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 The Aristocracy 
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Post The Aristocracy
The aristocrats of Europe (and particularly of France) are constantly being portrayed as decacdent, corrupt, frivolous, pleasure-loving, and indifferent to the sufferings of the people. It seems to me that this is just a way of justifying the horrors of the revolution. How much truth are in these claims? In other words, was the aristocracy really this way? :?
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Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:03 am
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I think there must have been some truth to it...but how much is hard to tell, as those who supported the Revolution invariably exaggerated the crimes of the aristocracy to justify the murders of innocent people.

I'm sure there were some nobles who could not care less about the lower classes...but we know Antoinette cared, and she could hardly have been the only one. The King as well, as indecisive as he was, never wavered in his love for and devotion to his people.

The Revolutionaries had to assuage their guilt somehow, and so any good deeds done by members of the aristocracy were ignored in favor of stories, many untrue, about the cruel treatment of the commoners. As they say, history is written by the winners...

<hugs>

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:08 am
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I think that the revolutionaries said this to justifying the mutilations of the revolution.

There were some aristocrats who were odious and corrupted. But there were also a lot of nobles who loved the humble people, like the duke of Penthièvre.

We can be an aristocrat and know to hold our station, without wanting the misery of the people.

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:31 am
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I agree with all of you! There were many, many aristocrats and members of the royal family who devoted their time and money to helping the poor. All the ladies of the royal family were invovled in charitable efforts. And even princes like Artois did not just waste their time - Artois, like other nobles, had invested in a factory and were becoming concerned with the practical matters of running businesses, just like bourgeois. Simon Schama writes about this in "Citizens."

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Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:56 am
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I believe that those who sought to impose their control over society had it in their interests to claim that all the upper classes had no regard for the poor. Of course this is both simplistic and incorrect.

When one social group seek to upstage another as was the case in the revolution,those who sought the change needed to moblise the masses. How much easier to conduct a hate campaign against those they sought to replace, then argue their case in a civilised environment.

The lies spun about the Queen, the King and indeed the ruling classes made it easier for those to commit their crimes when thier time came.

I read an article over the weekend that claimed that in France the nobilty are now very much in favor. Seemly many people are seeking to establish their connections to those who they see as 'guardians of fine values'. Maybe our friends in France might want ot comment on this?


Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:46 pm
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Yes I see what you are saying, Thomas. It certainly seems that the revolutionaries only magnified the Queen's (and aristocracy's) behavior to justify their own.

In an article on the internet, somebody referred to Marie Antoinette as a " bubble-head" :!: I wanted to reply, "Actually she wasn't, she was and still is portrayed as a bubble head merely to justify her cruel death and the horrors of the revolution!" But I refrained.

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Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:14 pm
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I agree Louis. In this article I read they referred to the Queen as widely remembered and then correctly stated that she had never in fact said 'let them eat cake'. But why even mention this? Would it not have been more fitting to to say something positive, or at least nothing negative.

While I belieive that reform was required at the time, their simply is no justification for the way the Royle Family were treated. Sadly, great social change rearly occurs without bloodshed.


Thu Sep 28, 2006 3:07 pm
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Athlynne wrote:
I'm sure there were some nobles who could not care less about the lower classes...


There were some aristocrats that cared about the people, but we know that, unfortanely, the great majority were alike the "Dangerous Liaisons" nobles. They didn't realy care with the poor, they tried to stop the new democratic values and ideas, they were one of the great guiltys about France's economic bancrupcy....

But there were some nobles (very few) that cared with the poors. They hadn't the "direct guilt" because they didn't knew how most of people lived, they were educated by conservative and absolutistic values...

It's why I like Marie Antoinette! She was a Queen, she was always in her "Golden World" but she cared with the people! She wasn't like the other aristocrats and royals. She adopted two (?) children, one thing that horrified many nobles (and not only).

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Fri Sep 29, 2006 6:34 pm
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I don't know. The concept of noblesse oblige is very ancient, and it was a duty of the privileged to care for the poor. France had many charitable institutions that supported the poor and needy, some that went back to the days of ST Louis in the 12oo's and others that were started by Marie-Antoinette. There were many decadent nobles but it was still considered a basic obligation to give to the poor. There were many nuns and monks, supported by alms from the nobility and who even had members from noble familes in their communities, who ran hospices and orphanages. Even corrupt bishops like Talleyrand contributed to the poor. Madame de Lamballe, the Duchesse d'Orleans, Madame Elisabeth of France, the Mesdames Tantes all donated food and clothes to the underprivileged. It was considered bad form to NOT help those in need. France under Louis XVI in many ways was better off than England, which was beginning to go through the horrors of the industrial revolution, because in France there were so many religious houses such as the Lazarists and the Sisters of Charity who did nothing but help the homeless and starving.

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Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:10 pm
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How was England in a worse state than France, Therese? I thought that England was stable throughout the 18th century. :?


Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:43 pm
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Yes, it was fairly stable, but as of the late 18th early 19th early factory towns like Sheffield were being compared to a descent into hell as far as conditions for the workers were concerned. The sordid conditions described in Dickens' novels that culminated in the 1840's were beginning in the late 1700's. The Irish emigration was beginning and many poor from Ireland and from the English countryside were beginning to make their way onto London. Crime was on the rise. Novels like "Moll Flanders" describe how hideous some parts of London could be and how hard it was to be destitute in England. Paris, of course, had bad neighborhoods, too, but really the English nobility were not any better and in some cases, more self-indulgent, than the French.

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Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:28 pm
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Jules de Polignac wrote:
She adopted two (?) children, one thing that horrified many nobles (and not only).


M-A adopted one young boy (can't remember his name) but she nelegected him after the birth of her own children. Eventually the boy turned her during the French Revolution.


Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:40 pm
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Yes, and she adopted two girls - Ernestine and Zoe.

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Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:42 pm
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Is it known what became of them?

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Sat Nov 04, 2006 1:10 pm
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Zoe became a Visitation nun and corresponded with Madame Royale. Ernestine died during Napoleon's reign.

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Sat Nov 04, 2006 1:54 pm
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