Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marie-Antoinette Aiding the Poor

            In addition to Ernestine and Zoë, there were several orphans for whom Maman provided. Although they could not all live at the palace, they sometimes came to play. They were children from destitute families whose education Maman supervised, paying for art and music lessons if they showed any inclination in that direction. She would take Thérèse to visit infirm servants who lived in retirement, bringing them fruit, bread, and flowers. Her Papa, devoted to all of his subjects, also had a special love for the needy. He would go in disguise to villages, hospitals, prisons, and factories so that he could gain a first hand knowledge of the conditions of his people. He would right wrongs, give alms, and dismiss those in charge if they were not doing their duty. Papa and Maman were Patron and Patroness of the Maison Philanthropique, a society which helped the aged, the blind, and widows. The simple folk loved their King and Queen.
~ from Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal
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5 comments:

lara77 said...

And the students of French history and the revolution will say "Oh well, people had to die but in the end the reforms of the revolution were worth the price of bloodshed." Gee, I guess if you saw your family butchered and lost everyone and everything you loved in this world your opinion would be different. The pro revolution crowd would say Marie Antoinette SHOULD have helped the poor and in the end got what she deserved. THAT heartless attitude is so prevalent today and I wonder where our world is headed. Where is humanity and compassion ?

elena maria vidal said...

I don't know, Lara. All I know is that it is terrible how Marie-Antoinette has been so misrepresented.

The North Coast said...

I read my first bio of this queen many decades ago, as a young teen, and felt an immediate sense of identification with this warm, impulsive, intelligent, good-hearted young girl who was ripped out of her friendly, warm home court to be stripped of everything familiar to her at the age of 15, and then plunked down among the cattiest people in all of Europe. I felt with her when she made her inevitable mistakes, and couldn't do anything to please her public no matter what she did, because she was, as a "foreign" queen, the designated scapegoat. She was caught up in the middle of covert wars between court factions and political movements that she could not really have any idea of, and she and her husband had roles thrust upon them at really young ages, that most older people could scarcely cope with.

We of modern times who have been able to exercise so many choices and have so much control over our own lives. Marie Antoinette did not have the choices or control that most people assume they ought to have. She did the best she could and did good for many people. Very few people can say as much for themselves.

elena maria vidal said...

That is a perfect summary of MA's situation, N.C. Yes, indeed, She and Louis had heavy responsibilities placed on them at such a young age when surrounded by very clever enemies.

julygirl said...

Most of us have problems just negotiating office politics or family jealousies, etc., but the French Court at the time was a minefield of all human mischief, intrigue and manipulation! But reading about M.A.'s teaching charitable acts to her children makes me think of what a magnificent humaitarian the Dauphin would have been had he lived to become King.