Marie Antoinette Online Forum

biographies of marie antoinette
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Author:  Anouk [ Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Marija Vera wrote:
I agree with many conclusions although I thought he was very unfair to Louis XVI. Personally, I am not such a big fan of him, it is still hard for me to determine is my affection just of pity or I really appreciate the man, but I was very disappointed the way he was treated because his sexual problems. Of course that it couldn’t remain private but was it really fair to blame him for that, repeating that he was not a man and so on… For me, it was like you blame a woman for disability to have children, due to stress or some physical problem.

I think in this case Zweig is right. He expounds an opinion about this mariage filled by problems, chiefly considering its first seven years. This is the point we have to catch. He does not develop much how was the couple's personal life after their first child was born! In this regard, he rather presents a young woman, 15 to 22 years old, and he explains Marie Antoinette's possible view about Louis XVI during the first years. I think that's why this portrait of the housband became such disappointing. Just think of what Zweig writes: all these sustained sexual experiments she had to stand staggered her point of view about her housband.
Otherwise, it is true that Zweig is so harsh to poor Louis who couldn't handle this awkward situation. But we have to declare that presumably Louis' wabble was one of the reasons why Antoinette became so skittish. It is an important way to study her life.

Marija Vera wrote:
I And is it true that she had sent him the ring with the engraved Italian words “Tutto, a te mi guida”? I could write some letters in English but I am interested did you even get the feeling that he used some false information to back up his theory? I don’t suggest that Zweig is lying but I was confused, I thought that we agreed only about Fersen’s feelings without any real evidence or strong indication that she felt the same. Now, seems impossible to deny her feelings too so the only question remains was their love physical too, did she sleep with him!? I am more confused about it than I've ever been.

I was wondering about this ring-question (and about all the Fersen-affair). I have never heard that this alleged ring was ever found? Maybe I am just not very aware... Zweig was a good writer but this problem remains open. It seems he's on the side of physical love though he commends the reader to decide this question... interesting.

Marija Vera wrote:
This biography revealed many things to me, for example, I didn’t know about the details of Louis-Charles accusation! I don’t mean on the Zweig’s interpretation and view but on the facts what actually happened. Not a single documentary I watched mentioned it.

Yes, he writes about this affair astonishingly much, compared to others. Zweig says there's still a document of Louis Charles' accusation in the parisian archives. But he wrote his bio in the 1930's... so I don't know what is the situation at present? On internet you can find the accusation signature of poor Louis Charles...

Marija Vera wrote:
I was impressed with his study of Mirabeau, I was very thrilled with his study of people in general, especially of all the other people who were maybe not crucial but connected to the situation.

I am so interested in Mirabeau. I'm so happy to know that there exists a study on him by Zweig! I have to tell I haven't heard about it so far... :oops:

Author:  Therese [ Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

I think that Zweig is confusing the ring with the seal. Here an article by E.M. Vidal, in which Webster and several original sources are quoted. ... art-3.html
In September 1791, the queen sent Esterhazy two gold rings which, according to Webster, bore the motto: Domine, salve fac regem et regina. (God save the king and the queen.) Other authors say the motto was Lâche qui les abandonne. (Coward be the one who lets them down.) She wrote:

I am delighted to find this opportunity to send you a little ring which will surely give you pleasure. They have been sold in prodigious quantities during the last three days and one has all the difficulty in the world to find them. The one surrounded with paper is for him (Fersen), it will just fit him; I wore it for two days before packing it. Tell him it is from me. I do not know where he is; it is a dreadful torment to have no news and not even know where the people one is fond of (qu’on aime) are living.

Of course, a ring once worn by a queen is of great value, just like a cap once worn by the Pope. Nesta Webster’s commentary on the rings and letters must be quoted in its entirety:

These letters have again been quoted as evidence that there was a liaison between Marie-Antoinette and Fersen, and that Esterhazy being in on the secret, the Queen did not hesitate to confide in him on the subject. But in reality, what do they prove? Nothing more than that she had great affection for him. That a captive Queen should send royalist rings to two of her oldest and most faithful friends is nothing extraordinary, that she should have referred to Fersen as “him” was only in accordance with the plan of avoiding all names in writing. As to the words “qu’on aime,” aimer is a verb that in French…may mean either to like, to be fond of, to love with affection or to be in love with. It cannot have been in the last sense that Marie Antoinette employed it here, since she applies it in the plural - - “les gens qu’on aime”—that is to say, her friends in general….If she had used it in the amorous sense of one whom Esterhazy knew to be her lover, would she not have said, “celui qu’on aime?” (Nesta Webster, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during the Revolution)

Here is some information on the seal, from the same article.
There is evidence, however, that Fersen transcribed known letters of the queen into his journal, and at least in one case altering the original text to make it more personal. He claimed that the queen had once used his seal with the motto: Tutto a te mi guida. “Everything leads me to thee.” Webster claims that she had also used the seal of the monarchist Quintin Crauford in her correspondence – using other people’s seals was a subterfuge employed in sensitive diplomatic correspondence, but Fersen thought the words were meant as a message for himself. As Webster says:

Everything could certainly not be guiding her to Fersen when she was imprisoned in the Temple and had just refused Jarjayes' plan of escape, saying she could have no happiness apart from her children and therefore she abandoned the idea without even feeling any regret.

Author:  Marija Vera [ Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

I agree with you Anouk that it was an important matter and that Louis XVI had a problem that affected both of them tremendously. Still, there is something that bothered me in the way he discussed it, some rather personal undervalue.

Anouk wrote:
I am so interested in Mirabeau. I'm so happy to know that there exists a study on him by Zweig! I have to tell I haven't heard about it so far... :oops:

There isn’t a biography of him written by Zweig, only some pages as a part of M.A. biography, still very interesting. At least I found his way of thinking amazing.

Honestly, since I believe in that affair, for me that is more than affection for a friend but there are definitively other possible interpretations as Therese pointed out. Thank you for the letter!

“Everything leads me to thee.”- I don’t think these words could ever be read literally! Even if she loved Fersen you cant compare it with her love for her children!

Author:  Anouk [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Yes. I think all biographers agree that above all, she was a mother.

Author:  Artois [ Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

An excellent, comprehensive and fairly priced source of books that touch on every topic we discuss here is: the American Book Exchange. Go to:

I checked this morning and they have 11624 books on Marie Antoinette

Happy hunting!

Author:  Anouk [ Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Oh, thanks, Artois!

Author:  baron de batz [ Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

I would be interested in knowing which biographies of the Queen contributors here have read, and if there are any contributors here who would admit to never having read a biography of the Queen! :wink:

Author:  Rosalie [ Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

I've read Antonia Frazer's, Evelyne Lever's and The Memoires written by by Mme Campan...
I've got Castelot's biography on my shelf and I'm going to read it soon, too.

Author:  Marija Vera [ Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

I've read the biography by Zweig and Fraser, these are the serious ones, I've also read the much criticized fiction novel The hidden diary of Marie Antoinette by Caroly Erickson - which got me interested! :roll: . In my country it was hard to find any biography of Marie Antoinette translated, for example I read Fraser in English. I also read something connected to the period as two volumes of Casanova memoirs (only 2 translated at my library) then a book The history of private life (volume concerning the period of 17th, 18th century),the book about art of rococo, the painter Francisco Goya, costumes, then about the revolution I read in the book The Civil Europe (1770 - 1871) by a national author, other not centraled history books... I also like watching documentaries, as about Marie Antoinette, the developing of revolutionary ideology, the English painter I like Wiliam Hogarth, all on the History channel. Since it was very hard to find translated literature, I used to read anything I could find even published in the 18th century such as Marquis de Sade and Mirabeau (for sake of knowledge I swear!). Now I have a biography of Catherine the Great waiting to be read and later of Lafayette by Harlow Giles Unger. I've also bought a book about Fragonard. A lot of reading to follow but still I don't neglect the very important classics, not connected to the 18th century, as being part of some basic education.

(digressed from the baron's concrete question, in fear of what baron will reply about the literature he read! :| )

I would say that there are also members who prefer internet as a source.

Author:  Délicate fleur [ Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

I first read Fraser's The Journey, also Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever, Campan's Memoirs, Marie Antoinette: Portrait of An Average Woman ( :roll: ) and Marie Antoinette L'Insoumise by Simone Bertiere.

Author:  Lilly [ Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Stephan Zweig - Marie Antoinette
Antonia Fraser - The Journey
Joan Haslip - Marie Antoinette
Evelyne Lever - Marie Antoinette: Last Queen of France
Carolly Erickson - To the Scaffold
Stanley Loomis - The Fatal Friendship (MA and Fersen)
Chantal Thomas - The Wicked Queen
Imbert De Saint Amand - Marie Antoinette and the Downfall of Royalty
Memoirs / Madame Campan
Memoirs / Madame Roland's
Memoirs / Madame de la Tour du Pin
Olivier Bernier - Secrets of Marie Antoinette (Letters)
I am in the process of reading Webster's two books on Louis and MA.
I've also read lots of other books about the French Revolution which naturally talk about the King and Queen.

Author:  Lilly [ Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Also Vincent Cronin "Louis and Antoinette" This was a very good book!

Author:  Rosalie [ Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Lilly, I'm impressed! You're a real expert! :o

Author:  Lilly [ Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Thank you for the compliment Rosalie- but no, no I am not an expert. I just read alot and love history.

Author:  Anouk [ Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: biographies of marie antoinette

Yes you really are, Lilly! Not only this book list above, your posts also display your knowledge about Marie Antoinette.
Your are an expert, Rosalie, too!

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