Author Topic: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?  (Read 98824 times)

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Offline alithere0

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Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« on: October 06, 2004, 08:52:12 AM »
They both had tragic ends, of course, but I think that Marie Antoinette had the much harder life.  Alexandra had a terrific marriage with a man who reciprocated her passion.  Louis XVI was a swell guy, but it's clear that he preferred playing with locks and keys (hear that, Freud?) to spending time in the marital bed.  

Not too long before the Revolution, Marie A. and Louis lost the heir to the throne to tuberculosis, which, given the Revolution's sadistic treatment of the future Louis XVII, was a not small mercy.  

It seems that the French Revolutionaries trained a particularly awul hatred on Marie Antoinette, forbiding her even to change her undergarments privately before her execution, even though she was bleeding badly.  

Her trial where she was baselessly accused of having incestuous contact with her own son was both her Calvary and her glory.  

The sad life of Madame Royale suggests that being the sole survivor of an executed family is a fate crueler than death.  Alexandra was treated cruelly, Marie A. sadistically.

So, she gets my vote, assuming anyone wishes to count, as the most Tragic Queen Consort.

And, in any event, for pure class, nothing beats Marie A.'s comment to Samson, the exectioner, after she accidently stepped on his foot on the scaffold, "Pardon me, sir, I did not mean to do that".  

Offline jackie3

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2004, 09:58:25 AM »
Quote
 The sad life of Madame Royale suggests that being the sole survivor of an executed family is a fate crueler than death.  Alexandra was treated cruelly, Marie A. sadistically.
 


I agree with this totally even though I think the whole issue is apple and oranges since both women had their tribulations (although I wished Alix had learned by MA's example and avoided some things).

Much of what was said about MA was a lie, the Revolutionaries took joy in humiliating her particularly in making her son (who they were slowly killing by depriving him of medical help) testify against her with lies like incest. Her trial was a show trial which would have made Stalin proud (at least Louis XVI got some semblence of a real trial). Parading the Princess Lomballe's head so she could see it from her jail cell and depriving her of seeing her children (who were likewise being mistreated/brainwashed) was the least of things done to her. The fact that so many lies about her (like the "eat cake" line) are still told as fact today makes her more tragic than Alix IMO. At least even many people today (and almost all historians) know some of the things said about Alexandra were lies.
But many of the things said about MA are still written as truth. I had a classmate from France once who was appalled at the continued use of the dealth penalty in the US even for the most vile killers yet when I brung up the execution of Louis and MA the same person replied they got what was coming to them and that their death was needed for the Revolution. And that was a very liberal open-minded person about almost every other thing!

In Alexandra's case, the "Revolution" was over with NII's abdication, I doubt even many Communists would say today that her "death" was needed.

Offline Jackswife

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2004, 10:08:57 AM »
 At least Alexandra was with her children at the end in the Ipatiev House , although I suppose both women were caught up in circumstances that were beyond their control. Not saying they both did not have flaws and shortcomings that partly contributed to their downfalls, but all in all, I'd say Marie had the most humiliating and sad end of the two. ???

Offline Karentje

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2004, 12:30:01 PM »
I also think Marie Antoinette was the more tragic figure, only think about that awful flight to Varennes and she was treated horribly by the French revolutionaries while she was their captive. Also, unlike Alix she didn't have a loving and supportive husband and I think Marie Antoinette knew what was coming (execution), whereas I don't think Alix even suspected that she would be killed so brutally, not to mention her children.
Marie A also tried to be more beloved and accepted by the French, not so Alix who did not even consider the revolters, students, aristocrats, ... real Russians. She tried to ignore a large part of her subjects, this refusal or inability of her to see reality is something of course that makes her situation very tragic. Alix might have been able to do things to make the Russians think better of her (dump rasputin; f.ex.), but with Marie A and the French, matters were more difficult to patch up, from the beginning she was l'Autrichienne.
Anyway, my heart is with both these ladies, I hope they finally found peace in the hereafter.

Karentje

Offline alithere0

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2004, 01:14:47 PM »
Jackie3 makes a very interesting observation that  Marie A. has not been rehabilitated in France.  To do do would require, in effect, a national apology to her memory.  It's as if France can't both celebrate Bastille Day and recognize a heroic Marie A.  

Nicholas II also seems to be more kindly remembered in Russia than Louis XVI is in France.  I am surprised that Louis has never been a candidate for beatification by the RCC.  Again, it may be because the "cult" of Louis XVI has never taken hold in the French imagination, even among royalists.  He did not cut a very dashing figure!  But he was as gentle a king as could be imagined.


Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2004, 03:02:59 PM »
I see so many parallels in these two women's lives...
I think that Alix always identified with Marie Antoinette, she even had a famous painting of her and the children hanging in Alexander Palace. This painting, I believe is currently traveling with the Nicholas and Alexandra exhibit, but usually it hangs in its original place in AP, I saw it when I visited AP in 1999.
When Nicholas and Alexandra visited Paris in the early years of their reign, Alix was put up overnight in MA's former bedroom at Versailles. Some of the courtiers were horrified by this implication, but Alix didn't see it as a bad omen, in fact, it seemed that she was flattered by it. Obviously, even though she identified with MA in many ways, she did not see the same types of parallels somehow... Of course this was a while before the first revolution in 1905, and the Russian people seemed to love the Russian royal couple at that time.  
I am not really sure if you can actually compare which life is more tragic, each of these women's lives was very tragic in its own way...
« Last Edit: May 04, 2009, 01:51:36 PM by Alixz »

Offline Martyn

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2004, 11:16:13 AM »
Alix was not the only person to have a fascination with Marie Antoinette.
The Empress Eugenie had a very strong interest in MA, collecting anything that she could that was associated with this unhappy queen;she even had her portrait painted by Winterhalter wearing an 1860's approximation of 18thc fashion and with powdered hair.  Eugenie was convinced that she would share the same fate as MA; I don't think (as someone else has already said) that Alix imagined that her fate would  be anything like MA's.
It is quite hard to fathom the French attitude to MA and Louis XVI; certainly there have been many scholarly works that have gone some way to clarifying the truth about their lives and characters.  It would seem, however, that France has more esteem for its Republics and Empires than for the Bourbons
« Last Edit: May 04, 2009, 01:52:16 PM by Alixz »
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Offline Silja

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2004, 05:19:33 PM »
The historians Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac consider Louis XVI a saint but they are resentful of Marie Antoinette . . .

Offline Angie_H

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2004, 05:45:31 PM »
I agree with Karentje about the difference between the two. Alix & Nicholas loved each other, knew each other and wanted to be married and they at least had each other. Whereas Marie & Louis XVI were married for political reasons, never met until Marie arrived in France for the wedding, they were both basically children expected to act like adults. I could never imagine that, being packed off as a child (anywhere from 10 yrs. old and up) to some strange country, away from your family and anyone else you know, married to someone you probably just met a few days before and expected to procreate with them and have children. Louis was so backwards & weak minded (when in captivity and Marie was trying to figure out escape plans, Louis would get mad at her and other family members, curse them out and leave the room) and when compared to his overwhelming grandparent Louis XV he was found lacking. If I remember right their marriage was not consummated till after 7 years of marriage. Louis was not an attentive husband so Marie tried to occupy herself. She of course could not take lovers because of course her children had to be Louis' so she amused her self by buying things (jewelry, clothes, outrageous wigs) or builidng things (The Hameau) which only drained the French finances and making them even worse than they already were. Louis was weak and when Marie tried to make him stand up for himself or his views she was considered the Austrian B**** by the French people.  When in captivity at least Alix & Nicholas had each other and the love they shared (I mean as a couple). Louis cared for Marie, but I don't think he was ever actually in love with her.
Madame Royale didn't have it any easier after the Revolution & Terror were over. Like MF and the Anastasia imposters, Madame Royale was plagued by men claiming to be the Dauphin
Ramble ramble ramble
Sorry  :-[
Angie

Offline Sarai

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2004, 02:29:58 PM »
Interesting question. I have drawn the comparison between both these women as well, and have concluded that, for me, Marie Antoinette was the more tragic. I think she led an overall sad and dark life. Her mother was a very powerful Empress and I get the impression that she wasn't overly affectionate towards her children, although I know that Marie loved and respected her greatly, writing to her for advice regularly after her marriage. As others have already pointed out here, she was married while still a child to an awkward, unattractive boy who was probably never really in love with her. She briefly enjoyed a life of hedonism which brought her happiness with her lovers and her luxuries, but which of course also brought her the hatred of the people. In the end, I think her imprisonment was much more brutal than that of Alexandra's. Her best friend was torn to pieces by a mob and her head paraded in front of Marie's window, her children were taken from her and brainwashed against her, she was kept in a dark and filthy cell suffering all kinds of indignities while also suffering from ill health (some historians have speculated she had uterine cancer), she went through a humiliating mockery of a trial, and her death was so savage.

Alexandra, on the other hand, while losing her mother tragically young, had the support of loving siblings, her father, and a doting grandmama. She gained the everlasting love of a handsome young man who was utterly devoted to her, enjoyed a very loving and passionate marriage, had beautiful children who were also devoted to her and survived childhood (unlike Marie, who lost two children), and was fortunate enough to spend her last days together with those she loved the most. Of course, she also had her personal tragedies, first and foremost being the illness of her son. However, when I think back over her entire life, I see more light and love than when examining MA's life. And like I said before, MA's imprisonment was just so sad and depressing, it was really unbelievably cruel. So for those reasons I choose MA as being the more tragic of the two.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Sarai_Porretta »

Offline ashanti01

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2004, 10:18:31 PM »
Alexandra and Mare Antoinette are both very tragic figures in their own right...
However, Alexandra ( I have to admit) should have payed attention to history and learned from M.A and the French revolution.
I have to think that Alexandra must have seen the end that fate and in store for her family at some point after the revolution. She didn't expect a Revolution and it happened, she might have looked up at her M.A painting and realized that perhaps the two empresses would have more in common that a name in history.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2009, 01:53:26 PM by Alixz »

Offline Martyn

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2004, 07:26:47 AM »
Ashanti, what should Alix have learned from Marie Antoinette and the French revolution?
'For a galant spirit there can never be defeat'....Wallis Windsor

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Offline ashanti01

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2004, 01:33:42 PM »
Quote
Ashanti, what should Alix have learned from Marie Antoinette and the French revolution?



I just think that Alix as well as Nicholas II should have paid more attention to events like the mobs, the riots, and the outcry from the people. Marie Antoinette to some extant ignored the people and look where it got her, but in Alix she had alot more on her shoulders than the people

Offline Decadence

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2005, 10:08:03 AM »
I believe myself as a dedicated fan of the Tsarina and of Marie-Antoinette that Alexandra and Marie-Antoinette were brought up in such a luxurious fashion, in such riches and splendour that they didnt know any different.

For example: Alix went from the New Palace in Hesse-Darmstadt and holidays to her grandmother at Balmoral and Osbourne House (where Queen Victoria had a solid gold breakfast service in the gardens including solid gold egg cups) to palaces like the grand Winter Palace, the overwhelming Peterhof and the beautiful Livadia. There was non-stop luxury, I think the nearest she ever got to being acquainted to a peasant was with Rasputin.

And Marie-Antoinette, was brought up idillicly at the Palaces of Hofburg and Schonbrunn, then married and went to live at palaces like Versailles with its 26 acres of roof and 600 rooms and Saint-Cloud with specially rounded furniture so the Queen didnt catch herself on its corners she was also born into and lived in non-stop luxury.

So i think they didnt know any different, although I know Marie-Antoinette never said "let them eat cake" I wouldnt be suprised if she did, for how was she just didnt know about the people outside Versailles.
I believe that the Tsarina and the Queen both had miscarriages? I know Marie-Antoinette did, but I cant remember if the Tsarina did? (please fill in the gaps)
I believe they were both as tragic as each other, for although Alexandra was with her children, she never had the chance to say goodbye or a last chance to say she loved them for she was one of the first struck.
Marie-Antoinette sent a letter to her sister-in-law Madame Elizabeth, which said to look after her children when she was gone, the famous "adieu!" letter, which saddeningly never reached Madame Elizabeth, for the "postman" kept it as a souvenier, and then Madame Elizabeth was guillotined also.
The facts that match Alix and Marie-Antoinette are uncanny. For Ella was killed also. And Alix never managed to make up with Ella over Rasputin.
Both cases show luxury plunge into disaster and death and brutallity  :'(
Although the plunge is interesting but tragic, I am interested more with the times of their happiness and the luxury although I know it was decadent.
We can only hope to know exactly what their thoughts and lives were actually like.
Both the Queen and the Tsarina have equally tragic stories and they were equally hated and gossiped and lied about.
(for example the accusations Marie-Antoinette was a lesbian with the Contess du Barry and the accusations that Alix was having an affair with Grigory Rasputin)

And although (as Greg King states) Alix slept in the fated Queen's actual bed in her room on the state visit to Versailles, I dont think there was any way the Tsarina could of known that something as horrendous was going to happen to her in the future, for Alix believed the people loved their Tsar and there was no way they could rip him down from his throne on the hierarchical mountain. The painting of Marie-Antoinette and her children in her mauve boudoir (sorry, was it in her mauve boudoir? my memory fails me) may of hung there, but I dont believe it was a warning for revolution, and as the Tsarina looked into Marie-Antoinettes face, she saw herself, I believe it was a warning for her son, for in the painting by Madame Louise-Elizabeth Vigee le Brun, the Dauphin points at an empty cradle, an empty cradle that should contain the Queen's last child, her daughter that died as a baby.
And I believe, if we are talking about the children as a figure of the tragedy, that the Tsarina was more tragic for, the Tsarina's last thought might have been "my children won't grow up, Alexei will not be tsar" (which she thought that there was no chance that he wouldnt be) whereas, Marie-Antoinette never knew what would happen to her children. Who would of believed that her eldest daughter (Maria-Teresa) that she loved dearly (because it was a daughter) would of outlived her mother, her father, hundreds of aristocrats and relations, and all of her siblings, and live to the age of 80 or over?

I also believe that Empress Maria-Teresa loved her 16 children equally, but she was a matchmaker (another uncanny fact matching the matchmaker Queen Victoria) and she had to marry her children to the right people. She was, after all Empress of Austria, and you have to remember their status and if it was left up to the children to marry whom they pleased, they would be marrying anyone. So the Empress had to do her duty as a mother and marry her children to Royalty across Europe. Apparently she did an amazing job of it because there were "Marie"'s (her children named after her) all across Europe. She had infected Europe with her Austrian children.
This is another tragic thing, Princess Alice died when Alix was young, and when Marie-Antoinette left Schonbrunn, she never saw it or her mother again. Only occasional letters of advice and warning.
But I am sure both mothers loved their children as any mother would, and I dont believe Maria-Teresa was an unloving mother at all.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Marie-Antoinette »
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Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Marie Antoinette and Alexandra--Who's more tragic?
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2005, 10:07:03 AM »
Quote

So i think they didnt know any different, although I know Marie-Antoinette never said "let them eat cake" I wouldnt be suprised if she did, for how was she just didnt know about the people outside Versailles.
.


I know MA never said that, but i really don't think she would have done anyway.

I think MA defintly was the more tragic of the two. The way she was treated in the end was just barbaric. An awful way to treat any human being  :(
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