Republic of France, Marie Antoinette, Widow of Louis Capet, late King of the French is accused.

  1. Of having occasioned, by her unbounded extravagance, and immense deficit in the finances of having produced these delapidations, by the assistance of that execrable “exiled robber,” Calonne. 
  2. Of having sent several millions of livres to the Emperor, for the abominable purpose of enabling him to wage war with greater facility against France.
  3. Of having done this contrary to her duty, as Queen of France, and with an intention to subvert the peace and prosperity of the nation.
  4. Of having constantly maintained a correspondence with the enemies of France since the period of the Revolution in 1789.
  5. Of having used the money allotted to defray the expences of the Civil List, to pay persons employed by her in carrying on this correspondence.
  6. Of having invariably laboured to produce a Counter-Revolution.
  7. Of having first attempted to effect this purpose by corrupting the soldiers, and by assembling the King’s Body Guards and the regiment of Flanders, at a repast, on the 1st of October, 1789.
  8. Of having taken advantage of the inebriety in which the troops were involved, to make them express sentiments subversive of the Revolution, and declaratory of an attachment to the ancient despotism of France.
  9. Of having distributed white cockades among the women, who were charged to use their influence with the soldiers, to induce them to accept them.
  10. Of having produced by these means, the most marked insults to the National Cockade, which was trampled under-foot.
  11. Of having, on the 4th of October, expressed much approbation at these proceedings.
  12. Of having conspired against the Liberty of the French People.
  13. Of having attempted to produce a Famine in 1789.
  14. Of having concerted measures with la Fayette and Douilly, to procure the Massacre of the Patriots in the Champ de Mars.
  15. Of having ordered the Swiss Guards to fire upon the people on the 10th of August.

Finally to complete the ample catalogue of crimes imputed to her, she is charged with the horrible crime of Incest with her own son.”[2]

The newspaper concluded their article announcing the outcome of the trial. They stated:

“When the mock forms of Justice were gone through, the Tribunal declared the Widow Capet guilty of having been accessory to and having co-operated in different maneuvers against the liberty of France; of having entertained a correspondence with the enemies of the Republic; — of having participated in a plot tending to kindle civil war in the interior of the republic, by arming Citizens against each other. Sentence of death was then passed upon her, and the next day … Wednesday … the 16th … she was guillotined, at half past 11 o’clock in the forenoon.”[3]

References:

  • [1] Trial and Execution, in Norfolk Chronicle, 26 October 1793, p.2.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Ibid.

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