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Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

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Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Elena on Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:00 pm

Oh, where to begin?

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Louis XVI and the American Revolution

Post  Elena on Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:07 pm

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/07/louis-xvi-and-american-independence.html
It is fairly well-known that without the military and financial aid given by Louis XVI to the American colonists in their struggle for independence from Great Britain, our nation may never have arisen. The King of France was reluctant to go to war, recoiling from both the expense and the shedding of blood; he did so only when convinced that it would benefit France in the long run. Marie-Antoinette was initially against assisting the Americans; she thought it set a dangerous precedent to help the colonists rebel against their king. Nevertheless, once war was declared, she did not hesitate to embrace the joint cause of France and America. According to Lafayette she once greeted him by saying: "Give me news of our good Americans, of our dear Republicans!"

Lafayette may have colored her words with his own enthusiasm for the cause. However, the general repartee in the French court over the American revolt is rather humorous, or at least it would be, had the consequences for France not been so tragic. When Marie-Antoinette's brother, Emperor Joseph II, was visiting Versailles, some pro-American French lady kept badgering him about the colonists' revolt. Finally, the Holy Roman Emperor curtly replied: "Madame, I am a royalist by profession." When Lafayette joined the followers of Mesmer, Louis XVI asked him, ironically: "What will Washington think when he hears that you have become the first apothecary of Mesmer?"

The King and Queen graciously received Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and other Americans at Versailles. Louis XVI was depicted in art with Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Sadly, the bankruptcy France incurred by the war caused the political crisis in France to escalate, leading to a bloody revolution and to the deaths of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. But Louis XVI did indeed show foresight in his decision to help the colonies. Twice the new nation would come to the aid of France when France was in dire need. I always have thought that in addition to saying "Lafayette, we are here," General Pershing should have said "Louis XVI, we are here" since without the King's help America may never have become a nation.

(Quotations from Nesta Webster's Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before the Revolution)

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The Happy Day of France

Post  Elena on Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:42 am

An allegorical representation of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette at the beginning of their reign, which was hoped to be a golden age. (Via Vive la Reine.)

"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them." Isaias 11:6
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/11/happy-day-of-france.html


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Louis XVI and Tuberculosis

Post  Elena on Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:15 pm

Louis-Auguste, Duc de Berry, the future Louis XVI, was born on August 23, 1754. August 25, the feast of St. Louis of France, was his name-day, and kept with special festivity after he became king in 1774. The other day on Catherine Delors' blog many interesting points were brought up in the comment box about the childhood traumas of Louis-Auguste and how those later affected his reactions to the events of the Revolution.

Louis contracted tuberculosis when he was six by being made to sit at the bedside of his dying older brother, the Duc de Bourgogne. It was a traumatic experience in many ways for a small boy, especially since he himself became quite ill. Louis-Auguste was generally regarded as unhealthy and not likely to live to adulthood. Several members of the French royal family, including Louis' parents and brother, had already died of consumption. Louis managed to survive with the proper care. Nevertheless, tuberculosis is a disease which can remain inactive for many years but can later recur. It can have many side effects, including depression.

The tuberculosis would come back to haunt him, infecting his baby daughter Sophie and his oldest son. I think seeing Louis-Joseph die just as he had watched his older brother die long ago revived a lot of the childhood trauma. Death from tuberculosis is not pretty to watch. I am of the opinion that since the death of his oldest son, which coincided with the beginning of the Revolution in 1789, Louis XVI was suffering from clinical depression. In the past, he had acted with much more energy and decision. This is one of the reasons Marie-Antoinette had to become more involved in the political arena during the Revolution.

I think Louis struggled with "melancholy" at various times throughout his life, perhaps due to the childhood infection with tuberculosis. Louis was a man accustomed to strenuous exercise, especially hunting and riding, not to mention his labors as a locksmith. It is my belief that he needed the fresh air and the exertion for both his mental and physical health. With the regimen of exercise and his strictly adhered to routine he was able to keep melancholy from overwhelming him. He was deprived of much of his riding after October 1789 and it had a devastating effect upon his health and state of mind. Losing two of his children, his authority, his home, seeing his people and family suffer, and being deprived of the exercise and fresh air vital to his health, left him in a very bad condition.

If we consider the courage with which Louis XVI faced the worst moments of crisis, including his death, then he is to be admired, especially in the light of everything else. The Queen is to be admired as well, for she could have slipped out of the country with her surviving children and left Louis to his doom (there were many plans for her escape) but she refused to budge from Louis' side. She would not leave him to face the disasters alone. http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/08/louis-xvi-and-tuberculosis.html

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Marie-Antoinette helps a wounded postilion

Post  Elena on Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:21 pm

http://nobility.org/2011/11/17/marie-antoinette/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NobilityAndAnalogousTraditionalElites+%28Nobility+and+Analogous+Traditional+Elites%29
While organizing emergency measures for a postillion of her carriage who had been hurt in the exercise of his duties, Marie Antoinette addressed those she was giving instructions to as “my friend.”

— My friend, go and bring the doctors.

— My friend, go and fetch a gurney.

— My friend, see if he is conscious.

When the nobles of the Court heard what had happened they commented in admiration, “Surely Maria Teresa would have recognized her daughter in this episode, and Henry IV his heiress.”

Pierre de Nolhac, Marie-Antoinette Dauphine (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1898), p. 242. (Nobility.org translation.)

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The Royal Hunt

Post  Elena on Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:07 pm



The painting above shows Marie-Antoinette riding in the royal hunt, with her husband Louis XVI in the background. In practically every and any book, article or blog post about Louis XVI, it is usually pointed out that hunting was his passion. This is quite true. However, a love of the chase was not something unique to Louis. Hunting is what the nobility did, all nobles, unless some kind of physical handicap prevented them. It had, of course, originated as a way of procuring food to feed large households and families. Even in the most decadent of times before the Revolution of 1789, the game was killed not for mere sport, but to be eaten.

That the Bourbon kings of France would devote themselves to such sport should not come as a great surprise, since Versailles was originally built to be a hunting lodge. From the days of Louis XIV, hunting was almost a daily activity. The post of Grand Huntsman was among the highest in the realm. Some of the other royal residences, Rambouillet, Compiègne,and La Muette were hunting lodges as well.

According to the PBS site Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution:
All of Versailles was initially an immense hunting area, with the original chateau grounds being ten times larger than they are today. In the area now called the Grand Park, the royal family and the court continued this hunting tradition, both on horseback and on foot....

Hunting on horseback was an activity reserved to the nobility in prerevolutionary France, truly the sport of kings. Gifts of fresh game were one way in which nobles showed their generosity to those who did not share their privileges. Such gifts reminded the recipient of his lower place in the social order while demonstrating the nobility of the giver.

For the king and his retinue, the Royal Hunt was a noble pursuit. Invitations to the Royal Hunt were greatly coveted, and the King used these invitations to show favor and gain support.

Hunts were generally followed by elaborate dinners, sometimes with guest lists in the hundreds....
It was at a hunt that the English lady Mrs. Thrale observed the young Queen Marie-Antoinette on horseback, saying:
20 Octr 1775 begins. This Morning we drove into the Forest as they call it to see the Queen ride on Horseback. We were early enough to see her mount, which was not done as in England by a Man’s hand, but the right foot is fixed in the Stirrup first & then drawn out again when the Lady is on her Saddle. The Horse on which the Queen rode was neither handsome nor gentle, he was however confined with Martingales &c. & richly caparison’d with blue Velvet & Silver Embroidery : the Saddle was ill contrived—sloping off behind—& a Pommel so awkward that no Joyner could have executed it worse,—there was a Handle by the Side I saw. While we were examining the Furniture and Formation of the Horse, the Queen came to ride him, attended by the Duchess de Luignes, who wore Boots & Breeches like a Man with a single Petticoat over them, her Hair tyed & her Hat cocked exactly like those of a Man, Her Majesty's Habit was Puce Colour as they call it her Hat filled with Feathers and her Figure perfectly pleasing. She offered her Arm to the King's Aunts who followed her to the Rendezvous in a Coach, as they were getting out, but they respectfully refus'd her Assistance.
Marie-Antoinette as a young princess had been banned by her mother from joining the hunt on horseback. The Empress feared that she would have a miscarriage, or at least ruin her complexion. The Dauphine, being married and technically no longer subject to her mother, eventually insisted on riding with her husband, finding it a way to capture his attention. (Gaining Louis' regard was, of course, vital for conceiving a child.) Antoinette was said to be a fine and fearless rider, often donning male apparel. She won much public acclaim for taking care not to destroy the gardens and crops of the peasants when hunting. Such common courtesy was rare. According to Charles Duke Young:
The latter part of the year 1771 was marked by no very striking occurrences. Marie Antoinette had carried her point, and had begun to ride on horseback without either her figure or her complexion suffering from the exercise. On the contrary, she was admitted to have improved in beauty. She sent her measure to Vienna, to show Maria Teresa how much she had grown, adding that her husband had grown as much, and had become stronger and more healthy-looking, and that she had made use of her saddle-horses to accompany him in his hunting and shooting excursions. Like a true wife, she boasted to her mother of his skill as a shot: the very day that she wrote he had killed forty head of game. (She did not mention that a French sportsman's bag was not confined to the larger game, but that thrushes, blackbirds, and even, red-breasts, were admitted to swell the list.) And the increased facilities for companionship with him that her riding afforded increased his tenderness for her, so that she was happier than ever. Except that as yet she saw no prospect of presenting the empress with a grandchild, she had hardly a wish ungratified.

Her taste for open-air exercise of this kind added also to the attachment felt for her by the lower classes, from the opportunities which arose out of it for showing her unvarying and considerate kindness. The contrast which her conduct afforded to that of previous princes, and indeed to that of all the present race except her husband, caused her actions of this sort to be estimated rather above their real importance. But how great was the impression which they did make on those who witnessed them may be seen in the unanimity with which the chroniclers of the time record her forbidding her postilions to drive over a field of corn which lay between her and the stag, because she would rather miss the sight of the chase than injure the farmer; and relate how, on one occasion, she gave up riding for a week or two, and sent her horses back from Compiegne to Versailles, because the wife of her head-groom was on the point of her confinement, and she wished her to have her husband near her at such a moment; and on another, when the horse of one of her attendants kicked her, and inflicted a severe bruise on her foot, she abstained from mentioning the hurt, lest it should bring the rider into disgrace by being attributed to his awkward management….
Madame Campan records another incident of Marie-Antoinette's compassion for the poor, as follows:
A circumstance which happened in hunting, near the village of Acheres, in the forest of Fontainebleau, afforded the young Princess an opportunity of displaying her respect for old age, and her compassion for misfortune. An aged peasant was wounded by the stag; the Dauphiness jumped out of her calash, placed the peasant, with his wife and children, in it, had the family taken back to their cottage, and bestowed upon them every attention and every necessary assistance. Her heart was always open to the feelings of compassion, and the recollection of her rank never restrained her sensibility. Several persons in her service entered her room one evening, expecting to find nobody there but the officer in waiting; they perceived the young Princess seated by the side of this man, who was advanced in years; she had placed near him a bowl full of water, was stanching the blood which issued from a wound he had received in his hand with her handkerchief, which she had torn up to bind it, and was fulfilling towards him all the duties of a pious sister of charity.
It was at the hunting lodge of La Muette that in 1774 the young Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette broke with protocol by strolling arm in arm, like "man and wife," before crowds of people who cheered them deliriously. It was considered contrary to etiquette for royal spouses to display affection in public. The new King and Queen wanted to break with such stiff and antiquated customs. By the way, when Louis XVI recorded "nothing" in his journal on July 14, 1789, it meant that he had caught nothing while hunting. It did not mean that he was indifferent or oblivious to the violence in Paris, since it is obvious from his actions that he was quite concerned. It is just one more ridiculous canard which even educated people continually spout about Louis XVI.

Sources:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/08/royal-hunt.html

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Marie-Antoinette's Sleigh Rides

Post  Elena on Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:46 pm

Catherine Delors once wrote about Marie-Antoinette's youthful pastime, both on her own blog and on Gabriela Delworth's. It was during the winter of 1775-1776 that the Queen befriended the unfortunate Princesse de Lamballe. According to Madame Campan's Memoirs:
The winter following the confinement of the Comtesse d’Artois [1775-76] was very severe; the recollections of the pleasure which sleighing-parties had given the Queen in her childhood made her wish to introduce similar ones in France.

This amusement had already been known in that Court, as was proven by sleighs found in the stables, which had been used by the Dauphin, the father of Louis XVI. Some were made for the Queen in a more modern style. The Princes also ordered several; and in a few days there was a fair number of these vehicles around. They were driven by the princes and noblemen of the Court. The noise of the bells and pompoms with which the horses’ harnesses were decorated, the elegance and whiteness of their plumes, the varied shapes of the carriages, the gold with which they were all trimmed, made these parties a delight for the eye. The winter was very favorable to them, the snow remaining on the ground nearly six weeks; the drives in the park afforded a pleasure shared by the spectators.

No one imagined that any blame could attach to so innocent an amusement. But the party was tempted to extend its drives as far as the Champs-Elysées; a few sleighs even crossed the boulevards; the ladies being masked, the Queen’s enemies took the opportunity of saying that she had traveled through the streets of Paris in a sleigh.

This became a momentous issue. The public discovered in it a predilection for the habits of Vienna; but all that Marie Antoinette did was criticized. Sleigh-driving, smacking of the Northern Courts, found no favor among the Parisians. The Queen was informed of this; and although all the sleighs were kept, and several subsequent winters lent themselves to the amusement, she would not resume it.

It was at the time of the sleighing-parties that the Queen became intimately acquainted with the Princesse de Lamballe, who made her appearance in them wrapped in fur, with all the brilliancy and freshness of the age of twenty, the image of spring, peeping from under sable and ermine.
The comments on both posts are interesting; one comment quotes from the memoirs of Madame de Genlis, as follows:
The Queen introduced sleighing parties, which were organised like this: the Queen invited the women she wanted to be there. When she invited the princesses, she sent a page to convey her personal invitation to those of the princesses’ ladies-in-waiting it pleased her to choose; usually she only asked one at a time. Everyone met at the Queen’s at midday for luncheon; all the men dined together in another room. The Queen never ate in the company of men when the King was not present. The Queen had all the ladies seated at her table. We had quite a long lunch-dinner; then, we went into a salon where we rejoined all the men. Then, as one had to be escorted by lords, as people said in those days, the Queen and the princesses named those who would escort them, and all the ladies relied on chance and drew lots; a very prudent custom which avoided the inconveniences of favouritism and malicious gossip. We went from Versailles to country houses, to La Muette, to Meudon, etc. There, we descended from the sleighs, went into a salon, got warm, chatted for three-quarters of an hour or an hour; after that, we got back into the sledges and returned to Versailles.

Sources:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/12/marie-antoinettes-sleigh-rides.html
http://blog.catherinedelors.com/marie-antoinettes-sleigh-rides/

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Marie-Antoinette's Christmas Charities

Post  Elena on Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:16 pm

With Christmas upon us, it is helpful to see the example of the Queen, who made the needs of the poor a priority, especially in the cold of winter. For Marie-Antoinette, this was nothing extraordinary, but the basic duty of a Christian. While surfing the internet, it is all too common to see Marie-Antoinette characterized as someone who ignored the plight of the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her charities were quite extensive and are a matter of public record. She also took great care to instill a love of the needy in her children. At Christmastime, during a particularly brutal winter, the queen had them renounce their Christmas gifts in order to buy food and blankets for the destitute. As Maxime de La Rocheterie relates:
One year, on the approach of the 1st of January, she had the most beautiful playthings brought from Paris to Versailles; she showed them to her children, and when they had looked at them and admired them, said to them that they were without doubt very beautiful, but that it was still more beautiful to distribute alms; and the price of these presents was sent to the poor. (The Life of Marie Antoinette by Maxime de La Rocheterie, 1893)
Another biographer Charles Duke Yonge discusses how the queen's generosity was well-known by her contemporaries, in spite of her efforts to be discreet, and the efforts of her enemies to portray her as a decadent spendthrift.
By the beginning of December the Seine was frozen over, and the whole adjacent country was buried in deep snow. Wolves from the neighboring forests, desperate with hunger, were said to have made their way into the suburbs, and to have attacked people in the streets. Food of every kind became scarce, and of the poorer classes many were believed to have died of actual starvation....

Not only were Louis and Marie Antoinette conspicuous for the unstinting liberality with which they devoted their own funds to to supply of the necessities of the destitute, but the queen, in many cases of unusual or pressing suffering that were reported to her in Versailles and the neighboring villages, sent trustworthy persons to investigate them, and in numerous instances went herself to the cottages, making personal inquiries into the condition of the occupants, and showing not only a feeling heart, but a considerate and active kindness, which doubled the value of her benefactions by the gracious, thoughtful manner in which they were bestowed.

She would willingly have done the good she did in secret, partly from her constant feeling that charity was not charity if it were boasted of, partly from a fear that those ready to misconstrue all her acts would find pretexts for evil and calumny even in her bounty. One of her good deeds struck Necker as of so remarkable a character that he pressed her to allow him to make it known. "Be sure, on the contrary," she replied, "that you never mention it. What good could it do? they would not believe you;" but in this she was mistaken. Her charities were too widely spread to escape the knowledge even of those who did not profit by them; and they had their reward, though it was but a short-lived one.

Though the majority of her acts of personal kindness were performed in Versailles rather than in Paris, the Parisians were as vehement in their gratitude as the Versaillese; and it found a somewhat fantastic vent in the erection of pyramids and obelisks of snow in different quarters of the city, all bearing inscriptions testifying the citizens' sense of her benevolence. One, which far exceeded all its fellows in size--the chief beauty of works of that sort--since it was fifteen feet high, and each of the four faces was twelve feet wide at the base, was decorated with a medallion of the royal pair, and bore a poetical inscription commemorating the cause of its erection:

"Reine, dont la beaute surpasse les appas
Pres d'un roi bienfaisant occupe ici la place.
Si ce monument frele est de neige et de glace,
Nos coeurs pour toi ne le sont pas.

De ce monument sans exemple,
Couple auguste, l'aspect bien doux pur votre coeur
Sans doute vous plaira plus qu'un palais, qu'un temple
Que vous eleverait un peuple adulateur.[10]"

(Life of Marie-Antoinette by Charles Duke Yonge, 1876)
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/12/marie-antoinettes-sleigh-rides.html

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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  May on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:22 am

Elena, I so enjoyed your EWTN interview about Marie-Antoinette, and I wish you could do a whole documentary about her, with all this wonderful information and the magnificent visuals of the places she lived. There is a rather misguided documentary about Marie-Antoinette, narrated in a rather obnoxious voice, which has been uploaded onto Youtube in many parts. (Incidentally, the trailer for the Coppola film was also narrated in a very obnoxious voice; what is it with these programs?) You surely know the one I mean. It has lines like: "She never knew the life of the real French people, and never wanted to". It's a shame, because there is so much good material that could be used to great effect in a documentary.
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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Elena on Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:01 am

Thanks, M. Very Happy I was actually contacted by producers for the History Channel about being in a series about a year ago but nothing seems to have come of it. confused

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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  May on Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:25 am

Pity!
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Death of Baby Sophie

Post  Elena on Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:52 pm



Vive La Reine reminds us of the death of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette's youngest child, here: http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/post/6695149618 The portrait below was originally supposed to be a happy one, of the Queen and her children preparing the cradle for the new baby. The Queen is wearing a maternity dress. However, by the time the painting was completed the baby, Madame Sophie, had died and so the artist, Madame Lebrun, had to cover the cradle with black crêpe. Here is a quote from a letter of Madame Elizabeth's:
The queen is very kind to me just now; we are going together to Saint-Cyr, which she calls my cradle. She calls Montreuil my little Trianon. I have been to hers the last few days with her, without any consequences, and there was no attention she did not show me. She prepared for me one of those surprises in which she excels; but what we did most was to weep over the death of my poor little niece [Madame Sophie.]
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/06/death-of-baby-sophie.html


The Empty Cradle

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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:45 am

I always wonder what a strong spirit Louis and Antoinette had. By the time Sophie died, the consequences of the diamond necklace affair happened. After three years when Louis-Joseph died, the deepest political crisis occured. The loss of a child is always a disaster in itself, and they had to struggle with all kinds of problems in these difficult times...
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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:23 am

Yes, very true. It speaks well of their relationship that they grew stronger as a couple instead of vice versa.

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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  May on Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:44 pm

As I have said before, I always wish that Madame Royale could have had her little sister Sophie as a companion in later life.
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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Elena on Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:22 pm

That would have been nice.

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Birth of the Dauphin Louis-Joseph

Post  Julygirl on Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:55 pm

From Tea at Trianon:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/12/lullaby-for-dauphin.html
On October 22, 1781 the long-awaited heir to the throne of France was born to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The birth of the Dauphin Louis-Joseph brought unprecedented popularity to the Queen as well as increasing her political clout. While Marie-Antoinette was not involved in politics at the time, being the mother of a future king made her more dangerous to the enemies of the crown, and therefore a target for increasingly lurid calumnies. However, the first days of Louis-Joseph's short life were those of unmitigated bliss for his parents. As Maxime de la Rocheterie reports:
On the 22d, on wakening, the queen felt some pain; she none the less took a bath; but the king, who was to go to shoot at Sacle, countermanded the hunt. Between twelve and half-past, her pain increased; at a quarter past one the dauphin was born. In order to prevent a repetition of the accident which had occurred at the birth of Madame, it had been decided that the crowd should not be allowed to invade the royal apartment, and that the mother should not know the sex of the child until all danger was past. On learning the news at half-past eleven, Madame de Polignac had run to the queen; but the other persons who ran there with equal haste—the ladies of the palace in the greatest undress, the men as they were — had found the door closed. Only Monsieur, the Comte d'Artois, Mesdames the aunts, Mesdames de Lamballe, de Chimay, de Mailly, d'Ossun, de Tavannes, and de Guéménée, were there, passing alternately from the bedchamber to the Salon de la Paix. When the child was born, it was silently carried to the large dressing-room, where the king saw it washed and dressed, and gave it to the governess, the Princesse de Guéménée.

The queen was in bed, anxious and knowing nothing; all those who surrounded her controlled their countenances so well that the poor woman, seeing their constrained air, thought that she had given birth to a second girl. "You see how reasonable I am," she said gently; "I do not question you." But the king could no longer restrain himself. Approaching the bedside of his wife, "Monsieur le Dauphin," he said, with tears in his eyes, — "Monsieur le Dauphin requests permission to enter." The child was brought; the queen embraced it with an enthusiasm that cannot be described, then handing it to Madame de Guéménée, "Take him," she said, — "he belongs to the State; but I shall have my daughter."

The scene was indescribable: all constraint was thrown aside; joy broke forth freely; it was so lively and so genuine that it even silenced jealousy and hate. An eye-witness wrote: —

"The antechamber of the queen was charming to see. The joy was overwhelming; all heads were turned. You saw them laughing and crying alternately. People who did not know one another, men and women, fell upon one another's necks; and even those who were least attached to the queen were carried away by the universal delight. It was the same when, half an hour after the birth, the doors of the queen's chamber were thrown open, and Monsieur le Dauphin was announced. Madame de Guéménée, radiant with joy, held him in her arms and traversed the apartments in her chair, to carry him to her own apartment. There were acclamations of joy and clapping of hands, which penetrated to the queen's chamber and assuredly to her heart. The crowd adored and followed him. Arrived at his apartment, the archbishop wished to decorate him with the cordon bleu; but the king said that he must be made a Christian first."

Madame heard the news, which was to remove her forever from the throne, in an amusing fashion. She was hastening to the queen, when she encountered one of those valiant Swiss then attached to the fortunes of France, the Count of Stedingk, who could not contain his joy: "A dauphin, Madame," he blurted out, "a dauphin, what happiness!" The princess answered nothing; but she had sufficient tact to hide her feelings and to manifest, outwardly at least, great satisfaction, being more clever than Madame de Balbi, "who showed the temper of a dog."

Monsieur, like his wife, dissembled his sentiments. Madame Elisabeth was so delighted that she could not believe it; she laughed, cried, and was almost ill from emotion. The Comte d'Artois, alone of the royal family, let fall a word which betrayed his disappointment. His son, the young Due d'Angouleme, had gone to see the dauphin. "Mon Dieu! papa," he said on leaving the chamber, "how little my cousin is!" "A day will come, my son," the prince could not help replying, "when you will find him big enough."

As for the king, he was intoxicated with his happiness; he did not cease to look at his son and to smile at him; tears ran from his eyes; he presented, without distinction, his hand to every one; his joy overcame his habitual reserve. Gay and affable, he sought every occasion to pronounce the words, "My son, the dauphin;" and taking the child in his arms, he held it up at the window, with an expression of content which touched every one.

At three o'clock the new-born child was baptized in the chapel of Versailles by the Cardinal de Rohan, grand almoner. He was held at the font by Monsieur in the name of the emperor, by Madame Elisabeth in the name of the princess of Piedmont, and named Louis Joseph Xavier Francois. After the ceremony, the Comte de Vergennes, chief treasurer of the St. Esprit, brought him the cordon bleu; the Marquis de Segur, minister of war, the cross of St. Louis. A Te Deum succeeded the baptism, and in the evening there were fireworks on the Place d'Armes.

He was an exceptionally beautiful child, of surprising strength, so it was said; and when one saw him fresh and rosy in his little bed, rocked by his nurse, Madame Poitrine, a predestined name, — a robust peasant woman from the neighbourhood of Sceaux, who swore like a trooper, was surprised at nothing, not even at the lace and caps worth six hundred livres with which she was decked out, but declared that she would not put on powder because she had never used it, — one called flown upon that little head the fairest wishes for the future. The ladies of the court, admitted to look at the royal infant, found him "as beautiful as an angel; " the courtiers disputed about the choice of the future governor; and one noticed, not without malice, the disappointed mien of the Duc de Guines, who had once flattered himself that he should have that place, and whose recent disgrace had robbed him of all hope. When the President of the Court of Accounts and the President of the Court of Aid came to pay their compliments, the latter said to the dauphin, "Your birth is our joy; your education will be our hope; your virtue our happiness."
At Paris the transports were not less lively when Monsieur Croismare, lieutenant of the guards, announced the great news at the Hôtel de Ville. People laughed and embraced one another in the streets....
It was "Madame Poitrine" who "swore like a trooper" who made popular the tune Malbrouk s'en va-t-en d'guerre, which she sang to the Dauphin as his lullaby. What may have originated as an Arab tune, brought to Europe by the medieval crusaders, had been known in France for quite some time. According to Kitchen Musician:
Captain George Bush (1753-1797), a junior officer in the Continental Army, carried his fiddle with him, and kept a notebook collection of his favorite tunes, songs and dances. Here is one of those tunes, "Malbrouk" or "Malbrouk s'en va-t'en guerre", known to us today as "The Bear Went Over the Mountain", or "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". This tune has been popular in France for some 250 years, and the French words and translation can be found in Peter Kennedy's book Folksongs of Britain and Ireland. It was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), whose military exploits under James II, William III and Queen Anne were well known. (And he was an ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill.) Apparently, it was a satirical song written in 1722 when France's foe Marlborough died, beginning "Malbrouk s'en va-t-en d'guerre, J'ne sais quand i' r'vindra" (Marlborough he's gone to the war, I don't know when he'll be back.)
As the story goes, the Queen heard the tune being hummed by Madame Poitrine, and began humming it herself. Soon the entire court, even the King, were singing the song. It soon spread to Paris, where it was sung everywhere, as an expression of the people's joy over having a Dauphin. To commemorate the national exultation, Marie-Antoinette had a small tower built in her gardens at Trianon, called the tour de Malbrouk (below). The dauphin Louis-Joseph often played there before he died at age seven in 1789. Later, the verse Madame à sa tour monte ("My Lady climbs into her tower") was used to mock Marie-Antoinette as she was imprisoned in the tower of the Temple Prison in 1792.

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Lent at Versailles

Post  Elena on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:56 am

Versailles is not usually associated with Lenten penance, but fasting and abstinence, as well as some mortifications, were observed there by many during the old regime. For one thing, there would be no plays or operas performed; all the public theaters were closed in France during Lent. The daughters of Louis XV were known for their scrupulous observance of fasting and abstinence, although Madame Victoire found such penance especially trying. According to Madame Campan:
Without quitting Versailles, without sacrificing her easy chair, she [Madame Victoire] fulfilled the duties of religion with punctuality, gave to the poor all she possessed, and strictly observed Lent and the fasts. The table of Mesdames acquired a reputation for dishes of abstinence....Madame Victoire was not indifferent to good living, but she had the most religious scruples respecting dishes of which it was allowable to partake at penitential times....The abstinence which so much occupied the attention of Madame Victoire was so disagreeable to her, that she listened with impatience for the midnight hour of Holy Saturday; and then she was immediately supplied with a good dish of fowl and rice, and sundry other succulent viands.
Their nephew Louis XVI was also known for his fastidious observance of Lent, as recorded once again by the faithful Madame Campan:
Austere and rigid with regard to himself alone, the King observed the laws of the Church with scrupulous exactness. He fasted and abstained throughout the whole of Lent. He thought it right that the queen should not observe these customs with the same strictness. Though sincerely pious, the spirit of the age had disposed his mind to toleration.
Some of the King's tolerant behavior included the permitting of certain games at court during Lent. During the Lent of 1780, the Austrian ambassador Count Mercy-Argenteau was shocked to discover Louis XVI playing blind man's bluff with Marie-Antoinette and some members of the Court. Count Mercy described the scandalous scene to the Empress Maria Theresa:
Amusements have been introduced of such noisy and puerile character that they are little suited to Lenten meditations, and still less to the dignity of the august personages who take part in them. They are games resembling blind man's bluff, that first lead to the giving of forfeits, and then to their redemption by some bizarre penance ; the commotion is kept up sometimes until late into the night. The number of persons who take part in these games, both of the Court and the town, makes them still more unsuitable ; every one is surprised to see that the King plays them with great zest, and that he can give himself up wholly to such frivolities in such a serious condition of State affairs as obtains at present.
Given the long hours that Louis XVI devoted to affairs of state and the fact that people often complained that he was too serious and reserved, it seems that Mercy should have been pleased to see the King come out of his shell a little and take some recreation. But then, Mercy often tried to cast Louis in an unfavorable light. As far as the Empress was concerned, however, Lent was not the time for any games. Louis' devotion was sincere all the same; he was constant in prayer and good works, observing the fasts of the Church for Lent and the Ember days even throughout his imprisonment.

The King's sister, Madame Elisabeth, also steadfastly kept the discipline of Lent in both good times and bad. In the Temple prison, the jailers mocked the princess' attempts to keep Lent as best she could. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette's daughter, Madame Royale, who shared her aunt's imprisonment, recorded it thus:
Having no fish, she asked for eggs or other dishes on fast-days. They refused them, saying that in equality there was no difference of days; there were no weeks, only decades. They brought us a new almanac, but we did not look at it. Another time, when my aunt again asked for fast-day food they answered: "Why, citoyenne, don't you know what has taken place? none but fools believe all that." She made no further requests.
As for Marie-Antoinette herself, she did not fast and abstain through every day of Lent as Louis did; her health did not permit it. However, after baby Madame Sophie died in 1787, it was noted that the Queen became more fervent in her devotions, especially during Lent. Jean Chalon in Chère Marie-Antoinette (p.235) notes that in 1788 she gave orders that her table strictly comply with all the regulations of the Church. Even the Swedish ambassador remarked: "The queen seems to have turned devout."

Sources: http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/03/lent-at-versailles.html

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Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and Freemasonry

Post  Elena on Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:00 pm

In 1738, Pope Clement XII prohibited Catholics from becoming Freemasons, on the grounds that the order required secret oaths, involved paganistic rituals, and encouraged religious indifferentism. But like papal decrees before and after, many Catholics blithely decided to ignore the prohibition and joined the masons, anyway. They thought that those who took such bans seriously were being stuffy and getting in the way of progress. Lawyers, doctors, merchants, artists, writers, ladies, aristocrats, kings and emperors, who were otherwise practicing Catholics, were initiated into various lodges, lodges which often rivaled each other with different goals and endeavors.

In the family of Marie-Antoinette there were some members who were masons, including her father Emperor Francis I. Her mother, Empress Maria Theresa, was vehemently against masonry. The Empress sent the police to raid one of the lodges while her husband the Emperor was at a meeting, and he had to escape by a back staircase.

While there is no evidence that Marie-Antoinette was herself ever initiated into a lodge, she went through a time when she was favorable to freemasonry. Her close friend, the virtuous Madame de Lamballe, presided over the Lodge of the Social Contract, one of the ladies' lodges or loges d'adoption. In 1781, Madame de Lamballe became Grand Mistress of all of the Lodges of Adoption in France. That same year, Marie-Antoinette wrote to a friend, praising the good works of the masonic sisterhood, and how they provided dowries for poor girls and were very pious. She also praised them in a letter to her sister Marie-Christine, saying: "It is only a society of benevolence and pleasure." (see Nesta Webster's Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette Before the Revolution, p. 237-238) She and Louis XVI both saw the masons as a means of charitable works to benefit society, and they both may have at one point visited certain lodges, so that to this day, some masonic groups claim them as their own.

There is also evidence that Marie-Antoinette's best friend Madame de Polignac was a member of a ladies' lodge, although not to the extent that Madame de Lamballe was involved; it was considered the fashionable thing to do. Nesta Webster, who blames the masons for practically everything, said that the Lodges of Adoption were harmless enough ladies' clubs. They were probably one step away from the Mopses, but still, in my opinion, Catholics should not have joined, since masonry was forbidden by the Church.

As for Louis XVI, there has long been a debate as to if he was ever formally initiated into a lodge as his brothers probably were. When he ascended the throne, Louis XVI was quite liberal and progressive; like all young progressives at the time he saw the masons not only as harmless, but as a group who would benefit society by active good works. Some of this explains his initial acquiescence to certain measures in the beginning of the Revolution which were damaging to the Church, especially the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. He admits as much in the Vow to the Sacred Heart which he made under house arrest in the Tuileries in 1791.

It is true that many monarchists were masons and many revolutionaries were not masons. However, in the years preceding the Revolution of 1789, masonic lodges formed a network that fomented discord, spread propaganda against the King and especially against the Queen. The lodges were used by a core of aristocrats and politicians who wanted to secularize society, and destroy the Church, or at least enervate it, by destroying or by seizing the crown.

Marie-Antoinette came to see this quite clearly. In August of 179o she wrote to her brother Emperor Leopold of Austria: "Be well on your guard where you are with regard to all associations of Freemasons. You must already have been warned that it is by this means that all monsters here count on attaining the same end in every country. Oh, God, preserve my Fatherland and you from such misfortunes." ( Lettres de Marie-Antoinette, edited by Maxime de la Rocheterie, 2 vol., 1895) For Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, the warnings had not been heeded, until it was too late.

Sources:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2007/07/louis-xvi-marie-antoinette-and.html

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Marriage by Proxy (April 19, 1770)

Post  Julygirl on Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:13 pm

From author Leah Marie Brown:

http://leahmariebrownhistoricals.blogspot.com/2012/01/marriage-of-archduchess-marie.html

Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria and Louis, Dauphin of France, were married by proxy on April 19, 1770 in the evening in the Augustine Church of the Friars in Vienna. At six in the evening, wearing an opulent wedding gown of cloth of silver, Marie Antoinette entered the church. Her proxy bridegroom was her older brother, Archduke Ferdinand. A lavish supper followed the ceremony and lasted several hours.

On April 21 at nine in morning, Marie Antoinette bid her family a tearful farewell and boarded the luxurious carriage that had been built specially for her journey from Austria to France.

"Farewell, my dearest child, a great distance will separate us...Do so much good for the French people that they can say I have sent them an angel," her mother instruced, before shedding tears of her own.

It took Marie Antoinette two and a half weeks to complete her journey from Vienna to the border of France. She wept when she crossed the border, declaring, "I shall never see my mother again!"

More:
Tidbits About Marie Antoinette's Wedding and Marriage:

Marie Antoinette got her first menstrual cycle weeks before her marriage by proxy.
She was 14 years old when she wed.
To cement the union, Archduke Ferdinand, Marie Antoinette's proxy husband, merely had to utter, "I am willing and thus make my promise."
The church in which Marie Antoinette wed was the same church in whcih she was baptized.
The Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Visconti officiated.
Marie Antoinette's procession from Austria to France included dozens of attendants and 57 carriages.
Marie Antoinette left for France two days later. She crossed the border into France on May 7, 1770
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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Julygirl on Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:53 pm

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Re: Events in the Life of Louis and Antoinette

Post  Elena on Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:27 pm

Here is a blog with several pictures from the life of Marie-Antoinette. A flower great collection.
http://eyefordesignlfd.blogspot.com/2012/11/marie-antoinette-life-at-court.html

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