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  #141  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:57 PM
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Breguet No106 watch: The queen, her watch and the master burglar - Telegraph

"Queen Marie Antoinette."
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  #142  
Old 04-26-2009, 04:54 PM
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Grace Angel, about the lack of charisma, I agree (and he knew it, giving his wife the role of lauching fashions etc, which she did very well).
About MA's attitude from 1789, the problem is that, as she had not accepted a serious formation previously, she lacked the bases to act properly. Only when she was led to recognize her husband's abilities (moral strenght, faithfulness, capacity of decision, all what she hadn't seen before) they managed to act together.
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  #143  
Old 04-27-2009, 02:02 AM
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I agree that once she saw her husband's better qualities they acted together more. Also, they were closer in their marriage after they had children and finally consummated their marriage which took awhile to do. MA grew up and also became more mature and could see her husband for what he was better. They were never in love, but they did come to be better partners. MA's strengths come out in adversity, but I agree, her frivolous reputation from the past haunted her.
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  #144  
Old 04-27-2009, 02:49 AM
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(It's been a such a long time since my last post so forgive the length of this.....)

For me, Marie Antoinette had many virtues and many faults. I do like her very much (as well as her sisters) and have been reading a lot of sources on her and her Austrian family... although I would not go so far as calling her a martyr.

IMHO, she did show a lot of kindness when she personally encountered hardship by her subjects but in general, she had no clue on what was happening in France (she never saw anything of France except during her bridal journey, did she?) and how the people were suffering..... she did cut down on her expenditures but only because of the looming national bankruptcy. True, she was said to be charitable but let's not forget, France then had a population of around 20 million people --- how many had she helped -- hundreds, a few thousands perhaps, out of those millions? Her dresses, her jewelry, her headdresses, her gambling debts, and her pleasures were too conspicuous for the rest of the people....what was the ratio of the money she gave to charity compared to her other expenses?

It is true that she has calmed down after having children but did not also let go of her frivolous Private Society and her expensive (and sometimes dangerous) pleasures, not to mention spending more and more time in Petit Trianon; one play was intially banned by Louis XVI for being dangerous to monarchy/nobility yet she insisted on having it performed in her private theatricals. The writer of said play had previously written a lewd pamphlet on her husband's impotence and even had the gall to send a copy to the (enraged) Maria Theresa but she fought to have his play performed.......such an unwise decision, and all in the pursuit of pleasure and what was 'in'.

She disdained those lewd pamphlets about her yet did nothing effective to counter them..... she probably thought they weren't to be taken seriously and look what happened. She knew she offended many of the nobles at court yet did nothing to conciliate with them. I'm of the opinion that she was not stupid but she seemed to have no clue that the French monarchy was tottering or if she did, she did nothing effective to prop it up. She was initially very popular and had other chances when Marie-Therese and Louis-Joseph were born but did nothing to assure her popularity, either with the masses or the nobles (preferably both). It's true that she had no real political role as Queen but she had quite considerable patronage --- and all she seemed to do with it was grant her special friends favors and costly posts.

Of course, it wasn't her fault that the French monarchy and economy were on the brink of ruin (Louis XV reportedly said, 'After me, the deluge.') but her lifestyle and decisions did not help things either. She was warned enough by her mother and brother (Joseph II). All in all, I think she had very little political acumen and that was her downfall...... even in familial matters, she did not bother to look into the future. One telling situation was her relationship with brother Leopold. She didn't have much to do with him, who left Vienna when she was 10, it was said that they never got along. Yet he was to be ruler of Austria.... but MA did not bother to cultivate any real relationship with him in all those years. As it were, she had to admit when Joseph died that she had absolutely no influence on her other brother.... so the kind of help that she wanted was not assured.

Having said all this, I do like her a lot and have a lot of sympathy for her.... as Dauphine, as Queen, and as the 'Widow Capet'. She did not deserve death. I think she had a good heart and wanted to do good (only what she did wasn't enough) and was courageous, especially in her last months. She was also, after all, a mere pawn of her mother. To send an almost illiterate, untrained, lazy, frivolous, and flighty (no matter how pretty, charming and affable) 14-year old to represent Austrian interests in a court that was anti-Austrian and one that resembled a snake pit (IMHO) seems like a recipe for disaster to me. Maria Theresa may have assuaged her conscience by sending her daughter numerous letters and advice as well as her best and most trusted diplomat, the ever-vigilant Count Mercy, to guide young Antoine, but she also had no personal idea of what her daughter was facing. Her scolding, nagging letters also did not help for they only assured that MA would rebel (albeit in a subtle matter, by lying and evasion). I don't think Maria Theresa ever considered how hard things were for her daughters --- she just wanted total obedience at all times. I admit that I find a lot of her advice good and quite practical -- IMO, the problem was her dictatorial tone as well as the incomplete/false reports that she took as gospel truth (she distrusted her children to a great extent, even when they were mere children).

MA's sisters, Maria Amalia and Maria Carolina, were also married to unsatisfactory men -- although they did not have the humiliation of an unconsummated marriage like hers for 7 years. Both sisters coped with their situation in their own way but they, at least, managed to hold on to their thrones until the Napoleonic Wars. Of course, Naples/Sicily and Parma were not as 'problematic' as France but I also think that Marie Antoinette's sisters had a lot more energy than she did in terms of public service and cultivating their people's affection....Perhaps that was why, despite being noted as proud, interfering/dominating consorts as well spending money like water and having (rumored) lovers (same accusations as with MA),they were not hated by their people (I should note that Maria Carolina also experienced a decline in popularity in the 1790s onwards so perhaps she was hated at a lesser degree). All 3 archduchesses were said to be capricous, frivolous, and willful...all had their enemies and were certainly viewed as pro-Austrian but MA's sisters definitely survived their situation (albeit being exiled)....Of course, MC had a seat in the state council and was the de facto ruler of her husband's kingdom while Marie Antoinette had no such official role in the government. Not sure about Amalia, I think she had no official role too, but just interfered as she pleased. Nevertheless, she was popular and seemed to have had an extraordinary reputation (in a good way) in Parma (despite the many 'scandals' earlier) to the day when she left in exile.

Just my two cents......
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  #145  
Old 04-27-2009, 03:19 AM
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I am sympathetic to MA too, she was so young when sent to France and had to grow up in front of the whole world as well as dealing with her marriage and husband which didn't go well at first, she didn't produce an heir for years. Maria Theresa knew she was sending her daughter unprepared to France, but felt she had to do so due to the Austrian- French alliance which MA's marriage to Louis cemented. She thus put diplomatic reasons ahead of wisdom and her daughter's personal happiness. She really did want the alliance with France to suceed though, and they had been enemies before. So many royals in those centuries were sacrificed on the altar of marriage due to diplomatic reasons. MA was hardly alone, nor was what Maria Theresa did uncommon. She sent letters that were wise and forewarned her daughter who was too young to understand or listen, by the time she was, Maria Theresa was dead, and MA's reputation for being frivolous was so built up that no one took her seriously.
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  #146  
Old 04-27-2009, 03:37 AM
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I agree that the alliance with the Bourbons, particularly Bourbon-France, was very important to Maria Theresa. But what actually happened is another matter...... France was a lukewarm ally and even Joseph commented that in 30 years, Austria never benefited from it. France also had a reputation of being an ally only when it is to her distinct advantage and known for duplicity when it suited her; see how France secretly thwarted Austria in the War of Bavarian Succession (1777-79)..... True, many princesses and princes were sacrificed in the name of alliance but it seems to me that MA and her sisters were ruthlessly sacrificed --- and for so little at that. I would have felt better for them had the alliance produced the results that MT wanted but alas..... it never happened.

IMHO, MT had an intense hatred of Frederick the Great--- as well as a tenacious need for revenge --- that she reversed alliances, plotted the Seven Years War, and sacrificed her children... and all for what? Frederick the Great was as strong as ever and Silesia was never recovered. IMHO, all in all, despite being an intelligent ruler, she seemed to have miscalculated on that (big time)... and it was her children who paid for it. MT (on her deathbed) was very much aware of the sad destinies she had forced on them.
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  #147  
Old 04-27-2009, 03:51 AM
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Madame de Pompadour I believe worked for the Austro- French alliance. MA's brother Leopold certainly didn't try to help her out after the French Revolution, and indeed the Austro- French alliance never really took off. MT saw Frederick as a personal enemy, so that doubtless played into her actions as regards him. MA and her sisters certainly didn't have happy marriages- except MT's favorite daughter who she let marry for love, I believe a Prince of Saxony. But MA would likely have been sacrificed for some alliance, somewhere if not France. She wasn't the wisest choice for a marriage with Louis and thus France, given her personality, youth with regards to frivolousness. Had MA been married into one of the royal houses her sisters were married into, things might have been better. But then, I think any queen of Louis XVI would have been in a hard position, given the state of France.
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  #148  
Old 04-27-2009, 04:26 AM
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Yes, Madame de P worked on the alliance. MT's official Kaunitz approached her ... she certainly worked on the alliance, and later on, the minister Choiseul (spelling?) did.

Perhaps MA's sister Maria Carolina could have done better. I think MT also considered Carolina for France but Charles III of Spain rejected Amalia for being 5 years older than his son -- and the Spanish Bourbons were expecting an archduchess-bride as soon as possible. That was already a done deal --- the deal with France did not happen until middle of 1769. While there are reports of Carolina being cruel, that was after MA was executed and the Jacobins took over Naples and one of her sons died while they were aboard the ship to Sicily. I think she did very well from 1768 until 1790 or so, considering she was also hardly trained like MA; MC was also reportedly intelligent and politically astute like their mother.

As far as I know, the other princesses considered for Louis XVI (aside from Marie Antoinette. that is) were Maria Amalia of Saxony (daughter of the Elector and niece of the Dauphine Maria Josepha) who married Karl of Zweibrucken ---Archduchess Amalia's ex-sweetheart and the one she wanted to marry--- and one of the Savoyard princesses, the one that became Comtesse de Provence (Josephine?).... not very 'exciting' choices either. I cannot see either princess having the character to 'save' France.....

I rather think Marie Antoinette would have suited Ferdinand of Parma than, say, Ferdinand of Naples. I think both Maria Carolina and Maria Amalia settled into compatibility with their husbands as time went by. They both had a large brood (MC with 17 or 18 children, Amalia with 9). They didn't have love matches, true, but I don't think they were unhappy 24/7 either.... they did settle into compatibility and had other things to keep them occupied..... although the first months for Carolina were a nightmare and Amalia's marriage was said to be rocky for years. MT's favorite daughter Mimi indeed had a love match with Albert of Saxony. Until a few months ago, I thought she was totally-ever-happy but a biography of Joseph pointed out that she had an affair with an official of Hungary.... so truly happy? I don't know. She also lost her baby girl after one day and didn't have any more children so I don't know. At least her sisters had children.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:39 AM
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I didn't know that about Mimi. I think MA did settle into more compatibility with her husband over the years, and perhaps more had she lived, so perhaps in that way she mirrors her sisters, from what I've read they were assumed to have had lovers in later years. Yes, one of the Savyard princesses wouldn't have made a great Queen Consort of France, although they would likely have built up less of a reputation for frovolity than MA. They were plain and unattractive. MA's beauty was in some ways her doom. I don't know much about the Saxony Princess who might have married Louis XVI. Who did she later marry? I think MA would have had more children, but she got started so late, so that's why she didn't have more kids while her sisters had many.
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  #150  
Old 04-27-2009, 08:28 AM
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You can find that bit on Mimi and her love affair in the book, Joseph II: In the Shadow of Maria Theresa by Derek Beales. The book is very well researched and highly detailed so it is (likely) true.

Maria Carolina and Maria Amalia did settle into compatibility with their husbands at some point. If Maria Carolina and Maria Amalia indeed had lovers, I do not blame them. Their spouses were hardly dream husbands to put it mildly, were they? Their husbands also (Ferdinand of Parma included, highly religious and bigoted as he was) had extra-marital affairs...... not that that excuses MC and Amalia, but their husbands seemed to have set the tone of their relationship by having mistresses/affairs first so......I have not come across any definite proof that MC and Amalia had lovers but with their situation, I agree that it was likely.

I read that Marie Antoinette thought 4 children were enough and wrote Joseph so after the birth of Sophie-Beatrix. She was only 31 at that point, so it struck me as rather strange... her sisters were having babies in their 40s. Some writers attribute it to her (supposed) love affair with Fersen.... if she was sleeping with him and got pregnant, that child would be an 'Enfant of France' and that would not do; they also theorized that MA could not come into terms with sleeping with both men at the same time. I agree that MA's beauty and youth offended some of the old ladies at Versailles. Her sisters-in-law at Versailles, the Savoy princesses, were indeed unattractive physically and otherwise..... though I agree that they would not have been as conspicuous as Marie Antoinette.

Maria Amalia of Saxony was the daughter of Elector Frederick Christian of Saxony and Maria Antonia of Bavaria. She was the first cousin of Louis XVI and Louis XVI's mother, the Dauphine Maria Josepha (Maria Amalia's aunt), was very keen on match. She was said to have been matched also with the Comte d'Artois and even Emperor Joseph II (if so, the Saxon court must have been dreaming since Joseph said he would not marry for the 3rd time). She married Duke Karl August of the Palatinate-Zweibrucken-Birkenfeld, older brother of King Maximilian I of Bavaria and the ex-sweetheart of Archduchess Amalia (Marie Antoinette's elder sister). I don't know much about this Saxon princess either except that she wasn't attractive --- at least I don't think so -- and seemed 'bland'. She was quite obscure although she was said to be amiable. I think she didn't have a happy marriage either. Karl of Zweibrucken was reportedly very stubborn, difficult & complicated, and he couldn't love her. They had an 11-year age gap (Karl born in 1746---same age as Archduchess Amalia -- and his wife was born in 1757), that may have contributed to the difficulty as well. He had an influential, long term mistress (whom he loved and wanted to marry but his family won't allow it --- a rather reverse situation with his failed romance with Archduchess Amalia) that he made into the chief-lady-in-waiting to his wife so husband, wife, and mistress lived under one roof at some point! They had one son, an only child, who died young. It seems that rather than trying for a second child, Karl made his younger brother Maximilian marry ASAP to ensure the continuity of the Zweibrucken (and Wittelsbach) line. So I think..... not a happy marriage and no happy ending either.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:19 AM
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None of these dynastic marriages ended happily, did they? Sad that even Mimi's marriage for love didn't end happily. The Saxony princesses were never glamourous so I doubt Maria Amalia of Saxony was that. The Savoyard princesses were a very unattractive lot who were said to posses bad hygiene and unattractive characters. Artois, the husbad of one them got along quite well with MA for awhile, because he was the most handsome, attractive brother of Louis XVI, actually more attractive than Louis himself. MA loved Fersen and may have been his lover. Her sisters certainly went on having children though and they were rumoured to have lovers, although that seems to have been when they were older. European royal families were so related that with regards to children even if the parentage wasn't accurate with regards to their father, through their mother's blood they were more than likely related to every royal family in Europe anyway. MA wasn't really good for the royal dynasty of France, in that she through her beauty and frovolity didn't help matters with regards to the reputation of the royal family, so even a plain, unattractive princess like most were might have been a better choice for Louis XVI.
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  #152  
Old 04-27-2009, 10:43 AM
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Indeed, very few dynastic marriages were happy and ended well -- but at least, MA and her sisters had children. Some did not have children at all so there was nothing for the spouses to work on the relationship. I think there were sadder cases than theirs....but that does not negate how bad I feel about what they had to go through.

Perhaps Mimi's love affair was 'not so serious' to threaten her marriage. Apparently, Maria Theresa knew about it but there was nothing in the book that said she was displeased with her favorite child, let alone punished her about it. It's sad that MT seemed to be so unfair to the rest with her scoldings, etc. yet be so lenient with her Mimi. Her punishment to her wild child, Amalia in Parma, seemed excessive to me (the banning of the letters). Later on, she would write Count Mercy in Paris (circa 1773) how sorry she was for her daughter (Amalia)..... with that fool of a husband but would not permit her to visit Vienna. Huh? She forced and forced her daughter to marry Ferdinand of Parma and when later on, she would (almost, but not quite in public) admit her daughter's 'excessive' behavior was 'understandable' with that sort of husband, but she wouldn't even grant her a visit? That was the sort of parenting she practiced on her children, and I, for one, completely sympathize with them for coping with their situation in whatever way they could....

In the book on Joseph by Derek Beales, it was said that when not combating and lecturing Joseph in Vienna, MT wrote (or rather scolded, a more apt term) her married children every week. She blamed Leopold for his coldness and reserve, Ferdinand for not making better use of his time, Amalia for her poor French and haughty ways, MA for her laziness, frivolousness, extravagance, and failure to turn every opportunity to conceive a child. Carolina was not mentioned in that section but I'm sure MT did not spare her. I'm sure the list of complaints went on and on. Now Mimi, MT did not seem to scold, take note...... she was certainly unfair to the rest -- and not only with regards to Mimi's love match. It seems to me that Mimi was the unpleasant child yet Mimi could do no wrong in MT's eyes. It is no wonder the rest rebelled in different degrees and ways.

I think the sisters were, in a way, glad to swap their over-controlling and unfair mother with husbands they themselves can control (albeit different degrees--- MA had less success in this matter than Carolina or Amalia). Their sister Elisabeth, left behind in Vienna, certainly complained of their mother's controlling nature --- she said such control over a daughter her age (she was in her 30s then, I think) was outrageous! MT did not think much of Marianne as well -- as she was an invalid and therefore not 'useful' in terms of Austria's foreign policy/alliances. It was said that MT was 'justified' in marrying off her children to cement alliances as she was Empress before Mother --- and I do agree up to a certain point. But as a parent, she didn't appear to be loving or at the very least, she did not know how to show her love in a constructive way that would bring about positive results---with her favoritism of Mimi, 'neglect' of Marianne, and her scolding ways/control over her other children, the perennial distrust (including sending spies on her children), her indiscretion (i.e. she cared not who knew of her battles with Joseph), and the way she would play off one child against the other and also complain to one about another. Very sad and quite nasty. I think we can all agree that she was truly preoccupied with her children, especially once they were married and ran into problems, writing letters full of advice and reproach until the early hours of the morning. She was indeed very preoccupied with MA, Amalia, and Carolina, and that definitely spiked up her stress levels and she suffered a great degree of distress over them. But her method seemed to be unyielding....Had she tried a different tack in guiding her children, things could have been very different and more positive. Certainly MA and Amalia could have benefited much from it.

I know only one portrait of Maria Amalia of Saxony, and a group one at that..... but you can see her quite clearly. Grace Angel, I can send it to you via PM if you're interested. I agree that Saxony's princesses then were not known for their beauty or glamor.

I agree that a low-profile, plain consort for Louis XVI would not likely arouse jealousy or spite at Versailles but....poor princess nevertheless.
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  #153  
Old 04-28-2009, 10:15 AM
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She seemed to see clearly her children's faults but not construtively do anything, at least in MA's case. She would have been more helpful had she been less critical and more constructive. As for sacrifing her children to dynastic marriages that was an too common fate in those days for royals, so although it's clear she practiced favoritism with exempting her favorite daughter from this, and other things, I can't judge. Arranged, possibly unhappy marriages were the price of being royal then, and so often didn't turn out well. Francis Stephen died when MA was still young, maybe he could have been a positive force in her life had he lived longer. His and MT's marriage despite him cheating on her, was a happy one, by the standards of the time and royal marriages. MT's children's marriages, like MA's never duplicated this, although Louis XVI wouldn't have been regarded as an exciting husband by anyone, althiugh some of the other candidates for his hand were equally dull, i.e, the Savoyard Princesses. You certainly know so much on MA's family. Have you ever read the Deborah Cadbury book on MA's son?
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Grace Angel View Post
Francis Stephen died when MA was still young, maybe he could have been a positive force in her life had he lived longer. His and MT's marriage despite him cheating on her, was a happy one, by the standards of the time and royal marriages....Have you ever read the Deborah Cadbury book on MA's son?
Yes, I have also wondered if Emperor Franz lived long enough, how different it could have been for Marie Antoinette and her siblings; he was always much more gentle with the children than Maria Theresa was and perhaps could've influenced them better. I think they all adored their father (who adored them in turn) and rather feared their mother... except perhaps Mimi. I cannot say if he would have eventually allowed them to marry for love. One of his objections to Mimi's love match was that Albert of Saxony was not of sufficient stature to marry an archduchess (he also wanted Mimi to marry his nephew) so he seemed to view his children's marriages like most royals did at that time... to further their dynasty's interests. I like to think that MA was more 'Lorraine' than 'Habsburg'.

Unfortunately, I have not read that book on Louis-Charles (nor any on Madame Royale) but I will keep it in mind ; I guess the turn of the grandchildren of Franz Stephen and MT will come after I have sufficiently read about the previous generation.
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:45 PM
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I think Francis Stephen's attitude towards dynastic marriage was typical of royals of the time. He and MT had a very happy marriage but he had his mistresses so he seems to have been typical for his time. MA's marriage was okay in later years, but she was so beautiful and glamourous and quite a contrast to her husband, that they weren't compatible, really. Louis XVI never cheated on her, but MA's parents marriage was a happier one despite Francis Stephen's infidelity. MA is said to have maybe been Fersen's lover. I can't think who MA would really have been compatible with among the royals of the day as regards marriage, but she and Artois got along quite well for awhile, although I think Artois encouraged the rumors about her behavior as regards frovolity, etc behind her back since he had his own designs on the throne as Provence, the other brother of Louis and Artois had no children and only Artois had heirs until MA had children.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:56 PM
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From what I have read, FS and MT's marriage became less and less pleasant as the years passed by. Not only because of FS's womanizing but also because MT's rages were unshackled, often terrifying, and he had borne most of it. They also did not agree on certain policies, such as the 7 Year War and the reversal of alliances. Let's not forget that she excluded him from any meaningful participation in the government.

Marie Antoinette and her sisters then had a very complicated view of their role vis-a-vis what they saw growing up and what their mother preached to them (not to mention the contradictions of MT's various advice). They grew up seeing their mother rule so why not them indeed? They were also supposed to 'govern' their husbands by stealth while at the same time, 'respecting' them as their mother wanted. MT criticized their political activities but they also had to put Austria's interests first and foremost. So how were they going to manage that if they were only to 'devote' themselves tro their husbands?

As for other 'suitable' princes for MA other than Louis XVI, here is a list with comments made by someone else (a discussion on Maria Amalia's marriage prospects other than Ferdinand of Parma) which I have modified it a bit for MA's case. There were plenty of Catholic princes but MT seemed to consider only ruling Catholic princes or their apparent heirs for her daughters (except in the case of Marie Christine, who married a younger and penniless son). I did not include Ferdinand of Naples/Sicily and Ferdinand of Parma in this list as they married MA's sisters. But both were also suitable for MA.

Portugal - heir apparent of Queen Maria, Prince Jose, was 6 years younger than MA. Not an impossible gap but can be a bit difficult to manage and Portugal's policy of marriages among family members was particularly strong at that time. Indeed, Jose was married to his aunt at age 16 in 1777.

Spain - Carlos, Prince of the Asturias, born 1748 so 7 years older than older than MA; married Maria Luisa of Parma since 1765. The Spanish Bourbons, particularly Elisabeth Farnese wanted her granddaughter from Parma to marry her grandson the Crown Prince. This marriage also conforms with the Bourbon Family Compact.

Saxony - Friedrich August III born 1750 so 5 years older than MA; married Maria Amalia of Palatinate-Zweibrucken-Birkenfeld in 1769. Saxony was an ally of Austria but his mother and regent clearly had other plans for her son which inclined towards Bavaria/the Wittelsbach dynasty.

France - Louis XV was widowed in 1768 but was unlikely to be as useful to an alliance as a younger man would be - there was no way even a pretty young wife was going to bend a grandfather-king to her will - and a grandfather-husband had a presumably shorter life years left.

Bavaria - Maximillian III Joseph and his heir Karl Theodore were both much, much older and both married; neither had direct male heirs.
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Old 04-30-2009, 01:30 AM
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I remember reading that Louis XV was quite taken with MA when she came to France. He was quite the ladies man. But he was notorious throughout Europe for his mistresses, and MT although she urged MA to be nice to his current mistress Du Barry for the sake of the Anglo- French alliance, when MA didn't want to be nice to Du Barry, would doubltless have not looked on him as a suitable husband for MA. Louis at the time also had a quite serious mistress in Du Barry who because she was of common origin and so much younger than Louis was a scandal. Louis did like very young women though. He allegedly had very young woman, young teenagers at the Parc Aux Cerfs for his entertainment. He had a 17 year old mistress in his later years called Louisa O' Murphy, who was of Irish origin and and who was famously painted nude as a young woman. So maybe he wouldn't have minded a younger bride. But he and MA wouldn't have worked- she had a strict sense of morality coming from the court of Vienna, where MT upheld the strictest sense of morality.
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Old 04-30-2009, 02:41 AM
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I think Louis XV indeed found MA pretty and he did have very young girls for his 'entertainment' but I remember reading that he was disappointed that MA did not have a 'satisfactory' chest (his favorite area of contemplation when it came to feminine charms) at that time.

Of course, this is just my opinion but if MT was agreeable for Maria Elisabeth to marry Louis XV (33 years older), I could not see why she would not agree if Louis XV indicated a preference for the much younger MA, even if with a 45-year age gap..... It's impossible that MT did not know how debauched Louis XV was and she was still willing to go with the Louis XV-ME match. One princess was pretty much the same as another when it came to alliances back then (look how Johanna, Josepha, and Caroline were engaged to the young King of Naples).

A generation later, MA's niece Maria Leopoldine (daughter of Archduke Ferdinand) was (forcibly) married off to Karl Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, who was 52 years older and had a string of mistresses (and illegitimate children as well). Caroline's husband, young as he was, was also licentious but that did not deter MT. She wrote that even if her daughter is unhappy as long as Josepha (then engaged to him) takes care of her soul and does her duty, she (MT) would be content. So it appears that being debauched and/or much older did not matter to the Habsburgs. Perhaps MA herself would've minded married to someone 45 years older and debauched, being conservative and all, but Austria's interests came first and she can, like sister Amalia, be married against her will. MT's court may be a 'moral' one (Joseph had paid sex for many years and her favorite minister Kauntiz was a libertine and even took his mistress to the palace grounds while he discusssed state matters with his boss-- I don't think it was a moral court at all in practice) and she may have had her Committee on Morals/Chastity but she also preached wifely submission/tolerance to husband's frailties, even if she seldom practiced it herself.

If you read the Memoirs of the Princesse de Lambelle, she wrote there that Louis XV had plans of marrying MA himself. She claimed that Louis XV did not really successfully intervene on the non-consummation of marriage between MA and Louis XVI, for he intended for the two to divorce and he would marry MA. Now, I don't know how truthful this assertation was, but there must be a grain of truth in it, considering the source.
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Old 05-01-2009, 01:43 AM
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I do think MA would have minded being married off to Louis XV though it's true she liked him personally. She would not be nice to DuBarry until told to do so by MT. MA didn't even realize what a king's mistress or any mistress was, so sheltered had she been. When she first saw Du Barry, she thought she was beautiful and asked someone nearby ( I think it was when dining) what is the function of that woman over there? The person's reply '' To entertain the king". True enough. So at first MA was quite naive. Of course, she might not have been so mean to Dubarry if it hadn't been for the encouragment of the aunts, the daughters of Louis XV. But I think being married to Louis XV would have been a surprise to her coming from a family like MT's, even if she had been more aware when she left Vienna of the facts of life. The Viennese court wasn't very moral true- that's why MT tried to make it more so. But MT's family life was highly moral, especially as Francis Stephen was dead by then and thus his example of having mistresses. MA had likely never known the unmoral side of the court. Joseph amd MT had a lot of disagreements and a very different view of life, so it isn't surprising he paid for sex. I don't if MT knew of it. Obviously, MT wouldn't have tried to reform the court in Vienna if there were nothing there to reform. So although one royal bride was pretty much another, I doubt MA would have been made Louis XV's bride unless perhaps he made his having a mistress more discreet. MT wouldn't have hesitated to marry off MA maybe when she was older and more wise to the world's ways though, perhaps. It was just that MA was quite naive and young.I think MT and all of Europe was aware of how debaunched Louis XV was, although if she had really wanted a marriage with him and one of her daughters it may well have been overlooked. She very much wanted the French- Austro alliance secured.
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Old 05-02-2009, 12:43 AM
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Maria Theresa certainly knew that her son Joseph had paid sex --- she and Franz Stephen were quite horrified that he did so, but they could not do anything about it.

If they married off MA to Louis XV, I agree that she would have been horrified to marry such a debauched man as she was so innocent but she would've done her duty even if she was fundamentally quite chaste all her life. Now how she could've reacted to cope, I know not.....
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