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 Discussion Point 1: Antoinette's Austrian Heritage 
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Post Discussion Point 1: Antoinette's Austrian Heritage
Every so often I plan to introduce a question or discussion point to the forum for us to put our heads together over and thrash out on the boards. Please feel free to introduce your own questions or issues and let's see where this takes us!

The first discussion point and series of questions I'd like to introduce surround Marie Antoinette's Austrian heritage:-

How significant was Antoinette's early upbringing in influencing her later career as Queen of France?

Was her mother Empress Marie Thérèse a source of support or an impairment to Antoinette's thinking?

Would an Austrian, regardless of the woman herself, ever be accepted by the French as princess or Queen or was the whole idea poorly conceived?

So, please share your thoughts and opinions!


Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:44 pm
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As regards the first point I think that her early upbringing influenced her later career as Queen of France. I remember that in some biographies is told: when a waitress said "the last queen did in this way" Marie antoinette answered " you forget that I am an austrian arciduchess, she was only a polish princess; I don't think you want to compare me to her!". During the revolution she said : "I am very happy to be Austrian!" But marie antoinette had also her particular nature, so it is not only an influence by her environment.
The second point I think they are both of them. Marie Therese was a support but also an agony for marie antoinette. as regards during the seven years that she hadn't sexual rapports with Louis XVI , the heir there is not yet...
the third and last point I say YES: it was possible but there are some social and political features that influenced the vision of an austrian princess. marie antoinette was in the wrong place at the wrong moment.
I thank Adrienne to try to go on with comments and discussions.


Thu Jan 26, 2006 5:40 pm
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Hi, dear Adrienne and Cry ! Of course, the Austrian origins of Marie-Antoinette were very important for her ! She never forgot she was an Austrian woman. She always refers to France by "ce pays-ci" (this country), while Austria forever was her homeland. I think it is what she really means when she writes to Mercy "feeling so well which blood runs in my veins". It's not her royal blood, it far more important than that ! It's her Habsburg blood she has in mind !
Habsburg she was, raised in this family pride she never dropped. In my view, it's an Habsburg archduchess who was led to the scaffold, and climbed the stairs with her head up. Bravado.
She would never tremble in front of this people that had never accepted her. Never... They may have fallen in love with the young dauphine, so gracious and charming. They rapidly saw the Austrian enemy behind her smile. Even before she arrived, France was defiant. And her letal nickname "the Austrian woman" already was on their lips. In my opinion, Louis XVI was killed as a symbol of kingship by divine right, while Antoinette was murdered out of xenophobia. And mysoginy, but that's another point !
In this view, her relationship with her mother is very complex, I think. Antonia was sent to France to protect the alliance between the two countries, and to punctually serve Austrian interests. Which she tried to do the best she could, but never succeeded... She loved, admired and respected her madame mother. But she was annoyed by her repeated advises, too. Wasn't she a teenager, after all ? Furthermore, her mother always prevented her from really becoming French. She constanlty reminded her how German she was. Eventually, the example of this powerful empress never left Marie-Antoinette's memory. Like her mother, she tried to lead and make rules, but that was impossible for a woman in France. And she dramatically failled... till the guillotine, unfortunately, where a whole country reminded her of their traditional male domination...
Well... in many aspects, that wasn't easy to be Marie-Thérèse's daughter...
However, when Marie-Thérèse died, Marie-Antoinette deeply felt she had lost more than a mother. She had lost her best protection. A true friend, too. And she knew it.

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Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:24 pm
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Yeah, I agree with you!


Sat Feb 04, 2006 5:29 pm
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In the family of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis Stephan, when they dined together with all of their children, everyone sat in a different place every time, there was no order of precedence at table, no assigned seats. In spite of the magnificence of the palaces, the Habsburg court was less rigid than the French court, and monarchs with the common touch were viewed as charming. The opposite was true at Versailles, and Marie Antoinette was not prepared for it and never fully accepted the stringent protocal, albeit she was regal and gracious in her manner and bearing.

Antoinette's mother was a great support for her, in spite of the friction common between a mother and a daughter. When the Empress died, Antoinette closeted herself in her chamber for days, and grew so ill she spit up blood.

Antoinette was hated by members of the French court and the royal family before she even set foot in France. The term "L'Autrichienne" was coined originally in the suite of Mesdames Tantes.

Her Austrian upbringing, with the rococo churches, the music of Haydn, the approach to art and life which celebrated beauty and goodness all influenced the character of Antoinette, adding to her aura of enchantment and joie de vivre.


Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:45 pm
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Post Re: Discussion Point 1: Antoinette's Austrian Heritage
Adrienne wrote:
Would an Austrian, regardless of the woman herself, ever be accepted by the French as princess or Queen or was the whole idea poorly conceived?

Hi, Adrienne! I've often wondered what the historical background was to the French resentment of her being Austrian. Did Austria have a history of being enemies of France? I haven't studied this particular aspect of 18th Century history much, but see on quick searches that they seem to have been allies during the Seven Years War. Does anyone happen to know the root of the issue that caused her to be so criticised for her heritage? Would it have been any different for her had she been Spanish or Italian or of some other country, or was the fact that she was foreign-born simply another excuse to criticise her regardless of her country of birth? Did her own difficulty with French court tradition perhaps, so to speak, "stick out like a sore thumb" and cause people to think she was anti-French? I'd like to hear what you all think about the underlying cause of the criticisms of her being Austrian.

Thanks!


Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:18 pm
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Post Re: Discussion Point 1: Antoinette's Austrian Heritage
The hatred against Austria was due to 1756 diplomatic revolution initiated by Louis XV. Whereas the French used to have an axe to grind with the Habsburgs; Louis XV chose to side with them against the British and the Prussians during the Seven Year War, which resulted in an crushing defeat for France.

The French blamed Louis XV for sticking to an Austrian alliance that seemed to solely benefit the Habsburgs.

Marie-Antoinette's marriage aimed at strengthening that unpopular alliance, therefore the young girl was seen as a symbol of this unbalanced treaty and of an Empire that was still loathed by many in France.

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Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:48 am
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Post Re: Discussion Point 1: Antoinette's Austrian Heritage
Thank you, Ludy! This is all fascinating history to me, and now I'm getting a much clearer idea of the atmosphere of the times.


Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:37 pm
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