Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Madame Royale's arrival in Vienna, 1796

This is a painting of Madame Royale being received by her Austrian relatives, after being released from the Temple prison. In the words of Madame Campan:
It might have been supposed that the Princess would rejoice to leave behind her the country which had been the scene of so many horrors and such bitter suffering. But it was her birthplace, and it held the graves of all she loved; and as she crossed the frontier she said to those around her, "I leave France with regret, for I shall never cease to consider it my country." She arrived in Vienna on 9th January, 1796, and her first care was to attend a memorial service for her murdered relatives. After many weeks of close retirement she occasionally began to appear in public, and people looked with interest at the pale, grave, slender girl of seventeen, dressed in the deepest mourning, over whose young head such terrible storms had swept. The Emperor wished her to marry the Archduke Charles of Austria, but her father and mother had, even in the cradle, destined her hand for her cousin, the Duc d'Angouleme, son of the Comte d'Artois, and the memory of their lightest wish was law to her. Her quiet determination entailed anger and opposition amounting to persecution. Every effort was made to alienate her from her French relations. She was urged to claim Provence, which had become her own if Louis XVIII. was to be considered King of France. A pressure of opinion was brought to bear upon her which might well have overawed so young a girl. "I was sent for to the Emperor's cabinet," she writes, "where I found the imperial family assembled. The ministers and chief imperial counsellors were also present . . . . When the Emperor invited me to express my opinion, I answered that to be able to treat fittingly of such interests I thought, I ought to be surrounded not only by my mother's relatives, but also by those of my father . . . . Besides, I said, I was above all things French, and in entire subjection to the laws of France, which had rendered me alternately the subject of the King my father, the King my brother, and the King my uncle, and that I would yield obedience to the latter, whatever might be his commands. This declaration appeared very much to dissatisfy all who were present, and when they observed that I was not to be shaken, they declared that my right being independent of my will, my resistance would not be the slightest obstacle to the measures they might deem it necessary to adopt for the preservation of my interests."
~from the Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette by Madame Campan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting up that picture. It's a good visual for anyone who's read "Trianon" and/or "Madame Royale".