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 Maximilien Robespierre 
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Post no comparison
true, there was nothing to compare too. The French revolution, from the point of view of the royals, was the challenge of the century. who could handle it?
who could anticipate it? or where it went?
If we go back to Robespierre, and to the other revolutionaries, in 1789 they did not anticipate - after all, the goal of the estates general was reform.
I don't believe in determinism, and I do think Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette could have done things differently to a different result. but it would have been hard for anyone to control the events.
on another point, Marie Antoinette was also, in my view, unfit as a politician: she didn't have the training, the habit of thinking in the complex ways that the politics of the time worked, the ability to outthink others. I also do not think she could really put herself in the mind of her enemies, which a good politician has to do to be able to outwit them.
Of course, as you are pointing out, she wasn't the official person in charge. she was the queen, not the king. to what degree did she and the king work together? was she representing him? that's a really good question. I don't know the work of Felix - could you talk a little more on that?


Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:01 pm
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I agree, Pim. Actually, some democracies can be more tyrannical than some monarchies. Antoinette could see by the laws the revolutionaries were passing what their version of democracy was going to be.

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:03 pm
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Quote:
I also do not think she could really put herself in the mind of her enemies, which a good politician has to do to be able to outwit them.

I agree, as far as "the people" is concerned. She was able to "feel" others with an amazing sagacity. As a very young girl, she could see through Provence's hypocrisy. But she did not know what "the people" was, as a whole, nor the middle-classes, their way of living, their principles, their ideals. She was born and raised a princess, not prepared for such a revolution.

Felix's theory seems very strange to me. The author says that Marie Antoinette did not act by herself during the revolution, never. She was used as a go-between by the king. When she meets Mirabeau, when she negociates with Barnave... even when she prepares the flight to Montmedy. This thesis really astonishes me...

What do you think ?

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:12 pm
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Post Marie Antoinette v. the new order
Ok, that claim seems to me somewhat problematic. first, you are assuming she actually looked at the laws being passed and considered them substantially, not just as laws that were against the court and the monarchy. My impression was that she thought the whole change to constitutional monarchy was bad because it violated what she saw as the "right" order of society. what she said about the 1791 constitution was that it's bad, but it's better than other versions. I don't see an indication she was willing to accept any version of a constitutional monarchy, or any laws
second, and more important, the point where she was still a "free actor" was the 1791 constitution. was that system so tyrannical? it was not what Louis XVI wanted because his role in it was very reduced and restricted. But that's not the same as tyrannical.
as a side note, as Pim pointed out, there were no other democracies to compare, so I doubt she could actually assess the new democratic order - even if she wanted.
Marie Antoinette's objection to the new order coming out of the revolution was the diminishing of her status. not whether or not the laws were good or bad for France or whether or not they were tyrannical. understandable, but it doesn't require in depth understanding of the new system.


Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:14 pm
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Post Felix's theory
I'm not sure, it sounds weird to me - aren't there several instances where they seem to be working in cross purposes? didn't Marie Antoinette have her own correspondence? it was she who met with Mirabeau, alone. She who corresponded with Barnave. but I would like to read him and see what he bases his theory on. can you give me the name of he book?

thanks,
Dorit.


Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:16 pm
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette v. the new order
doritmi wrote:
Ok, that claim seems to me somewhat problematic. first, you are assuming she actually looked at the laws being passed and considered them substantially, not just as laws that were against the court and the monarchy. My impression was that she thought the whole change to constitutional monarchy was bad because it violated what she saw as the "right" order of society. what she said about the 1791 constitution was that it's bad, but it's better than other versions. I don't see an indication she was willing to accept any version of a constitutional monarchy, or any laws
second, and more important, the point where she was still a "free actor" was the 1791 constitution. was that system so tyrannical? it was not what Louis XVI wanted because his role in it was very reduced and restricted. But that's not the same as tyrannical.
as a side note, as Pim pointed out, there were no other democracies to compare, so I doubt she could actually assess the new democratic order - even if she wanted.
Marie Antoinette's objection to the new order coming out of the revolution was the diminishing of her status. not whether or not the laws were good or bad for France or whether or not they were tyrannical. understandable, but it doesn't require in depth understanding of the new system.


What Marie-Antoinette found VERY problematic were the laws restricting Catholic practice in 1790, when the church in France was nationalized by the Revolutionary government. Such laws, and the imprisonment of nuns and priests which followed, made it impossible for anyone with sincere Catholic principles to go along with the Revolution. Also, she saw from the Constitution that it was vague and full of generalities, reducing the executive branch (the king) to a mere puppet status, just at a time when a strong executive was needed to restore order. As for her status, it had already been reduced in Oct 1789 when she was dragged by a howling mob to Paris over the dead bodies of her guards. I would think all revolutionaries were evil, too, if that had happened to me.

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Last edited by Therese on Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:27 pm
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Pimprenelle wrote:
Quote:
I also do not think she could really put herself in the mind of her enemies, which a good politician has to do to be able to outwit them.

I agree, as far as "the people" is concerned. She was able to "feel" others with an amazing sagacity. As a very young girl, she could see through Provence's hypocrisy. But she did not know what "the people" was, as a whole, nor the middle-classes, their way of living, their principles, their ideals. She was born and raised a princess, not prepared for such a revolution.

Felix's theory seems very strange to me. The author says that Marie Antoinette did not act by herself during the revolution, never. She was used as a go-between by the king. When she meets Mirabeau, when she negociates with Barnave... even when she prepares the flight to Montmedy. This thesis really astonishes me...

What do you think ?


I think that although Louis and Antoinette did not always totally agree, they worked very closely together. Yes, she would have followed Louis' directions. She even said at her trial that she had conformed herself to his will.

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:30 pm
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Post separating MA and the king?
Question: I know Louis XVI was frustrated and upset over these things - the reduction in the role of the king, and the rules restricting the church. do we have evidence on the queen's position on these things? it goes back to the point pim raised - separating out Marie Antoinette's thoughts and actions from those of Louis XVI. is there a reason to think they were of the same mind on this?

I agree with you about the October events. of course they upset her and colored her view. but a real statesman/woman would have been able to rise over the personal upset and take advantage with cold calculation of opportunities. Marie Antoinette did not have the coldness and detached judgment to be a good politician. too much heart.


Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:32 pm
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Post Re: separating MA and the king?
doritmi wrote:
Question: I know Louis XVI was frustrated and upset over these things - the reduction in the role of the king, and the rules restricting the church. do we have evidence on the queen's position on these things? it goes back to the point pim raised - separating out Marie Antoinette's thoughts and actions from those of Louis XVI. is there a reason to think they were of the same mind on this?

I agree with you about the October events. of course they upset her and colored her view. but a real statesman/woman would have been able to rise over the personal upset and take advantage with cold calculation of opportunities. Marie Antoinette did not have the coldness and detached judgment to be a good politician. too much heart.


She immediately dismissed her confessor who had taken the oath to the French government. Madame Campan records this, as well as the fact that she had another confessor come who was a non-juring priest, to say Mass for her at night and give her confession and communion.

We all know that before her execution she refused the ministrations of a juring priest.

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:36 pm
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Quote:
I agree with you about the October events. of course they upset her and colored her view. but a real statesman/woman would have been able to rise over the personal upset and take advantage with cold calculation of opportunities. Marie Antoinette did not have the coldness and detached judgment to be a good politician. too much heart.

I agree with that. She was not cold and detached enough. That's what I had in my mind when talking about Barnave. I think she negociates with him as a person, and that, in a way, she trusted him... as a person. She could rather see individuals than parties or factions.

For the constitution, she keeps repeating that it was awful (un tissu d'absurdités, impraticables) and impossible. All she wanted was to apply it for a while, so that everybody could see how impossible it actually was. Of course, she did not want to see the king treated as a puppet by the revolutionaries. But one thing also appears from her correspondence : she thought that the king only could bring peace, stability and happiness to the people of France. She says it so many times that we can assume she was completely sincere about that.

And that was true, after all. At this moment, what good had the revolution bring to France ? Anarchy, as poor Lamballe wrote...

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:45 pm
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Pimprenelle wrote:

For the constitution, she keeps repeating that it was awful (un tissu d'absurdités, impraticables) and impossible. All she wanted was to apply it for a while, so that everybody could see how impossible it actually was. Of course, she did not want to see the king treated as a puppet by the revolutionaries. But one thing also appears from her correspondence : she thought that the king only could bring peace, stability and happiness to the people of France. She says it so many times that we can assume she was completely sincere about that.


I am in complete agreement with you.

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:49 pm
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Quote:
I think that although Louis and Antoinette did not always totally agree, they worked very closely together. Yes, she would have followed Louis' directions. She even said at her trial that she had conformed herself to his will.

Indeed... Following Felix's view, we have to consider that Marie Antoinette simply spoke the truth. I had always thought that she said so in rying to save her life...

... and, sincerely, I still do. I still consider that she had her hidden agenda, about Montmedy, for instance. I think (as Zachary point out) that she hoped that, finally, so close to the frontiers, she could determine Louis to leave France... which would have save them ! :cry:

Here is the book, dear Dorit :
http://www.librairiehistoire.com/themes ... tique_.asp
Many surfers interested in Louis XVI find this book extremely interesting and relevant.

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:50 pm
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Pimprenelle wrote:
Quote:
I think that although Louis and Antoinette did not always totally agree, they worked very closely together. Yes, she would have followed Louis' directions. She even said at her trial that she had conformed herself to his will.

Indeed... Following Felix's view, we have to consider that Marie Antoinette simply spoke the truth. I had always thought that she said so in rying to save her life...

... and, sincerely, I still do. I still consider that she had her hidden agenda, about Montmedy, for instance. I think (as Zachary point out) that she hoped that, finally, so close to the frontiers, she could determine Louis to leave France... which would have save them ! :cry:

Here is the book, dear Dorit :
http://www.librairiehistoire.com/themes ... tique_.asp
Many surfers interested in Louis XVI find this book extremely interesting and relevant.


Pim, I think she was trying to save her life, too. But I also think that she thought she was being totally honest when she said that she had always tried to obey her husband, even if amid her obedience she was trying to get Louis to see things her way.

That Felix book sounds WONDERFUL. Please give us a complete review in the literature section if you have time, sometime.

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:57 pm
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Dorit for me when she says that MA didn't have what it takes to make a good politician, "too much heart", is forgetting the fact that she never aspired to that, and as Thérese says was never prepared for that by her upbringing. This rejection of the monarchy was new to her, the monarchical system seemed to work well in Austria, the monarch was seen, from what I have read as having a patriarchal rôle, watching over the wellbeing of his subjects and alleviating poverty where possible. Nothing in what she saw in those first fifteen formative years with firstly her much loved father and then her revered and respected mother could have prepared her for the revolting French. She is therefore acting in a situation of crisis and urgency, and all her actions are dicated by this, especailly when she realizes that her husband in increasingly subject to depression. She is forgetting likewise that MA is acting as a mother of the future King and protecting her offspring who are nothing without the system, worse than nothing as it turns out..her actions are dictated more by this necessity than political motives. Likewise it is normal that this behaviour than could be seen as partisan or pro-establishment is exacerbated by the violence she sees used against her. After all the crowd did try and kill her at Versailles and later at the Tuileries. But she learns quickly, a mother's instinct to protect makes her a quick learner. Her correspondence shows that far from being a pawn for her husband with Barnave, she clearly is shrewdly playing a 'double jeu", writing one thing to him whilst plotting with Fersen and others at the same time. She gets him around her little finger during the return from Varennes and does not let go until he can no longer help her. Her enemies point to her ability to charm as to why they considered her such a danger. She is being under-estimated again even in this forum..

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Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:29 am
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baron de batz wrote:
Her enemies point to her ability to charm as to why they considered her such a danger.


I agree and this is why Louis sent her to deal with people.

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Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:57 pm
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