Sunday, November 2, 2014

La Reine Marie-Antoinette Enfant

Baby Antonia, a small archduchess. From the Memoirs of Maria-Antoinetta by Joseph Weber, her foster brother:
 Maria-Antoinetta-Joseph-Jane of Lorraine, Archduchess of Austria, daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany, and of the immortal Maria-Theresa, Empress of Germany, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, was born on the 2nd of November, 1755.

A short time previous to her birth, the Empress gave orders to her governess to look for a nurse in some respectable family, of pure morals and unspotted character ; a description completely applicable to my virtuous parents, to whom I am proud to pay this public tribute of respect. My father, Mr. George Weber, was a Counsellor in the Magistracy of Vienna, and at the head of the Victualling-Office : my mother, Maria-Constantia Hoffman, was distinguished for the beauty of her person, and still more for that of her mind. Their marriage had constantly presented a union of the domestic virtues. My mother was fixed upon to be the nurse of the Archduchess, and I was three months old when she had the honour of receiving the charge.

Maria-Theresa was a good mother as well as a great Queen. Her tenderness seemed as soft as her courage appeared majestic and sublime. No sooner had she entrusted her child to my mother than she adopted us all. She rewarded the long services of my father with a considerable pension, and a grant of apartments in the Hotel de la Chancellerie. A pension was settled on my mother, and one also on each of her children. As for me, whose lot it was to be nourished with the same milk that Maria-Antoinetta was, Her Imperial Majesty desired my mother, while I was a child, to take me with her whenever she went to pay her respects to the young Princess whom she had suckled.

The daughter of the Cesars then made me join in the sports of her infancy, in which the Empress herself took a part; and, as at that age no thing had yet made me sensible of the immense distance between myself and her with whom I played, the august and good Maria-Theresa, fearing to give me pain if she bestowed her caresses partially, often took me on one of her knees when she held her daughter on the other, and honoured me with embraces similar to those she lavished upon her. (Memoirs of Maria-Antoinetta, Queen of France and Navarre by Joseph Weber, translated by R.C. Dallas, pp1-3)


julygirl said...

It is hard to think of her as having ever been a baby considering the rarified atmosphere she created and her tragic end.....but thanks for giving us a glimpse of that time in her life...this is a charming article.

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome, julygirl and thank you for all of your great comments! It occured to me after posting this that even as a baby, Marie-Antoinette never had her mother to herself. Yet she never showed resentment of Weber but was generous to him all of her life. Yet perhaps it explains tenacity with which she held onto to friendships.