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 Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France 
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Post Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
Hello,
I am doing research on finding information about Marie Antoinette and how she felt about slavery. I know she was a young girl but was wondering if anyone knows about how she felt about slavery in France as the Queen of France.


Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:37 pm
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
Well, you shouldn't be oblivious to the fact that slavery did not exist on the French territory but only on some islands, and concerned spscific plantations. That being said, even philosophers such as Voltaire or politicians like Jeffereson did not disapprove of it. Thus I think that Marie-Antoinette, who was not particularly enthralled by politics, took the inequality of races as read, like most people of the time. I even doubt that she ever seriously considered the question.

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Last edited by Ludy on Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:29 am
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
I would have to agree with that. A product of her age, she was no doubt brought up not to question too much the accepted practices. I remember reading somewhere with what compassion she received the representatives of the slave colonies that once sent a delegation to Verrsailles to complain about their new situation following post 1789 legislation. She certainly wasn't a Wilberforce. But then MA always tended to lend a sympathetic ear. She really didn't have much say in all this. She was only the Queen.

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Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:50 pm
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
That being said MA did meet WIlberforce in 1783 at Versailles and he was invited to Fontainebleu, but that was before he had really started on his long anti-slavery campaign.

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Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:59 pm
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
My impression is that the queen did not feel favorably about slavery. Here is an article from the Tea at Trianon blog about Joseph Boulogne, the former slave whom Marie-Antoinette hired as a teacher.

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... -noir.html

Also, she adopted a young African boy and raised him at the palace.

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... opted.html

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Sun Jun 27, 2010 6:02 pm
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
I don't know anything about Joseph Boulogne however the little black boy was abandoned during the revolution (reason unknown by me) and seen later begging on street corners.

We had not yet reached the Age of Enlightenment so human life was still considered cheap.


Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:10 am
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
Well Thérèse, thank you, that's a very interesting comment. I did not know about this yound boy.

I am not sure I agree with you. I think that MA was indeed apt to display much generosity towards people she got to meet. Once again, I am not sure it led her to rethink political order by and large. For instance, she was apt to be overwhelmingly generous for peasants and other poor people, but it did not induce her to blame XVIII century society as a whole. She did take class differences as read and she was sure of her own superiority, being a Hapsburg princess.

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Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:51 am
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
Yesterday evening I was thumbing through a magazine called "Jeune Afrique" and I came across a review of a book about the history of black people in France - a book that seems worth reading.

I did not know that the Chevalier de Saint-George used to be Marie-Antoinette's music teacher, and that she was even rumoured to carry away with him.

So this would back up the claim that MA did not feel that well about the plight of black people in the French colonies.

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Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:22 am
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
Since slavery did not exist in France, it is doubtful that Marie Antoinette had anything more than an opinion on the subject.....and no power to do anything about it one way or the other. In the same time period, Thomas Jefferson was strongly opposed to slavery, contrary to the fact that he himself owned slaves - and was having sex with at least one of his slave women, Sally Hemmings. He had children with her and his blood can still be traced today in their decendents. How does one explain such a contradiction of terms? I think this is a good example of how many facets one human can display. Even the behavior of great men and women is not always consistent, or what we would expect from them.
The Chevalier de Saint-George reminds me of many blacks (Josephine Baker for one) in the early 1900's who had wonderful carreers in France, but were not allowed to use the front door, toilets or drinking fountains used by whites in the US, due to racism.


Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:54 pm
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Post Re: Marie Antoinette thoughts toward slavery in France
Slavery did not exist on the French territory, but it did exist in the French colonies such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. Slavery was widely discussed at that times by philosophers. Most of them did not disapprove of slavery. Voltaire had even shares in that business. I remember doing once a presentation on Enlightment and racism.

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Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:14 pm
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