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 Discussion Point 2: The Extravagant Queen 
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Post Discussion Point 2: The Extravagant Queen
We all know Marie Antoinette's reputation for frivolity and extravagence. Is it justified? Is there any truth to the bad press Antoinette received both during her lifetime and after her death?


Sat Mar 04, 2006 10:23 pm
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Hi, Adrienne !

In my view, it could be interesting to wonder what we mean with "frivolity"... What is a frivolous person ? Someone who cares for clothes and perfumes ?
Well... I can tell most of my friends, boys included, fortunately, are frivolous !

Maybe, a certain touch of frivolity can be heart politeness... Sometimes, it's better to talk about fragrances than about misfortunes...

Furthermore, fashions and designs were parts of Marie-Antoinette's job. She had representation duties, and she had to patronize silkworkers, perfumers, artists...

This aim we can say she totally fulfilled, since we now talk about "Marie-Antoinette's style".

To make my point shorter, I would admit she was frivolous, she never lost interest in beautiful articles, even when mother. These different aspects can get along ! And, to me, frivolity is the breath of life...

Now, second question : was she extravagant ? There again, I would answer yes, she was. She spent a lot of money in clothes, in decorating, in rearranging her rooms, in building her blue theatre.

Well... every courtier spent money in such interesting matters. In Marie-Antoinette's case, such expenses are also related to her duties. Others to her pleasures... others to her friendships...

With regards to her buildings, she admitted on trial that Trianon had caused unexpected expenses, more than she wanted. Let's go and wander there... thanks for these extravagancies, my queen... thanks to you, we now have these wonderful park, this beautiful jewel, your little blue theatre, this fairy tales hameau...

For the rest... Her friends costed a lot. She replyed on trial thet "they had charges that made them rich". Period. Nepotism is a bad habit, but it's common in each powerful society. And this money the Polignacs or Savoie-Carignans obtained via the queen definitely did not ruin France !

This war in America took far more money than all Antoinette's extravagancies all together !

But, mostly, she was a scapegoat for starving people. It's always easier to identify an enemy than to admit causes are structural. This revolutionaries know so well... and they used it !

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Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:05 pm
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The brothers of Louis XVI, and his aunties, individually spent much more money than did Louis' queen. Madame Pompadour, the late mistress of Louis XV, spent more money in one year than Antoinette did in her entire life. Yes, she had expenses and admitted later that she probably spent more money on Trianon than she should have. However, her expenditures were nothing compared to that of others at court, and she honestly tried to curttail her spending by introducing simple costumes and modest entertainment. When the delegates of the Estates-General came to Versailles, some wondered through the place looking for a room covered in jewels that was supposed to be the queen's. They never found it; it did not exist except as a stage prop in the royal theatre.


Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:53 pm
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She was frivol.. But newspapers lied about.. well everything.. But she was spending a LOT.. one of her dresses cost 2 years pay check of a wealthy merchant..

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Mon May 14, 2007 9:20 pm
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Quote:
But she was spending a LOT..

According to Nolhac, Lever and sources in the french nationales files, Marie-Antoinette did not spend very more money than the others queens :wink:

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Tue May 15, 2007 5:40 am
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Furthermore, she had to be the most impressive, the most beautiful, she had to wear a new cloth each time she apperead... She was the queen of France, the lady all eyes were pointing to...

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Tue May 15, 2007 8:21 am
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No, I don't think she was frivolous. She had to meet certain expectations as Queen. She cut back on her expenses when advised, and was generous with friends and people of France. She spent even less than some mistresses to previous Kings. I would believe her to be frivolous and extravagant if she insisted on spending on herself even more after being advised to make spending cuts. I don't think that if we compared her with other Queens and mistresses that she would appear to have spent much more. I do think that her appearance and sense of fashion and wonderful gracefulness that stirred up jealousy add to her 'image' of frivolity. Oh, and also, how Rose Bertin created more charges than were actual make it appear that MA may have been more extravagant than she actually was, and the whole necklace affair.


Wed May 16, 2007 1:43 pm
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Her Extravagence has always been exaggerated.

Clothing was one of many ways that she expressed herself

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Wed May 16, 2007 6:28 pm
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Was Marie Antoinette extravagant and frivolous? I have to admit that yes, I think she was. So yes, I guess it follows that I must think her reputation was justified, but I don't think she deserved the bad press.

It is easy for us to look back at Marie Antoinette with a critcal eye and pick out all the mistakes she made. But when you compare her life choices with those of many of her peers her faults pale into insignificance. I think she was essentially a good person who found herself in a no-win situation. Whatever she did, her enemies would have found fault with it.

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Fri May 18, 2007 9:50 am
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In comparison with other Queens like Lecsinska, Marie-Antoinette liked to appear, she liked to be beautiful and to be admired.
It is because of that that one says that she was frivolous and extravagant.
But she did not misuse too much with respect to the expenditure…Her expenditure are correct in comparaion with those of the other Queens. But I would say that she was especially vain, and attentive for her image :D Normal for a queen :wink:

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Fri May 18, 2007 9:57 am
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Quote:
In comparison with other Queens like Lecsinska, Marie-Antoinette liked to appear, she liked to be beautiful and to be admired.
It is because of that that one says that she was frivolous and extravagant.


Louis-Charles, I do not at all blame Marie Antoinette for wanting to be beautiful and admired. She was a beautiful woman and she'd be failing in her duty as Queen if she did not keep up her splendid and awe-inspiring appearance. However, it is quantity, not quality with which I take issue. She did have more than she could use and at a time when her country was in financial disteress: she could have kept up her appearance without incurring so much expence. As could so many more people!!! I must stress that I do not hold Marie Antoinette to blame - I'm just trying to explain why I have to say yes to the charges of frivolity and extravagance. :)

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Fri May 18, 2007 10:42 am
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Quote:
Louis-Charles, I do not at all blame Marie Antoinette for wanting to be beautiful and admired.

I know dear :wink:

Quote:
However, it is quantity, not quality with which I take issue. She did have more than she could use and at a time when her country was in financial disteress: she could have kept up her appearance without incurring so much expence.


According to Nolhac who studied sources, Marie-Antoinette did not spend more than the others Queens… the lampoons described her like an extravagant woman, but if we look at precisely, Marie-Antoinette did not misuse compared to the others Queens. :D

I assisted one week ago an intervention of a researcher about the Marie-Antoinette's jewels : he said that she did not have jowels as much as that one think, and that he have much difficulties to find the trace of her jewels. :D

Of course, we can say that she could have reduced even more her expenditure because of times were hard, but did she have the choice? When she wore too simple dresses like of the dresses "en Gaulle", people reproached her a too great simplicity… she was to be well avoided :wink:

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Fri May 18, 2007 10:56 am
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Quote:
According to Nolhac who studied sources, Marie-Antoinette did not spend more than the others Queens…


But perhaps their countries were in a healthier state financially?

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but did she have the choice? When she wore too simple dresses like of the dresses "en Gaulle", people reproached her a too great simplicity…


Agreed, and that is why I believe that Marie Antoinette was in a no-win situation. Her enemies, then as now, would/will find fault no matter what she did. However that should perhaps have made her more careful, not so much about what she spent but how she was seen to spend it.

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Fri May 18, 2007 2:14 pm
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I believe MA was both frivilous and extravagant, but she did it better than anyone else in her position ever could.

Like many of you have already said, she had a priority to do so, she was a fasionista and that title she well deserved.

Do I think there is anything wrong with that? No. She was born into priveledge, she won the genetics lottery when it came to being born a royal and then married off to fortune and a life of extravagant spending.

And I know, if I were having as many problems thrown at me as she was, I would do much worse than she on the bank slips.

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Fri May 18, 2007 3:51 pm
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Even if MA did spent lots of money on new dresses, jewles,etc, is that bad? she was the queen of France, the "IT" nation of that time....


Sat May 19, 2007 5:38 am
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