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Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

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Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  May on Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:58 pm

First topic message reminder :

An excellent series of articles by Elena Maria Vidal, exploring the true relationship between the Queen of France and Count Axel von Fersen the Younger, a Swedish emissary at the court of Louis XVI.

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2007/06/fersen-legend-part-1.html

Too often in the many articles about Marie-Antoinette that have surfaced in the last year due to the Coppola film, Count Axel von Fersen is referred to as the "queen's lover" or as her "probable lover." It is repeatedly disregarded that there is not a scrap of reliable historical evidence that Count Fersen and Marie-Antoinette were anything but friends, and that he was as much her husband’s friend as he was hers. People are free to speak of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour as “lovers” since they openly lived together for many years. But to speak that way of Marie-Antoinette, who was known for her purity among her circle of close friends, of whom a courtier said: "Her soul was as white as her face," (Vincent Cronin's Louis and Antoinette) who lost her life because she chose to stay at her husband’s side, is the height of irresponsibility.

The Swedish nobleman was in the service of his sovereign King Gustavus III and Count Fersen’s presence at the French court needs to be seen in the light of that capacity. The Swedish King was a devoted friend of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and Gustavus, even more than the queen’s Austrian relatives, worked to aid the King and Queen of France in their time of trouble. Fersen was the go-between in the various top secret plans to help Louis XVI regain control of his kingdom and escape from the clutches of his political enemies. The diplomatic intrigues that went on behind the scenes are more interesting than any imaginary romance. (The queen’s relationship with her husband is more interesting as well.) However, books and movies continue to add this sensationalism to the queen’s life, as if anything could be more sensational than the reality. Serious modern and contemporary scholars, however, such as Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac, Hilaire Belloc, Nesta Webster, Simone Bertiere, Philippe Delorme, Jean Chalon, Desmond Seward, and Simon Schama are unanimous in saying that there is no conclusive evidence to prove that Marie-Antoinette violated her marriage vows by dallying with Count Fersen.

The origins of the legend of Marie-Antoinette’s affair with Fersen began not with her revolutionary foes, who certainly would have picked up on anything of that nature to discredit the queen at her trial. Fersen’s name came up at the trial only in regard to the fact that he had driven the royal family’s coach out of Paris in June 1791 as they tried to escape. It was a courtier, the Comte de Saint-Priest, who made insinuations about the queen and Fersen in his memoirs, probably to cover the humiliation that Fersen had slept with Madame de Saint-Priest, his wife. Madame de la Tour du Pin, a former lady-in-waiting of the Queen, in her memoirs mentions that “the Count de Fersen, said to be queen Marie-Antoinette’s lover, also came to see us everyday.” She says this in a paragraph about her childhood where she is discussing the various men who, according to gossip, were “considered” to be in love with with her mother, Madame Dillon. So the Fersen affair is lumped in with what must be seen as idle rumors.

As Jean Chalon points out in his biography Chere Marie-Antoinette, Fersen, who had many mistresses, saw the queen as an angel, to whom he offered reverent and chaste homage. According to Chalon, Marie-Antoinette knew about sex only through conjugal love, where she found her “happiness,” her bonheur essentiel, as she wrote to her mother. If there had been any cause for concern about Count Fersen’s presence at the French court as regards the queen’s reputation, the Austrian ambassador Count Mercy-Argenteau would surely have mentioned it in one of the reams of letters to Marie-Antoinette’s mother Empress Maria Teresa, to whom he passed on every detail of the young queen’s life. Count Mercy had spies whom he paid well to gather information, but Fersen was not worth mentioning. Neither is he mentioned in a romantic way by other people close to the queen in their memoirs, such as her maid Madame Campan and the Baron de Besenval, a close family friend.
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2007/06/fersen-legend-part-2.html
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2007/06/fersen-legend-part-3.html
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:07 am

What does everyone make of a particular day Fersen notes in his diary? He references July 15th, 1783 going to "her" for the first time. Some say this was in reference to the Queen and that this was when the affair started. He spoke of the Queen as "Elle" sometimes.

Here is the passage in English: I remember this day when I arrived from Dang; I stayed at Madame de Matignon’s and I went to Her for the first time.

What could he mean by this?

He also tells his sister, Sophie, of his happiness and that it is greatly increased as well as he has news to share with her. If this all regards MA, then so much for being discreet.

Thoughts?!
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Sophie on Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:26 am

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Here is the passage in English: I remember this day when I arrived from Dang; I stayed at Madame de Matignon’s and I went to Her for the first time.

Even Fraser admits that these lines can be interpreted various ways, although she herself supports the idea of the love affair. This usage of "Elle" can mean, of course, that Fersen sees the Queen as his greatest love, his "She" among many other women. It also can mean, probably at the same time, that he feels a bit confused about the fading of their borders. He, a courtier, becomes a friend of a woman of higher rank - he can't call him simply Antoinette, but she's also not his impersonal Majesty anymore, so he chooses this way to call her. But anyhow you read it, you can only consider the possibility of Fersen's love for "Her", not her love for the Count.

For this case of "I went to Her for the first time": although they met in 1774 and 1778 for short occasions, Fersen's regular familiarity with her only began after the American War of Independence, after he came back to Europe. It can mean that he went to her for the first time after that long time they didn't see each other. Again, I support the idea that Fersen loved the Queen very much. But I don't want to read these passages as a proof for her passionate love for him, because it's a highly uncertain interpretation. I've already discussed in this forum my doubt about the preconception of Fersen's alleged "discrecy", too.

People often quote the Swedish ambassador Creutz's letter to King Gustav about the Queen's reaction to Fersen - she couldn't hide that she likes him, she cried when hearing that he leaves to America - as a proof of HER love to him. But it also doesn't mean anything else but a diplomatic issue between the two countries: Creutz was proud that a Swede won the Queen's attention. And why don't you cry if a new friend of yours go to a war and maybe never will come back? So this is also no evidence for a love affair in itself. I would consider it more suspicious if, for example, the Spanish or Austrian ambassador would have written about their relationship, but the Swedish had the duty to inform his King about Fersen's (or other compatriots') successes.

So the only sources that speak *clearly* for a love affair are (if I'm right) Saint-Priest's memoirs, Elizabeth Foster's writings and Madame La Tour du Pin's memoirs. They all had a connection to Fersen rather than the Queen, and they always write in context of *him* as the Queen's possible lover. It's quite telling, isn't it? Those who knew Antoinette well (Mercy, Ligne, Campan, etc.) never emphasized Fersen's role in her life. Only those who had something to do with Fersen - I've read that Bess Foster herself, Saint-Priest's wife and Lucy La Tour du Pin's mother were all her mistresses - write about him in this context. But then I'm so curious of other memoirs: are there any contemporaries who write the same suspections about Antoinette's other male friends? And it's not the same as reciting the burned letters theory, because there *can* be never revisited memoirs on OpenLibrary, or Forgotten Books, or in French archives. I'm just too lazy and disinterested in this topic to search for them... Wink
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:28 am

Good points! Smile

I think these words were perfectly innocent. People make much of this along with what he wrote to his sister after this visit. Could this not just mean that he realized he was in love with her and this was the first time he was able to see her longer.

I just don't see her being able to get him alone despite supposed "secret rooms" and people being away, etc. and I don't think she was inclined to sleep with him. She showed him some favor and was affected by his departure but I don't think that's an early indication of her being in love with him.

And when their affair is supposed to have started, she still didn't know him very well. Plus, she was pregnant in the summer of 1783! I doubt very seriously she would have had sex with another man during this time although Carroll and Fraser say this would have been an opportune time. This, to me, just conflicts with her modesty too much. Others claim that she stopped sleeping with her husband during her affair with Fersen and then resumed relations when he was away. What?! She wouldn't let herself be shared between men!

It is interesting that those connected with Fersen mention the possibility of the love affair. This would kill the idea that he was discreet then, wouldn't it? Apparently he didn't mind telling people of his relationship with her. Sounds like bragging to me. Actually, there's evidence that he, himself, messed with some of their correspondence to make it sound more personal. He fancied her in love with him I think.

Could it be that Mercy and Campan did not mention Fersen because they truly didn't think him a concern or were trying to protect her reputation? Many have claimed the silence of her friend's to indicate not wanting to give her away.

I do wonder why his letters and diaries were censored. Though it is possible that he, himself, messed with them for other reasons than a supposed liaison. I can't imagine his great nephew censored them to protect anyone's reputation. Fersen was already a known womanizer who had many women so he wouldn't suffer if anyone was to find out about his relationship with a Queen. And why go to great lengths to protect her reputation as well?

It is interesting that the rumors regarding Antoinette and Fersen have never died down. If I recall, she offered to stop seeing him due to suspicion. But Louis declined. He trusted her. I don't think he was naive or that she feigned innocence. And if they had have been together, not for years, but let's say, on a few occasions, then I believe she would have had to stop seeing him to fight further temptation. But that's just my view. And as she confessed regularly I can't see her agreeing to a long affair.

Didn't Alma Söderhjelm tamper with his documents and use her own interpretations, out of context? His references to "Josephine" and "Elle" could refer to a number of people really. So much for discretion there. He dallied with so many over the years. This is another reason I don't see her as having an affair with him. Even if he claimed to love only her, she knew he was sleeping around and wouldn't have wanted to be another "conquest." In fact, didn't Fersen leave for that very reason that people thought they were together? Did. nobe of her friends mention him because they suspected they were together by the 1780s. Who knows?

I'm curious about other memoirs and documents. But I think he was just lumped in with other men she was said to have been with. And he very well may have help spread these rumors himself which would also kill the discretion theory. I would like to look at some of these and wonder if we can recover the missing passages in his diary somehow.

The more I think about it and learn about it, it all becomes very complex and suspicious. And certainly Louis heard these rumors and dismissed them. Wonder if he ever confronted her about it? He trusted Fersen and they were friends as well so he must not have thought anything was going on. She would have been sent away.

We can never know but it's interesting to explore! I'm still not convinced but I do admit the combination of "evidence" as well as missing documents and lack of evidence are suspicious. A case could be made either way. But I just think it conflicts too much with her modesty and good reputation.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:30 pm

I really can't see her carrying on an affair for years though I do wonder about some people's silence and the "doctored" up correspondence/diaries. If it was a few, brief encounters I wonder if she would have had to send him away still. Even for one offense. Do you know of any secret places they could have met or any, absolute privacy she might have had, such as at Trianon? I cannot fathom any especially knowing her scruples but I am wondering why this rumor persists and why some contemporaries spoke of it as if it were well known.

Sorry to keep harping on this and I still don't think there was anything physical between them but I guess we can rule it out entirely. I do think the attraction was more on his side though! She was chaste to him so I don't think he would have wanted to "sully" her by sleeping with her. In fact, he was worried about how it looked so he left.

Though some say she initiated the relationship because she soon became comfortable with the idea but I doubt it...no one can ever know. If the documents that were censored/destroyed did prove that it was an innocent relationship it's a shame they are gone. Fersen's great nephew himself said there was nothing that could bring shame on her honor and I don't think he was being biased. But then why censor them, if he was the one responsible for it?
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Sophie on Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:17 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Do you know of any secret places they could have met or any, absolute privacy she might have had, such as at Trianon? I cannot fathom any especially knowing her scruples but I am wondering why this rumor persists and why some contemporaries spoke of it as if it were well known.

She had no place at all with a complete privacy. Even in Trianon, she was nearly always with friends and servants were also everywhere. Those servants would have been paid off to remain silent, but it's also risky. I don't think a Queen with such a bad reputation would have played with the fire.

But some people have weird fantasies, see this: http://forum.marie-antoinette.org/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=2588

I've never heard that Fersen's successor said something like this. Where did you find this quote?
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:27 pm

Elena quoted it on her site in her articles on the "Fersen legend." Her arguments are quite convincing but of course the proponents of the affair will argue the other way!

That's the tricky thing about this. There were enough people that said it happened and enough that spoke of the Queen's virtue. Though some would argue that people were simply covering it up or that she was so discreet some people didn't know. I think Fersen fabricated some of what went on between them and confided his feelings in Sophie. But he was also supposedly "discreet."

Same with the evidence as I said. There's enough there and missing to sway opinion and interpretations either way. Such a shame the documents aren't intact.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:34 pm

And that's true about her not playing with fire. People already thought she was sleeping with him and other men, so why prove them right?

Fersen couldn't have been that much of a temptation. Although some people claim this as the brilliance of their affair, that they were so discreet the revolutionaries missed it and that since people already thought she was sleeping around, why not?

Ridiculous. Her husband trusted her enough, she couldn't have risked him finding truth. And yes, people would have had to have been paid off and I can't see that. I just can't see how an affair would have been possible especially long term.

As I've said, some have proposed an encounter here and there. Maybe even only once, such at the Tuileries but that was definitely out of the question. And why start an affair then if they hadn't slept together before?! It would be harder to dispute that she may have "given in" without thinking once or twice but I still don't think that was possible. I mean, I suppose it is; anything is, but I doubt it.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:03 pm

I am very curious about his letters to "Josephine" though and what letters might have been written to the Queen but destroyed before the Revolution. There were apparently other women he referred to by this. But why even use a code name for the Queen at all if there was nothing between them? That is a little suspicious.

And I just can't fathom them really having a lot of time alone or them living together! Her "order" for a stove does coincide with Fersen's request for one and living upstairs but I don't think she could have done that. Too risky! If she did allow him to stay I think it was all innocent.

I wish we could know for certain and that original documents had not been destroyed. And Söderhjelm did a lot of damage to scholarship with her theories and comments made out of context.

Could you share with me some of the extensive research you've done? Anyone say anything that proves otherwise? I really wish biographies such as Chalons, the Coursacs, Delorme, etc. were translated into English! They seem sensible and like they have researched it thoroughly.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  princess garnet on Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:31 pm

As I best remember, Elena wrote at one point about Count Mercy's spy network at Court and Fersen's name didn't appear in the Ambassador's reams of letters back to Austria.

Fersen was known for having mistresses; Eleanor Sullivan was the best known of them. In comparison to the Queen, these are ladies are just "there" in his life.

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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:39 pm

Some claim that's because he was covering it up but I doubt it. Mercy could be critical of her. And she couldn't have been discreet enough for him not to have known.

Yes, Fersen was a notorious womanizer so I think MA was pure to him and unattainable. He may have been in love with her but couldn't act on it. And besides if he were so in love with her and sleeping with the Queen would he not have forsaken his other women?

But he did not. I think this sounds like a sexually frustrated man who wasn't getting sex from the woman he wanted, so he threw himself into others.

Yes, Eleanore was a well known mistress and some have claimed this is what he meant by "Josephine" a maid. Although the time frame appears a little off.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Sophie on Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:54 pm

This topic has been also discussed on a Facebook page dedicated to Fersen. There, the editor cited a letter where Fersen writes about "Josephine's diamonds" that has to be hidden or something. As he/she claimed, historians are almost sure that Josephine was a code name for the Queen. She trusted Fersen so much that she gave him a responsibility about her most precious material belongings. But this is the reason in itself why he had to use a code name in this specific context: he couldn't write "the Queen's diamonds" and then lose his journal, or get it stolen from him, delivering this extremely internal information to outsiders. (According to a novel I've read, Aleksandra Fyodorovna and her daughters also might have referred to their jewels as "medicines" during their final captivity.) So, he used the name Josephine at least once, but it is nearly impossible to find out how many other Josephines in her diaries and letters are references to the Queen again, or for other women who were really named Josephine, or a general code name for various different people who had to be hidden behind it. Those who want to believe in the love affair tend to see the Queen behind every Josephines. But I find it a bit careless from Fersen to use the same code name everywhere if it was so important to hide Antoinette's identity. So I think the other Josephines' true self can never be revealed, but historians also found out that Fersen knew a lot of women with this name, so we can have some cues to start with.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:24 pm

Interesting!

Yes, he could mean many women when he writes about Josephine, not just the Queen. It's amazing that they had some much informality though which leads people to believe they were involved sexually.

But why write in pseudonym at all in those early years? So it wouldn't look bad? Well people were already suspicious. And didn't he later help spread some of fire himself?

The stove story greatly throws me off though as I have said. It could be innocent but it still seems odd. Some say the order existed and that it was found (and quoted) while others do not. And there is Saint Priest. If he did not like Fersen why would he injure the Queen's reputation too? And his assertion that Louis knew and approved of the relationship isn't believable.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:25 pm

Also many of these letters he was supposed to have written to her as "Josephine" cannot be found. Again, another missing documents conundrum. And the letters start and stop with his arrival in France. But he had a mistress in Paris named Josephine so that could be why...
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:20 pm

Not to bring this up again but I am curious about those Josephine letters and her apartments. It's unfortunate so many documents have been lost. And I don't think they're missing due to the need to cover anything up.

Is there any evidence that Fersen stayed over at Trianon very often? Or overnight or anything? It at Versailles. Again I don't think lack of evidence or documentation means an arrangement or secret meetings and a need to keep it underwraps...

Could you send me the link to that Facebook page about Fersen and the letters? Thanks! Smile
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Sophie on Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:36 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Not to bring this up again but I am curious about those Josephine letters and her apartments. It's unfortunate so many documents have been lost. And I don't think they're missing due to the need to cover anything up.

Is there any evidence that Fersen stayed over at Trianon very often? Or overnight or anything? It at Versailles. Again I don't think lack of evidence or documentation means an arrangement or secret meetings and a need to keep it underwraps...

Could you send me the link to that Facebook page about Fersen and the letters? Thanks! Smile

Unfortunately, I really can't write anything else to this topic that I haven't written before Neutral Someone (maybe Pimprenelle) stated in the old MA forum that there are lists about the Trianon guests, and Fersen wasn't as frequently there as supporters of the love affair theory would think.

This is the page (the editor is Italian, but Google Translate is our friend): https://www.facebook.com/GrefveFersen Wink
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Elena on Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:21 pm

Yes, I think I remember Pimprenelle saying that Fersen was not on the guest list at all. The picture of him lingering there with the Queen is a fairy tale.

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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:46 pm

Yes precisely! Yet they all count on missing documents and discretion to prove their was a secret liaison..

She couldn't have gotten away with it. Certainly not for years...and I don't even think anything could have happened once. She would have had to confess and sent him way regardless, in order to resist further sinning..
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Bunnies on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:47 pm

To me the thing that cinched the matter was that the Revolutionaries threw everything but the kitchen sink at the royals - and they only refrained from chucking the kitchen sink because they hadn't invented it yet. Yet amid all their lies and inventions they never seized on this? If Antoinette had so much as maintained eye contact with Fersen for longer than .001 seconds they would've been writing pornographic novels of their liaison.

But, lo and behold, there's not a word from the Héberts or Rouxes.

I know that, as has been said, proponents maintain that "Where's there's smoke there's fire!!11!!!" but...in this case there isn't any smoke. We have more evidence that Antoinette was having an affair with Lamballe than we do Fersen and most people have discredited the Lamballe rumors. [Except, well, Farewell My Queen but that's a post for a different day.]

But if that didn't cinch things, honestly: the stove story would. The greatest evidence in favor of a liaison is...a...stove. And not just that it's suspiciously placed, oh no! The Really Suspicious thing about this stove is that it's a Swedish stove. A Swedish stove for a Swedish lover!

Like, I'm a prude-and-all, but I imagine if I ever did fancy myself to take a lover I wouldn't need a stove to match his nationality. Jacques is just going to have to learn to work American gas; that's the end of the story.

When people start grasping for such straws I tend to declare the Debate Over. Antoinette was probably loyal to Louis XVI until her death on the scaffold. There's a possibility she wasn't, but the possibility is so slight that it's outside the realm of historical discussion and nestled in fiction.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:49 pm

Agreed! Smile

The fact that there remains a doubt, to me, means no affair existed. She couldn't have risked the consequences and she knew it was wrong.

Besides she was happy with her life in the 1780s when this relationship is supposed to have started. She was a mother and loved her husband. It doesn't seem consistent. She could not have had Fersen live with her at Versailles. If he did have apartments there I'm sure it was innocent. But I am curious about these Josephine letters.

I also think that had she slept with him even once she would have been in trouble and would have had to send him away in order to resist further temptation. And she wouldn't have withheld anything from her confessor, unthinkable! I seriously believe that even one offense could have cost her but especially years...

I can't see how it was possible. Even during the summer months at Trianon she wasn't completely alone.
And Louis would walk over and visit her in the mornings. So they saw each other. People think she could have entertained a lover in "secret rooms" and in the summer while her husband was away but I can't see it. Fersen wasn't even there that often. Of course, people will say it was undocumented out of discretion but I doubt it. He did come in the summers but I don't think they could have snuck off together...and I don't believe she was inclined..

People also point to destroyed correspondence and censors documents...Nests Webster's analysis of all of that is flawless and she convinced me. Fersen dallied with many women. It could be other women's reputations that should be preserved. A Queen would have been a "prize" certainly for a man with such a long history but it cannot be both ways. He cannot have wanted to stay silent while also giving life to the legend himself....
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm

And Fersen does mention July 15th and "Elle" but I think this is innocent. Perhaps a reference to the first time they really saw each other and he found himself attracted to her.

They didn't know each other long enough for an affair and she was pregnant in 1783. Though some claimed this was an opportune time to sleep with another man....I can't imagine who would do that!!
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:48 pm

As I said on another thread,  from all we know about Marie-Antoinette, she was known for her "austere" temper (as her own brother described her) and therefore the idea that she would allow herself to be shared by two men, Louis and Fersen, is absurd.  No Embarassed cyclops affraid pale


Last edited by Mata Hari on Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:10 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:02 pm

I agree completely!! Very Happy

She wouldn't have consented to that!! She was pretty prudish and modest actually. If it took so long for her to make love with her husband, she would not have given herself to another man!
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:05 pm

People like to envision that she finally found sex pleasurable with Fersen whereas it had only been duty with her husband Sad

Ridiculous. Fersen regarded her as an angel, different from other women. I think he admired her from afar and she agreed to be a friend, or involved in courtly love but NOT his mistress.

And although Fersen was a very sexual man I think he could have consented to only being her friend and confidante.
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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Didishroom on Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:23 am

I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I just wanted to add a few points.

In all the time that they knew each other preceding the Revolution not one of them ever wrote each other a letter or inquired about how the other was doing.

The only time they could have 'known' each other was that one night he spent at the palace in Paris. Now I know everyone likes to imagine their 'affair' as some kind of 18th century bodice ripper fantasy with a handsome man in a ponytail ravashing a queen with pearly white skin, heavy rouge, a contrasting beauty mark and cleavage bursting from her tight corset...except by this time MA was heavy, her hair was grey and falling out with her body having experienced at least six pregnancies, loss of two children and by accounts she apparently looked almost 60....yeahhhh.......not to degrade her Majesty but the picture I have doesn't match the hot and heavy scenario others have cooked up...


p.s. All biographers mention how MA and Louis were constantly guarded at the Tuilierries-even in their bedrooms. How were they ever able to meet with Ferson? Was he snuck in? Was he formally greeted and announced as a royal guest to their Majesties? If his visits were always secret how did he sneak in? And not to play Devil's Advocate-but wouldn't this at least give cover to a one night stand?

p.s.p.s. I do not for one second believe the Ferson myth.

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Re: Marie-Antoinette and Axel von Fersen

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:57 am

Good points!

People question that they may have corresponded with each other before the Revolution because of "Josephine" letters he wrote to her. And of course others will say that there must be some truth otherwise it wouldn't be so highly speculated now as then.

It mustn't just be "myth." I should reiterate that I don't believe in any affair either. Just trying to make an argument. We shouldn't expect any evidence as she would have had to be extremely cautious but I don't think lack of evidence and censorship is an admission of guilt. And comments made by people like Saint Priest must be taken with a grain of salt as I have said.

She doesn't strike me as someone who would have engaged in an illicit physical relationship for any length of time, even a short one or once. Too many potential consequences. It couldn't have been that simple. Her guilt would have caused her to stop seeing him surely. And she wouldn't excuse her behavior just because it was a short lived one that tapered off as people like Fraser say.

There are some odd circumstances I suppose and there may have been strong feelings and perhaps attraction but not enough to ruin herself. And it wasn't so discreet and that's why no one ever knew for certain or people were trying to cover it up. I doubt it. She wasn't so inclined. She was far too modest. Even the image of Antoinette retaining her innocence despite taking a lover for a short period falls short in my opinion.
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