Marie Antoinette had been separated from her son in early July 1793 while the family was still imprisoned in the Temple. She remained with her sister-in-law Madame Élisabeth and her daughter Marie Thérèse until she was moved to the Conciergerie in the early hours of 2 August 1793.
The security around the move had been meticulously checked. Guards had checked all the doors during the day and were told to regard themselves as being in a state of siege. At 8 in the evening, the artillery was instructed to hold itself in readiness. They came for her at 2 in the morning when she had been sleeping.
Marie Thérèse later wrote, “My aunt and I asked at once to go with my mother, but this mercy was not granted to us. While she was making up a parcel of her clothes, the municipals never left her; she was obliged to even dress herself before them. They asked for her pockets, which she gave them; they searched them and took all that was in them, although there was nothing of importance. They made a packet of these articles and said they would send it to the revolutionary tribunal, where it would be opened before her. They left her only a handkerchief and a smelling bottle, in the fear that she might be taken faint.”
She added, “My mother, after tenderly embracing me and telling me to have courage, to take good care of my aunt, and to obey her as a second mother, repeated to me the same instructions that my father had given me; then throwing herself into my aunt’s arms she commended her children to her. I answered nothing, so terrified was I at the idea that I saw her for the last time; my aunt said a few words to her in a low voice. Then my mother went away without casting her eyes upon us, fearing no doubt that her firmness might abandon her.”1
Marie Antoinette banged her head on a beam as they went down the steps, but when asked if she was alright, she answered that she felt no pain at all.2 Three hackney carriages and a body of soldiers awaited her, and they her through the dark city to the Conciergerie. “Prisoner no 280” arrived just as dawn began to break. When asked upon entry what her name was, she replied, “Look at me.”3
After she arrived in her own cell, Marie Antoinette undressed herself. A maid named Rosalie offered to help, but Marie Antoinette told her, “Thank you, my child. But since I no longer have anyone [of my household] with me, I will look after myself.”4
On 11 September, Marie Antoinette was moved to another cell after the Carnation Plot, a plan to help her escape, and she was interrogated for two long days. Still, she remained at the Conciergerie until the start of her trial in October.