Monday, December 4, 2017

What You Might Not Know about Marie-Antoinette

I recently came upon two articles that purport to inform the world about what it does not know about Marie-Antoinette. The article is fairly accurate, except the nonsense about Louis having a "painful medical condition" for which there is no medical evidence. As for the part about the "fairy-tale village", the Queen merely rebuilt the village at Trianon that had once been there, giving the cottages to local peasants, with one for herself.  To quote:
When told that starving French peasants lacked any bread to eat, the queen is alleged to have callously declared, “Let them eat cake!” There is no evidence, however, that Marie Antoinette ever uttered that famous quip. The phrase used to encapsulate the out-of-touch and indifferent royals first appeared years before Marie Antoinette ever arrived in France in philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s description of Marie-Therese, the Spanish princess who married King Louis XIV in 1660. The remark was also ascribed to two aunts of Louis XVI before it was apocryphally tied to Marie Antoinette. (Read more.)
The National Geographic article is good except for the part about the Queen using flour on her wigs. Marie-Antoinette was almost always "in her own hair," that is wigless, sometimes with light powder. And this absurd statement: "To be clear, Marine Antoinette was no saint. She believed that the French Bourbon monarchy had been ordained by God, and so she didn’t accept the idea that royals like her were equal to their subjects." So we are to understand that Marie-Antoinette was "no saint" simply because she believed in the only system of government she had ever known? Does being part of a  monarchy automatically disqualify someone from sainthood? Does the writer not know that the Church has canonized emperors and empresses, kings and queens?

But the rest of the article is not bad. To quote:
Versailles, for all its decadence, was a very dirty place, filled with animals and excrement. Instead of cleaning their shoes, the royals and aristocrats would throw them out every few days. This culture of waste and excess was something Marie Antoinette stepped into when she arrived in France. She didn’t create it, and she didn’t take it to the extremes that others did. At least four members of the royal family spent more on clothing than she did—including Louis XVI’s brother the comte d'Artois, who ordered 365 pairs of shoes per year. Though she certainly went through more shoes than the average French person, Marie Antoinette “wasn’t known to have been a particular shoe freak” at Versailles, says Weber. (Read more.)

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