Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 6, 1789

On October 5, 1789, in the wake of the banquet at the Versailles opera, a mob from Paris marched upon the palace. On October 6, in the dead of night, some rioters entered the palace and tried to break into Marie-Antoinette's bedroom. She fled down the private passage behind the paneling which led to Louis XVI's rooms. (Later, the Queen curtsied to the crowd from the balcony and somewhat placated their wrath.)

Madame Campan described the Queen's escape thus:
The Queen went to bed at two in the morning, and even slept, tired out with the events of so distressing a day. She had ordered her two women to bed, imagining there was nothing to dread, at least for that night; but the unfortunate Princess was indebted for her life to that feeling of attachment which prevented their obeying her. My sister, who was one of the ladies in question, informed me next day of all that I am about to relate.
On leaving the Queen’s bedchamber, these ladies called their femmes de chambre, and all four remained sitting together against her Majesty’s bedroom door. About half-past four in the morning they heard horrible yells and discharges of firearms; one ran to the Queen to awaken her and get her out of bed; my sister flew to the place from which the tumult seemed to proceed; she opened the door of the antechamber which leads to the great guard-room, and beheld one of the Body Guard holding his musket across the door, and attacked by a mob, who were striking at him; his face was covered with blood; he turned round and exclaimed: “Save the Queen, madame; they are come to assassinate her!” She hastily shut the door upon the unfortunate victim of duty, fastened it with the great bolt, and took the same precaution on leaving the next room.
On reaching the Queen’s chamber she cried out to her, “Get up, Madame! Don’t stay to dress yourself; fly to the King’s apartment!” The terrified Queen threw herself out of bed; they put a petticoat upon her without tying it, and the two ladies conducted her towards the oile-de-boeuf. A door, which led from the Queen’s dressing-room to that apartment, had never before been fastened but on her side. What a dreadful moment! It was found to be secured on the other side. They knocked repeatedly with all their strength; a servant of one of the King’s valets de chambre came and opened it; the Queen entered the King’s chamber, but he was not there. Alarmed for the Queen’s life, he had gone down the staircases and through the corridors under the oeil-de-boeuf, by means of which he was accustomed to go to the Queen’s apartments without being under the necessity of crossing that room. He entered her Majesty’s room and found no one there but some Body Guards, who had taken refuge in it.
The King, unwilling to expose their lives, told them to wait a few minutes, and afterwards sent to desire them to go to the oeil-de-boeuf. Madame de Tourzel, at that time governess of the children of France, had just taken Madame and the Dauphin to the King’s apartments. The Queen saw her children again. The reader must imagine this scene of tenderness and despair.

Here is the passage through which Marie-Antoinette fled for her life:

Artwork: The Royal Family on the night of October 6, 1789 Share


Christine Trent said...

This may be an inane thought, but as I stare at the doorway through which the queen fled, all I can think is, "Imagine how she and her ladies got piled up in the doorway just trying to get through it in their dresses." Even if the queen was just wearing a petticoat, she probably would have had to go through sideways.

Do you think she had some inkling of what was ultimately going to happen to her and the king when this event occurred?

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Christine, even in their nightgowns and dressing gowns, the passage must have been difficult to navigate.