Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A memorable labour

In 1778, Marie Antoinette was giving birth to her first child. There was a lot of excitement in France, since the queen, though 23 years old, had yet to bear a child after 8 years of marriage to King Louis XVI (those days the queens only job was to bear an heir to the throne). Customarily the royal birth was an event for the spectators too. The moment the delivery was announced, spectators would enter the labour room and in the case of Marie Antoinette, there was such an excitement that the spectators surged into the room, and would have crushed the young Queen had the bed not been ringed with tapestry screens. As the room filled, people started climbing onto furniture. The queen fainted, apparently suffocated by heat and lack of oxygen in the room. Louis, who was a tall and strong man, broke through the crowd and forced open one window which had been sealed shut. The queen revived. After this incident the tradition was ended at Marie Antoinette's insistence and only a select relatives and ministers would attend the queen's future births.

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