Marie Thérèse of France – Prisoner (Part two)

marie therese angouleme
(public domain)

Read part one here.

Early the following morning, some in the crowd found a way into the palace. Marie Thérèse wrote, “At the same moment, the wretches forced the door of my mother’s room; so that one instant later, she would have been taken without means of escape. As soon as she entered my father’s rooms, she looked for him but could not find him; having heard she was in danger, he had rushed to her apartment, but by another way. Fortunately, he met my brother, brought to him by Mme. de Tourzel, who urged him to return to his rooms, where he found my mother awaiting him in mortal anxiety. Reassured about my father and brother, the queen came in search of me; I was already awakened by the noise in her rooms and in the garden under my windows; my mother told me to rise, and then took me with her to my father’s apartment.”1 The violence eventually subsided with the help of the Marquis de Lafayette’s National Guard, and he convinced the King to address the crowd.

That afternoon, a large procession, including the royal family, headed for Paris. The King’s sister who had told him, “It is not Paris, Sire, that you should go. You have still devoted battalions and faithful guards to protect you. I implore you, my brother, not to go to Paris.” As their carriage passed Montreuil, she bent forward to look at the trees. Her brother asked, “Are you bowing to Montreuil, sister?” She answered, “Sire, I am bidding it farewell.”2

The family was taken to the Tuileries, where they would live under guard. Marie Thérèse wrote, “Thus passed that fatal day, the opening epoch of the imprisonment of the royal family and the beginning of the outrages and cruelties it was to bear in the end. The rest of this year, and the year of 1790 were passed in a continual struggle between the Eoyal Power and that arrogated to itself by the Assembly, the latter always gaining the upper hand, although no very remarkable events happened during that time relating to the personal situation of my family.”3

During this time, Marie Thérèse became increasingly quiet and withdrawn, and she slept by her mother’s side, for everyone’s safety. The children’s lessons continued, and Marie Thérèse continued to work on her embroidery. On 4 April 1790, Marie Thérèse had her first communion, and although the event was enormously scaled down, it was still a special day. Her playmate Ernestine also had her first communion that day. Marie Thérèse’s family had not been allowed to attend, but Marie Antoinette managed to be there in disguise. Later, the King wrote to the Duchess of Polignac, “We have all been content with the way she comported herself. I also see with pleasure that she remembers you, as she should.”4

Marie Antoinette became convinced that the family needed to leave France as time passed. She began formulating a plan with Axel von Fersen and her brother, Emperor Leopold II. By February 1791, Marie Antoinette wrote that an escape plan was now underway. The flight eventually took place on 20 June. Marie Thérèse wrote, “On the 20th of June, 1790, my father and mother seemed to me greatly agitated during the whole day and much occupied, without my knowing the reason. After dinner, they sent us, my brother and me, into another room, and shut themselves into their own, alone with my aunt. I knew later that this was the moment when they told the latter of their plan for escaping by flight from the durance under which they were living.”5

The family escaped from the palace itself on foot through an unused and unguarded ground-floor apartment. Axel von Fersen and the carriage waited for them in a side courtyard on the north side of the Tuileries, known as the Cour des Suisses. The plan went awry, and they were stopped at Varennes. Marie Thérèse wrote, “At last, at six in the morning, seeing there was no remedy or help he looked for, we were absolutely forced to take the road back to Paris.”6 About their return to the Tuileries, she wrote, “My father and mother could not leave their rooms, not even to go to church, and mass was said in their apartments. No one could enter the Tuileries unless by cards of permission, which M. de la Fayette granted to few. Such was the state of my parents’ captivity during more than two months until the acceptance by the King of the Constitution. After that, we had several months of respite and apparent tranquillity, but the King found himself in a constant struggle with the Assembly, which ulcerated all minds more and more, daily.”7

For the next year, they were kept under strict guard at the Tuileries. During this time, Marie Thérèse turned 13 years old. On 20 June 1792, a terrifying mob was allowed into the gardens of the palace by the National Guard. They carried pikes and hatchets and eventually broke into the palace itself. They made their way to the King’s apartments and confronted Louis. A reluctant Marie Antoinette and the children were brought to safety. Marie Thérèse wrote, “There we awaited, in the silence of profound anxiety, for news of what had happened to my father.”8

Upon finally being reunited when the danger passed, she wrote, “It was, as I have said, about eight o’clock when this dreadful procession of rioters ceased to pass, and we were able to rejoin my father and aunt. No one can imagine our feelings at that reunion; they were such that even the deputies from the Assembly were touched. My brother was overcome with fatigue, and they put him to bed.”9

Read part three here.

  1. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.212-213
  2. The life and letters of Madame Élisabeth de France p.24-25
  3. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.216
  4. The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter by Susan Nagel p.93
  5. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.216
  6. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.223
  7. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.219-220
  8. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.232
  9. The Ruin of a Princess by the Duchess of Angoulême p.236

About Moniek Bloks 2732 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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