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 Who was Gabrielle 
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Yes, I think it's an interesting point of view, developped by the Giraut de Coursac and Philippe Delorme, too, as well as by some biographers of Louis XVI. Being afraid of Marie-Antoinette's implication in external politics, and, of course, of her Austrian interests, the king tried all he could to have her out of these. He put her in charge of "Menus Plaisirs". That's one of the reasons why Marie-Antoinette is so associated with pleasures and futilities. She had no other choice, after all !

Then, maybe advised by Maurepas, who was related to Madame de Polignac, the king warmly favourished this friendship. With Gabrielle occupying her heart so deeply, Antoinette definitely was out of politics, and out of dangerous influences.

Furthermore, Gabrielle helped her greatly, for she had husband and children, and could guide the queen on this way too. Some biographers think that the queen actually was afraid of childbirthing, she feared sufferings and even death. Gabrielle's experience could help her.

Finally, events and dates are concording. You can see that Antoinette gradually calmed down after meeting madame de Polignac. She chose simpler clothes, abandoned poufs for "à l'enfant" hairdo and, once a mother, took care of her children with Gabrielle. This occupied a big part of their lifes.

That's why, in my view, Gabrielle's friendship was positive to Marie-Antoinette. With her, the queen found a real happiness.

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Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:48 pm
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I can't wait to read Delorme's biography. His biography about Louis XVII was a good one.
Louis was much more clever than his reputation...


Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:59 pm
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Yes, Aurora, Louis was far more clever than people think. After all, he grew up at Versailles and knew how to navigate through the various cliques. In the early years of his reign, he was considered a very popular and successful monarch.

Yes, Pim, that theory put forth by Delorme, de Coursac, and Bernard Fay is a very good one, I think, and makes sense as to why Gabrielle was so favored by Louis.

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Thu Jul 27, 2006 4:02 pm
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Aurora wrote:
Yes, the sweet little duchesse de Chartres(Orléans)who was also very kind and timid, and what kind of husband she was suffering from!
And all those jalous courtiers behind the back of the royal couple, no wonder La Reine wanted her escape in Trianon world.



Yes, the poor Duchess, she suffered so much from that awful husband of hers and his affairs, especially with her best friend, Madame de Genlis. I read once that the Duchess was so unhappy she had an affair with Artois but I have no idea if that is true....

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Thu Jul 27, 2006 4:11 pm
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Dear Aurora,

Ian Dunlop writing in his book "Marie Antoinette" states that

"it appears that the real defect of Madame de Polignac was in the company that she kept"

Do you think this could explain some of the confusion we feel about her?

Vivienne


Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:00 pm
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I tend to agree with you, dear, even if it is difficult to decide if these people were guilty even... Vaudreuil and Diane de Polignac took so many advantages from Gabrielle's favour, but this was the way the court went in those times... and isn't it the way societies still go ? Favoritisme and nepotisme did not dissapear with kings and queens, I'm afraid...

Many courtiers intrigued, it was a kind of sport in Versailles. But the more I read about madame de Polignac, the more I come to the conclusion that she did not. Simply was she unable to resist the loved ones' pressures... Furthermore, all that the Polignacs received was necessary to entertain a train suitable enough to receive the queen, the first lady of the kingdom, in their salon, in their house, and even the king.

You don't receive Marie-Antoinette at your place like any girl next door ! We're not in Coppollywood world, here ! :wink:

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Last edited by Pimprenelle on Mon Dec 25, 2006 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:39 pm
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Dear friends, I am more and more convinced that Gabrielle has been just as maligned as the queen. What went on with her relations and friends was a common occurence in a every court of Europe - when you rose, your family went with you, it was almost expected. If there had been no revolution, no one would have given a second thought to the Polignacs, except perhaps to find them annoying, as some did. But with the COMPLETE upheaval of society in the Revolution, contemporaries and historians alike were/are grasping for straws to see what the queen did that made her SO hated by the French people. They think it must have been the problems with La Barry, or the queen's dress allowance, or her Trianon, or Gabrielle's grasping relatives, or SOMETHING. Marie-Antoinette was hated because she was deliberately maligned by a careful campaign on the part of political enemies which included dissimulating false and exaggerated rumors to the people, as well as every form of the most vile pornography. Gabrielle was routinely included in the vile pornograhic depictions. People were scandalized and believed that some of it must be true, or AT LEAST Gabrielle was depleting the royal treasury. But the treasury was depleted not by Gabrielle but by the American revolution and the improvements to the army and navy that were necessary to defeat England. Gabrielle did nothing. Her family was greedy but they were no different from other people's families.

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Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:18 pm
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Dear Vivienne, that is a good point to think about.
Was Gabrielle perhaps too soft in general, easy to profit?
I just wonder what really was the main thing that separated our sweet and soft Polignac from the sweet and soft Lamballe?
I have thought for a long time that it was actually Marie Antoinette who in her friendships was the more dependant and soft one.
Was it Gabrielle's motherhood and early marriage the main thing that linked her to the Queen and Lamballe couldn't understand?
Dear Pimprenelle, your textes we can read someday printed, d'accord?
Dear Therese, excellent points also, as usual!


Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:25 pm
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I think Gabrielle probably had more in common with Antoinette, than the queen had with Lamballe. Madame de Lamballe was more of an intellectual, and very serious, as well as being high-strung and a bit neurotic. Gabrielle was down to earth, very sweet, very maternal, and had a very calming manner which helped Antoinette's nerves. Lamballe also had too many English friends and Orleanist connections which Louis did not think was good for the queen, so he gently encouraged her towards Gabrielle.

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Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:35 pm
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Dear Therese, I fully agree with you. Dear Aurora... Vous êtes adorable ! Quelle gentillesse ! Je suis confuse... :oops:

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Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:22 pm
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Polignac had also the big advantage of being very beautiful, and this criterion was important for Marie-Antoinette. :D
And she also was appreciated by children, which liked to the Queen very much.
Lamballe was more distant than Polignac, and more shy person.

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Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:36 pm
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Good points, L-C!

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Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:52 pm
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Louis-Charles wrote:
And she also was appreciated by children, which liked to the Queen very much.


If Polignac wasn't appreciated by the Queen's children, would she have been named "Gouvernante"?

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Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:28 am
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That's also my feeling, dear... Was Marie-Antoinette stupid enough to give her children to any intrigant ? Her precious treasures ?

However, following those who destroy madame de Polignac, the duchess was only interested in the high position, and she did not care for royal children, as she did not care for hers !

Still according to them, Marie-Antoinette did not confide in madame de Polignac, but she made her governess in order to take care of her children herself.

Isn't it so complicated ? Especially from a woman as sincere and as direct as Marie-Antoinette ? I guess a simpler explanation must be righter, dear Victoire-Adelaïde, and certainly will follow your sensibility. Marie-Antoinette made madame de Polignac governess for, since years, they raised their children together and the queen perfectly knew she could rely on her friend.

Any proofs of this confidence and intimacy ? Read Antoinette's letters to Gabrielle in exile... They always content words fort their children, news, details, even writings from them. Would Antoinette give news to an indifferent intrigant ? For sure, on the contrary, Gabrielle impatiently waited for them...

In one of these letters, Antoinette underlined "chou d'amour" and wrote : "I call him so to remind him of you and your family". This intimacy was so strong that the queen chose to nickname Charles "Aglaé" when desguised as a girl for escaping. Why this name ? for it was Gabrielle's daughter's one, a name this little boy easily would remember, for he knew it so well... a precious name, the name of a dear one...

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Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:43 am
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The Marie-Antoinette's letter which was sent to Polignac in 1792 I believe, and where Madame Royale wrotten few words for her can easily prove that Polignac was appreciated by the Marie-Antoinette's children.

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Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:56 pm
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