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Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

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Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:00 pm

Some months ago, if someone had asked me what I really-really want to read, I would have immediately answer: that Bertiere biography, only available in French. Now I found out on Vive la Reine that there IS an English translation, and read the first few pages. It's definitely not a Rocheterie or Charles Duke Yonge, but also no Fraser or (thank God!) Zweig. It doesn't seem to be a detailed biography, but a biographical essay about the Queen. And then there's this statement that her marriage was a disaster for France, Louis and even herself...  Question  I didn't expect it from Bertiere, honestly. She was the one who revisited the royal couple's sexuality and came to the conclusion that practically none of them can be blamed for the long-time absence of the heir. Then why to label their controversal relationship and situation as a "disaster"? I *can't* change my opinion that although both of them had very difficult lives from the beginnig (except for Antoinette's childhood), they were a kind of remedy for each other, from two strangers nothing in common to a perfect team. I know it's only a question of interpretations, but it really matters for me how the royals' relationship is portrayed.

Those here who already know this book better: is it really her point of view throughout the book, or only a hook for the readers? Not that it would hold me back from reading it, but I want to know what to expect from Bertiere after this little "shock" in the very beginning.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:15 pm

I have found many issues with this book and I'm very disappointed. It think it may just be the translation. Things are literally getting lost and words have different meanings in another language than they might in the original text.

The translated version seems to be under the impression that Antoinette did not enjoy sex with her husband and may never have fallen for him. It also makes a case for her possibly having an affair with Fersen or at least being in love with him.

I need to read the book in its original French perhaps in order to get a different view.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:55 pm

Good idea! I've been learning French for two months, and I'm still far from reading complete books...

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:The translated version seems to be under the impression that Antoinette did not enjoy sex with her husband and may never have fallen for him. It also makes a case for her possibly having an affair with Fersen or at least being in love with him.

I read in an old MA forum that Bertiere saw one of the original letters with deleted lines, and she claims that she could read 2-3 words from it (I think these were "to be with you" or something similar). This was enough for her to claim that those deletions were to hide tender words. Isn't it a hasty conclusion? You definitely want to be with such people whom you like or love, it doesn't only mean that you are terribly love with them.

This whole Fersen issue is about that. People adapt few random sources to their preconception (and they choose exactly those that fit to their point of view), and if you say it's only an interpretation, they play the "destroyed sources"-card. The lost diary, the burned letters, the unreadable deletions. And everyone was so discreet that they never left a reliable source of the love affair, so there was definitely a love affair.

So ridiculous...
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:43 pm

Precisely! It would have come out eventually had she been sleeping with Fersen. She had no privacy and couldn't have been that discreet. I don't think anyone was just trying to cover it up and that's why there's lack of evidence. No one was trying to protect her reputation.

And just because Louis wasn't her choice doesn't mean she didn't love him or enjoy married love. Maybe I'm just biased and romantic!
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:03 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Precisely! It would have come out eventually had she been sleeping with Fersen. She had no privacy and couldn't have been that discreet. I don't think anyone was just trying to cover it up and that's why there's lack of evidence. No one was trying to protect her reputation.

And just because Louis wasn't her choice doesn't mean she didn't love him or enjoy married love. Maybe I'm just biased and romantic!

I'm also biased, just like everyone Smile Supporters of the Fersen affair often accuse me that I don't WANT Antoinette to have a love affair. (Elena as an openly Catholic scholar is probably even more attacked with "creating a saint" from the Queen.) But it's not the question what I desire, want or believe in. It's a purely methodological question. There are no unequivocal sources of the love affair. Everything is mere interpretation with arguments that *are* preconceptions themselves (like "Fersen was discreet", "Antoinette was unhappy married", "Antoinette had a desire for passionate love", "all of her friends and even Louis supported this relationship" - where the hell are the sources that claim these statements?). Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour or Artois and Madame de Polastron were recordedly together - if there are such examples of existing love affairs of the era, then why struggling to find controversial "proofs" for another one in the same historical time, without these consistent evidences?
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:31 pm

I agree completely Smile

I admit, I would be disappointed to find she had an affair but I would still find her sympathetic and fascinating. MA had faults like everyone else. But adultery wasn't one of them. She couldn't have fooled everyone into thinking she was a modest woman. And she couldn't have been a hypocrite. She disapproved of other women cheating. She wouldn't have excluded herself from this.

And yes, religious people slip up but she was devout and it had been ingrained into her that infidelity was a horrible sin. Plus I believe she truly loved her husband and was a devoted wife and mother. To dally with another man would have taken the focus off these other obligations. Besides she couldn't risk having a child that wasn't Louis'.

Fersen was a close friend who idolized the Queen, nothing more. She was affectionate with everyone. It was just her way. It doesn't mean she was attracted to him. The idea she had an affair I think is to make her seem more modern and that she must have had some fault. These people also don't particularly like Louis and can't imagine she did either.

It's a shame. We will never know with any certainty but the evidence, as well as my own gut feeling, tells me that they were only platonic.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:02 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:I admit, I would be disappointed to find she had an affair but I would still find her sympathetic and fascinating.

After I argumented in various forums against the affair, I also would be really-really disappointed if someone found a 100% reliable primary source. But the first works of Antoinette that I came across were popular science books or encyclopedies. I remember, at first I was astonished because Britannica Hungarica wrote that "MA was accused for having an affair with a cardinal [de Rohan]". Then a not so demanding book called Fersen "her lover". Another one asked the rhetorical question: "what was their love, platonic or consummated?" Nothing spoke against Antoinette's adulterous relationship(s), but then I realized something interesting. The longer and more qualitative a work was, the less it believed in the Fersen affair. Schama's Citizens was the point when I took my position on the anti-affair side. It was a coincidence that the "crappy" books supported the affair and the great ones not, but even the "crappy" works and their statements couldn't ever hold my burning interest back.

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:It's a shame. We will never know with any certainty but the evidence, as well as my own gut feeling, tells me that they were only platonic.

I dislike this "platonic love" stuff just as much as the "consummated love affair" stuff. There's no single evidence that Antoinette was in love with Fersen. Nothing. He loved him as a royalist supporter, as one of the last loyal friends, but everything else is just... whaaaat?... yeeees, it's just INTERPRETATION!  Laughing It's very likely that Fersen was in love with her - yes, he openly idolized her as a goddess. But this wasn't an equal relationship from the beginning. No man and woman but subject and sovereign. Antoinette trusted Fersen very much, but it also didn't change anything: she remained above him.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:25 pm

Oh, when I said platonic I meant that I believe they were just friends. I don't think she was in love with him either!

Yes, Fersen idealized her. She was "innocent" and so different from other women who only loved him for sex. Antoinette was kind and cared about people. That's why I think he loved her.

And he would have surely written somewhere had he slept with her. He did with other women. He had not reason to suspect that people would read his private diaries. Again, I don't think he was just trying to cover it up.

Again, maybe I'm just biased cause I love her with Louis who was undoubtedly faithful despite the weird Ernestine theory. And Fersen was promiscuous if charming and gallant and I've never much cared for men who sleep around!

Which is another reason I don't think she slept with Fersen. She was too proud of a woman to be included in the long list of women Fersen had been with.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:30 pm

This doesn't belong here probably but I want to make another comment about the Ernestine story. He was said to have "tested" himself after his operation in order to make sure it wasn't him who was infertile. Well, why single this woman out? Besides she was married so him she wasn't the best candidate cause he would be uncertain if the child was his.

And he loved his wife and it was WAY out of character for him. He wouldn't have justified this behavior either. It just doesn't make sense. You were absolutely right when you said he would have run to his wife first to see. He had no reason to think she was barren. Ernestine's mother was given a pension and people are suspicious of that.

But she was a servant and MA and Louis were generous like that. Plus they adopted her child so it makes perfect sense if her treatment was elevated. I just don't believe it. Louis was faithful and it's ridiculous to believe he wasn't!
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:30 am

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:
And he would have surely written somewhere had he slept with her. He did with other women. He had not reason to suspect that people would read his private diaries. Again, I don't think he was just trying to cover it up.

It would have been the greatest weapon for him to seduce the Queen. I like Fersen, but he was a careerist like almost every nobleman of his time. Can you imagine that he won the First Lady of France for himself, her soul as well as her body, and then he remained "discreet" because of her reputation? It's nonsense again. Fersen and Antoinette, although they really cared for each other on the personal level, in fact used each other for their own aims. Antoinette needed a foreign soldier to have contact to immigrants, the Swedish king, and those men who were initiated in the Flight to Montmédy. Fersen, on the other hand, needed the confidence of the French royal couple to win good points by his king and let himself considered as the greatest hero of all royalists. It's quite telling that although he nearly didn't care of the Queen before 16 October 1793 (he was too busy with his intense relationship with Eleonore Sullivan), later he based his whole identity on this "I was Marie-Antoinette's confidant!"-stuff. As far as I know, when Napoleon rejected to see him as the "Queen's lover", Fersen didn't say anything against this expression. For him, it was a kind of compliment. This is one of the reasons why rumours of this affair spread in the 1800s: because Fersen's late behaviour made them likely. Not his behaviour *during* the Queen's life, but his later reactions. So "discreet" was he in reality...  tongue 
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:40 am

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Ernestine's mother was given a pension and people are suspicious of that.

Just like all servants at the Court after they retired. I don't know what does it prove apart from that people are keen on creating theories about "lies and mysteries" of history writing. You can see the same with such theories like "Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married" - Dan Brown became a millionaire with this single sentence bloated into a long novel. But the difference is that Jesus and his contemporaries lived 2000 years ago and there are little written sources that would prove this or that theory, or even the opposite. But Louis and Antoinette lived only 250 years ago, and there are tons of sources about them! One should rely on what is *known* without inventing such "they lied to the posterity"-theories...
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:02 am

Exactly!! Though I am not sure whether or not she retired...she may have. I believe she was young when she died so she may have been in bad health and had to leave service.

Regardless any dalliance from either of them would have been completely out of character. People mistake their kindness for lurid behavior. Besides Louis and Antoinette had no privacy whatsoever. People knew what they were up to constantly!

Surely it would be known 100% if these accusations were true and not just in the form of rumors and as a means to discredit them. Such a shame!
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:23 am

And I agree with your assembly of Fersen! I like him from the standpoint that he was loyal. But I'm personally not a fan of promiscuous people and I do think he should have stood up for the Queen's reputation more, putting those rumors to rest.

But let's give him the benefit of the doubt for a second though...suppose he believed that to even address such statements would be to insult her memory? Is that not also plausible?

Neither one of them behaved in a way that suggested anything rather than close friendship. Again, there could have been no discretion and fooling of anyone. MA was very open and honest with her feelings? So, did people observing, as well as close friends, all "know" and suppose that she gave her heart and body to him, as has been supposed?

Poor MA was subject to much scandal. None close to the Queen or contemporaries believed these stories. Fersen is simple lumped in with the rest. And why should she "give in" to him anyway? Why add fuel to the fire? Did she think she was being clever? "Well, people already have a low opinion of me and think I slept with this guy, so I will. They say I am, so what will it matter if I really do?" Just doesn't seem likely....
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:42 am

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Just doesn't seem likely....

The only reason why Louis didn't care about the rumours surrounding his wife was that he knew they were not true. He was in this sense a bit naive - "Haters gonna hate, who cares?" But if he had had a clear evidence that Antoinette endangers the purity of his royal blood line, he would have sent her away from the Court immediately. Divorcing was not common, but this was exactly a good reason for it. The same happened to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was not even a queen: she had to choose between her family and her lover plus illegitimate daughter. She choose to remain with her husband and legitimate children. So if a duchess had this fate, a queen would have had it even more.

It's another common misconception that Louis was a henpeck who was controlled by his wife and had to close his eyes upon her affair(s). The truth is quite the opposite: Antoinette, who was expected to influence him in favour of some Austrian interests, often complained that he never listens to her, nor is she allowed to intrude in politics. Their relationship was also not balanced, it was patriotic with the man on the top. This situation only changed with the Revolution when Louis became so worn-out and hesitating that Antoinette's helping hand was needed immediately.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:55 am

All true!

Louis trusted his wife and had no reason to think she would cheat on him. He loved her innocence and knew she was not doing anything improper. Why would he have given her Trianon then if he seriously thought she would use it to entertain lovers?! Do people really think he would have been that accepting of being a cuckold?

And you're right. He didn't let her get involved for a while because he was fearful of Austrian influence. That had been ingrained in him since he was a child. And as much as he loved his wife, it was still a legitimate fear. But I don't think he controlled her either. He was afraid of being controlled, as his predecessors had been by their mistresses.

Their relationship was complex but loving. At the end of the day, I think he respected his wife and loved her. He didn't mean to carry some fears and prejudices still. But it was hard to break these preconceived notions even after he recognized her kind nature.

Louis was also careful not to become too enthralled with his wife so that it would lead him to neglect his work. But he did find her beautiful and I think could allow himself "to be a man" and let his restraint and guard down when they were alone Smile these may be further reasons the consummation was delayed.

Maybe he was worried he would become overly fond of sex, haha! And that it would interfere with his job as it had with both Louis XIV and Louis XV. Both Louis and Antoinette were also quite prudish and had been raised to stay away from "pleasures of the flesh." But I think they may have learned to enjoy each other and that among spouses, it's perfectly acceptable Smile

See? She didn't need Fersen to satisfy any passion, she had her husband! He wasn't that indifferent or cold. Alone, I'm sure he was quite charmed with her and didn't mind showing his love for her and being romantic. I've gotten a bit off topic now, haha! But it's related...
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:13 pm

And just because her friends never mention him in their own accounts doesn't mean they are trying to hide something.

It also doesn't mean they were ignorant of the relationship. She probably would have confided in someone and it would have come out. And again, I don't think her virtue and innocence were feigned. That's not to say that had she been involved with Fersen that would have made her a "whore" but certainly less modest in my opinion.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:15 pm

People have also made much of the censored letters and correspondence between them. Well, perhaps Fersen didn't want people to draw the wrong conclusions and so he edited them himself. Plus most of them were of a political nature.

However, he did help fan the flames of the myth. He liked having people think he had been her lover I think. People also make a lot out of her affection for him. She also had a fragrance commissioned for him but that doesn't indicate romance. She was generous. That's all.

People often speak of her being with him at Trianon but he wasn't there often I don't believe and she wouldn't have gone there to dally.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:20 am

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:People have also made much of the censored letters and correspondence between them. Well, perhaps Fersen didn't want people to draw the wrong conclusions and so he edited them himself. Plus most of them were of a political nature.

However, he did help fan the flames of the myth. He liked having people think he had been her lover I think. People also make a lot out of her affection for him. She also had a fragrance commissioned for him but that doesn't indicate romance. She was generous. That's all.

People often speak of her being with him at Trianon but he wasn't there often I don't believe and she wouldn't have gone there to dally.

On this mentioned MA forum, a member has read many of the original sources and she claimed that even the guest lists of Trianon are documented. Fersen is rarely on those lists. But then people say again, "because they met secretly with no written sources about that". No matter what we say, they always can come with non-existent or destroyed sources. And the fact is, we'll never know what really happened, sources only refer to a small part of complex human lives and events. But I would say if we are so lucky to have many different sources, we should concentrate on them at first. The whole Fersen narrative exists only if one concentrates on "missing" sources and interpretations based on them. I only repeat myself, but the issue is pure methodological, not only a question of different beliefs, as the supporters of the alleged affair like to see.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:52 pm

I just don't think a relationship like that could have been covered up that much had it been physical. Besides she was a modest woman who loved Louis and wouldn't betray him.

She spoke affectionately with Fersen as with all her friends. Just because he was a handsome MAN doesn't mean she decided to jump into bed with him or the she was even in love with him.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:21 pm

Sophie wrote:Some months ago, if someone had asked me what I really-really want to read, I would have immediately answer: that Bertiere biography, only available in French. Now I found out on Vive la Reine that there IS an English translation, and read the first few pages. It's definitely not a Rocheterie or Charles Duke Yonge, but also no Fraser or (thank God!) Zweig. It doesn't seem to be a detailed biography, but a biographical essay about the Queen. And then there's this statement that her marriage was a disaster for France, Louis and even herself...  Question  I didn't expect it from Bertiere, honestly. She was the one who revisited the royal couple's sexuality and came to the conclusion that practically none of them can be blamed for the long-time absence of the heir. Then why to label their controversal relationship and situation as a "disaster"? I *can't* change my opinion that although both of them had very difficult lives from the beginnig (except for Antoinette's childhood), they were a kind of remedy for each other, from two strangers nothing in common to a perfect team. I know it's only a question of interpretations, but it really matters for me how the royals' relationship is portrayed.

Those here who already know this book better: is it really her point of view throughout the book, or only a hook for the readers? Not that it would hold me back from reading it, but I want to know what to expect from Bertiere after this little "shock" in the very beginning.

I am so sorry I have been missing this great conversation! Embarassed  I agree with you both, Sophie and Kaitlyn. I am sorry the book is such a disappointment. All I can say is that the English translation must be different from the French, although like many French historians, Bertiere does not seem to believe in the King and Queen's love for each other, that is, in a romantic sort of love. Sometimes I think the French in general do not believe that romantic love can exist in marriage. a belief that dates back to the middle ages and the troubadour society.  jocolor 

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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:53 pm

Oh, don't apologize! It's perfectly fine Smile

And overall, I find the book interesting and there's great insight. Bertiere gives a new perspective to Marie Antoinette that, in many cases, I like. She could be rebellious but I don't believe this included taking a lover.

In fact, she rejected many men, angrily, when they offered love to her. Why would she have made an exception for Fersen, even if she had loved him in return? I just don't see it. She would have been a hypocrite had she excused her own behavior and disapproved of other women with lovers.

And again, I don't buy the "discretion" story. I can't see her getting away from people long enough to entertain Fersen alone. Most interpretations of the affair come from his letters to Sophie and diary entries. But, if I'm not mistake, Alma Söderhjelm messed with these in her publication of them, adding her own words and commentary.

It is curious that much of the correspondence was destroyed and there was a mention to a specific date in July by Fersen. Other than that, and some rumors, I cannot see anymore concrete evidence. His room and the stove at Trianon is interesting but I think that was innocent.

I am curious about the time span though. She definitely could not have carried on with him for years. Fersen wouldn't have been allowed back since she confessed regularly. But I wonder had she only slept with him a couple of times or off and on again, or even once, how that would have been handled. People say we can't rule that out and that she might have gotten away with that. But she would have had to confess either way I think. Would her priest have had her dismiss Axel entirely for just, shall we say, one offense?

For the record, as I have said, I do not think she had a physical relationship with him. She may have been attracted to him and he was her only friend left there at the end, but that's all. She had plenty of other male friends too and no one focuses on them.

But, anyway, for argument's sake: A fling is one thing but years and years of it and living together, as believed by some, is another thing entirely. How likely would she have suffered repercussions (and people have known about it) if they had been together only a few times or only once?
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:27 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:But, anyway, for argument's sake: A fling is one thing but years and years of it and living together, as believed by some, is another thing entirely. How likely would she have suffered repercussions (and people have known about it) if they had been together only a few times or only once?

This question doesn't need Fersen to be emphasized. If you see the sources, there are a couple of men who could have had a one-night-stand with the Queen if she had had some need for it. One can read more suspicious details about Coigny in Madame Campan's memoirs than about Fersen. Esterházy, Ligne, Dillon, Vaudreuil and even Artois were also close to her. And there are the two rejected admirers, Lauzun and Besenval. (Barnave also was very fond of her, but she lost all her remaining privacy during the Revolution, so it's very unlikely that they could be more than acquintances.) If we assume that Antoinette wasn't that grey-asexual woman as I imagine her, we can consider that she had one-night-stand(s) with some of these mentioned men. Assume, then, that Louis allowed these affairs after she got pregnant with at least 3-4 children. Assume, again, that Madame de Polignac also supported her against her better judgment, and they organized this events at Trianon. OK. But we *can't* assume that courtiers would have forgiven her to be "a woman at first", I mean, placing her greedy and selfish needs before her role as a Queen. And the pamphleteers? They would have been so delighted that their tales about the Trianon orgies can be proven!

This is the sad truth. The King, the princes, all noblemen and even noblewomen could have discreet love affairs, only the Queen didn't. Is it fair? Horribly not. Is it something impossible to sacrifice your own desires for a greater idea? For me, it doesn't sound as difficult as many 21th century people would see. First and foremost if your mother was Maria Theresa and you were raised as a "daughter of the Caesars". Antoinette never lived in a princess fairytale, only dreamers like Sofia Coppola think that. (The official site of the Coppola film has some serious description about how love affairs were supported at the Versailles Court. Ha ha. I think if Antoinette saw that 21th people see her "sympathetic" as a naked whore with a fan, having sex with a man she hardly knows, she would punch Kirsten Dunst on the face, or at least would revisit her ideas if her hated century was as bad as she thought... Laughing )
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:12 pm

That's exactly why I don't think she slept with Fersen at all especially not at Trianon. That's exactly what people said she was doing there. Sleeping with Fersen would only give credence to those rumors.

It is interesting you mention these other men. Most people ignore them, favoring Fersen. They did give rise to more gossip than Fersen. But I don't think this silence indicates guilt as some of mentioned. I do not think she had sex with anyone except Louis. I just don't see how she could have been discreet. If she did sleep with Fersen it would have been a temporary lapse of judgment. But then, wouldn't she stop having him around afterwards, to avoid further temptation?

Either she was not inclined to sleep with him and had control over herself and was able to keep him around despite assumptions or she did give into him. Some say she had ways to get him alone and that others were in on it. Is it suspicious that Mercy and Campan do not mention Fersen? Were they protecting her reputation or was he truly not seen as a danger compared to the others?

She merely flirted with Coigny and the other men. And, like you said, she rejected a few of them when they made advances. Why make exceptions for Fersen even if she did love him? I don't think she was asexual but definitely not wildly sexual. Fraser, the romantic she is, believes there was a short lived affair and that Fersen brought about a sexual awakening. Lever uses documents and remodelling of Trianon and Versaillles to justify her sneaking off with him. And of course there's that stove and the room that was said to be his. I just don't see how she could be alone with him. And Louis definitely wouldn't have allowed her to dally not was he ignorant. He trusted her, and not naively.

Many people try to rescue her reputation from "whore" but also from "saint" by putting her somewhere in the middle with one lover as opposed to many. But if she could have one, why not many? That's why some suppose maybe he slept with Fersen a few times here and tree but not long term. I disagree. For many reasons I have already stated. And for all of Fersen's supposed love for her, he rushed off to his mistress when the family was in great danger and distress. Sounds like a sexually frustrated man.

His attraction and love for her was probably not sexual. They might have been tempted if in love but I doubt they slept together. It just isn't consistent with her modesty. Who knows? Whoever destroyed the correspondence and diary entries certainly didn't help matters. It seems a little suspicious.

It is interesting though to consider had she slept with him a few times, how that would have been handled with the confessor....

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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:07 pm

Lauzun, Dillon, and Choigny were definitely considered her favorites though these relationships were purely platonic. She was have flirted and found herself charmed and attracted to them but nothing more. I don't think she ever entertained the idea. She was an affectionate person is all.

This would make it seem that Antoinette would not have been discreet enough to have an affair with Fersen and he doesn't appear too discreet either. He hinted enough himself. But just because people assumed she was sleeping with these men and "intimates assumed she gave into her passion" [for Fersen] doesn't mean she did.
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Re: Simone Bertiere: The Indomitable Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:17 am

Exactly! Very Happy

The term "grey-asexual" refers to such people who aren't asexual, they (quote from Wikipedia) "may feel romantic attraction or sexual attraction once a reasonably stable or large emotional connection has been created". And this happened to Antoinette with Louis. They had to have a lot of time and space together before they started their physical relations, and Antoinette also needed another four years to discover her "most essential happiness" in the marriage bed. I don't think such a woman could have a big interest in sex and in romantic involvements with men. It's unpopular today to see Antoinette as satisfied within an arranged marriage, seeing her "not humanly enough" without the desire of one or more love affairs. But who says what is "humanly"? Who says what's "normal"? I think Antoinette was simply not interested in anyone, that's why she could have such a harmonical relationship with Louis after they got to know each other well. She invested that little interest she had for men in producing heirs and satisfying her husband's needs. She was the prototype of "the good wife", and all would remember her like another Queen Marie (of Louis XV) or Queen Charlotte (of George III) if she had lived in peaceful times. But in her troubled times, for her Court and then the revolutioners, she was a kind of Messalina or Agrippina, which influences the view of those 21th century people who allegedly "like" her. She has the very same fate as Catherine de Medici, who was also a great queen with a terrible reputation that had very little to do with the reality.
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