Political Science 101
24 September 2012
Marie Antoinette "Let them eat cake" is probably one of the most recited quotes around the world, which is known to be spoken by the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. Although often reffered to as "The Party Queen" or in other words, the Queen who danced while her people starved. But what many fail to recognize is the fact that Marie Antoinette was the Queen who cared for her people. The only think she cared for more than the welfare of her people, was the welfare of her children. In order for one to understand and have the ability to fully understand the French Revolution, and Monarchy, one must go back and analyze Marie Antoinette's personal background, her political contributions and achievements, and her political influences.
Marie Antoinette (Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria) was born in Vienna, Austria on November 2nd, 1755. "She was the fifteenth child, and eleventh (and last) daughter of the Emperor Francis 1st of Lorraine and Maria Theresa of Austria, at the head of the Habsburg dynasty"(Moore 3). Francis 1st died in August 1765, leaving his wife and his elder son to co-rule his empire. "To promote diplomatic relationships with France, Marie Antoinette was asked to marry Louis Auguste, the Dauphin of France" (Campan 3).With the conclusion of the Seven Years' War in 1763, an alliance between Austria and France became a priority for Empress Maria Theresa; cementing alliances through matrimonial connections was a common practice among European royal families at the time. In 1765, the son of French Emperor Louis XV, Louis Ferdinand, died, leaving his 11-year-old grandson Louis Auguste heir to the French throne. Within months, Marie Antoinette and Louis Auguste were pledged to marry each other. A child of only 14 years, delicately beautiful with gray-blue eyes and ash-blonde hair, in May 1770, "Marie Antoinette set out for France to be married, escorted by 57 carriages, 117 footmen and 376 horses. On May 16, 1770, Marie Antoinette and Louis Auguste were married".(Campan 6) " Louis XV passed away in 1774, and Louis Auguste succeeded him to the French throne as Louis XVI, making Marie Antoinette, at 19 years old, Queen of France"(Barker 9). However, as personalities went Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette could not have been more different. He was introverted, shy and indecisive, a lover of solitary pleasures such as reading and metalwork. She was vivacious,outgoing and bold, a social butterfly who loved gambling, partying and extravagant fashions.
Political Influences and Development
Though many have argued that Marie Antoinette did not have any political development or influences, due to her social and eccentric ways, Marie always referred to someone in her life as the main source of admiration. "Her Mother, Queen Maria Theresa, Marie often spoke of her with profound respect, but she based all her schemes for the education of her children on the essentials which had been neglected in her own"(Barker 9). Maria Theresa, often was inspired awe by her great qualities, taught the Archduchesses to fear and respect rather than to love her. "The Empress was too much taken up with high political interests to have it in her power to devote herself to maternal attentions."(Campan 8) The queen's influence on domestic policy before 1789 has also been exaggerated. "Her interference in politics was usually in order to obtain jobs and money for her friends. It is true, however, that she usually opposed the efforts of reforming ministers such as A. R. J. Turgot (1727–1781) and became involved in court scandals against them."( Moore 12 ) "Activities such as the "diamond necklace affair," where the queen was accused of...
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