Marie Antoinette - Her Humanity Vs the Need For Mob Rule
Toniette, as she like her friends and family to call her, was a mere 14 when she became the promised wife to the future King of France. Her passive arrival as a Duchess from Austria to this place was surreal, in that it was a marriage made for political purposes...that is to cement France to Austria and insure peace throughout Europe.
Her commitment to her future was anything but passive. She was well trained by her mother, the Empress of Austria...and committed to the betterment of her subjects. And immediately she absorbed her life a French citizen.
At the time of her arrival to the Court of Louis XV, her future husband's grandfather...there was a great amount of turmoil regarding the current King's moral life. And indeed, he lived a life that included a famous mistress, Lady du Barry.
The young Marie Antoinette, although captivated by Louis X V...felt she could not acknowledge this terrible moral disfigurement he was doing to the crown. She took it upon herself to try and reduce the influence of du Barry.
But her mother, through letters. encouraged her to endear herself to the King by acknowledging Lady du Barry at least minimally. Marie Antoinette did do this, and indeed, it made Louis XV very happy.
Due to the current King being alive and governing, as well as Marie Antoinette and the future, Louis XVI, being very young, they did not receive a lot of education on the governing of state. They knew a great deal about how to behave as aristocracy, but had very little practical knowledge.
This lack of knowledge is what doomed them. France at that time was going through terrible un-seasonable weather and had a number of years of poor rainfall and very cold weather. Their wheat crops suffered greatly. People were starving.
Marie Antoinette had a wonderful desire to help people, but did not know these details. She anonymously helped many people she saw harmed by the royalties excesses. But she also felt a need to maintain a life of royal traditions...and these activities of balls, parties and material possessions finally gave the public a target to vent their anger.
Since she was a foreigner, and for the longest time...7 years to consummate her marriage (due to her husband's lack of interest) before having a child, she was easily vilified.
However from all her documents, it appears she dearly wanted to help the people. And she intervened many times with her husband to do so. They particularly opposed the nobles refusal to pay taxes, which would have instrumental in salvaging the economy of France at that time.
In the end, the blood thirst for a scapegoat was too much. First the King was beheaded...and 9 months later Marie Antoinette was as well. The current opinion is that two inexperienced people, who wanted nothing but the best for the people were swept up in the tide of terror that characterized that period.
And, the Guillotine was considered an instrument of humanitarian usefulness.
GM Scott is a unending student of the drama of history and a lover of travel in France.
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