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Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?
http://forum.marie-antoinette.org/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=944
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Author:  Marija Vera [ Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Dear Pimprenelle,
Thank you very much for your answer.

Pimprenelle wrote:
However, I am not interested in people's opinions, I am interested in historical facts. These I study and question, the best I can.

Since I observe Marie Antoinette first as a human being, I don’t think there is anything that would change my interest in her. I am afraid it is impossible to learn history without speculations since many things we know in history are actually based on speculations. In order to reconstruct some period we are often enforced to speculate more than we want. That is because history studies not only a date and place but a cause of some event and its nature; our sources are often very limited. In order to completely study one character it is impossible not to speculate, we can’t have a complete insight in any soul!
In case of Marie Antoinette and her emotions you must study her character, see the circumstances and facts, make the reasonable conclusion. I think that every opinion matters, the fact that this question is always opened and that scholars can’t agree show us that this is not so easy to determine.

Both stories are romantic - Faithful Marie Antoinette and her shy husband and Marie Antoinette and her desirable lover Axel F. I am sure that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Such strong passion while discussing it shows that both sides have some personal reason to believe in one of these stories. For example – if I love M.A. and I am a faithful wife that is against every betrayal, for me it is very important to believe that my great inspiration shared that attitude. There shouldn’t be place for rudeness and hard feelings in some strictly "scientific" arguing since we have the same goal to find the truth and as I see we all have some arguments that are not for underestimating. Many theories started as a speculation! Of course without some strong evidence I don’t expect anyone to change opinion and except my personal view as a fact. Who find this topic boring should not participate. Most of us are surely not experts as Baron and you. :wink:

About her image – I don’t find terrible or offensive that we can see Fersen as her lover in almost every movie. I find terrible that people still see her as a rude, cruel person that said “Let them eat cake”. We have many direct evidences from her time that deny that theory. Therefore, Fersen is the last of my concerns!

Author:  Christophe [ Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

I would like to point out something here. Nearly every aristocratic marriage, and definitely every royal marriage, was an arranged one. Wives did not choose their husbands, often even the men did not choose their brides---this was done by their parents. Divorce was out of the question. It just didn't happen. So infidelity between spouses was so common as to be the norm. Nobody expected a King of France to be faithful to his wife. Nobody expected a duchesse or comtesse to be faithful to her husband. However, the Queen of France WAS most definitely expected to remain above reproach. While Antoinette's friends could indulge in as many affairs of the heart as they wished, without social condemnation, she could not.

I think morality today, in regards to marital fidelity, is actually much stricter than it was then. The ease of obtaining a divorce has made it so.

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

I don't completely disagree with you, Marija Vera. Of course, speculations are sometimes necessary in historical researchs.

However, in this specific case, Marie Antoinette and Fersen, I am suprized how many speculations are taken for granted. Let's take Söderjhelm's affirmation that Fersen means Marie Antoinette while speaking of "his friend" (mon amie) in his summer 1790 correspondence with Sophie Piper. Although Webster and Loomis clearly pointed out he does not, actually, people go on repeating this mistake.

It is not a matter of opinions, here, but of mistakes, lack of scholarship and wrong historical analyses.

That is my point, and the problem I have with this Fersen affair. It only relies on rumors and controversial writings. I think a part of speculation is necessary, but, when speculation comes into contradiction with actual facts or writings, could we still reckon on it ?

Something else surprizes me also : everybody has a personal opinion about this liaison, whether it was physical or not, passionate or not, romantical or not... and so on... and almost nobody ever read Marie Antoinette and Fersen's real correspondence, nor his diary... How could we explain this ?

Author:  Hans Axel [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Marija Vera wrote:
I am afraid it is impossible to learn history without speculations since many things we know in history are actually based on speculations. In order to reconstruct some period we are often enforced to speculate more than we want. That is because history studies not only a date and place but a cause of some event and its nature; our sources are often very limited. In order to completely study one character it is impossible not to speculate, we can’t have a complete insight in any soul!
In case of Marie Antoinette and her emotions you must study her character, see the circumstances and facts, make the reasonable conclusion.


Well, I can understand what you mean, even if I do not agree with you. Though I believe Pimprenelle is excellent at just that (without speculating more than she wants)! She (and many others at this forum) has studied Antoinette thouroughly. Still, from this period of time, witnesses accounts', diaries, correspondence etc are avaliable. She (and many...) has valued the truthfulness in people's accounts (if they have personal interests in telling lies etc). She (and many...) has looked at when things (history) were written (before or after the Revoultion, for instance) and how what is considered as "the truth" has changed over the years - if rumours have become facts? How and why some historians in the past have misunderstood some things and how historians copy other people's conclusions (with or without own investigation). She (and many...) has also looked at the lack of evidence, which is very interesting in searching for the truth. (I could go on and on like this.)

This is how you study history - if you want to know the truth, of course. One can also speculate without any evidence, but if you then speak about that in a place like this I think you also have to be able to cope with the people who have studied the case when/if they disagree with you.

If you read what Pimprenelle and many others have written in this thread (and other threads like this - http://forum.marie-antoinette.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=217&st=0&sk=t&sd=a for instance) in the past you will see how they have studied Antoinette's character and why they have come to the conclusion that she did not have an affair with Fersen. It is not just because there are no real facs (like if someone had it on tape!) it is through quite thourough investigation.

Author:  Therese [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Pimprenelle wrote:

It is not a matter of opinions, here, but of mistakes, lack of scholarship and wrong historical analyses.



Indeed, very true, Pim. In this case, there are many, many historical facts that are known to us about the Queen, her relations with her husband, and her friendships. And yet in defending this mythological love affair, it is the speculations that are given precedent. And not just ordinary speculations, but speculations on what are already speculations. The solid evidence is usually ignored. The detailed and well-preserved letters of Count Mercy, who scrutinized the Queen's life, yet who does not mention Fersen at all, are ignored. The memoirs of Madame Campan are ignored.

Author:  Therese [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Hans Axel wrote:
This is how you study history - if you want to know the truth, of course. One can also speculate without any evidence, but if you then speak about that in a place like this I think you also have to be able to cope with the people who have studied the case when/if they disagree with you.


Well said.

Hans Axel wrote:
If you read what Pimprenelle and many others have written in this thread (and other threads like this - http://forum.marie-antoinette.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=217&st=0&sk=t&sd=a for instance) in the past you will see how they have studied Antoinette's character and why they have come to the conclusion that she did not have an affair with Fersen. It is not just because there are no real facs (like if someone had it on tape!) it is through quite thourough investigation.


So true.

Author:  Hellou_Librorum [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Personally I think its like trying to say Louis XVI had an affair. I don't think either of them did. I do like romance and love, but not in my history.

Author:  Therese [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Pimprenelle wrote:
On the contrary, we have to understand Marie Antoinette for what she was, a queen of France in XVIIIth century and an Habsbourg archduchess.

My impression is that, precisely, Fersen loved her so much for those two reasons...


This is so true. My dear friends, I must disgree with those who say she was a woman first, then a Queen. She was a Queen first, and a Habsburg Archduchess. That is how she defined herself. She has to be understood as a Queen, and then everything else will fall into place.

Author:  Princess2 [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Therese wrote:
This is so true. My dear friends, I must disgree with those who say she was a woman first, then a Queen. She was a Queen first, and a Habsburg Archduchess. That is how she defined herself. She has to be understood as a Queen, and then everything else will fall into place.


Yes, I agree Therese. She was all too aware of her position as Queen of France and I can't believe that she would want to jeopardise it. And say theoretically she DID have romantic feelings for Fersen (I'm definitely not saying she did), surely by the time he came on the scene, she was already aware of murmurings against her and her Austrian roots, extravagence of the Royal Family etc. and would not want to antagonise the situation further.

Author:  Hellou_Librorum [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Princess2 wrote:
Therese wrote:
This is so true. My dear friends, I must disgree with those who say she was a woman first, then a Queen. She was a Queen first, and a Habsburg Archduchess. That is how she defined herself. She has to be understood as a Queen, and then everything else will fall into place.


Yes, I agree Therese. She was all too aware of her position as Queen of France and I can't believe that she would want to jeopardise it. And say theoretically she DID have romantic feelings for Fersen (I'm definitely not saying she did), surely by the time he came on the scene, she was already aware of murmurings against her and her Austrian roots, extravagence of the Royal Family etc. and would not want to antagonise the situation further.

I couldn't agree with you more. Princess 2! You took the words out of my mouth cheeky devil! :lol:

Author:  Princess2 [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Well Hellou, what can I say....great minds and all that lol!!! 8)

Author:  Marija Vera [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

I agree with Pimprenelle about everyone having a personal opinion about this liaison. I just feel that everybody has a right to make own conclusion.

Hans Axel wrote:
This is how you study history - if you want to know the truth, of course. One can also speculate without any evidence, but if you then speak about that in a place like this I think you also have to be able to cope with the people who have studied the case when/if they disagree with you.


Thank you, now I know! I am a history student, this will be helpful. :rainbow:
You can speculate but in order to verify it as a fact you need strong evidences or that your theory matches all the circumstances and seems like the most possible solution. I don’t see anyone who claims anything here but expressing personal opinion and there were many reasons for and against.

Recently I watched another documentary about M.A. and one French historian said that they probably had a liaison! What shall we say about that? I don’t doubt her knowledge or intelligence, she surely knows the topic better than most of us.
For me it is impossible that one question that you present to be so simple cause all this arguing, not only here, but in the circle of high educated people, scholars, too. And, as long as the question is open, there is enough room for finding the right answer. :angel8:

Author:  dreamoutloud [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Out of curiosity, do you remember the name of the historian?

Author:  Marija Vera [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Not really, sorry. One elder woman, very chic. She spoke in English but clearly she was French.

Author:  Therese [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette?

Marija Vera wrote:
Not really, sorry. One elder woman, very chic. She spoke in English but clearly she was French.


Evelyn Lever?

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