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

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I feel sorry for them in the sense that MA was so young and naive when she first came to the French court, and she hurt her reputation unknowingly by her frovolity, but later she matured. She was in the spotlight from such a young age though, and wasn't prepared. Louis XVI was a well meaning man, but events overtook him when he called the estates general to convene, so in that sense I feel sorry for him. He tried, but failed. I think think they didn't deserve their deaths, although revolution in France was inevitable.
That's right. They could have made some changes, without killing the king and the queen and a lot of other people.
The French nation couldn't make changes without divesting the classes which had monopolized power. The aristocrats and the Catholic Church weren't interested in making changes which lessened their wealth and political power.

Perhaps a violent upheaval was inevitable. Very few European countries escaped a feudal system of government without bloodshed. (For example, England endured its Civil War and the Interregnum.)
While the revolution was inevitable, I still think it could have been handled better, without so many deaths. And over here in Sweden, we never had a revolution like that. We changed our society slowly and calmly instead.
Certainly, Madame Pompadour was right when she is said to have remarked " After us, the deluge". MA and Louis XVI got that. Indeed, the aristocracy- upper classes etc didn't want to make changes. So those lower than them rebelled in a very brutal way. It wasn't very surprising, but it could have been done in a more civilized way, certainly. MA and Louis XVI inheirited the legacies of those before them, which led to the French Revolution, so they certainly weren't responsible for the Revolution, in that sense, even though they were on the throne at the time.
It's true that France was in sorry situation before Louis XVI became king. Nevertheless, we must remember that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were king and queen for 15 years - long enough to try and fix some of the country's pressing problems -- before the 1789 came ...they could've done something effective to mitigate the effects of the revolution to the monarchy and the state. Sadly, both were not alert and seemed to be just drifting. Maria Theresa and Joseph II certainly foresaw that a revolution would take place and warned MA more than enough in their correspondence. We know that MA disregarded all that until it was too late.....and Louis XVI was quite hopeless as monarch, and especially one at such a crucial time in France. If they were more effective, it's likely that the revolution did not end up as it did.
I think they were both too young at the time they came to the throne and had the wrong characters, but also, the main thing was the first two estates, that of clergy and nobility wouldn't surrender any of their traditional rights. Louis XVI called the Estates General to convene, but couldn't do much. I suppose you could say he called them together too late, since by that time it was already a crisis.
I read that during their long house arrest... I mean
Palace arrest.... one of the books King Louis read was
the life of King Charles 1st... who of course.. famously went
to the block and had his head chopped off.

Not exactly ideal bedtime reading for the forlorn King of France....
... I wonder if he had nightmares ?
I agree that both Louis XVI and MA were young when they became King and Queen of France. But I suppose one can learn along the way.....the other Bourbon-Habsburg pairs were also young and likewise inexperienced. While their states were smaller and definitely much less important than France, King Ferdinand and Queen Caroline of Naples & Sicily as well as Duke Ferdinand and Duchess Amalia of Parma also faced a multitude of problems in their reign but at least managed to hold on to their thrones until the French invasion of Italy. Count Mercy, while of course being pro-Austrian, can be counted for being honest and accurate in his assessments and in one of his letters to Vienna, he wrote that the regime of Louis XVI and MA were even more wasteful and inept than Louis XV's. And that a revolution is not far from happening. So while I like both, I cannot wholly excuse them and blame more the clergy and nobility for refusing to cooperate.... they could've fixed at least the wastefulness and ineptitude. I agree that they acted too late.

I think Louis XVI saw himself as sharing the same fate as Charles I of England.
Certainly, the French royal family/ nobility/ clergy towards the end could be called wasteful and inept.MA was frivolous at first. But, there were centuries of tradition with wastefulness and ineptness behind them, and MA and Louis XVI had the wrong characters for the sitiuation coming to a crisis just then.It was a combination of both factors that in my opinion led to the French Revolution, but MA and Lous XVI weren't the main cause.
No, they were only partially responsible.
Very true. Charles I was a figure that Louis XVI related to, as mentioned. Louis XVI and MA also became figures that other doomed rulers came to relate to eventually, for example Alexandra, the last Empress consort of Russia related strongly to MA.
(Don't know if this information has been posted yet)
Before the Varennes incident (when the family [MA, Louis XVI, Madame Élisabeth, Louis-Charles, Marie-Thérèse, Madame de Tourzel & co.] tried to escape unsuccessfully) there were no plans to kill them. They made a faux-pas and this incident greatly insulted French people and their situation quickly deteriorate after being sent back to Paris.

I'll add that this is quite funny that in their escape the King (intendant to Mme de Korff), the Queen (nanny to Mme de Korff's children) and Madame Élisabeth (lady-in-waiting) took the roles of "domestics" to Madame de Tourzel, who herself took the identity of the baronne de Korff.
Louise-Élisabeth de Croy de Tourzel was actually the governess (gouvernante des Enfants de France) of Mme Royale and Louis (XVII).
But even so, I don't think they deserved to be executed.
I don't think either. I think revolutionaries just wanted to get rid of the Ancien Régime so that there would be no chance of restoration. I think killing so many nobles and opponents was a way for them to prove themselves to the other nations and to frighten people.
I also do not think they deserved to be executed although I will not deny that they were part of the problem.

I've read varied sources on Marie Antoinette and it appears that she was frivolous from 1770 until 1787 -- 17 years! For example, the Prussian ambassador (Baron Goltz ???, I think) wrote in 1787 to Berlin that "the Queen had quit her frivolous Private Society and now attends to state matters but as she doesn't have a systematic mind, she goes from caprice to caprice..." She definitely knew she was unpopular before this (at least 1782 onwards but pamphlets started in the 1770s so even much earlier than that), but instead of perhaps contemplating why she was so hated by the people and trying to conciliate, she did not do anything at all until the disastrous Diamond Necklace Affair when it was too late. She also made the huge mistake of alienating both the nobility and the masses so she had no support from either. Aside from that, she interfered in court appointments/promotions, making sure that people who were her favorites (but inept) got lucrative posts/titles so the people blamed her for France's mounting problems. I can see the connection there from the viewpoint of the people, even if France's problems started way back. If things were already problematic, why add to the problems by appointing people who were inept, etc.? Not to mention such posts/titles, some of which were new, cost quite a sum when they should be economizing..-- she even insisted on the purchase of the Chateau Saint-Cloud in the midst of a looming financial crisis. I am sorry, I like her a lot (and I don't think she or her husband deserved to be executed) but I cannot also excuse some of her choices. Maria Theresa and Joseph both warned her on her extravagance and court appointments. Count Mercy also said that such interference by MA on court appointments was no good and she herself recognized that what she was doing was no good but she would rather please her friends..... While Louis XVI and MA were not responsible for all of France's problems, the people were looking for them to solve or at least manage the state problems, not make things worse by wastefulness and ineptitude among other disorders. Both certainly did through their choices.

The berlin used in the family's escape was very conspicuous and cumbersome. That alone tells a lot about how Louis XVI and MA were out of touch from reality and IMHO, very poor judgment on their part. Louis XVI's brother Comte de Provence and his spouse had the good sense to escape in a common carriage and a single attendant each. I do not like this couple at all but in that instance, they exhibited good judgment.
for example Alexandra, the last Empress consort of Russia related strongly to MA.
She even had a portrait of MA at her room in Alexandrovsky palace in Zarskoe Selo!
And to compare the everyday notes in the personal diaries of Louis XVI and Nicky - both king's looks at the life itself are so similar!
Yes , she was frivolous and fun loving... attending balls
(usu without her dull husband ) attending lavish banquets... gambling heavily... she was doing all of these
things, but then she was in a marriage that was unconsumated.
... She was sexually frustrated, she was also frustrated by the suffocating protocol fo Versailles....
by her dull, imbercile husband.... so many things.

So she thought... while I am locked in this golden cage I think I will have some fun...
and she began to party and indulge in every kind of extravagence.
Locked away in her gilded cage she had no ideas of the harsh reality of life for the
peasants and the working class of Paris...the severe winters, the rising price of bread...
she had no notion of the growing resentments
that were building up among the ordinary people.

More and more Marie began to be the focus of pamphlets.... often of a
crude, pornographic nature and Marie realized too late how she had left herself
open to this kind of abuse and ridicule... until eventually she became a hate
figure with mobs on the march baying for her blood.

You are right... to use a luxurious, satin lined Berlin coach for their escape ...
was absurd.... when you realize the mortal danger they were in.
For Louis to insist on stopping to go for a lavish meal too is quite unbelieveable ..
but , as I have said, he was an imbecile... a dreamer and on another planet.
I agree. If you read a book on Madame Deficit (lol!), from the beginning to the end it was almost like two different people. My favorite book on her was written by Evelyn Lever (a great biographer!), the title escapes me but it was something along the lines of "Marie Antoinette."
end quote

hmm that figures,
could it be...Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen Of France by Evelyn Lever
There seems to have been some strange lethargy that
came over the ruling powers in France.. and more particularly Paris.
Was this lethargy there long before Marie arrived ? Louis 15ths reign had been long and he was unpopular, the finances of France were in a bad way... the aristocracy were decadent and out of touch.

There seemed to be no strong authority ruling that vast city... militarily I mean.
A violent mob stormed a Paris arsenal and seized 1000s of weapons.... but they had no gunpowder.
That was why they made there way to the Bastille because it was known to house and store a vast amount of gunpowder.

A similar mob in London would soon have been sorted out by By Britains strong and well organized military, but in Paris, there was no willpower to stand down the mob.
The mob had their way, the Bastille was stormed ... and the rest is history !
...her dull, imbercile husband....
He was naive, but he actually was an intelligent man, not an imbecile. Certainly, he had no leadership skills. At least MA realized in the end her mistakes, it seems. Alexandra of Russia never did.
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At least MA realized in the end her mistakes, it seems. Alexandra of Russia never did.
Did she had any? I doubt so. She was mostly focused on her family life and her poor son. The russians hated her only because she was German and cosidered her as a German spy.
As early as one year after being Queen, there were already signs that Marie Antoinette was losing her popularity. I've recently read that she went to a horse race in 1775 and instead of cheers, sullen silence greeted her...... Count Mercy wrote Vienna that the public saw a Queen who was only interested in entertaining herself. We can be certain that her mother and/or brother Joseph wrote her about it but as (almost) always, she disregarded their warnings. IMHO, the main problem with Marie Antoinette was that she did not bother to conciliate with the masses nor with the nobles. Her unsatisfactory marriage (at least in the first 7 years) and the oppressing etiquette at Versailles were part of the problem, yes, and contributed to her frivolousness and her spending. But we have to admit that she was also very stubborn and insisted on doing things her own way and not caring very much about the world outside of Versailles and the Petit Trianon, which proved to be disastrous for her politically and personally. While she gave to charity, I don't think any sums that she gave were of any consequence....compared to what she spent, that is.

I'm not sure she really saw her mistakes either..... can anyone cite any proof(s) that she did? I do deeply admire how she behaved in her last years though....with courage and faith. In the end, she was the best that she could be. It's just sad it was all too late for her......
Did she had any? I doubt so. She was mostly focused on her family life and her poor son. The russians hated her only because she was German and cosidered her as a German spy.

Alexandra of Russia was in such despair about her son's illness that she became deeply involved with Rasputin, who was a faith healer of sorts. Through her influence and intervention, he gained tremendous power in the Russian court and in the political life of the country. This was not a good thing, and many people rightly resented and blamed Alexandra for this.

Also, Alexandra's character -- introverted, detached, sullen -- did not make her popular with other people beyond her close family circle. In sum, I would disagree with your statement that "the Russians hated her only because she was German and considered her as a German spy." There were several reasons that she was not well liked, and she certainly made politically significant mistakes. Unlike Marie Antoinette, Alexandra seems to have remained blind to her errors in judgment 'til the very end.
I've been reading this thread with interest, especially the comparisons between Alix/Tsarina Alexandra and Marie Antoinette, which made me wonder, is there any way that they are related?
It is obvious that in the French Revolution Queen Marie Antoinette became a hate figure
for the mobs of Paris........ she was villified in countless pamphlets that circulated the city
she was depicted in all kinds of pornographic cartoons too....

Secret presses were endlessly printing this material... the King at Versailles was almost powerless to stop it.

The result is that Marie Antoinette became a hate figure... her wealth and extravagence seen in stark
contrast to the Paris poor and their hunger in the bread shortages and the high price of bread.
Its almost as if sinister , dark forces behind the French Revolution used Marie Antoinette almost as a catalyst for the Revolution.

Tsarina Alexandra was the Russian equivalent of Marie Antoinette.... I'm wondering if she became a hate
figure in a similar way ? were the same dark, sinister forces at work here too and once again using
a female hate figure to incite the mobs to violent action ?

go here
Celebheaven • View topic - Tsarina Alexandra.... Empress of all the Russias
Yes. Alix of Russia was called "That German Woman" and was accused of sleeping with Rasputin, and drugging the Tsar.
Yikes, you're right! :eek: Nikolai and Alix was so Louis and MA all over again.
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