Sunday, June 10, 2012

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in a Eucharistic Procession

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in the Eucharistic procession that opened the Estates-General in the spring of 1789. (From Vive la Reine.)
On May 4, 1789, she put Louis-Joseph and his sister with Madame de Polignac on a balcony above the stables so they could watch the magnificent Eucharistic procession which marked the opening of the Estates-General. The procession wound from the Royal Chapel, across the vast courtyard of the palace, through the streets of the town of Versailles, to the Church of Saint Louis. The monstrance, in the hands of a bishop, was under a rich canopy carried by Provence, Artois, Berry, and Angoulême. Everyone held a candle, except for the standard bearers, with the fluttering silken banners, and the royal falconers, with falcons on their wrists, looking both noble and fierce. The King, with a lighted taper, walked directly behind the monstrance. He wore a cloth of gold mantle and a plumed hat with the famous Regent diamond. He was wildly applauded by the crowds that lined the route. But when Antoinette, who with her ladies followed the King’s household, passed by in her gown of gold and silver tissue, every tongue fell silent. She could almost taste the hatred. It frightened her. 
When passing beneath the balcony where her sick boy was lying, she glanced up to blow him a kiss. The cry “Long live Orléans!” resounded in her ears. The extent of the malice overwhelmed her. That someone could hate her so much that they would use her child’s suffering as an opportunity to humiliate her; that they would praise her known enemy at a moment when as a mother she was most vulnerable, within the hearing of her pain-wracked Dauphin, stunned her as much as if she had been whipped or burnt. She halted, dizzily, then turned to see who had insulted her. In doing so, she staggered, but before she lost her balance, Princesse de Lamballe took her arm and steadied her.
 ~ from Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal

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