Marie Antoinette

9 Apr, 2020 940 History of Europe

In a programme first broadcast in November 2018, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Austrian princess Maria Antonia, child bride of the future French King Louis XVI. Their marriage was an attempt to bring about a major change in the balance of power in Europe and to undermine the influence of Prussia and Great Britain, but she had no say in the matter and was the pawn of her mother, the Empress Maria Theresa. She fulfilled her allotted role of supplying an heir, but was sent to the guillotine in 1793 in the French Revolution, a few months after her husband, following years of attacks on her as a woman who, it was said, betrayed the King and as a foreigner who betrayed France to enemy powers. When not doing these wrongs, she was said to be personally bankrupting France. Her death shocked royal families throughout Europe, and she became a powerful symbol of the consequences of the Revolution.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Catriona Seth 5 episodes
    Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford
  • Katherine Astbury 4 episodes
    Professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick
  • David McCallam No other episodes
    Reader in French Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of Sheffield

Reading list

  • Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner no. 280 in the Conciergerie
    Will Bashor (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) Google Books →
  • How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette, the Stolen Diamonds and the Scandal that Shook the French Throne
    Jonathan Beckman (John Murray, 2014) Google Books →
  • Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution
    Jack R. Censer and Lynn Hunt (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001)
  • A Day with Marie-Antoinette
    Helene Delalex (Flammarion, 2015) Google Books →
  • I Love You Madly: Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen: The Secret Letters
    Evelyn Farr (Peter Owen Publishers, 2016) Google Books →
  • Marie-Antoinette: The Journey
    Antonia Fraser (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001) Google Books →
  • Marie-Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen
    Dena Goodman (ed.) (Routledge, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Life of Louis XVI
    John Hardman (Yale University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution
    Joan B. Landes (Cornell University Press, 1988) Google Books →
  • Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France
    Evelyne Lever (Piatkus, 2006) Google Books →
  • Jane Austen and the French Revolution
    Warren Roberts (The Athlone Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • Marie Antoinette: Anthologie et Dictionnaire
    Catriona Seth (Robert Laffont, 2006) Google Books →
  • The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie Antoinette
    Chantal Thomas (trans. by Julie Rose) (Zone Books, 2001) Google Books →
  • Farewell, My Queen
    Chantal Thomas (Simon & Schuster, 2004) Google Books →
  • Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution
    Caroline Weber (Picador, 2007) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000117y

Episode page:

Auto-category: 944.04 (French Revolution, 1789-1799)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Marie Antoinette was born in 1755 in Vienna, the 15th child of the Empress Maria Teresa and the Holy Roman Emperor, one of the most powerful rulers in Europe.