Among the persons who principally contributed to this spirit of heroism were the fair fanatic Charlotte Corday and the unfortunate Marie Antoinette. Charlotte Corday, who stabbed Marat to his death, ascended the scaffold beautiful as an angel, and adorned like a bride. The example of this amiable heroine fired the imagination of all young men and women of enthusiastic minds throughout France.
As the sufferings of the queen exceeded beyond comparison those of any other victim of the Revolution, so her fortitude during the latter period of her life and her death surpassed every other example of heroism. Divorced from the affections of the people, inhumanly separated from her husband and children, subjected to innumerable insults and indignities, confined in a dreary and noisome prison, Marie Antoinette maintained the same dignity of deportment as in the splendid apartments of Trianon; and she never afforded her tormentors the gratification of seeing her sink pusillanimously under her sufferings.
Scenes of Execution
On the day of her death there were only two moments in which she yielded to her emotions. She had expected that she should be conveyed to the place of the execution as the king had been, in a coach. When, therefore, she saw the cart in which she was to be conveyed, she blushed and wiped her eyes. When she ascended the guillotine, her aspect struck such awe into the executioner, that he involuntarily uncovered himself and made a profound obeisance.
By the same commanding aspect she caused the invectives [sic] and execrations [sic] which till then had continued without intermission, to cease for a short time. To atone for the crime of his involuntary respect, the executioner tore off the queen’s neck handkerchief with brutal violence. The miscreant rabble raised a should of exultation. Neither the brutality of the executioner nor the ferocity of the sanguinary mob produced the slightest alteration in the queen’s features. But when the ruffian proceeded to pull off her cap, and cut off her hair, turned gray with affliction, which he trampled under his feet, her anguish became too strong for nature to endure, and the queen began to weep. The tears of the illustrious sufferer produced a solemn silence, which continued til the sufferings of the imperial victim were ended.
The total overthrow of the ancient and the establishment of a new system of government, the disappearance of the court and everything connected with it; the emigration, execution, or impoverishment of the principal landed proprietors and other persons of rank or wealth; the important events of the Revolution, and particularly the great calamities and crimes to which it gave occasion, produced many changes in the way of thinking of the mutual relations of the sexes which became very conspicuous in the next century.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.