Marie Antoinette: Misunderstood princess & ill-fated queen (reposted via http://conchitasopenbook.tumblr.com)

Historical non-fiction, as related to royal-women of the ages, has always fascinated me. Their lives were lived in an indulgent manner as foreign to me as the countries they ruled and customs they followed. Still I repeatedly find myself picking-through the next Allison Weir…indulging in the fast-paced historical-fiction of Phillipa Gregory…plodding through the dense and well documented non-fiction biographies of Nancy Goldstone…I always come-back.

The inescapable draw being, I believe, the simple humanity that connects these very REAL women. Yes, they were queens…yes they lived lives filled with eccentricities that very few will ever match and yet they were also mothers, daughters, wives, lovers…they experienced great achievements alongside terrible failures…they celebrated and they grieved and they did so…much like ANY OTHER WOMAN…with all of their hearts.

The main difference, unlike other-women, their successes as much as their failures were witnessed and then judged by their entire countries, and for some, the world. So perhaps it is the magnification of human experience that intrigues. Many of these women chose lives in which decisions cost them blood…both loved ones’ as well as their own. And none so ill-fated a story than that of Marie Antoinette.

Antonia Fraser’s novel, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, based on the true events of Marie Antoinette’s life from childhood until her death at the age of 38, depicts the complexities of politics and culture that cast this French Queen as such a rebellious and infamous historical figure. I have Quoted the novel and film based-on-the-novel (Directed by Sophia Coppola) extensively here as well as in my other blog (www.nymphobrainiac.wordpress.com) and even attempted to embody Madame Antoinette for this past Halloween.

Much has been said about this notorious French royal and yet not much is fact. However, we have Antonia Fraser’s widely read (2001) novel to thank for illuminating much of the truths about this historically monumental woman’s life. As one might guess, Marie Antoinette’s life was not all indulgence and golden opportunities…rather as a foreign-born princess she was to forever to remain a political outsider to her people and political pawn to her family.

Volleyed between her duties as French sovereign and Queen of one of the wealthiest political powers of the 18th century and the political designs of her overbearing mother, the ruling Queen of Austria; Fraser describes for us a very young woman who early in her rule (beginning at the age of 14), caught between these two dialectical forces, chose to indulge in the superficialities of life. She was fashionable, she was fun, she threw great galas, she sang, she acted, she traveled, she gambled, ALL to excess.

And yet, she was also a great supporter of charities, particularly those that catered to women and children. Marie Antoinette was singularly responsible for the rise of fashion in Paris and supported all of the arts equally. She truly gave as much as she got. She was a “glittering star” of the era…and unfortunately, the perfect scape-goat for all that the common-people despised about the inequities of the French royal rule.

Enter…1789…The French Revolution.

Without an adept political voice to defend herself, nor the savvy to predict what danger she and her family were in…the fall of the French royalty was swift. Immediately The King’s power was stripped and much of the royal cabinet was imprisoned or be-headed; there were a few botched escape attempts of the royal family and then the final imprisonment of The King, Queen and their young children.

Their story is iconic and well documented in history books, however I believe that Fraser does a particularly good job of depicting a uniquely perceptive version of these events. We feel for The Queen and her naieve understanding of the political views that would eventually seal her fate, her undying commitment to The King…refusing to leave him even when she could have escaped safely alone…and above all her love for her children…a love that guided her every decision in her life…and at the time of her eventual death.

Fraser paints for us a woman…caught in the political circumstances of an extraordinary life…which perhaps seemed to always be just out of her grasp.

She was a lover of the pleasures of life and conceivably as a princess, not properly endowed with the adequate skill to navigate life’s many displeasures.

She did NOT say, “Let them eat cake!”

She DID say…to her sister-in-law, on the day of her beheading:

‘I have just been condemned to death, not a shameful death, that can only be for criminals, but in order to rejoin your brother (The King). Innocent like him, i hope to demonstrate the same firmness as he did at the end. I am calm, as people whose conscience is clear. My deepest regret is having to abandon our poor children; you know that I lived only for them and for you, my good and tender sister’ (Marie Antoinette, p.495)

Marie Antoinette is an honest portrayal of an alternately despised and celebrated character in our world-history. Let me re-phrase that, Marie Antoinette is a literary portrayal of a woman honest, to her heart. Thank you, Antonia Fraser…for your ability to weave historical fact with palpable feeling with the lightest of touch.

Great read guys…pick it up and DIG IN! xxx c.

(originally posted in: http://conchitasopenbook.tumblr.com/)

Marie Antoinette: Misunderstood princess & ill-fated queen

Historical non-fiction, as related to royal-women of the ages, has always fascinated me. Their lives were lived in an indulgent manner as foreign to me as the countries they ruled and customs they followed. Still I repeatedly find myself picking-through the next Allison Weir…indulging in the fast-paced historical-fiction of Phillipa Gregory…plodding through the dense and well documented non-fiction biographies of Nancy Goldstone…I always come-back.

The inescapable draw being, I believe, the simple humanity that connects these very REAL women. Yes, they were queens…yes they lived lives filled with eccentricities that very few will ever match and yet they were also mothers, daughters, wives, lovers…they experienced great achievements alongside terrible failures…they celebrated and they grieved and they did so…much like ANY OTHER WOMAN…with all of their hearts.

The main difference, unlike other-women, their successes as much as their failures were witnessed and then judged by their entire countries, and for some, the world. So perhaps it is the magnification of human experience that intrigues. Many of these women chose lives in which decisions cost them blood…both loved ones’ as well as their own. And none so ill-fated a story than that of Marie Antoinette.

Antonia Fraser’s novel, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, based on the true events of Marie Antoinette’s life from childhood until her death at the age of 38, depicts the complexities of politics and culture that cast this French Queen as such a rebellious and infamous historical figure. I have Quoted the novel and film based-on-the-novel (Directed by Sophia Coppola) extensively here as well as in my other blog (www.nymphobrainiac.wordpress.com) and even attempted to embody Madame Antoinette for this past Halloween.

Much has been said about this notorious French royal and yet not much is fact. However, we have Antonia Fraser’s widely read (2001) novel to thank for illuminating much of the truths about this historically monumental woman’s life. As one might guess, Marie Antoinette’s life was not all indulgence and golden opportunities…rather as a foreign-born princess she was to forever to remain a political outsider to her people and political pawn to her family. 

Volleyed between her duties as French sovereign and Queen of one of the wealthiest political powers of the 18th century and the political designs of her overbearing mother, the ruling Queen of Austria; Fraser describes for us a very young woman who early in her rule (beginning at the age of 14), caught between these two dialectical forces, chose to indulge in the superficialities of life. She was fashionable, she was fun, she threw great galas, she sang, she acted, she traveled, she gambled, ALL to excess.

And yet, she was also a great supporter of charities, particularly those that catered to women and children. Marie Antoinette was singularly responsible for the rise of fashion in Paris and supported all of the arts equally. She truly gave as much as she got. She was a “glittering star” of the era…and unfortunately, the perfect scape-goat for all that the common-people despised about the inequities of the French royal rule.

Enter…1789…The French Revolution.

Without an adept political voice to defend herself, nor the savvy to predict what danger she and her family were in…the fall of the French royalty was swift. Immediately The King’s power was stripped and much of the royal cabinet was imprisoned or be-headed; there were a few botched escape attempts of the royal family and then the final imprisonment of The King, Queen and their young children. 

Their story is iconic and well documented in history books, however I believe that Fraser does a particularly good job of depicting a uniquely perceptive version of these events. We feel for The Queen and her naieve understanding of the political views that would eventually seal her fate, her undying commitment to The King…refusing to leave him even when she could have escaped safely alone…and above all her love for her children…a love that guided her every decision in her life…and at the time of her eventual death.

Fraser paints for us a woman…caught in the political circumstances of an extraordinary life…which perhaps seemed to always be just out of her grasp.

She was a lover of the pleasures of life and conceivably as a princess, not properly endowed with the adequate skill to navigate life’s many displeasures.

She did NOT say, “Let them eat cake!”

She DID say…to her sister-in-law, on the day of her beheading:

‘I have just been condemned to death, not a shameful death, that can only be for criminals, but in order to rejoin your brother (The King). Innocent like him, i hope to demonstrate the same firmness as he did at the end. I am calm, as people whose conscience is clear. My deepest regret is having to abandon our poor children; you know that I lived only for them and for you, my good and tender sister’ (Marie Antoinette, p.495)

Marie Antoinette is an honest portrayal of an alternately despised and celebrated character in our world-history. Let me re-phrase that, Marie Antoinette is a literary portrayal of a woman honest, to her heart. Thank you, Antonia Fraser…for your ability to weave historical fact with palpable feeling with the lightest of touch.

Great read guys…pick it up and DIG IN! xxx c.

And surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in-glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy. Oh! what a revolution! and what a heart I must have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall!…Little did I dream that I should have lived to see disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swards must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone…

—from Reflections on the Revolution in France, by Edmund Burke (18th century); as quoted in Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser (2001).

Feisty Friday Quotes: Anne Boleyn’s execution speech

I fear I have become a bid morbid this week, with Dia De Los Muertos, Marie Antoinette, and such…call it a passing obsession or just a moment of repose…and reflection…whatever it is, I will end it today with one of my favorite “goodbye’s”…Queen Anne Boleyn‘s execution speech May 19th, 1536 (Check out my previous entry detailing, The Lady In The Tower by Allison Weir HERE).She went to her death with as much courage, determination, and vigor as she lived her life with:

Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die, for according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.

And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. (Quoted from “Anne Boleyn”, Joana Denny, and taken from “The Triumphant Reigne of King Henry the VIII” by Edward Hall, 1904)

When I read the speech in The Lady In The Tower, I cried…when I saw the same scene depicted in HBO’s series The Tudors…I wept piteously.

Here is the scene with Natalie Dormer playing Anne:

Sad, brave, and somehow perfect…another instance wherein we are reminded of our intimate relationship with DEATH in life…enjoy your weekend, xxx c.

 

Marie Antoinette: From maligned queen to gay icon?

I just completed reading Antonia Fraser‘s Marie Antoinette, a 600+ page tome recounting the adventurous and ill-fated life and eventual downfall of this 18th Century Queen of France, and while I will certainly be detailing a review in my Tumblr Blog (Conchita Open Book), something particularly interesting and relevant to nymphobrainiacs everywhere, struck me:

MARIE ANTOINETTE IS A GAY ICON

It did not happen overnight, and the seeds of this modern-celebration were sown in her much criticized (at the time) intimate relationships with select women in her life (the sexual nature of which never confirmed)…she was however eventually condemned for these relationships, a price paid in her own blood when she was beheaded in October of 1792, at the height of the French Revolution (a revolt against the royalist system).

As Fraser writes:

The idea of Marie Antoinette as a tribade-the eighteenth century word for a female homosexual, based on the Greek word for friction-was sedulously preached at the time in lewd pamphlets as a means of abuse. But it has meant that her name…has been entered more pleasantly in homosexual annals as worthy of honour. (p. 510)

I suppose what is most disturbing to me is not that Marie Antoinette became a gay icon (if you will allow) but that she was later lauded for the very thing she died for…part of me celebrates:

Marie Antoinette The Martyr!

Yet, another part of me weeps…saddened that the LTGB community must turn to sensationalized and unconfirmed scandalous accounts of alternate romantic relationships rather than real, loving, celebrated relationships.

Marie Antoinette has become a caricature of  The Sexualized and Objectified Woman…simultaneously admired and maligned throughout the ages…and perhaps that is very reason why We are ALL so attracted to her…

xxx, c.

‘Let Them Eat CANDY!’: Happy Halloween from Marie Conchit-ette!

Marie Antoinette,  infamous ill-fated QUEEN who was loved lauded and imitated…AND maligned misunderstood and maltreated…uttered these final words s she approached the guillotine:

I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.

It seemed fitting that I “be” Madame Antoinette this Halloween, not that I fancy myself a martyr, rather perhaps I am feeling a close empathic connection to being simultaneously celebrated and condemned for qualities that feel basic and inherent to the very core of who I am. Yes, I know, TOO DEEP for Halloween…and so, in the spirit of the time of year…I will revel with abandon, imitating that which frightens and titillates and hope that you will do the same!

Besides, I have worked too damn hard on this costume to be bitter about the whole concept…

So…instead I will simply say:

LET THEM EAT CANDY!

Enjoy your Hallloween my goulies, xxx c.