Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Most Infamous Stains in History


6
The Accursed Queen
A portrait of signature-bungler Marie-Antoinette and her children, painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun © Corbis
A portrait of signature-bungler Marie-Antoinette and her children, painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun © Corbis

In 1774, when she was only 19 years old, Marie Antoinette became Queen of France. Her rise to power as the wife of Louis XVI seemed like the stuff of fairy tales. And it all began as she signed her name to the marriage certificate several years earlier.

As she applied her signature, a drop of ink fell and blotted the top of her name. Historians have attributed this accidental splash to the nervousness and excitement that the young girl must have felt as she instantly became one of the world's most powerful people.

But her eventual fate helped to seal the signature as one of history's most famous case of poor penmanship. Although the people loved her at first, she was later vilified for her extravagance and supposed heartlessness towards hungry citizens.

As the French revolution took hold, Louis and his queen were driven from power and eventually executed. Marie went to the guillotine and was beheaded on October 16, 1793.


More to Explore