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To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

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To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:23 am

I was reading a little from this book and was struck by a few things.

The author claims that Marie Antoinette had lodgings for Fersen installed at Versailles. I can't imagine them having an affair never mind actually living together! However, this could have been wholly innocent considering Fersen was a frequent guest and often travelled. But still, it would've been quite risky to her reputation to have procured room for him. Apparently she cared little for what people thought and, as it was innocent, she didn't feel a need to be discreet.

This comes from the old "Josephine" and Swedish stove comment found in his letters, something about "moving upstairs". Is it likely he was talking about living at the Craufurd's since this order was given out in 1787 (although it has never been found) and Eleanore Sullivan was not his mistress until around '89 or '90?

It could only be a freaky coincidence. I am not confirming an affair here either, just looking for some clarification. I think it was innocent if the apartments were there for Fersen's use. Although it would look suspicious to have them so close to the Queen's chambers.

The author also makes note of Comte Saint-Priest's comments on "the favorite" and "public scandal." Considering this man was no friend to the queen I don't consider this to be legitimate confirmation of a liaison.

The issue of Louis receiving letters during the hunt and breaking down in tears is also mentioned. Apparently, he received some kind of "evidence" that suggested his wife was involved with the count. Although I have also read that the letters were of a political nature. The author claims Louis confronted his wife and she denied anything, offering to dismiss Fersen so as not to give rise to suspicion. Louis declined and so Fersen continued to visit.

I have not read the book in its entirely but I found these details troubling. Thoughts? The stove story certainly is complicated as Fersen's diary is not clear but the time table appears to support the idea that he may have had rooms near Antoinette's. Louis must have been very trusting had this been the case.

Although I doubt he stayed there very often anyway. Well that's all for now, let me know how you think? Smile
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Re: To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  princess garnet on Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:37 pm

I passed on this one when it came out.
I read and own Erickson's Bloody Mary, a biography of Queen Mary Tudor. It was originally published in 1978 and reissued in 1996 with a newly designed cover.

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Re: To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:59 pm

She also wrote a fictional diary about MA's which was riddled with inaccuracies.

I do wonder about the stove though. I think it was an innocent gesture. But as he travelled often, why give him his own apartments? Who was this Josephine he mentioned? Another mistress?

But MA's order came in 1787, around the same time he asked for it. And he did not yet know Eleanor Sullivan
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Re: To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  Mata Hari on Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:47 pm

Fersen knew several "Josephines." One was the maid of Eleonore Sullivan, his mistress. I really think the stove is connected with where he was staying at the Crawford house.

Fersen never had a room at Trianon. That is nonsense. Erickson's biography is full of ridiculous stuff.  affraid 

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Re: To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:49 pm

Seriously!

Some have even suggested secret rooms at Versailles!! :O that's even more ridiculous! Right under her husband's nose?! NEVER!!
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Re: To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  Bunnies on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:04 pm

Oh my goodness gracious, that book!

The nicest thing I can say about it is that it's not nearly as wild as the author's novel, The Hidden Diary of Marie-Antoinette, which is a riot from start-to-finish. But it's still wild.

To add onto the erudite commentary above it's just...the author seems as baffled as why the Revolution happened as the Bourbons. She focuses so much on the Versailles politics, the Versailles anecdotes, how Antoinette feels, that she gets caught up in this narrow-view and can't expand. Antoinette can't tell us why the Revolution happened so the author doesn't tell us; crowds just do things because of reasons.

This ignorance becomes apparent when Erickson tries to describe Louis XVI's economic cuts:

Common sense told Louis [the sixteenth] in his first few weeks as king that the expenses of his swollen and extravagant court were worsening the country’s fiscal crisis….Yet economy was impossible in a season of royal mourning. The hundreds of palace servants had to have new black liveries – the stable staff alone required nearly fourteen hundred new suits – plus shoulder knots of blue. Thousands of ells of dark cloth had to be ordered to drape the beds and furnishings of the royal palaces, and more cloth of violet for the King’s carriages. Mourning wardrobes for the royal family and courtiers were costly, for it was not sufficient to order black clothing alone – there had to be new black coifs, stockings, gloves, and even fans to match it

Like, in the first place, if you think that refraining from an official mourning would've really done any good you need to check yourself, but even if it would do good..."Tradition" doesn't really fly in terms of an excuse not to budget. They ‘had’ to do this. As in, Louis XVI had to go on a spending spree. There was absolutely no way to avoid it. He should be lifted of all blame because what other options did he have? Not spend thousands of livres on outfits that would probably only be worn for these few months and then never again? Pff. Don’t be silly!

I mean, then there's just apparent hypocrisy: she wastes a lot of ink lamenting the cruelty of death-by-guillotine. To clarify, the horrors of the Terror are the quantity, not the quality. True, Chalier's head took more than one chop of the guillotine, but this was very much the exception rather than the rule, and you can't very well honestly sob over one but implicitly turn a blind eye to the tortures of hanging, breaking on the wheel, etc that were practiced in the ancien regime. C'mon. She again demonstrates a woeful misunderstanding of How Anything Works when she criticizes the Committee of Public Safety for reprimanding a proconsul who...was...letting...his guillotine...rust.

So she has a problem when the guillotine malfunctions but Heaven forbid if anyone try to do anything to prevent the guillotine from malfunctioning!

Erickson is in general just...fantastic because she's one of the very few authors who can summon unholy shrieks from anyone I discuss her with. Antoinette's admirers find her depiction of a featherbrained ninny to be offensively inaccurate; Jacobin admirers find her handling of the entire Revolution, from point a. to point b. to be offensively inaccurate. Just drop her name and it can diffuse any ideological duel: "Yeah, we disagree on the barest tenets of morality, philosophy, and general How the World Should Be Run...but...like, that Carolly Erickson doesn't know what she's talking about, does she?"Smiles will be exchanged and peace will reign.
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Re: To The Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Post  Elena on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:06 am

Hilarious! Laughing Laughing Laughing 

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