Monday, November 2, 2015

Marie-Antoinette's Birthday

November 2 is the birthday of Marie-Antoinette of Lorraine-Austria, Queen of France. Here is an account of her birth from Maxime de la Rocheterie:
MARIE ANTOINETTE JEANNE DE LORRAINE of Austria was born in Vienna on November 2, All [Souls'] Day, 1755.
On the same day, as if misfortune wished from the first to put an indelible stamp upon the life which seemed to promise so brilliantly and yet was destined to know so many reverses, a frightful earthquake visited central Europe, destroying Lisbon, chasing the future godfather and godmother of the child from their crumbling palace, burying beneath the ruins thirty thousand men, and engulfing on the strand at Cadiz the heir to one of the most glorious names in French literature, — the grandson of the great Racine.
The young archduchess was the sixth daughter and ninth child of Francis of Lorraine, Emperor of Germany, and of the illustrious Maria Theresa.* A story is told that one evening in the early autumn of 1755, when the empress was receiving at Schoenbrunn, she laughingly asked the Duke von Tarouka, "Shall I have a boy or a girl?" "A prince, without doubt, Madame," replied the courtier. "Well," Maria Theresa answered, "I wager two ducats that I shall give birth to a girl." Some time after, the child was born. The Duke von Tarouka lost; he sent the amount of the bet to the empress enclosed in this ingenious quatrain of the poet Metastasio: — Vol. i.—i
"Ho perduto: l'augusta figlia .
A pagar m' ha, condamnato.
Ma s'e vero ch'a voi simiglia
Tutto l' mundo ha guadagnato." 
("I have lost: the august girl has condemned me to pay. But if it be true that she resembles you, then all the world has gained.")
On November 3, the young princess was baptized by the archbishop of Vienna. Her godfather and godmother were the king and queen of Portugal, represented by the Archduke Joseph and the Archduchess Marie Anne. A solemn Te Deum was then sung; during two days the court was in full dress, and during one in semi-full dress; but the emperor — was it owing to some vague presentiment of the future? — could not bring himself to give a great public banquet. Instead of this, there were two days of rejoicing, the 5th and 6th of November, with public shows and free passage through the gates of the city. The empress, who was seriously indisposed after her confinement, did not celebrate her recovery in the court chapel until the 14th of December.
There is more on Marie-Antoinette's birth from the blog of Catherine Delors. To quote:
Within the imperial family the little girl was simply called Antonia, Antoine or Antoinette. Eighteen years later she would become Queen of France under the name of Marie-Antoinette.
Here she is as a baby (lying in the gilded cradle at the center of the picture) surrounded by her parents and siblings. This was painted in 1755, when she could not be more than two months old. It must be the earliest of her many portraits.

Martin van Meytens, official painter of the Viennese Court, made several versions of this life-size picture of the Familia Augusta, the imperial family, represented here on the terrace of the Palace of Schönbrunn. From time to time van Meytens produced updated versions to include the newest additions to the ruling couple’s increasing brood.

This particular version was purchased during the 19th century by King Louis-Philippe and is now in the Versailles collections. There exists a later version that includes Marie-Antoinette’s younger brother, little Archduke Maximilian Franz. (Read entire post.)
* Marie-Antoinette was the fifteenth child and youngest daughter. Share


May said...

Happy Birthday!

Julygirl said...

It is difficult to look at the painting of her in her cradle knowing what was to be her tragic fate.

May said...

My goodness, I was just taking a look at Belloc's biography of the Queen- he really didn't like her at all it seems.

elena maria vidal said...

No, he didn't. It is not one of his better works; it is too colored by his feelings and he makes some historical mistakes. However, it is good when it comes to showing the political side of the Revolution.

May said...

It's interesting, Marie-Antoinette was born on All Souls Day, and the very next day, November 3, is the birthday of her great-great-etc.-nephew, Leopold III of Belgium, who was also terribly vilified. And oddly, if I recall correctly, All Souls' Day can also be celebrated on November 3, if the 2nd falls on a Sunday.

Weird coincidences...

lara77 said...

Happy Birthday Your Majesty! May you and all you have loved be at peace with God. You remain in the hearts of many French People and foreigners alike for you truly died innocent in the eyes of God. Vive la Reine!