Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were married in May 1770 in Paris. But, their nuptials weren’t as happy as they hoped. Indeed, during their marriage 132 people lost their lives.
Louis-Auguste and Marie-Antoinette were respectively only 16 and 14 years old on their wedding day. The festivities uniting the future king and the daughter of the Empress of Germany took place over several days, in Paris and Versailles. The festivities organized in Versailles are a real delight. Plays, operas, minuets, masked balls, banquets and fireworks punctuate the days following the arrival of the Dauphine… Green carpet. Splendid boats illuminated with lanterns and hung with canopies sail peacefully on the water. That evening, the people of Paris crowded into the lighted groves, while the courtiers contemplated this spectacle from the terrace.
Paris was full of narrow streets
On Wednesday, May 30, in honor of their union, fireworks were set off on Place Louis XV, which is now Place de la Concorde. But, during the event, a rocket falls to the ground and a crowd movement forms. Named “great suffocation”, this tragic accident claimed 132 trampled and asphyxiated victims. Indeed, at that time, Paris was in full effervescence. Baron Haussmann and his orderly urbanism having not yet been there, the city has developed in an anarchic way around a few rare major axes. Paris was made up of winding and narrow streets, small passages that are real cut-throats… The famous rue Royale is dotted with holes, veritable ditches dug for the foundations that no one has bothered to cover. After the fire, the people hasten to reach the boulevards by the only possible exit, the rue Royale, a narrow space which is not made to accommodate such a large flow. The pressure of the mass is such that it creates “a prodigious support on a point”. At this precise place, carriages caught in the crowd block the exit to a wider passage.
130 people died
To make matters worse, the widths are riddled with ruts and piles of stones caused by the work in progress. Inevitably, these dangerous conditions lead to a disaster: The first to fall into the ruts were trampled and suffocated first by the others. In total, about 130 people died during and after the incident… Marie-Antoinette, who was on her way to join the party, returned in tears to Versailles on hearing this painful news.