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Marie-Antoinette's Letters

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Marie-Antoinette's Letters

Post  Elena on Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:50 pm

I thought I would start a thread about Marie-Antoinette's letters. Smile

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Marie-Antoinette's Secret Letters

Post  Elena on Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:09 pm

A reader from Ireland sent me an article by S.Tomokiyo entitled "Ciphers of Marie-Antoinette and Fersen" http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~room4me/america/code/fersen.htm which sheds light upon the royal family's desperate years of virtual imprisonment at the Tuileries palace between October 6, 1789 and August 19, 1792. Author Jean Chalon in his biography Chère Marie-Antoinette dubs the Queen la Sévigné des Tuileries after the famous Madame de Sévigné, known for her prodigious letter writing. In her determination to save the lives of her family, restore the royal authority, and preserve the throne for her son, Marie-Antoinette wrote hundreds of letters, not only to Count Fersen, the representative of the King of Sweden, but to her relatives and friends, to Comte Mercy the Austrian ambassador, to fellow monarchs such as the Queens of Spain and Portugal, and to moderate revolutionaries such as Barnave. (Chalon, p. 352) One must remember that from any careful study of her correspondence it appears that the Queen was balancing precipitously between opposing parties as she attempted to persuade Fersen, Barnave, and Mercy into doing what she needed them to do.

Many of the letters were written in cipher, that is, in a secret code, which could be broken only by using certain key words. The complexity of the ciphers should destroy forever the myth that Marie-Antoinette was not intelligent; indeed, she must have had a very high I.Q. in order to adroitly master so many puzzles. Writing in code could be challenging. As Marie Antoinette wrote to the Comte de Provence: "At length I have succeeded in deciphering your letter, my dear Brother, but it was not without difficulty. There were so many mistakes [in the use of the cipher]. Still, it is not surprising, seeing that you are a beginner and that your letter was a long one...." (O. G. Heidenstam, ed. The Letters of Marie Antoinette, Fersen and Barnave, 1926, p.51, reprint at Google) Sometimes white or invisible ink was also used, about which the Queen complained, saying: "Little accustomed to writing in this manner, my writing will be indecipherable." (Marie-Antoinette to Mercy, 14 May 1791, Feuillet de Conches1, Vol.2, p.54)

The Queen burned most of the letters she received but many of those she sent to others have been preserved. The relatives of Axel von Fersen saved some original manuscripts of the letters from the Queen to Fersen, although not always in her hand-writing but in Fersen's after he had decoded it. S. Tomokiyo quotes extensively from a 2009 paper by Jacques Patarin and Valérie Nachef based upon a study of the cipher used by Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen for French television. According to Tomokiyo:
Patarin and Nachef found in the French National Archives some encrypted letters with the keyword written on it. The manuscript letters were edited and published in 1877 by Baron von Klinckowström, a grandson of an elder sister of Fersen. The manuscript letters, long believed to have been destroyed, were auctioned by descendants of Baron von Klinckowström in 1982 and purchased by the French National Archives. Two exemplary manuscript sheets are reproduced in the paper of Patarin and Nachef.

The first one is from a letter dated 8 July 1791 from Marie-Antoinette to Fersen. The keyword courage is written below the ciphertext and deciphered plaintext is written above the ciphertext. This letter is printed in, e.g., Klinckowstrom p.147, according to which the deciphering is in the hand of Fersen. (In this manuscript, Fersen writes keyword letters below the ciphertext, contrary to the above example, in which we wrote keyword letters above the ciphertext.)

The second one is from a letter dated 10 October 1791 from Fersen to Marie-Antoinette. This shows the plaintext and keyword letters below it. Probably, this sheet was used by Fersen for enciphering. This letter is printed in, e.g., Klinckowstrom p.193, according to which this is a minute in the hand of Fersen. (The actual letter received by Marie-Antoinette was probably lost during the French Revolution.)

The paper by Patarin and Nachef is focused totally on the correspondence of the Queen and Count Fersen. While some of their interpretations are questionable, they include pictures of the original manuscripts which make one realize the complexity of discerning the hidden meaning of the letters. In the words of the authors:
Most of the time, these letters show that Marie-Antoinette is trying to find alliances with foreign countries in order to restore the Monarchy in France. But some parts of her letters are devoted to expressing her love for the count. A French TV channel asked us to explain Marie-Antoinette's encryption algorithm. This led us to the study of some letters. There are very few letters written by the queen which are still available. Most of them were destroyed. Fersen kept the letters he received and deciphered, and also the letters he wrote himself to Marie-Antoinette. These archives were kept by his nephews and great-nephews. In 1877, Baron von Klinckowstrom published all the letters, but some parts were missing or crossed out. In 1982, some descendants of Baron von Klinckowstrom auctioned letters that were supposedly destroyed, and the French Historical Archives bought them. It is surprising to notice that on one hand, historians who published Marie-Antoinette's letters always chose the deciphered version published by Baron von Klinckowstrom....
When the letters of the queen and Count Fersen were published by his great nephew Baron de Klinckostrom in the late nineteenth century, they proved the nature of the queen and Fersen’s relationship to be principally a diplomatic one. In certain of the letters, mainly those from the queen to Fersen, passages have been erased and are indicated by rows of dots in the printed text. The Coursacs, Webster, and Delorme believe that Fersen erased certain passages himself. The erasures of Fersen were most likely sensitive diplomatic issues, not declarations of love, as authors such as Evelyn Lever have claimed. They concealed allusions to the queen’s disagreements with her brothers-in-law Artois and Provence, or references to the Duc d’Orleans and other revolutionaries, or even mentions of spies or persons whose families would have been compromised had the letters fallen into the wrong hands.

In 1907 a certain Monsieur Lucien Maury published in Revue Bleue what he claimed to be a fragment of a love letter of the queen to Fersen. Lever quotes it in Marie-Antoinette Correspondance (1770-1793), (Taillandier, 2005): “Tell me to whom I should send my letters to you, for I cannot live without that. Farewell most loved and most loving of men. I embrace you with all my heart." The letter had no signature, was not in the queen’s handwriting, only in the cipher she used, jotted down by Fersen in cipher, as Maury himself admitted. There is no proof it was from the queen but could have been from one of the many ladies with whom Fersen dallied over the years. And yet Lever includes this fragment among verified letters of the queen, giving the impression that it is evidence of a great love. Webster, however, dismissed it. Patarin and Nachef also include the same dubious letter in their study although they admit that Maury did not give any details about the decryption and that there is no corresponding ciphertext in existence.

I question the reliability of the claims of Patarin and Nachef that the hidden phrases they have discovered are sweet words from the Queen to the Count. For instance, the letter of June 18, 1791 is supposed to be a letter to Fersen with a request to send a letter to...Fersen? Its decryption reads thus:
Do not worry about us. It seems that the chiefs of the Assembly want to behave more softly. Talk to my parents about foreign approaches(6 encrypted letters). If they are afraid it is necessary to come to compromise with them. Burn all that is (10 encrypted letters) and send the remainder of the letter to M. von Fersen. He is with the king of Sweden."
Therefore I take the "love letter" from Marie-Antoinette which Patarin and Nachef have "discovered" with a grain of salt. Even if the romantic words were absolutely proved to be genuinely penned by the Queen, it must be remembered that she also wrote loving words to both of her friends Madame de Lamballe (Chalon, p. 349) and Madame de Polignac, calling each of them "mon cher coeur" that is "my dear heart" and saying such things as "je vous embrasse très fort" which means "I kiss you hard." Such was her manner of expression with those of whom she was fond. It must also be kept in mind that Marie-Antoinette absolutely needed the help for the royal cause that only Fersen could give in the outside world; it should not be surprising if her words to him were especially tender, as we are given to believe from Patarin and Nachef's interpretation.

Although Tomokiyo says that the work of Patarin and Nachef have proved that the hidden passages were romantic and not diplomatic, here is one of their decryptions from a letter of Marie-Antoinette to Fersen, dated July 8, 1791, which indeed appears to be about diplomacy:
There is no doubt that a foreign power could get into France, but the armed people would flee the borders and the troops from outside. Then they would make use of their weapons against their fellow citizens that they have been considering as enemies for two years. In our trip and especially since our return we have made every day the sad experiment to be considered as enemies. The king thinks that a full unlimited power as it composed even by dating it on June 20th, would be dangerous in its current state.
The Tomokiyo article provides a great service by discussing the ciphers used by Marie-Antoinette when writing coded letters to other persons such as Comte de Mercy. To quote:
Marie-Antoinette's use of cipher was not limited to her correspondence with Fersen. Marie-Antoinette is also known to have written in cipher to her brother Leopold II (Arneth1).

Feuillet de Conches1 mentions a particular cipher arranged between Marie-Antoinette and Mercy (Vol.2, p.95). (When in Paris as Austrian minister, the Comte de Mercy had worked to strengthen the alliance between France and Austria, which materialized as the marriage of Marie-Antoinette into the France in 1770. He was instructed by Maria-Theresa to act as a mentor of the young princess. In 1792, he became governor-general of the Austrian Netherlands.)

On the other hand, Marie-Antoinette appears to have used the cipher with Fersen also in her correspondence with the Comte de Mercy....

Marie-Antoinette had relatives in many courts in Italy, including her elder sisters Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, and Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma.

Marie-Antoinette's cipher with them is recorded in Secret memoirs of the royal family of France, during the revolution, Vol. 2. The author is an English lady-in-waiting to Princess of Lamballe, a confidante of Marie-Antoinette.

The author says Marie-Antoinette carried on a very extensive correspondence with Edmund Burke through the medium of Princess of Lamballe and she frequently "deciphered" letters (presumably from Burke) (p.140).

Princess of Lamballe was sent to England by the Queen in 1791 to seek help to the French royal family. Twice during her residence in England, the author was sent by Marie-Antoinette with papers communicating the result of the secret mission to the Queen of Naples. On the second of these trips, after reaching the destination after travelling night and day, she was immediately compelled to decipher the papers with the Queen of Naples in the office of the secretary of state (p.140).

On 2 August 1792, when the situation was becoming critical, she left Paris with Marie-Antoinette's letters to the Queen of Naples, the Duchess of Parma, and other relatives in Italy. She was entrusted with the cipher and the key for the letters (p.304-326).
Madame Elisabeth of France, the sister of Louis XVI, also used a cipher when communicating with her friend the Marquise de Raigecourt. It appears, however, that the princess did not make use of ciphers as often as Marie-Antoinette did, since some of Elisabeth's letters were later used against her at her trial.

While I may question some of the interpretations of the articles I have been quoting, I applaud the marvelous efforts of Tomokiyo and of Patarin and Nachef in giving us a glimpse into the extraordinary way in which people communicated sensitive information in the days before telephones and telegraphs (not to mention computers and cell phones).

Please do consult Tomokiyo's impressive list of sources for further reading, most of which are online. http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~room4me/america/code/fersen.htm

There is a lively, mostly French discussion about the encrypted letters of Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen at Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette, here:
http://maria-antonia.justgoo.com/t3551-le-cryptage-des-lettres-de-marie-antoinette-et-fersen

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Last Letter of Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:22 pm

The following is the original French text of the October 16, 1793 letter written by Marie-Antoinette Queen of France a few hours before her execution to her sister-in-law Madame Elisabeth. An English translation is included below, as well as images of the original letter. The sweetness and innocence of Marie-Antoinette's soul are captured in the lines in which she expresses her steadfast adherence to the Catholic religion and her concern for her friends and family. Note the delicate manner in which she refers to her little son's accusation of incest, wrested from him by his tormentors, showing more concern for Elisabeth's feelings than for her own agony. Although it is known that she had previously received the ministrations of a priest faithful to the Holy See while in prison, in order to protect him she wonders aloud if there are any Catholic priests left in France. Also, in the last sentence she states her refusal to "speak," that is, to confess, to a juring priest, one who had denied the Pope by swearing an oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Robespierre kept the letter; it never reached Elisabeth.
Ce 16 octobre, à quatre heures et demie du matin.

C’est à vous, ma soeur, que j’écris pour la dernière fois. Je viens d’être condamnée, non pas à une mort honteuse – elle ne l’est que pour les criminels, mais à aller rejoindre votre frère. Comme lui innocente j’espère montrer la même fermeté que lui dans ses derniers moments. Je suis calme comme on l’est quand la conscience ne reproche rien. J’ai un profond regret d’abandonner mes pauvres enfants. Vous savez que je n’existais que pour eux et vous, ma bonne et tendre soeur, vous qui avez par votre amitié tout sacrifié pour être avec nous, dans quelle position je vous laisse ! J’ai appris par le plaidoyer même du procès que ma fille était séparée de vous. Hélas ! la pauvre enfant, je n’ose pas lui écrire, elle ne recevrait pas ma lettre, je ne sais pas même si celle-ci vous parviendra. Recevez pour eux deux ici ma bénédiction ; j’espère qu’un jour, lorsqu’ils seront plus grands, ils pourront se réunir avec vous et jouir en entier de vos tendres soins. Qu’ils pensent tous deux à ce que je n’ai cessé de leur inspirer : que les principes et l’exécution exacte de ses devoirs sont la première base de la vie, que leur amitié et leur confiance mutuelle en fera le bonheur. Que ma fille sente qu’à l’âge qu’elle a, elle doit toujours aider son frère par les conseils que l’expérience qu’elle aura de plus que lui et son amitié pourront lui inspirer ; que mon fils, à son tour, rende à sa soeur tous les soins, les services que l'amitié peuvent inspirer ; qu’ils sentent enfin tous deux que dans quelque position où ils pourront se trouver ils ne seront vraiment heureux que par leur union ; qu’ils prennent exemple de nous. Combien, dans nos malheurs, notre amitié nous a donné de consolation ! Et dans le bonheur on jouit doublement quand on peut le partager avec un ami, et où en trouver de plus tendre, de plus uni que dans sa propre famille ? Que mon fils n’oublie jamais les derniers mots de son père que je lui répète expressément : qu’il ne cherche jamais à venger notre mort.

J’ai à vous parler d’une chose bien pénible à mon coeur. Je sais combien cet enfant doit vous avoir fait de la peine. Pardonnez-lui, ma chère soeur, pensez à l’âge qu’il a et combien il est facile de faire dire à un enfant ce qu’on veut et même ce qu’il ne comprend pas. Un jour viendra, j’espère, où il ne sentira que mieux le prix de vos bontés et de votre tendresse pour tous deux. Il me reste à vous confier encore mes dernières pensées. J’aurais voulu les écrire dès le commencement du procès, mais, outre qu’on ne me laissait pas écrire, la marche a été si rapide que je n’en aurais réellement pas eu le temps.

Je meurs dans la religion catholique, apostolique et romaine, dans celle de mes pères, dans celle où j’ai été élevée et que j’ai toujours professée, n’ayant aucune consolation spirituelle à attendre, ne sachant pas s’il existe encore ici des prêtres de cette religion, et même le lieu où je suis les exposerait trop s’ils y entraient une fois. Je demande sincèrement pardon à Dieu de toutes les fautes que j’ai pu commettre depuis que j’existe ; j’espère que, dans sa bonté, il voudra bien recevoir mes derniers voeux, ainsi que ceux que je fais depuis longtemps pour qu’il veuille bien recevoir mon âme dans sa miséricorde et sa bonté. Je demande pardon à tous ceux que je connais et à vous, ma soeur, en particulier, de toutes les peines que, sans le vouloir, j’aurais pu leur causer. Je pardonne à tous mes ennemis le mal qu’ils m’ont fait. Je dis ici adieu à mes tantes et à tous mes frères et soeurs. J’avais des amis, l’idée d’en être séparée pour jamais et leurs peines sont un des plus grands regrets que j’emporte en mourant ; qu’ils sachent du moins que, jusqu’à mon dernier moment, j’ai pensé à eux.

Adieu, ma bonne et tendre soeur ; puisse cette lettre vous arriver. Pensez toujours à moi ; je vous embrasse de tout mon coeur ainsi que ces pauvres et chers enfants. Mon Dieu, qu’il est déchirant de les quitter pour toujours ! Adieu, adieu ! je ne vais plus m’occuper que de mes devoirs spirituels. Comme je ne suis pas libre dans mes actions, on m’amènera peut-être un prêtre ; mais je proteste ici que je ne lui dirai pas un mot et que je le traiterai comme un être absolument étranger.
Here are pictures of the queen's last letter, stained by her tears, followed by an English translation. When she speaks of her children the words themselves fall like tears.





16th October, 4.30 A.M.

It is to you, my sister, that I write for the last time. I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals, but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments. I am calm, as one is when one's conscience reproaches one with nothing. I feel profound sorrow in leaving my poor children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and tender sister. You who out of love have sacrificed everything to be with us, in what a position do I leave you! I have learned from the proceedings at my trial that my daughter was separated from you. Alas! poor child; I do not venture to write to her; she would not receive my letter. I do not even know whether this will reach you. Do you receive my blessing for both of them. I hope that one day when they are older they may be able to rejoin you, and to enjoy to the full your tender care. Let them both think of the lesson which I have never ceased to impress upon them, that the principles and the exact performance of their duties are the chief foundation of life; and then mutual affection and confidence in one another will constitute its happiness. Let my daughter feel that at her age she ought always to aid her brother by the advice which her greater experience and her affection may inspire her to give him. And let my son in his turn render to his sister all the care and all the services which affection can inspire. Let them, in short, both feel that, in whatever positions they may be placed, they will never be truly happy but through their union. Let them follow our example. In our own misfortunes how much comfort has our affection for one another afforded us! And, in times of happiness, we have enjoyed that doubly from being able to share it with a friend; and where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one's own family? Let my son never forget the last words of his father, which I repeat emphatically; let him never seek to avenge our deaths.

I have to speak to you of one thing which is very painful to my heart, I know how much pain the child must have caused you. Forgive him, my dear sister; think of his age, and how easy it is to make a child say whatever one wishes, especially when he does not understand it. It will come to pass one day, I hope, that he will better feel the value of your kindness and of your tender affection for both of them. It remains to confide to you my last thoughts. I should have wished to write them at the beginning of my trial; but, besides that they did not leave me any means of writing, events have passed so rapidly that I really have not had time.

I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.

Farewell, my good and tender sister. May this letter reach you. Think always of me; I embrace you with all my heart, as I do my poor dear children. My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell! farewell! I must now occupy myself with my spiritual duties, as I am not free in my actions. Perhaps they will bring me a priest; but I here protest that I will not say a word to him, but that I will treat him as a total stranger. (Translation by Charles Duke Yonge)

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Re: Marie-Antoinette's Letters

Post  Elena on Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:36 am

Brilliant analysis by Anna A. of Vive la Reine.
http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/post/17644293305

courtroyale:
Another love letter addressed to Count Fersen from Marie Antoinette:

(there is a bit of controversy regarding the authenticity of this letter by those who chose to believe that MA was a Catholic martyr)

July 29 1791

“I can tell you that I love you and indeed that is all I have time for. I am well. Do not worry about me. I hope you to be well too. Write me cipher letters and send them by mail to Mrs Brown’s address, in a double envelope to Mr. de Gougens. Send the letters by your manservant. Tell me to whom I should send the letters I could write you. I cannot live without that. Farewell, the most loved and the most loving of men. I kiss you with all my heart.”

La revue bleue 1907

(This turned into a long ramble, oops…)

The letter in question is very questionable, historically. It was supposedly found in the Archives of Stafsfund by Lucien Maury, who claimed that he had found an extract of a letter from the queen to Fersen which had been looked over, and had it published in the Revue Bleue in 1907. The letter, however, was not in Marie Antoinette’s handwriting, and it was only in the cipher that the queen used. It’s not known for certain whose handwriting the letter is in, although it does not match the queen’s. Which leaves us with a few possibilities, ignoring the context of the letter for now: That an unknown woman got ahold of the Queen’s cipher and wrote this note to Fersen; that Marie Antoinette had the letter dictated for her; that Fersen translated a letter from someone into Marie Antoinette’s cipher; that someone in the 19th century penned the letter and slipped it in with Fersen’s papers.

It’s possible that someone working closely with Fersen would have had access to her cipher and could have penned the note. Mme de Saint-Priest, the wife of the King’s minister, who knew of Fersen’s work to save the royal family, could have obtained her cipher. Several of her letters to Fersen around June 1791 contain similar phrases to those included in the “love letter,” including an indication that she had not heard from Fersen in some time, that she was devoted to him and wanted him to write, etc. Marie Antoinette having the letter dictated is almost certainly out of the question, since she would have to trust another person with her correspondence during the oppressive time period after the family’s failed flight. Fersen could have translated a letter back into the queen’s cipher, regardless of who sent it, but it begs the question of why Fersen would copy out a letter in the Queen’s cipher [regardless of who wrote it] instead of the other way around. The last possibility isn’t out of the question, considering the contention around Marie Antoinette’s reputation that went back to the 1770s.

It’s also important to look at the credibility of the person who supposedly discovered the letter. He referred to the Baron de Klinckowstrom, who published the first lengthy edition of Fersen’s correspondence with Marie Antoinette and others, snidely as someone who was a “defender of the Queen’s memory” — that is, that he must be covering something up in order to defend her reputation. Maury also attributed the letter to September 1791, although Mlle Soderhjelm (who essentially started the theory that Fersen is referring to Marie Antoinette when he speaks of a woman he is in love with in letters to his sister) places it being received by Fersen on July 4, 1791.

In either case, when you compare this letter to authenticated letters written by Marie Antoinette in Fersen either to the end of June or in September, the contents don’t match up. In the “love letter,” the writer knows where Fersen is, but not to who she should send the letters to him, and begs for him to write her. But on June 29th, 1791 in an authenticated letter, Marie Antoinette asks Fersen not to write to her and says she cannot write him again for some time.


Then, in another authenticated letter on September 26th to Fersen, Marie Antoinette acknowledges that she had received a letter from him (which presumably gave the queen an address) but has not known his whereabouts for the past two months. The writer of the “love letter” knew where Fersen was, but did not know who she should send letters to, asked him to write in cipher, and had a more complicated method of exchanging correspondence with him. Marie Antoinette admits she did not know where he was, but she knew where to send the letter in Brussels without complication, and would not need to tell Fersen to whom to send the letters because they had been corresponding for some time. Marie Antoinette and Fersen’s correspondence had long made use of cipher, so why include this in a letter? Whether the letter is dated June or September, it is at odds with the information we have from letters which were more thoroughly authenticated. Unlike the “love letter,” which was once published with an editorial column that not only gave the year 1792 for the letters but boldly stated that Madame Campan sewed a disguise for Fersen while he was making love with the queen!

To quote Nesta Webster:

“Let us consider the matter judicially: a writer strongly hostile to the Queen is allowed to hunt amongst Fersen’s papers, asserts that he has found confirmation of his aspersions on her character in the form of a note which no one before had ever seen, produces a fragment neither written nor signed by her, and this is to be regarded as proof? What court of law would consider such evidence for a moment? And why a fragment? Why not the whole letter? … The famous fragment has never even been submitted to experts and rests on the testimony of M. Lucien Maury alone.”

I would just like to add that Marie-Antoinette being a Catholic martyr has NOTHING to do with whether or not she had an affair with Count Fersen. Since genuine martyrdom wipes away all past sins then if the Queen did truly die a martyr's death her martyr status would be unaffected by the past. Those of us who do not believe the Queen and Fersen were lovers do so not because we are trying to prove she was a martyr; we do so because of the EVIDENCE and lack thereof.

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A Lost Letter of Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:16 pm

From the Vatican Secret Archive. http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2012/03/lost-letter-of-marie-antoinette.html
(No, it's not a lost letter to Fersen.)
EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) today announced that it is the main sponsor of the 'Lux in Arcana' exhibition, taking place at the Musei Capitolini from 1st March to September 2012. The exhibition will reveal for the first time codes, files, scrolls, records and manuscripts of great historical value, preserved for 400 years in the Vatican Secret Archive.

As main sponsor, EMC revealed that one of the documents included in the exhibition is a letter by Marie Antoinette, written in 1793 while she was in prison to someone thought to be Louis XVI's brother Charles Philippe, Count of Artois, who in 1824 became Charles X, King of France. The letter, which is only ten lines in length, is handwritten on a sheet of ordinary paper folded in two. It reads, "The sentiments of those who share my pain, my dear brother-in-law, are the only consolation I can receive in this sad circumstance." The letter is then signed, "Your loving Sister-in-Law and Cousin Marie Antoinette." The clear and regular handwriting confirms that it was penned by Maria Antonia of Habsburg-Lorraine, daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, who in 1770 had married the future King Louis XVI of France, and from then on was always called Marie Antoinette.

Other documents which visitors to the exhibition will be able to view date from the eighth century through to the twentieth century. These include:

A letter from the British Parliament to Pope Clement VII about King Henry VIII's impending divorce
A silk cloth from the Empress Helena of China on her conversion to Catholicism dated 4 November 1650
A letter from Michelangelo to Monsignor Christopher Spirits, Bishop of Cesena and the future patriarch of Jerusalem
The acts from the trial of Galileo Galilei
A letter written on birch bark by American Indians to Pope Leo XIII

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