Life as Queen Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette in her coronation robes

Louis XVI was crowned at Notre Dame de Reims on July 11, 1775. Marie Antoinette accompanied her husband, but was not crowned with him. Despite the fact that Marie Antoinette was queen, she had little political power. Most of those in power were very anti-Austrian. Even her husband had been raised to distrust the Austrians. Therefore, Marie Antoinette busied herself with parties, clothing, and her close group of friends, now led by the Duchess de Polignac. Many began to wonder when the couple would produce children. The situation worsened in August 1775 with the birth of a son to Louis’s brother, the Duc d’Artois.

In 1774, Louis gave Marie Antoinette her own house, the Petit Trianon, in the gardens of Versailles. She quickly began spending large amounts of money on the new house, including renovations and new gardens. Marie Antoinette’s frivolous spending began to receive much negative comment. France was grossly in debt due to the previous Seven Years War. The people were also being taxed heavily, which caused more and more unrest.

The Petit Trianon

As if these problems were not enough, Louis agreed to send money and arms to aid in the colonist revolt in the Americas against the British. This put France even more into debt. Marie Antoinette seemed to be ignoring her mother’s advice to produce a child and stop spending so much money. Finally, in August 1777, Marie Antoinette’s brother, Joseph II, was sent to France to “visit.” He temporarily put Marie Antoinette in place and finally, through advice, aided the couple in consummating their marriage.

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