King Louis XVI (1754-1793) and Marie Antoinette of Austria (1755-1793)

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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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. :rolleyes:

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.
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.
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.....:)
How old was her sister Elisabeth when it was suggested they marry her to Louis XV? I'm sure MA would have done her duty too, all royal brides did. Personally, I think MA found Louis XV not so bad, but since she was so young and naive it would have been a surprise. Likely, it was best it never happened.
Well, Louis XV's wife died in 1768 so Elisabeth was 25 that year. Quite a bit old per the standard of that time but still marriageable.......

I cannot bear to see MA married to Louis XV even if he was still good-looking in his like you said, lucky it never happened.
What do you know about Elisabeth's proposed marriage to Louis XV? I haven't really read about it. What year did she get smallpox which ruined her looks? Elisabeth was more at an age to deal with the realities of such a marriage than her sister would have been, 25 to 14. MA wasn't very mature for 14 when she was married off to Louis XVI, and that marriage was far more suitable for her than a marriage with Louis XV would have been.
Yes, a marriage to the future Louis XVI, who was only one year older than her, must have been better in every way for Marie Antoinette than what a marriage to Louis XV would have been.
Maria Elisabeth got smallpox in 1767. I do not know much about the match between Louis XV and Archduchess Maria Elisabeth except this: The French painter Ducreux was sent to Vienna to do a portrait of Marie Antoinette in 1769 and he also did portraits of Elisabeth and Amalia. By that time, Amalia was already engaged to Ferdinand of Parma so it made sense for him to paint a portrait of the intended of his master's favorite grandson. I've also read that he was asked to report on the extent of Elisabeth's pockmarks but I'm not sure how reliable this is. By that time, however, Louis XV already had Madame Du Barry so I guess any interest on Elisabeth as a possible bride quickly faded. We can assume that his ambassador in Vienna, Marquis de Durfort, reported to him details that would interest his master (as he did with Amalia and MA).
I'm sure Louis XV wouldn't have been interested in Elisabeth after the smallpox ravaged her beauty, she would have been in 1767 about 23 or 24. Nobody wanted to marry her after she got smallpox and she ended up as an abbess, which I think was defintely happier than than a marriage to Louis XV would have been in my opinion.
Well, Elisabeth was said to be extremely vain, it is possible that she would've liked to be Queen of France (even with a debauched, much older husband), just for the perks and the prestige. She wanted to marry so much but after the smallpox, it wasn't possible anymore so she was angry at world. But yes, personally I think she had a happier life as an abbess, especially after Maria Theresa died.

Had Elisabeth married Louis XV, imagine how it would be.... having two Archduchesses at Versailles---Marie Antoinette would've addressed her as this, 'my grandmother, my sister, and my Queen' or similar! That's just too much, IMO!:rolleyes:
But if Elisabeth had gotten married to Louis XV, maybe they wouldn't have married off Marie Antoinette to the future Louis XVI? Well, we will never know...
Beautiful colour hair, thanks for the link.
The British Museum owns it- she took a picture when she visited.
That was very interesting. I visted Brittish Museum once, but I didn't know, that they had a lock of Marie Antoinette's hair.
I know. It's very interesting. I was going to give my thoughts earlier on whether or not MA would have married Louis XVI had Elisabeth married Louis XV and I still think she might have because MA's marriage secured the Austro- French alliance more than a marriage between Louis XV and Elisabeth would since MA's and Louis XVI's heirs were the ones destined to sit on the throne of France in the future, not what children ( if any) Louis XV and Elisabeth might have had.
I don't know... I'm not an expert on French sucession laws from the 18th century, but if Louis XV married again and had another son, wouldn't he be closer to the thrown than his nephew? But maybe not. After all, our current king Carl XVI Gustaf was closer to the thrown than his uncle Prince Bertil. That all depends on how the succession laws were written.
Louis XVI was Louis XV's grandson. As the descendent of Louis XV's eldest surviving son ( although deceased by that time) Louis XVI and his descendents would have taken precedence over any more sons his grandfather Louis XV had.
Furienna, it depends on the principle of representation, i.e. the sons of a dead prince represent him, in his place.
Otherwise, as you say, the closer prince has better right on the throne.
A succession war occured in Castilla at the death of Alphonse X the wise. In Castilla there was no principle of representation, and Alphonse X redacted a laws in which was introduced this principle, but died before the Cortes generales de Castilla voted it.
His elder son being dead, his second son took the power againsts the sons of the elder, the said sons going to France and look for the help of the king of France, who believed in their good right as in France, the principle of representation is considered to be "self evident".
I actually feel more and more sorry for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Sure there were problems and injustices in France at the time, but they weren't solved by what happened to them.
I wouldn't feel especially sorry for them. They lived longer and more comfortable lives than the majority of their subjects. (And I'm very grateful my relatives had the sense to hop on boats to Canada in the 1600s.)
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