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 Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette? 
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
This discussion has nothing to do with catholicism or any other faith, Marija Vera. This has to do with historical analyse and testimonies. The point I developped is that most of the historians that believe there once was a liaison between Marie Antoinette and Fersen rely on Alma Söderjhelm's analyse.

However, most of it actually shows speculations instead of historical analyse.

If you carefully read the debates that were hold here on this board, you'll see testimonies are also dubious, let's think of Saint Priest, so often quoted, that actually was the husband of a woman desperately in love with Fersen. Or Madame de Boigne, who was not even born back then !

From all this, I think that there is more than just a quarrel between historians. There are no proofs at all of a liaison, not a single one, no proof Marie Antoinette felt more than a deep friendship for Hans Axel von Fersen. "Mon ami", she wrote, and that only is beyond doubt.

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Thu May 15, 2008 5:18 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Therese wrote:
On the contrary, Marie-Antoinette was quite modest in her youth. She was not extremely devout but
always practiced her faith nevertheless.


I have to disagree with that; her early behavior at the Franch court was not modest at all, to the strict standards of Catholic church in that time. For example, church was often against seeing the strong make up on women; modesty was not only in the people’s behavior but in their style and the way they had presented themselves. I doubt that they would approve gambling or exaggeration of any kind. Maria Teresia was also against her daughters’ extravagance, if I may call it like that, since it wasn’t something that I would now consider as really, really bad. Royals weren’t just as regular citizens, from their childhood they were witnessing many devious things at the court even if they were strictly raised. I had mentioned Catholic religion because in some previous posts you have mentioned it as the one of reasons more that Marie A. couldn’t had had lover and cheat on her husband. She was raised to be a good Catholic, faithful wife and queen. However I must agree that that kind of liaisons couldn’t stay unnoticed by so many courtiers. That’s why I had asked did Fersen had visited Marie A. often and was it possible for them to be left completely alone. Did they walk together in park of the Versailles, did their friendship had more private or formal character and so on.
One thing I find strange too. Let’s say that Fersen was in love with Marie A. We can see clearly how he had admired her; he was very fond of her, we can see that in his writings and in his acts, I may suggest that he loved her. Even you’ve mentioned it as something highly possible. People who were in love know how hard it is to keep it as secret, especially when you are near dear person, always something gives you away. I can’t see Fersen, known for his beauty, true womanizer, close to Marie A., restraining himself from showing his feelings. If Marie A. didn’t feel the same she would reject him, feel even insulted, she couldn’t be his friend because that would be hypocrite or cruel at least, particularly because Louis, her husband. On the contrary, love between two persons (love that both sides feel) is something different, of course queen would have to be extremely careful if she cares about her reputation and not having a lover just to show. That’s why I find important the level of their friendship, I want to read Fersen’s diary or to find out how close they actually were, without Louis (historians knows that better then me and that’s why I respect their analyses but I must know and their sources). I need to know as much as I can so I could support the theory of some historians, or your attitude, your knowledge is not for underestimating at all.
The conclusion is that I must do my own research that can last for ages (there are a lot of things to read…) but for now and the things I know and I’ve heard or read (from documentaries, articles…) I think that the theory of their liaison is not just a stupid Hollywood myth.

Finished at last… 8)

P.S. – Mon ami… I find it beautiful :) . Madam de Tourvel wrote it to her love
(but the rest of her letter shows her real feelings, what is not the case with our dear queen).

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Thu May 15, 2008 11:31 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Marija Vera wrote:
Therese wrote:
On the contrary, Marie-Antoinette was quite modest in her youth. She was not extremely devout but
always practiced her faith nevertheless.


I have to disagree with that; her early behavior at the Franch court was not modest at all, to the strict standards of Catholic church in that time. For example, church was often against seeing the strong make up on women; modesty was not only in the people’s behavior but in their style and the way they had presented themselves. I doubt that they would approve gambling or exaggeration of any kind. Maria Teresia was also against her daughters’ extravagance, if I may call it like that, since it wasn’t something that I would now consider as really, really bad. Royals weren’t just as regular citizens, from their childhood they were witnessing many devious things at the court even if they were strictly raised. I had mentioned Catholic religion because in some previous posts you have mentioned it as the one of reasons more that Marie A. couldn’t had had lover and cheat on her husband. She was raised to be a good Catholic, faithful wife and queen. However I must agree that that kind of liaisons couldn’t stay unnoticed by so many courtiers. That’s why I had asked did Fersen had visited Marie A. often and was it possible for them to be left completely alone. Did they walk together in park of the Versailles, did their friendship had more private or formal character and so on.
One thing I find strange too. Let’s say that Fersen was in love with Marie A. We can see clearly how he had admired her; he was very fond of her, we can see that in his writings and in his acts, I may suggest that he loved her. Even you’ve mentioned it as something highly possible. People who were in love know how hard it is to keep it as secret, especially when you are near dear person, always something gives you away. I can’t see Fersen, known for his beauty, true womanizer, close to Marie A., restraining himself from showing his feelings. If Marie A. didn’t feel the same she would reject him, feel even insulted, she couldn’t be his friend because that would be hypocrite or cruel at least, particularly because Louis, her husband. On the contrary, love between two persons (love that both sides feel) is something different, of course queen would have to be extremely careful if she cares about her reputation and not having a lover just to show. That’s why I find important the level of their friendship, I want to read Fersen’s diary or to find out how close they actually were, without Louis (historians knows that better then me and that’s why I respect their analyses but I must know and their sources). I need to know as much as I can so I could support the theory of some historians, or your attitude, your knowledge is not for underestimating at all.
The conclusion is that I must do my own research that can last for ages (there are a lot of things to read…) but for now and the things I know and I’ve heard or read (from documentaries, articles…) I think that the theory of their liaison is not just a stupid Hollywood myth.

Finished at last… 8)

P.S. – Mon ami… I find it beautiful :) . Madam de Tourvel wrote it to her love
(but the rest of her letter shows her real feelings, what is not the case with our dear queen).


Marija, Madame Campan wrote extensively about the queen's modesty in her memoirs. Flamboyant dressing is a bit different from modesty. Rouge was required by court etiquette; even men wore rouge and powder. The Empress Maria Theresa had extremely high standards, and thought her daughter should dress in a more conservative manner, like Queen Marie Lescinska. But they all wore make up at court.

And as Pimprenelle said, this thread is not about the Roman Catholic religion or how M-A practiced it, but about her relationship with Fersen. Although since she did confess with regularity, if she had been having a long-term liaison with the Count, any confessor would have made her send him away or she would have been denied the sacraments. She was never denied the sacraments. M-A and Fersen rode together in public, for the sake of propriety, which both Louis XVI and his queen were very conscious of.

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Thu May 15, 2008 11:47 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Therese wrote:
And as Pimprenelle said, this thread is not about the Roman Catholic religion or how M-A practiced it, but about her relationship with Fersen.


Pimprenelle wrote (Marie Antoinettes lover)-
In my opinion, the point is that trying to apply modern psychological methods to Marie Antoinette is wrong. First of all, the periods are different. Women such as Marie Antoinette had a very strong christian education. Then, and this is even more important, I think, Marie Antoinette was an Habsburg archduchess, that is to say someone very different from the rest of the world. She had been raised to be queen somewhere sometimes, and to be queen of France, coming from the House of the Caesars. That means that she was a very special person, and she was deeply conscious of this.

Therese wrote (Marie Antoinette’s lover)-
Pimprenelle is correct, the queen was raised with a strong sense of duty and strong religious upbringing. Her role as mother of the Children of France was sacred to her, and she knew that she could not compromise it by having a lover.

Sorry than, I got it wrong… :lol:

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Fri May 16, 2008 12:19 am
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Marija Vera wrote:

I have to disagree with that; her early behavior at the Franch court was not modest at all, to the strict standards of Catholic church in that time.


Actually, the standards were quite lax in France in the days of Marie-Antoinette.

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Last edited by Therese on Sun May 18, 2008 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri May 16, 2008 12:44 am
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
I have to admit I agree with Therese, here. Madame Campan testifies about Marie Antoinette's modesty. It is also known that Marie Therese gave her children a strong christian education.

That is one point we have difficulties to understand with our nowadays standards. A lady with such an education would not take a lover as easily as we imagine.

The second point is her consciousness of being an Habsbourg archduchess, that means someone different of the rest of the world, far upon the others. It is also difficult for us, with our nowadays equality, to imagine this feeling Marie Antoinette was raised in.

Then, there is her position as queen of France. It as been clearly analysed by Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac. The whole court ritual that surrounded the queen was there to prevent her from any contact with males except from her king. The aim was to garantee the purity of the lignage, and they did not kid with that.

So, you see, Marija Vera, it is more a matter of putting us into Marie Antoinette's shoes than of simple religion.

I would not been shocked if Marie Antoinette had Fersen or any other man for lover, being quite open myself... but I am a XXIth c. person living in the European middle-class... that is far different from a XVIIIth c. Habsbourg archduchess ! :wink:

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Fri May 16, 2008 9:00 am
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
There is also this important point mentioned on this board by Hans Axel :

Quote:
But remember that his words and his love is no evidence of Antoinette's love and especially not a liaison.


That's it, precisely ! From Fersen's diary, it is obvious that he fell in love with Marie Antoinette. But he did in a very special way... Indeed, his feeling goes stronger and stronger with misfortune. It seems he actually fell for a princess in distress and tried so hard to rescue her. Later, after her death, he would venere her as a goddess.

All the ancient scholars noticed this so specific chivalrous feeling. Then came Alma Söderjhelm, who translated and published Fersen's writings, for she could read Swedish. Her edition work is wonderful, for it still is thanks to her that we can read Fersen's so interesting diary.

Unfortunately, her interpration certainly is wrong. She tried to show that Marie Antoinette fell in love with Fersen and did all she could to have him at court. But in fact there is nothing at all in Fersen's diary or letters that could allow to think so. Still more unfortunately for historical analyse, most of the scholars (Lever, Fraser...) blindly rely on Söderjhelm's book.

If you really are interested in this Fersen legend, Marija Vera, I recommend you to read Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac, Stanley Loomis or Nesta Webster. They do actual historical analyse instead of romance !

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Fri May 16, 2008 9:21 am
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Marija Vera wrote:
One thing I find strange too. Let’s say that Fersen was in love with Marie A. We can see clearly how he had admired her; he was very fond of her, we can see that in his writings and in his acts, I may suggest that he loved her. Even you’ve mentioned it as something highly possible. People who were in love know how hard it is to keep it as secret, especially when you are near dear person, always something gives you away. I can’t see Fersen, known for his beauty, true womanizer, close to Marie A., restraining himself from showing his feelings. If Marie A. didn’t feel the same she would reject him, feel even insulted, she couldn’t be his friend because that would be hypocrite or cruel at least, particularly because Louis, her husband. On the contrary, love between two persons (love that both sides feel) is something different, of course queen would have to be extremely careful if she cares about her reputation and not having a lover just to show.


First of all, Fersen's possible love for Antoinette grew greater and greater as time went by and it is possible that it reached it's highest point when he did not spend time with Antoinette, after 1789. What I want to say with this is that there is not much for you to read in Fersen's diary that will show how much time they spent togheter. The diary from the time you want to read is destroyed also, so we will have to do with reading about his devotion for Antoinette when he does not see her, but it is also very interesting. Even after Antoinette's death (and maybe because of it) Fersen still "loved" her and he often remembers her and the time at Versailles. It is all extremely sad, but I don't believe this has anything to do with Antoinette possibly loving him in return. It was not just Antoinette who died, it was the end of an era. Fersen failed to rescue the royal family and often looked back on that day (as we can read over and over again in his diary) and later he died in a horrible way precisely 19 years after the failed rescue mission. This "thing"... Fersen's "love"... is what really made (not started - made) the whole Antoinette-Fersen-thing, and there is actually nothing there, just admiration, devotion, worship.

About Fersen, who was "known for his beauty, true womanizer, close to Marie Antoinette" and about him not being able to "restraining himself from showing his feelings"... That is just wrong, I believe. He was not only known for his great looks and his affairs, he has also been described as very discreet, noble and a man of extremely good manners, might I say. He was not catholic, but he was a very proud man who would never be thoughtless about what he was doing, instead he detested people who were that way. This we can also see if we read his diary. I am sure that he would never say anything wrong to the queen of France - if she did not talk to him first etc, which I don't believe at all, because then we would know of that... And if he would have "made a pass" at Antoinette I don't believe a friendship with neither her nor her husband would have existed. I also think, but these are mere specualations, that Fersen loved Antoinette in a way that made it impossible for him to "act" on it. He writes, for example, in his diary that he feels very sorry for the queen when she was seperated from her husband (before Louis' death) and I don't believe that Fersen would ever do anything to come between them and their family.

---

If you want to read about Antoinette and her catholic ways I would recommend you to read Elena Maria Vidal's blog: http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/ She is a catholic who has studied Antoinette's life and she has also written two novels.

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Fri May 16, 2008 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Pim & Therese (from my previous posts):
Marija Vera wrote:
Women such as Marie Antoinette had a very strong christian education.
Marija Vera wrote:
the queen was raised with a strong sense of duty and strong religious upbringing.

Pimprenelle wrote:
It is also known that Marie Therese gave her children a strong christian education.

Therese wrote:
Actually, the standards were quite lax in France in the days of Marie-Antoinette. Yes, you have it wrong.


Thank you Hans Axel, I found your post very interesting.

Pim and Therese, I thought that beside “we don’t have a proof about their liaison” (letters, testimonies…) you had mentioned Marie Antoinnete’s Catholic education and upbringing to show how she would not easily have a lover, since she had known her duties very well. That’s why I wonted to discuss it. I guess my English is worst than I thought…

Thank you for the recommended literature. It’s nice to see how we can discuss friendly and easily even we completely disagree in some points. :)

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Fri May 16, 2008 4:50 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
truely, Hans Axel, you speak wonderfully of Fersen ! You deeply read and questioned his writings, and you sincerely tried to understand him.

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Fri May 16, 2008 6:36 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Pimprenelle wrote:
truely, Hans Axel, you speak wonderfully of Fersen ! You deeply read and questioned his writings, and you sincerely tried to understand him.


But then - as I have said here before - my main interest is Fersen and because of that I have not only read about him through Antoinette and therefore, I believe, I have a more thorough view of him than many here. There is a lot to read about him and people surrounding him - it helps if you know Swedish of course - and through all that you can get a wider picture of the whole Fersen-Antoinette-thing and it's easier to understand Fersen's own writings when you read about him trhough others as well. Fersen's father's writings are published, a near friend of Fersens's sister, Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta's (Queen of Sweden 1809-1818) diary is published - and that book is a treasure! Also there is a lot to read about Gustav III and a lot of other Swedish men, like Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt (his "papers", inkcluding letters etc, are published). It feels like many who have written about Fersen-Antoinette have not read a lot about Fersen, and that's a pity.

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Sat May 17, 2008 4:44 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
I think there might be some value in incorporating a wider perspective on Ferson and a more detailed look at his relationship with Antoinette in the articles section of this website. It's not something that is addressed directly in the materials available online generally, only through the forum at this site. I am beginning to think that a paper that attempts to build a relalistic picture of their relationship is overdue.

Thank you Hans Axel and Pim in particular for the careful and studied approach that you take toward this subject. What I read here (and on other threads) is very clear and approachable writing on the subject and you are to be applauded for it.

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Sun May 18, 2008 12:08 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Yes, Adrienne, I think it is a very good idea. And I join you in thankin Hans Axel and Pimprenelle for their detailed information

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Sun May 18, 2008 8:15 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
Adrienne wrote:
I think there might be some value in incorporating a wider perspective on Ferson and a more detailed look at his relationship with Antoinette in the articles section of this website. It's not something that is addressed directly in the materials available online generally, only through the forum at this site. I am beginning to think that a paper that attempts to build a realistic picture of their relationship is overdue.

Thank you Hans Axel and Pim in particular for the careful and studied approach that you take toward this subject. What I read here (and on other threads) is very clear and approachable writing on the subject and you are to be applauded for it.


I agree wholeheartedly. And I think the idea of a paper would be excellent. So much time is spent with *did they or didn't they* but what we need is a look at the positive aspects of a beautiful friendship in the context of the Count's life.

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Sun May 18, 2008 8:41 pm
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Post Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
I can't say I disagree with you, but what about the scored off lines in Marie-Antoinette's letters. Simone Bertière makes out that some of them, having been deciphered, contained "tender words". And she adds, as far as I remember, "but we don't need tehm to know that MA was in love with Fersen". Do you think they were about politics ? the queen's letters to Fersen were mainly political (thus, the whole letters should have been destroyed). I don't know what to make of it.

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Mon May 19, 2008 7:31 am
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