A Day in Her Life in May
May 5, 1789
Amidst one last magnificent gasp of royal splendor, The Estates General opens its proceedings at Versailles.
May 6, 1758
Maximilien Robespierre is born. A natty dresser and prig divine, his ultimate legacy would be as the mastermind for the Reign of Terror.
May 7, 1770
Marie Antoinette is stripped naked and redressed in Parisian finery as she is transferred from Austrian to French hands on a small island in the Rhine.
May 10, 1774
King Louis XV, pustulant, swollen, and the color of copper, dies of smallpox at the age of 64. He will not be missed.
May 10, 1794
Madame Elisabeth, virtuous sister of Louis XVI is beheaded. Even Robespierre is uncomfortable with this execution, fearing a popular uproar. In 1924, the Catholic Church begins her case for beatification as a saint.
May 12, 1776
Finance Minister Turgot is forced to resign his post, sabotaging his plans at humbling the privileged elite and revamping the byzantine tax system.
May 15, 1832
Madame Tourzel dies; she was the last governess of Marie Antoinette’s children. Her unshakeable loyalty to the royal family is legendary. Miraculously, she escaped the guillotine and wrote her significant memoirs in old age.
May 16, 1770
Marie Antoinette and the French heir, Louis Auguste, are married in the chapel at Versailles, followed by a wedding reception in the newly built opera house hosting more than five thousand guests.
May 20, 1834
General Lafayette dies in Paris. Brave participant of the American Revolution, the once idolized hero becomes distrusted by all sides in the French Revolution. Several times during French history he was de-facto head of state but never sought to become a dictator.
May 31, 1786
Cardinal Rohan is declared innocent by the Paris Parlement in the trial of the century, The Affair of the Diamond Necklace; Marie Antoinette recoils in horror as the public considers her to be the guilty party.