On the 21st of January, 1770, Marie-Antoinette received the wedding-ring sent by the Dauphin. The 21st of January! On that very day, twenty-three years later, Louis XVI ascended the scaffold! But who could then foresee what the future would bring forth.
On April 16 the official demand was made to the widowed Empress, in the name of the "most Christian King," by the Marquis de Durfort. On the 17th the Archduchess solemnly renounced her rights in Austria. On the 19th a ceremony of marriage by proxy was performed (the Archduke Maximilian representing the Dauphin of France), and the official signatures were then appended to the imperial register of births, deaths, and marriages. It is said that through one of those mysterious forebodings which are sometimes felt on solemn occasions, the hand of Maria Theresa trembled as she signed her name to the record sealing her daughter's fate.
The young Princess was then required to spend three days in meditation and prayer, as a preparation for her future state. On April 21, after receiving holy communion, she was taken to pray before the tombs of her ancestors, where lay the father who had loved her with peculiar affection, and whom she had lost in her early childhood.
Then came the final parting from her mother, the last meeting in this world, for in those days few people traveled, and sovereigns never left their states. In the case of Marie-Antoinette not only her mother and the imperial family deeply felt the pangs attending such a separation, but the household and even the city of Vienna mourned the departure of the bright, amiable girl, whom all loved. But it must be; and, amidst the tears of all who knew and loved her, Marie-Antoinette went forth to her unknown fate.Share