Author Topic: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II  (Read 71601 times)

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Offline Mari

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2009, 11:11:21 AM »
No it isn't unusual and in fact She wasn't nearly as frivolous as claimed read the Memoirs of the Princess Lamballe.. she was only allowed to spend half of the sum of what was allotted to either of the most famous of Louis XV's mistresses. Neither did she have a chance to influence her Husband as factions at the Court made sure the Union wasn't consummated for years. Maria Caroline married a Ruler who went hunting all the time and left the ruling to others. It is true that Maria Caroline is generally conceded to have inherited her Mother's cunning and leadership but the Court of France was a viper's pit during this era. Depleted of income through the expenditures of Louis XIV and XV and numerous wars, anyone from the hated Country of Austria was going to be looked upon as an enemy. 

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2009, 12:09:19 PM »
Well...even today if you ask French people they still believe MA is a spy. That is how bad her repuation was. Anyway MA did spent much more on her later favourite Yolanda de Polaston, Duchess of Polignac. Stephan Zweig wrote "Not even Madame de Maintenon, not even Pompadour cost as much as this favourite...". This cold, self-centered, self indulgent soft spoken beauty managed to get her and her relatives official posts that were not merited from MA. It was also her with her gossip tongue that create shism at the French court that cost MA her popularity among the Nobles. The common people believed that she was the lesbian lover of the Queen. In this friendship, I do question MA's sense of tact and judgement. Both Amalia and Carolina had much more sense than to waste their money and popularity on a female favourite. They would also have seen the diamond necklace scandal a mile and would not have the stupidity to pursuit it openly at court (thus giving the public more stories to feed to the public). Napoleon I once said "Without the scandal of the diamond necklace, there would have been no revolution."

Offline ivanushka

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #32 on: December 10, 2009, 12:19:26 PM »
Though I agree that Antoinette showed a lack of tact and judgement in her excessive generosity towards Polignac, I can understand her behavior.  It's significant that both Polignac and Lamballe (Antoinette's two greatest favourites) were a few years older than she was.  Antonia Fraser suggests in her biography of Antoinette that she was essentially trying to recreate her childhood relationship with Caroline.  At least Caroline and Amalia were both in Italy and therefore still very much in the family loop so to speak as Leopold and Ferdinand also lived there.  Antoinette had no one near her in France.  Also, as a less forceful and presumably less self reliant personality than Caroline and Amalia I can see why she would feel the need for close female confidants and with her generous nature she would naturally wish to reward them.  I'm not applauding her behavior.  It was misjudged.  But I do think it's understandable

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #33 on: December 10, 2009, 12:30:22 PM »
I agree. MA had a less forceful character and more of a needy one as she was the youngest daughter and she was in a sense spoiled. Unlike Caroline who liked to read, MA never opened a serious book and many had commented on her laziness. MT once told her that both Amalia & Caroline had to operate in worst circumstances than her and there was no excuses for her lax behavoir on her own incomplete education and understanding of her adopted country. That is the reason I have more respect for Amalia and Caroline who had to overcome much as a political figure and still be a good example to her children (I read that MA's daughter did not identify herself with her mother but on her saintly aunt Madame Elizabeth). I don't think of Amalia and Caroline as failures in history like MA, but just got swept away by the Revolution when change was inevitable.

Offline ivanushka

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #34 on: December 10, 2009, 06:30:34 PM »
I think that Antoinette was so used to having her famous charm to rely on that she depended on that far more than developing her intellect.

It's interesting that MA told Antoinette that both Caroline and Amalia had to operate in worse circumstances that she did.  I'm not sure that was a totally fair assessment.  France may have been richer than both Naples and Parma but it had a more sophisticated Court and very powerful noble families who had to be appeased.  Even if Antoinette had been a skilled politician I think it would have been very difficult for her to steer France towards Austria.  Though both Caroline and Amalia were more politically minded people I also think they had less obstacles to overcome than Antoinette would have done.

I also don't see Antoinette as a failure.  If she had married Louis XVI forty years earlier the two of them would have just lived out their lives in Versailles as Louis XV and Maria Lescinskaya did.  I think a revolution of some sorts was on the cards by the late eighteenth century and they were just in the wrong place at the right time.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2009, 04:35:35 AM »
Well, I do think MA and Louis XVI inherited problems from Louis XV but they certainly added to France's problems. If the deficit was around 21 M livres a year and more than 100 M already and piling up, why not indeed reduce the wastefulness that has been going on for years and years? From my own understanding, the people were counting on them to at least manage things, not make things were.  Both were very much aware of the expectations people had for them..... it wasn't as if they didn't know. I think that is where they failed (besides MA offending the nobles and masses and never seriously conciliating with either; had the monarchy had the support of one or the other, most likely things did not end up as we know today).

Maria Theresa thought her youngest daughter didn't have the power of serious application - unless with great effort -- and I agree with her.  She probably didn't understand that things are never free in essence, there is always a trade off.  So she just enjoyed her position but did nothing much to work hard in exchange.  It took her 13 years as Queen - long after she had become a mother -  to apply herself to serious matters but by 1787, things were already in real crisis and as she didn't have any training on state matters (having not applied herself earlier to such things, except in court appointments) as well as being quite a scatter-brain, she just went from caprice to caprice, according to the Prussian ambassador.  I'm sure MA was indeed charming but I've read she was also prone to bad moods and perhaps a bit selective about to whom such charm was granted; many nobles offended by her so I do not think she was charming all the time.  

I don't think either Charles III and/or Louis XV were easy opponents to overcome in Parma and in Naples (even if they were far away) so I'm not sure  that Amalia and Caroline had it easier, even if their courts were smaller and much less sophisticated and had no powerful nobles to appease like at Versailles (but we can safely assume that they were always factions and malcontents to appease at any court during those times); both kings made things very hard for Amalia and Caroline for years.  Amalia in particular had contend with King Louis XV and Charles III at the same time. For example, Spain and France planned to break up her marriage to Ferdinand and to return her to Austria.  We even see Louis XV stooping low to badmouth Amalia to his grandson, saying how Ferdinand should avoid her and that no one in her family ever liked her! We know the results of such intrigues -- Amalia got pregnant that year and presented her husband an heir the following year.....(and her relationship with Ferdinand got better).  

« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 05:06:29 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2009, 02:32:38 PM »
Indeed. I guess if Antonia was forced into a situation of survial like Amalia and Caroline, she might be able to use her gifts more often. Antonia had great charm and able to sway people to her side. Remember when the army was unable to control the mob when they came to Versailles, she went out and curtsey to them. Almost immediately the mob who was at that point bloody (the Swiss guards had already been butchered), turned jeers into cheers for the Queen. Another was when she was tried, the court tried to pin obsene charges of her having sex with her young son (Like Aggripina & Nero). Antonia turned pale but when time for her defence, she cleverly appealed to all the mothers in the courtroom. She almost was able to get out if they had not been able to quiet the women folk who felt motherhood was trampled. In short, Antonia could have made as good a first lady as Jackie Kennedy. However she chose to be careless, lazy and escape into a dreamworld in the Trianon, while France crumbled. In the end, the events engulfed her. Too late Antonia realised that she had that gift.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2009, 10:15:09 PM »
Indeed, Marie Antoinette's last years were her finest years.... I do admire her at that stage; it was just too sad that whatever efforts she put in at that point, it just wasn't enough and there were many people working against the royal family's best interests. Maria Theresa warned her more than once that she shouldn't forfeit her good name in favor of frivolities and extravagance, especially since the French were regarded as a tetchy nation to rule over. That is exactly what happened. BTW, loans during the 12 year reign of Louis XVI amounted to 1,250,000 M livres -- no wonder the common people were outraged, they who already carried the heavy burden of taxation; it's not as if MA spent all that amount -- I believe the French support to the American revolution cost a lot (and I think that was one of the most unwise decisions of Louis XVI) and the French court as a whole was very wasteful -- but as Queen, her expenditures were the most visible and therefore, the one most open to criticism  (Louis XVI did not factor in this since everyone knew he was very modest in his expenditures, a fact that MT also warned MA about, saying she alone would be blamed). Things were so bad, one official calculated that there was only enough money to run the court for two days and credit sources dried up.  

I believe things were already bad in France when MA became Dauphine but such concerns did not really affect the world of Versailles; majority of the the court was decadent and out of touch with reality.  Had the French court been more anchored on reality, things would've turned out differently.  When there were riots about bread, the ladies of the court merely 'honored' the occasion with poufs symbolizing such revolts! Versailles was different in that respect.  But MT also said that as Queen MA could set the tone at Versailles. That is why I think MA was less concerned and lax compared to her sisters in Italy, she could've done something about its decandency and extravagance but chose to wallow in both (which certainly opened the doors for the people to blame her).
« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 10:40:22 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #38 on: December 12, 2009, 10:38:35 AM »
I agree that Antonia would have been better for Italy than France. Caroline ,of all the sisters, could have made a difference in the affairs of France. True she wouldn't be as adored, but like her actions in Naples, she would have been a political force to be reconed with. All in all, I think Amalia did a good enough effort for Parma.

Offline Mari

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2009, 04:48:23 AM »
So if Marie Antoinette had not had an impotent or sexually inactive Husband, warned repeatedly to not let the Austrian influence affect his decisions, if She had no friends, no dresses, no Court household, been a harridan in personality as Maria Amalia was described, not had the previous debt of two Kings and their Wars, not had a Husband who brought back Necker as Minister, since Necker favored money and troops going to the American Revolution and floated gigantic loans ( as She was King this was of course all her decision), and not favored "decadency" (???), not had to fight off the vulgar pamphlets, nor the Duke of Orleans faction, the Countess Noailles faction, the Cardinal Rohan faction, been able to judge at all times who was spying on her, been more intelligent, not spent so much time in the Nursery after becoming Queen, put her head into politics instead of Court Functions again because she was king, She might have been an acceptable Queen like her two Sisters who Inherited Husbands who did not want to rule, one considered an Imbecile and the other hunted all the time. Or maybe She could have listened more to Maria Theresa's criticisms like Maria Amalia did when she finally had enough and broke off contact with her Mother because of the criticisms...hmmn! yes I see......  ::) :)

It seems a trifle severe to me  :)  but if as your only primary source your going to use Maria Theresa's letters then lets look at the critical ones to all the Daughters. ...if I may ask what notes does your secondary source use to form her opinion? And the adjectives lazy and frivolous keep coming up..Marie Antoinette had her Court duties as Queen and later as Mother preferred to spend time every day in the Nursery. Every hour had something to do and going to those gatherings gave her the Court gossip and was expected of a Queen. In fact privacy was the thing hardest to get...The French preferred her to be on display even when she Bathed, gave birth and went to the Bathroom. I cannot fault her for wanting some privacy! I don't think many of us could manage that! So if you want to use those adjectives please back it up with a quote or a specific reference :)
 
How would you have done things differently since your inclined to be critical "be specific"? I am really curious!!! Take into consideration Marie Antoinette was a Queen unlike Maria Carolina and Maria Amalia who were for all purposes King. Remember Marie Antoinette herself said She did not have near the political influence on the king that People thought she had!

 If Maria Theresa had known she was going to have to rule France She would have made every effort to send Maria Carolina as She said she resembled herself the most ! I still don't think She could have produced a Heir with an unwilling Husband any faster and her bolder...assertive personality or some might say overbearing.. might have alienated the French Court even more. Her intelligence might have picked up the politics faster but what good would that do her unless She could appoint Ministers?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 05:22:01 AM by Mari »

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2009, 06:12:15 PM »
So if Marie Antoinette had not had an impotent or sexually inactive Husband, warned repeatedly to not let the Austrian influence affect his decisions, if She had no friends, no dresses, no Court household, been a harridan in personality as Maria Amalia was described, not had the previous debt of two Kings and their Wars, not had a Husband who brought back Necker as Minister, since Necker favored money and troops going to the American Revolution and floated gigantic loans ( as She was King this was of course all her decision), and not favored "decadency" (???), not had to fight off the vulgar pamphlets, nor the Duke of Orleans faction, the Countess Noailles faction, the Cardinal Rohan faction, been able to judge at all times who was spying on her, been more intelligent, not spent so much time in the Nursery after becoming Queen, put her head into politics instead of Court Functions again because she was king, She might have been an acceptable Queen like her two Sisters who Inherited Husbands who did not want to rule, one considered an Imbecile and the other hunted all the time. Or maybe She could have listened more to Maria Theresa's criticisms like Maria Amalia did when she finally had enough and broke off contact with her Mother because of the criticisms...hmmn! yes I see......  ::) :)

It seems a trifle severe to me  :)  but if as your only primary source your going to use Maria Theresa's letters then lets look at the critical ones to all the Daughters. ...if I may ask what notes does your secondary source use to form her opinion? And the adjectives lazy and frivolous keep coming up..Marie Antoinette had her Court duties as Queen and later as Mother preferred to spend time every day in the Nursery. Every hour had something to do and going to those gatherings gave her the Court gossip and was expected of a Queen. In fact privacy was the thing hardest to get...The French preferred her to be on display even when she Bathed, gave birth and went to the Bathroom. I cannot fault her for wanting some privacy! I don't think many of us could manage that! So if you want to use those adjectives please back it up with a quote or a specific reference :)
 
How would you have done things differently since your inclined to be critical "be specific"? I am really curious!!! Take into consideration Marie Antoinette was a Queen unlike Maria Carolina and Maria Amalia who were for all purposes King. Remember Marie Antoinette herself said She did not have near the political influence on the king that People thought she had!

If Maria Theresa had known she was going to have to rule France She would have made every effort to send Maria Carolina as She said she resembled herself the most ! I still don't think She could have produced a Heir with an unwilling Husband any faster and her bolder...assertive personality or some might say overbearing.. might have alienated the French Court even more. Her intelligence might have picked up the politics faster but what good would that do her unless She could appoint Ministers?

Mari, there is no need to get annoyed (I sense you are in a way despite the smileys above; if I'm wrong, please accept my apologies); you have own opinions and other people have their own.  I do have a lot of admiration for MA - I like all of MT's daughters except for Mimi - but I can also see that she had faults of her own.  You asked for a source on her frivolousness and laziness and said she had court duties to counter such criticisms - well, is the longtime Prussian ambassador in France a good enough (and impartial) observer for you?  I quote Baron Goltz in 1787 in a report to Berlin:  " The Queen had quit her frivolous Private Society and now attends to state matters but as she doesn't have a systematic brain, she goes from caprice to caprice."  I am far from liking Maria Theresa  but I would be the first to admit she gave her daughters good advice at times... I also think her criticisms were not always fair but she did get it right at times.  Does anyone doubt that the French court was decadent and out of touch with the times?  If the common people were having revolts due to scarcity of bread and/or very high bread prices and the ladies at court could only make poufs of revolts to honor such occasion, what does that tell you? That they were emphatic to the common people? 

And MT wasn't the only one to warn MA on her futility of the life she was living. Joseph, who seemed to have more affection for her than MT, also warned her. I cannot quote his exact words at the moment because I don't have the book right now but after seeing France on his visit, he told his sister in his letter (which he told her to read after he left) that in the long run, things cannot continue in the same way.....that the revolution would be a cruel one and perhaps of MA's own making.  MT (in far away Vienna and who had never been in France) is one thing (although she turned out right in her assessment) but Joseph himself has been France, had talked to the common people, saw how they were living so he was in a very good position say such a thing.  

I seem to recall the MA herself brought back Necker as minister, not Louis XVI.  She wrote Count Mercy how she felt very much responsible for any bad effects it may have.  Helping in the American revolution was Louis XVI's idea and his ministers, not MA.  I do not think she was responsible for that in any way. Indeed, MA was entitled to have friends, dresses, jewels, etc. but she could've been more circumspect of the times and of public opinion. As Queen, her actions would've been given more attention (I do think the Comte de Artois was the most spendthrift of all the royal family but as he was only a younger brother, people didn't focus on him.)
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 06:25:23 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2009, 07:17:12 PM »
Well...I agree that Antonia failed because she was too careless, too uninterested in politics, and loved luxuary and friends too much. Mind you that I am aware of the problems left behind by the excesses left behind by Louis XV. That is why people expect so much of Louis XVI and Antonia to bring a new age to France. Remember Robespierre spoke in a ceremony about the coming of a new age. Most people believed Louis XVI was humble, hard working and generally popular among the common people. However when Antonia began to involved herself dresses, decorations and spending money gambling, jewels and building. Antonia began to lost her popularity, and many warned her about this from Count Mercy, MT (she was very vocal about what she should be doing...and in this I agree that her advice was sound). When Antonia began to keep company like Yolande de Palesdon, and appointing her relatives in official posts created jealousy at court and provide gossip (Princess de Lambelle was at least loyal to Antonia). Every step of the way, Antonia could have turn back until her reputation was completely ruined by the Affair of the Diamond necklace. Antonia's careless early treatment (burning the letter) and stupid insistance of brining the whole scandal to trial (Louis XVI was willing to let the Cardinal de Rohan pay for the necklace and hush it up). The trial's expose further damage the monarchy even though most of them were lies. Sure Antonia should not be responsible for years of mismanagement, wars and heavy debt, but certainly unwittingly she contributed enough through her foolish actions to deserve what happen to her. Although her most serious crime was her inability to understand what kind of kingdom she became queen. If she had instead try to understand the common people andsent out spies to the market place to test her popularity or recent happenings (Both Amalia & Carolina knew about public opinion in their country). She would not have made the foolish decisions and avoid the pitfall. To be totally fair, Antonia may still fail in this task becaise of the long standing problems that already exist in France, not not so utterly and may live to try another day (like her brother-in-law, Provence (Louis XVIII)).

I agree that either Amalia or Carolina would be a better match and for France. Carolina for one will give her husband no peace until she gets her own way. She was also more cunning and able to play the game (waiting years before having a son to enter the council stipulated in her marriage contract). Yes I also agree she would have got the doctor in for the operation way earlier than Antonia did (actually it was Joseph II who bully his brother-in-law into doing it).

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2009, 07:34:59 PM »
Sorry, my post earlier (#230) should read:  MT wasn't the only one to warn MA on the futility of the life she was living........ If the common people were having revolts due to scarcity of bread and/or very high bread prices and the ladies at court could only make poufs of revolts to honor such occasion, what does that say about them? That they were empathic (not emphatic) to the common people?  

Well...I agree that Antonia failed because she was too careless, too uninterested in politics, and loved luxuary and friends too much. Mind you that I am aware of the problems left behind by the excesses left behind by Louis XV. That is why people expect so much of Louis XVI and Antonia to bring a new age to France. Remember Robespierre spoke in a ceremony about the coming of a new age.  

I do think Marie Antoinette also intelligent but her energies were clearly misapplied and to her detriment. Having an indecisive sovereign and husband also didn't help.  

How would you have done things differently since your inclined to be critical "be specific"? I am really curious!!! Take into consideration Marie Antoinette was a Queen unlike Maria Carolina and Maria Amalia who were for all purposes King. Remember Marie Antoinette herself said She did not have near the political influence on the king that People thought she had!

Maria Amalia was not the ruler of Parma, her husband was.  There is no doubt that she greatly influenced Ferdinand but she was not the de facto ruler of Parma, unlike Caroline in Naples.  Despite being seen as an idiot/simpleton/imbecile, Ferdinand (even as a young man -- Parma's online library states this) had his own opinions and rebelled against everything that he had been forced to accept by France & Spain but were never in line with his own convictions. I guess it helped that Amalia's and Ferdinand's religious and poltical views were aligned.

Well, people certainly thought MA had more political influence than she actually had, mainly because she interfered so much in court appointments.  Had she left such things alone (and if the ministers she pushed for were not inept), then she would've been blamed less for the worsening situation in France.....  
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 08:05:00 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2009, 07:52:24 PM »
The fact that people can believe that Antonia really said "Let them eat cake !" (She did not) spoke volumes of how low her popularity had sunk since the charming Dalphine who many fell in love with during her first official entry to Paris. Amalia would have been shocked to hear the popraganda against her sister that came from the dispatches from France.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Queen Marie Antoinette, Part II
« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2009, 08:13:18 PM »
The fact that people can believe that Antonia really said "Let them eat cake !" (She did not) spoke volumes of how low her popularity had sunk since the charming Dalphine who many fell in love with during her first official entry to Paris. Amalia would have been shocked to hear the popraganda against her sister that came from the dispatches from France.

Had Marie Antoinette gotten to know her people, let them see her outside of Versailles doing good things or connecting with the masses (it's not as if she didn't do good works, she supported charities as mentioned earlier in this thread), she would've done a lot to preserve her earlier popularity and those ridiculous libelles and accusations would not have been easily believed.  

Note that Maria Amalia was nicknamed 'Signora' and 'La Matta' by the Parmesans, not exactly flattering and endearing nicknames but she still managed to rise above such.   I have a lot of respect for her in that regard (not that she always made the right decisions, she made plenty of mistakes as well).  
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 08:37:03 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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