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 Could I have your thoughts on this... 
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Post Could I have your thoughts on this...
I'm currently reading "the Fall of the French Monarchy: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the Baron de Breteuil" by Munro Price. It's an excellent book, well researched and still very easy to read.
Price mentions a very interesting opinion, apparently shared by many historians: the "plein pouvoirs" letter sent to Breteuil on November 20th 1790 and presented as having been penned by the King's hand would in fact have been forged by Antoinette and Fesen.

Price's book contains an appendix which gives us a full comparative analysis of the letter by two very good specialists: Dr Bruno Galland (conservateur en chef, Section Ancienne, Archives Nationales) and Dr Susan Wharton (director of the department of Printed Books and Manuscripts, Sotheby's). They conclude that the plein pouvoirs letter was NOT in the King's hand. But they hesitate when it comes to the signature: even though small in size, they view it as being formed identically to other signatures on documents written by the King.

Price seems to think that Antoinette and Fersen would have taken the risk to forge the letter because the King was having a nervous breakdown and something had to be done urgently. Breteuil needed this letter to be the King's reprsentative outside of the country... he was to coordinate the 1791 escape attempt.

Looking at the document (photographed in the book next to another letter authenticated as Louis's), I agree that the body of the letter doesn't appear to be in his hand. But the signature does. Could Louis have actually discussed the contents with Antoinette and have signed the letter himself? I find it difficult to believe that the Queen, aided by Fersen, would have produced a full forgery behind the King's back. If Louis didn't write this letter then at least he agreed to it...and very possibly signed it.

Breteuil used this plein pouvoirs document from the end of 1790 to the Varennes attempt, it is very hard to believe that the King would not have been aware of its existence. Or would have opposed it. Fake or not, I can't see how this letter could have been used without the King's agreement.
If Antoinette took it upon herself to write it because Louis was depressed then she showed amazing courage. Munro Price actually writes on several occasions that Antoinette - and Fersen - proved that they would have been ready to take the blame many a time, their goal being to make sure that the King's reputation remained intact.

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Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:32 am
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It is also the thesis developped by Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac in their "Secret de la reine". I don't know what to think about this... Those authors show some fac-simile of letters, so that we can compare the scriptures.

Sincerely, I don't really follow them... I don't think this letter is so different from the other ones, those surely written by Louis XVI.

Following Joel Felix's very recent book, Antoinette was but Louis' emissary in planning this escape. The queen took the risk, but the king was behind the curtain, directing the whole plan.

I don't know either... I also read Dominique Zachary's theory. Marie Antoinette would want to go to Belgium (Austrian Netherlands) but the king wanted to remain in France. She although planed everything, hoping that, once in the position, Louis could not refuse to leave his country. I am tempted to think so.

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Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:56 am
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Difficult to even have a fixed opinion isn't it?I guess that's one of those questions that will never have an answer. History's full of those ;)

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Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:52 am
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