Change in the air: 19.4.1778 | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Change in the air: 19.4.1778

September 09, 2009

Change in the air: 19.4.1778

19 Avril 1778

Marie Antoinette writes to her mother that things have changed. It was spring, and the air was still fresh and cool. Perfect time for change! From now on, she wrote, she will take care of herself much better- her health is of most importance. Admittedly she never cared to do so before, but that was the old Antoinette!

She also went to Louis about another matter of concern. She asked if he would distribute 4,000 francs to the poor of France. She also made a special note for him to offer 12,000 francs to debtors who were currently in prison.

This was only if they were in prison for one reason: failure to pay their monthly nurses. A monthly nurse was a lady who took care of both a new mother and baby one month after birth. This sudden concern for these ladies and families stemmed from a new concern of Antoinette's, motherhood. Of course Louis went forth with her wishes, and distributed the funds as asked!


  1. Maybe the gambling and partying bored her as something more spiritual and important came to her life: a new person. She had been so long villified for not being able to give an heir and now she could show everyone that "the austrian spy" was not going to disappear. Pity people forgot her change when they wanted her head. No good deed goes unpunished.

  2. Well, gambling and partying was what people did if they could. I always had the impression that she partied like any teenager and then grew up and became more serious. Unfortunately, what she suffered more than anything was a smear campaign.

  3. I think she was just the unlucky heir to a really f'ed up society. I mean, if you were hungry and had trouble finding work and feeding your children, it WOULD inflame your outrage to hear tales of gilded finery and ten course meals. The aristos and royals may have had the refined clothing and manners that we love ROMANTICALLY when we watch films, but they really had very selfish and elitist lifestyles. I am the first to hate how violent the Revolution was and to say that the manipulations of the prince to turn against his mother were absolutely heinous, but we should not overly romanticize Marie Antoinette. Doubtless she was a flibbertigibbet in the eyes of those whose only concern on a daily basis was trying to avoid the pained and reproachful glances of their ill and hungry children. And asking your rich hubby to toss a few sovereign at the feet of a few monthly nurses is to the poverty of France what a poultice would be to the Plague.

  4. If the people hated her it was due to the calumny placed on her by the masons of Paris.

    As for dressing in finery on must remember that with the exception of clothes reserved for diplomacy the Queens gowns were patched and worn.

    Why is it so easy to vilify the Queen? Josephine Beauharnais spent millions on gowns and jewels and nothing was ever mentioned.

    Asking a charity to anyone is a grace.

    Paul sounds like someone who was taught that Marie-Antoinete said "Let them eat cake."

  5. I am fully aware that the Queen was not the villain that her enemies would portray her, but to negate the fact that income and, particularly, lifestyle inequality was NOT a factor in her undoing is to simply deny history. She was symbolic of the affluent classes, because the monarchy is ALWAYS symbolic of the affluent classes, and thus she took heat even though she was not the worst by far in terms of living large at the expense of others. Perhaps I should clarify that I will ALWAYS sympathize with the poor, weak and disenfranchised over the powerful and obtuse. I make no bones about it because I think it is the moral high ground. I am the first to admit a pleasure in the luxuries of court-style living, but the French Revolution was about inequality and degradation. It should not be disputed because it is just plain facts.

  6. The principles of the French revolution may have been about redressing inequality and degradation, but the level of hatred, viciousness and bile directed at the Queen was due to a smear campaign that was targeted against her throughout her life in France. Also, the violence of the Revolution and the Terror, and the sheer nastiness of it make the principles disappear. For instance, if you really believe in liberty and fraternity and equality, would you not make sure of a fair trial for any human being, even if they are a hated Queen?

    Frankly, I cannot ever respect those who urged the Revolution forward, nor those who benefited from it to make themselves a new "royalty" such as Napoleon and his family. The hypocrisy of it all is too disgusting.

  7. Explain then why the "poor" jacobins lived in such luxury after they gained power and the Bonaparts as well. no my friend it was a masonic plot inspired by satan. to overthrough the Church.

    Nothing less.

    We cannot agree on this point.


  8. @Brantigny: You're right. If you believe that a little man the color of pickled sausages, with a forked tail and horns, even exits, then us agreeing on anything other than the weather is highly unlikely.
    @Tulip: This is why thoughtful discourse languishes in our times. My comments aren't made to negate the faults of the Revolutionary government. They are a statement about how inequality, ignorance and suffering are a perfect breeding ground for smear campaigns, violent change, etc.
    Of course there were power brokers behind the Revolution who seized the opportunity to lavish themselves with luxuries in the midst of their huge and hypocritical stand against aristocratic large living. More specifically, I am speaking of how obtuse and vein attitudes on the part of the wealthy, including royals and aristos, did in fact help to give a populace motivator to the cause. Take it for what it is worth, the hope being that logic and not blind loyalism will lead the day. Again, let me be clear: Thinking that greedy and debauched behavior at Court spurred on the Revolution is NOT the same as advocating the violence or the hypocrisy of the governors who arose from it.

  9. Reading all your comments makes me realise how little I know. I'm going to the library today to get some reading matter on the French Revolution.... then perhaps I will not always be an onlooker in the discussions. It's so interesting for me to hear the different opinions and makes me want to learn more.

  10. p.s.

    "...a little man the color of pickled sausages, with a forked tail and horns,...."

    Paul, that was so funny and made me chuckle! :D I think I should be changing my avi; I don't want to look like a pickled sausage! :O)

  11. @Lesley: That is my favorite description of Satan, who I firmly don't believe in. Did you post something about Goddesses and Wicca somewhere on this or the Duchess' site recently? I can't remember where I saw it, but I thought it was you.

  12. Nor I Paul. Yes, I posted a link in our discussion about menstration in Heather's blog. :)

    I was disappointed at the library to find very little about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. Anyway, I got the book "Queen of Fashion" by Caroline Weber and I'm still reading "Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman.

  13. She was vilified for being a foreigner, for not giving France an heir for so many years (naturally, because she was the foreigner and the woman, the blame was squarely placed on her shoulders) and for excluding the courtiers who had always received preferment and royal perquisites from her intimate circle.

    The frivolity (card parties, masquerades, extravagant expenses) were her misguided way of dealing with extreme unhappiness. She had no idea for years why her husband couldn't consummate their marriage, and even after he did, why he didn't seem to enjoy sex. She loved children and was desperate to conceive an heir.

  14. Well said Tulip...

  15. Thanks Leslie! Agree with you too. It's very normal to express unhappiness with materialism, until another outlet comes a persons way.