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 Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette? 
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Thank you!
For me Fersen is very interesting for few reasons. He was a foreigner and he could save himself easily but he decided to put himself into danger and help the royal family. Friendship is one thing; many friends of the royal family had escaped because the real life danger – I can’t blame them for doing so. Fersen helped the royal family with their escaping plain, not only to think of it, but to carry it out. Everything had gone perfectly while he was in charge but apparently Luis XVI didn’t want to let him guide the carriage all to the end because he didn’t want to people say how foreigner helped them to escape. :shock:
In which context does Fersen mention Marie Antoinette in his diary?
I find one his sentence very beautiful – I live to serve her

(Information that I gave in my post (bold) are from the documentary that I’ve seen on HISTORY CHANEL. Historians were discussing Marie Antoinette’s life from her youth to her death)

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Sat May 10, 2008 2:21 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Fersen mentions Marie Antoinette a few times as a young man, before going to fight in America. The first mention is in January 1774, he attends the bals organized by the dauphine, but says nothing about her. Then comes this masked bal, he says that the dauphin and the dauphine came desguised and remained so half an hour before being recognized. The dauphine spoke to him and he did not recognize her, then, many people came around and she moved back to a loge. He seems very proud to have talked to a VIP ! :lol:

Then, Fersen gets back to Sweden, to England for meeting Mademoiselle Leyel and trying to marry her. In August 1778, he is back in Versailles and meets the royals. Everybody seems a little bit cold ("they said nothing to me", he wrote), except for the young queen who greets him so "Ah, but it is an old acquintance !" (C'est une vieille connaissance). Once again, Fersen seems very proud of this.

For a while, he remains at Versailles, being invited to the jeu de la reine, he wrote that she was "the most pretty and amiable princess" (la plus jolie et plus aimable princesse que je connaisse). The queen often tells him about his father, who had been very famous in Versailles, and asks him to come up with his Swedish military costume.

Fersen has always been interested in diplomatic or military careers. The war in America allows him to become a true military. He embarks to the new world, where he meets a lot of women. In his diary, he wrote not a single word about Marie Antoinette, only American ladies. When he comes back to France, he goes to Versailles and meets the royals again.

By this time, he hears that Miss Leyel does not want to marry him. He wrote to his sister Sophie that he is very happy with it, for he does not want to marry at all "for he cannot be to the person he wants to, the only one who loves him". That's all he says. If you want to believe he is referring to Marie Antoinette, it would be pure speculation.

That's for the beginning. Fersen has a great deal of his diary destroied by the time of Montmédy.

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Sat May 10, 2008 3:16 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Yes, Pim, I know about the other friends if MA's. It's just that here we are talking about Fersen, so I made my statement about him; it didn't mean I thought he was the only oone.

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Sat May 10, 2008 3:28 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Thank you, you’re so kind! I won’t speculate any more, I had said my opinion. :wink:

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Sat May 10, 2008 7:19 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Oh, dear, you are as allowed to speculate as those historians who wrote about Marie Antoinette and Fersen ! :roll: At least, you are honest, you admit you are speculating. Many scholars don't...

Let's get back to Fersen's writings, we'll immediately see how scholars speculate without admiting they do ! In 1790, Fersen wrote a lot of letters to his sister Sophie Piper, where he often refers to a woman he calls "my friend".

He describes how this lady, as sweet as an angel, is unhappy, how she cries... Alma Söderjhelm, who first published Fersen's writings, pretends this friend of Fersen's is Marie Antoinette. She is sure about it.

Let's admit the portrait may be relevant... but what when Fersen reports that his friend often thinks of Sophie and would like to meet her sometimes ? What would the queen of France have to do with Sophie Piper ? Hasn't she more important worries than meeting this Swedish lady ? :shock:

And what when Fersen explicitely writes about Marie Antoinette, calling her "the Queen", and, a few lines later, mentions his friend, writing "she too" ? Why would he add "she TOO" if he was refering to the same person ?

Le Roi et la Reine sont bien malheureux, et ils ne le meritent pas, la noblesse et le clergé sont détruits enfin on ne rencontre partout que des gens ruinés et qui perdent leur état. Elle aussi est bien malheureuse pauvre femme son courage est au dessus de tout et la rend encore plus interessante, elle est bien sensible a tout ce que vous dites pour elle, jamais on ne l'a mieux merité et jamais on n'a ete plus parfaitte. Mon seul chagrin est de ne pouvoir la consoler entierement de tous ses malheurs et de ne pas la rendre aussi heureuse quelle merite de l'etre. C'est de ches elle a la campagne que je vous ecris.

Stanley Loomis is the scholar who first saw this mistake in Madame Söderjhelm's analyse. For sure this friend Fersen spent som much time with cannot be Marie Antoinette. However, historians and biographes still go on pretending Fersen often met Marie Antoinette this summer 1790, as attested in his letters to Sophie Piper ! :roll:

I am afraid people really prefer romantical lies to historical analyse ! :mrgreen:

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Sun May 11, 2008 6:44 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Hm….interesting. Historians mostly can’t agree about this subject. His writings are confusing as his doings – You can’t know for sure about emotions involved. Both stories are romantic – Marie Antoinette’s life was everything but boring (in a good and in a bad way).

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Sun May 11, 2008 10:29 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
It is true that Fersen's writings are confusing, for he may use abbreviations, for instance. However, concerning these specific letters, he does not. He clearely writes about a "friend" and about "the King and Queen".

A interesting point is that Loomis wrote his book in 1972... althought, since 1972, the majority of the scholars go on quoting Alma Söderjhelm's mistakes.

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Mon May 12, 2008 11:07 am
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
I enjoy reading about these letters, dear Pim - it totally discredits the Fersen myth in my mind. And, as you often mention, people like to believe in romance for our poor, tragic Antoinette! :lol:

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Mon May 12, 2008 11:10 am
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
I don’t know. Somehow I think that, even if they were lovers, he wouldn’t discuss that openly even in his personal diary. As you said great deal of his diary was destroyed, that’s so bad. Why he does not say specifically the name of his dear friend? That’s confusing. :?

+ Not only desperate romantics believe in the Fersen myth, as I said historians cant agree about this subject.

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Mon May 12, 2008 7:24 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
About why Fersen didn't write the name of his "friend" to his sister: Just before the time when these letters were exchanged he had spent some time with his sister (Sophie, who was very dear to him) in Sweden and it is most likely that they spoke of this "friend" then - who ever it was - and that he therefore did not need to write the specific name for his sister. You can see this when you compare letters before he had "quality time" with his sister and letters after this.

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Mon May 12, 2008 7:51 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
I could add that I mean that just because Fersen was discrete not to write a specific name in the letters to his sister that does not mean he was writing about a queen. If he was referring to Mrs Sullivan he might have wanted to be discrete as well, because she was married and belonged to another man (not her husband !), or if he was referring to some other married mistress - not that I think so - he might have wanted to keep that a secret as well.

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Mon May 12, 2008 8:09 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Might, may, could… Unfortunately we can’t know for sure. Do you think that Fersen’s behavior during the revolution shows only friendship? As Pim had said in his letters he describes the queen as a friend (he is very happy to know a VIP person) but I can’t see that they were particularly close or that she was very nice to him (in the letters that Pim had posted).Than I find his behavior strange.
Marija Vera wrote:
. He was a foreigner and he could save himself easily but he decided to put himself into danger and help the royal family. Friendship is one thing; many friends of the royal family had escaped because the real life danger – I can’t blame them for doing so. Fersen helped the royal family with their escaping plain, not only to think of it, but to carry it out.

If Marie A. and Fersen were CLOSE friends, he had been visited her often, they were in contact – I don’t know that- than I can understand why he was so fond of her and the royal family. However it is a thin line between friendship and love between a man and a woman and that gives people material to speculate. Personally I think that they were romantically involved, maybe that love was not physical.
Do you know for example how Fersen did react after the royal family had been caught and later the queen executed?

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Mon May 12, 2008 8:28 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
There is little doubt that Fersen was devoted to both the king and the queen, especially to the queen. This does not imply an affair. He was devastated when he heard of their deaths. Yes, he probably was in love with Marie-Antoinette at one point; most people think so. Fersen had also long been acting under the orders of his master the King of Sweden. King Gustav was an ardent admirer and friend of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and one of the only monarchs who made a concerted effort to save them. Fersen's attempt to save the French royals was part of a long policy of the Swedish royal house. It also would have made Fersen a hero in Europe had his plan succeeded-- just as the association with them added greatly to his prestige anyway, and no doubt he played it for all it was worth.

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Mon May 12, 2008 8:51 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Yes but Louis didn’t want people to find out that Fersen had helped them. How than that would make him a hero? As more as we write about this, the more I think that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Austria and Prussia also wonted the return of monarchy. We may suppose that Fersen was in love with Marie Antoinette but we don’t know her feelings.
Did he often meet her while he was in France? Did we know at least one of her statements referring to Fersen?
Sorry if I am boring.
:oops:

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Mon May 12, 2008 10:11 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Marija Vera wrote:
Do you know for example how Fersen did react after the royal family had been caught and later the queen executed?


As Therese said before me; Fersen wrote very nice things of the queen in his diary and he was of course devastated when he heard of the queen's execution and all this you can read in his diary. You can find some extracts from this if you read some other threads about the subject here at Marie Antoinette Online. Take some time and read these threads because so many of your questions have already been asked - and answered. The parts that Pimprenelle posted here from Fersen's diary are also not all he wrote about Antoinette, it's not really strange I think, when you read it all, but it's hard to post all of that here. I recommend you all to read it.

Marija Vera wrote:
Yes but Louis didn’t want people to find out that Fersen had helped them. How than that would make him a hero?


That's not true, everybody knew that Fersen was the one helping them, and everybody would have known that if the flight would have been successful too. The reason Louis did not want Fersen to accompany them the last way was because Louis did not want Fersen to get in trouble. Sadly.

---

I think Therese sums it all up very well also. Fersen loved Antoinette, but then he was a true royalist, and his love is no where near evidence of a liaison and it does certainly not mean Antoinette loved anyone else than her husband. That Fersen was a friend of Louis is also relevant for this discussion. Fersen was also a proud man with wishes to be a great man, so why would he not want to save the greatest monarchs at that time from death, even if it was somewhat dangerous? The fact that he was a foreigner also made it easier for him to be the one helping the king and queen in the planned escape. Many of those who left Paris when the royal family might have needed them would have been killed if they would have stayed, but Fersen had no instant reason to escape - this alone does not make him a hero.

Also, as Pimprenelle writes, there were many who tried to help the royal family, though Fersen is the one who historians have decided to mention the most. He happened to be the one accompanying them on their escape, but he was not alone in planning it. Many of the people who aided the royal family was friends of Fersen though, like de Jarjayes and Craufurd/Sullivan.

About weather or not only desperate romantics believe in the Fersen myth I would also have to say no. But that is because so many historians insists that a liaison happened. When you then read about these things your mind is made up that they were romantically involved, but that doesn't mean you are romantical, it is just your beliefs and then it's hard to see things clearly...

My main interest is, as I've said in this forum before, Fersen. When you write about Fersen it's impossible not to mention Antoinette. But when your main intrest is Antoinette, as for most of you who are here (I believe), it's not really necessairy to speak about Fersen, exept if you're speaking about the flight. With this I do not mean that he was not a true or close friend to Antoinette, but I don't think he had such a big place in Antoinette's life before the planned escape.

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Mon May 12, 2008 10:29 pm
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