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 Just a woman... 
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Post Just a woman...
I would like to add few words on the topic of Marie Antoinette as a spendthrift and a perverted woman.
There are things to consider before making any assumptions of course.
First, the fact that both her and Louis inherited an extremely unstable and impoverished kingdom, far from the splendours of the Sun King. A country weakened by wars and very bad financial manoeuvres. She has not caused the financial collapse of France, France was already doomed. The country needed firm guidance and wise decisions to resurrect his fate at the death of Louis XV, it got instead two adolescents on the throne with no experience or sense of leadership.
Regarding her alleged overspending, we need to remember that we are talking about a 15 year old girl that came into an unknown land, surrounded by hostility and self interested people. A bride that will not "consummate" her marriage before 7 years. A queen that everybody was doubting as capable of giving an heir to the throne of France (it took her indeed 9 years to produce a male heir...). A woman whose husband, because of his upbringing and a certain congenital problem (phymosis), was not at all interested in the physical relationship with his wife.
We are talking about a woman that found herself in desperate need for compensation, I do believe she was compensating all of her shorcomings as a Queen/Bride/Woman with everything else her position could afford her.
She was developing "crushes" on people, male and female, in the need for some form of affection, all the slanderous remarks have never been more that insults.
The relationships she formed with the Princesse De Lamballe (praised for her utter naturaleness and fresh beauty), La Comtesse De Polignac ( eventually the woman who most benefited from the queen's favour), were tender friendships between women, of the kind that were portrayed in fashionable novels such as Rousseau's "La Nouvelle Heloise" and devoid of the sordid arrains denounced by her enemies.
I want to be totally fair, of course Marie Antoinette has her share of faults... She loved jewellery, she was, by her own admission, "terrified of being bored", she could not cope with the court etiquette and the company of older generations of nobles (usually the ones to be revered,
respected and honoured..) were not of her liking. She prefered to be surrounded by people of her own age...
There is so much more to be said, not to her defense, but in order to give a more fair perspective on the life and actions of this very average woman that found herself in very extraordinary circumstances.

Please get back to me if the topic interests you and if you want to share your point of view.

Best, Marco


Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:46 pm
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I agree with you Marie-Antoinette was no debauched woman, and that her friendships with Lamballe and Polignac were very beautiful. These women were her "inseparables". You're right to say it was a fashion in the rousseauesque way.

On the contrary, I don't think she develloped a compensation complex. In my view, it's a too freudian conception, due to Zweig analysis'. In my opinion, she just was a very young girl, separated from her family and far from her country, lost in a court full of intriguing and jealous people.

Of course, she wanted pleasures ! Who wouldn't, being 16, 18, 20 ? This etiquette was so boring, her whole existence in Versailles was boring to death ! She had an artistic temper, and needed to express her talent and feelings.

So, she acted on stage, she played music, she composed songs, she danced with her friends till the morning. She had fun ! Unortunately, such activites weren't suitable enough for her position, and jealous courtiers took advantage of it to damage her reputation. They said she was attending orgies in her little theatre ! And other stupid stories.

Another important point is Mercy-Argenteau's agenda. To serve his own interests, he exagerated the queen's "dissipation", and, alas, published it. This contributed a lot to spoil Antoinette's reputation too.

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Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:24 pm
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Post A sweet anecdote...
Last night I was reading Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun's "Souvenirs" and this lovely story came up..
Mme Lebrun, Marie Antoinette's leading portraitist and friend, was in an advanced state of pregnancy (she would have her daughter Julie in a matter of days...) and was forced into bed the same afternoon she was supposed to meet H.M. for a sitting. Unfortunately she was not able to cancel and simply did not show up.
The day after, in a rather distressed state, she made her way to the petit trianon to meet the Queen, apologize and hopefully resume her work.
H.M. was on her way out for a walk when she heard that Mme Lebrun was asking to be received.
She promptly cancelled her appointment and sent for her.
At this point Mme. Lebrun was really nervous and embarrassed because of the previous day's episode and, upon walking into H.M.presence, she dropped all her brushes and palettes in a noisy mess onto the floor in front of the Queen.
Flabbergasted she went to bend down to retrieve the items when Her Majesty, in a tone that, in his kindness, admitted no reply, said "Madame, please dont, you should not bend down in your condition.." and promptly went down on her knees and picked up Mme Lebrun's brushes.

I does sound like a lovely story, and, although related by Mme Lebrun as (strangely) the only treasured memory she has of Marie Antoinette's kindness, I want to believe it really happened.
Marie Antoinette was very sensitive towards motherhood and very serious about her responsibilities as a mother with totally revolutionary ideas about children's welfare and education.
The tribunal of the revolution will attempt to tarnish this aspect of the queen also, with lewd insinuations about incest and revolting sexual practices.
"I appeal to all mothers of France", she said upon being so accused.

Unfortunately, not even an appeal to the hearts of other mothers could save her.


A' bientot,

Marco


Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:31 am
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It's because her death was decided long ago, alas... but Hebert made a mistake, and Robespierre was angry. "Messaline was not enough, he said, he tried to make an Agrippina out of her !".

Actually, there was nothing against Marie-Antoinette. The only possible accusation was high treason, but there were no evidences, not a single letter... We have evidences now, but there was nothing but suppositions in 1793.

So, Hebert, wanting her head, invented this awful story. He wished to damage her repututation a little bit more, to spoil her image as a good mother, and, also, to reinforce this feeling she was dangerous. So cynical she would use sex to definitely impress her own son ! Like Agrippina did to Nero... they say, too ! :?

However, this detestable Hebert went a step too far, and his ridiculous and odious accusation nearly saved Marie-Antoinette. The audience was sure she would be deported.

Alas, Fouquier-Thinville focused again on high treason and, even without proofs, she was condamned and executed.

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Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:44 am
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Post ....a symbol of unity....
As twisted as it sounds I just found myself thinking the following:
Marie Antoinettte's death served only as a kind of blood bond in wich sealing the new republic emerging from the revolution, or so they all hoped....
She has been used as a scapegoat, maybe the very last human sacrifice on the altar of progress. Shame that progress did not get very far after all... By 1815 they reverted to monarchy hailing Louis XVIII as the true monarch of France... What a mess, what a waste... But then again, what would France be today without the revolution and, even more, without our much beloved doomed Queen?
And moreover, do you think that, like someone said, there would not have been a revolution without Marie Antoinette?

Best,

Marco


Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:03 pm
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Marco:

Your idea about the murder of the Queen being a "blood sacrifice" isn't so "twisted." Remember this quote of Hebert's during a secret meeting of the Comité du Salut Publique on September 2, 1793:

"I have promised Antoinette's head. I shall go and cut it off myself if there is any delay in giving it to me. I promised it on your behalf, to the sans-culottes, who have asked me for it and without whom you would cease to be. The instinct of the Republic leads them to wish to unite themselves with us by this expiatory sacrifice and yet you are hesitating!"

And further:

"... They [the sans-culottes] will kill all our enemies, but their zeal must be nourished with the death of Antoinette."


Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:47 am
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There are many that think the death of the innocent Antoinette was a "blood sacrifice." She was condemned to death on the new revolutionary "feast of the Ox." Probably unbeknown to the revolutionaries, unknown or forgotten, the Ox was the animal sacrifice of the ancient of the ancient Hebrew holocaust, a "whole burnt offering." Antoinette in a spirit of Christian love gave her entire self. This was testified to by the priests who recieved her last confession, and by her final letter to her sister-in-law, Mme Elisabeth. It is right that she be numbered among the martyrs. Was she not early on referred to as "La Reine-Martyr?"


Sun Mar 26, 2006 12:26 am
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I have met people saying crude things about Antoinette, I don't want to repeat. Now, I'm not a scholar, but from what I've read, I believe she naturally wasn't the type to rule a country. Yes, Antoinette was young and she didn't enjoy court duties. I'm glad someone brought this up. ^_^


Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:33 am
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Marie Antoinette was an Artistnot a politican but I kind of think in her last years she showed she was fully capable of handeling politics

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I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.


Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:18 am
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Post Marie Antoinette
The Marie Antoinette's faults are only to have a weak husband who with his uncertainty and indecision got the ruin of the kingdom


Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:17 pm
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:arrow: I think what I find in the queen is her inner beauty most of all. I think you have every right to say that her friendships were beautiful, how so? Well, if you look at today's society it seems like a trend with friendships now between teenagers like who's popular and they joke around when hugging, kissing, holding hands, etc. When in reality the meaning behind the affection means the person loves you and cares about you. In other words, it's like what Marie said to Lamballe, "Only death alone can separate us!"

:idea: I think even the Victorian times the women would express thier feelings in letters and in person. So, I don't think the queen's friendships were odd or out of the ordinary, I think they were normal and dare I say a true example of what a real friendship is like. I think our society in today's generation has friendships but sometimes within the teenagers especically lacks "Real love" and is out of the ordinary considering if you compare the generations.


Sat Dec 23, 2006 3:36 pm
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