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-   -   1st Victim of Tabloids: Marie Antoinette (http://historum.com/european-history/59930-1st-victim-tabloids-marie-antoinette.html)

Axel July 21st, 2013 10:54 AM

1st Victim of Tabloids: Marie Antoinette
 
“Let them eat cake”… It is one of the most famous quotes in history and forever linked to Queen Marie Antoinette who supposed said that when told her subjects, the French people had no bread.
Yet, that quote – so arrogant, so indifferent, so callous …was actually never said by Marie Antoinette.

It is just a part of the bad press she received. Marie Antoinette in fact was the object of a campaign of vilification that took place from the time she ascended the throne as Queen of France in 1774 during the next 15 years of her reign and then into the years of the French Revolution from 1789 to her death at the hands of the Revolution in 1793. This campaign took the form of crude pamphlets circulated at court and in Paris and then later more widely circulated through the country. In these “tabloids” of their day, Marie Antoinette was portrayed not only as extravagant, frivolous, arrogant and callous to the sufferings of her people, but as a bi-sexual nyphomahic, rapacious in her lusts for men and women, forever cuckolding her weak, impotent husband King Louis XVI. She was called a Messalina and compared to all the worst queens in French and European history.

Below are several engravings from pamphlets of the time –


- Marie Antoinette in bed with the Princesse de Lamballe


http://www.theslideprojector.com/ima...te/libelle.jpg


- Marie Antoinette in close embrace kissing her favorite Duchesse de Polignac

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qNjI_SOlfJ..._KissWoman.png


- Marie Antoinette with her brother in law , the king’s younger brother – the Count d’Artois, one of the Queen’s many rumored lovers.

http://www.blogodisea.com/wp-content...nieta-sexo.gif


The campaign by the pamphlets of libel, pornography and vilification against Marie Antoinette was the subject of Chantal Thomas’ book “Wicked Queen” and Lynn Hunt’s book “Family Romance of the French Revolution” and numerous articles. It was also a prominent feature of the David Grubin documentary “Marie Antoinette” that aired a few years ago on PBS.

What are your views of the pamphlets and press treatment of Queen Marie Antoinette?

- Do you agree there was a campaign to attack and discredit her?

- If so, who were her attackers? And what was their objective?

- It’s said where there is fire, there is first smoke – do you see Marie Antoinette at all complicit in her own distruction? Or do you see her as simply a victim?

- How do you assess the effect of these pamphlets – on the reputation of Marie Antoinette? On the events of the French revolution? On the final treatment and fate of Marie Antoinette?

Gudenrath July 21st, 2013 11:32 AM

Nice post. It should however be mentioned that the type of libel she was subjected to was not a new phenomenon in France. It heralded back to the Louis XIV, where court favourites and mistresses (as well as the king himself) was subjected to anonymous smear by what can mostly be described as hack writers. The libel of the rich and powerful simply constituted a whole genre of its own, the libelle, and its writers were termed libellistes.

While some of the writers worked in the relative safety of being in foreign neighbouring countries like the Netherlands or England (there were incidents of French agents kidnapping such writers), others did their work from inside France itself. It was a dangerous job though, most libellistes knew the inside of one of Frances many prisons (the Bastille being the most wellknown) and some even had the misfortune to end their days rotting up and forgotten by all in prison.

It should of course be acknowledged that the campaign against Marie Antoinette was particularly vehemous and persistent, but all the essentials in the type of literature that it consisted of was basically old news, slanderous stories of orgies and other types of sexual promiscuity was simply reused with a slight change of the personnel. Despite this the stories of course was gefundenes fressen for the revolutionaries, especially of the more radical and popular sort, who could use them to stir up the rabble and help ensure hatred for a regime they wanted to get rid of.

I can heartily recommend Robert Darntons groundbreaking study of the genre:

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Water-Slander-Napoleon-Material/dp/0812241835"]The Devil in the Holy Water, or the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon (Material Texts): Robert Darnton: 9780812241839: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51f7op1eBrL.@@AMEPARAM@@51f7op1eBrL[/ame]

CathareHeretic July 21st, 2013 11:36 AM

I think is a Image D'épinal
Of Course the Aristocrates in France is Mondains, Snobe and Arrogants and maybe a Minority Libertine limits Homosexual or Lesbian
But in Géneral the Aristos is very Catholic and Conservatives
and I No agree with the Phamplets and other Mauvaise Rumeur against Marie Antoinette but the Queen a naive young woman did not have too understand the cliques of the French High Society

But Vive la République en Premier

Miss Hearts July 21st, 2013 11:38 AM

Good and interesting post. Just shows you how a tabloid can influence people's opinions and ruin a person's reputation.

annelouise17 July 21st, 2013 11:43 AM

Maybe it is the way of keeping the masses entertained? On the other hand the people were hungry and the royals lived large, would make them a huge target.

Marbel July 21st, 2013 12:14 PM

These pamphlets and tabloits are what we have today. They are written and published to keep the masses entertained, start turmoil, feed on drama, and also perhaps, yes, ruin Marie Antoinette's reputation, which I believe she was partly guilty of herself. Today we don't know the true lives of celebrities, what they truly believe, want, think. We only know what the magazine's and other media sources tell us about them. A lot of them are scandalous and a lot of it is made up. (whether you want to believe it or not). The same is true for France during the revolution, before and after. It's always been part of history.

Masses were intrigued by such scandal, some were more shocked at Marie Antoinette's behaviour than others. but either way, they continued reading the tabloits, and paying money or exchanging goods to get a hold of what new at the palace.

I did mention in the other threat that Marie Antoinette had taken a role of the royal mistress, dressing more provocatively, engaging in parties and gambling, and entertaining others. We can only really speculate based on the evidence we have today as to why she did what she did, but because of her rebellious behaviour, she is partly guilty of what was written or drawn about her. Don't give the press or mass to write anything about you if you don't want rumors or drama started. But she probably was a great attention seeker and did not worry too much.

Did she sleep with her brother-in-law? Did she have relations with other females? Rumors say yes, but who knows. She reminds me a bit of Anne Boleyn who after marrying Henry VIII started entertaining other men, and then being called a royal whore. :notrust:

Axel July 21st, 2013 12:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marbel
These pamphlets and tabloits are what we have today. They are written and published to keep the masses entertained, start turmoil, feed on drama, and also perhaps, yes, ruin Marie Antoinette's reputation, which I believe she was partly guilty of herself. Today we don't know the true lives of celebrities, what they truly believe, want, think. We only know what the magazine's and other media sources tell us about them. A lot of them are scandalous and a lot of it is made up. (whether you want to believe it or not). The same is true for France during the revolution, before and after. It's always been part of history.

Masses were intrigued by such scandal, some were more shocked at Marie Antoinette's behaviour than others. but either way, they continued reading the tabloits, and paying money or exchanging goods to get a hold of what new at the palace.

I agree these pamphlets were the tabloids of their day, and Marie Antoinette was the most famous, most glamorous woman in France if not the world. It was an age before motion pictures, TV or the internet and Marie Antoinette combined in one person the fame and stardom of entertainment, fashion and politics.

People were naturally curious about her life and anxious for any gossip and stories about her.

I agree too that scandal only increased the appetite for stories including pornographic stories on Marie Antoinette. The biggest scandal on that score was the "Affair of the Queen's Necklace", the subject of another thread in European history.

Below is a picture of Marie Antoinette and the diamond necklace from the movie "Affair of the Necklace."

http://okinawaassault.files.wordpres...snap-82455.png

Knarly Dan July 21st, 2013 01:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Axel (Post 1530613)
“Let them eat cake”… It is one of the most famous quotes in history and forever linked to Queen Marie Antoinette who supposed said that when told her subjects, the French people had no bread.
Yet, that quote – so arrogant, so indifferent, so callous …was actually never said by Marie Antoinette.

No doubt a lot of people have researched that quote. Is it now the consensus that she never said it?

HistoryFreak1912 July 21st, 2013 01:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by annelouise17 (Post 1530665)
Maybe it is the way of keeping the masses entertained? On the other hand the people were hungry and the royals lived large, would make them a huge target.

Both, I would think.

And I'm with Marbel, we probably don't have that much to go on with what Marie Antoinette really did or not. Just like today's tabloids, poeple liked to embellish and grossly exaggerate stories for entertainment, so a rumored sighting of Marie acting sweet on a lady (say giving a friendly pat on the cheek/arm) could easily get blown into "Marie Antoinette is having sex with ladies of the court behind Louix XIV's back!" For a poor French citizen at the time, this kind of scandal, one that would make the royal court look bad, this would be paydirt and something to laugh at.

Did Marie ever try to resist what they were saying about her? Speak up and defend herself? Or was she powerless/not aware, and thus the rumor mill just went on rolling with that kind of story?

Miss Hearts July 21st, 2013 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marbel (Post 1530695)
These pamphlets and tabloits are what we have today. They are written and published to keep the masses entertained, start turmoil, feed on drama, and also perhaps, yes, ruin Marie Antoinette's reputation, which I believe she was partly guilty of herself. Today we don't know the true lives of celebrities, what they truly believe, want, think. We only know what the magazine's and other media sources tell us about them. A lot of them are scandalous and a lot of it is made up. (whether you want to believe it or not). The same is true for France during the revolution, before and after. It's always been part of history.

Masses were intrigued by such scandal, some were more shocked at Marie Antoinette's behaviour than others. but either way, they continued reading the tabloits, and paying money or exchanging goods to get a hold of what new at the palace.

I did mention in the other threat that Marie Antoinette had taken a role of the royal mistress, dressing more provocatively, engaging in parties and gambling, and entertaining others. We can only really speculate based on the evidence we have today as to why she did what she did, but because of her rebellious behaviour, she is partly guilty of what was written or drawn about her. Don't give the press or mass to write anything about you if you don't want rumors or drama started. But she probably was a great attention seeker and did not worry too much.

Did she sleep with her brother-in-law? Did she have relations with other females? Rumors say yes, but who knows. She reminds me a bit of Anne Boleyn who after marrying Henry VIII started entertaining other men, and then being called a royal whore. :notrust:

I agree. People make tabloids to make money and stir up drama.

In reality, Marie Antoinette didn't sleep with her brother in law. They were friends, but they weren't lovers. But like you said, who knows.

Now with the relationship she had with that Swedish guy, I really don't know.


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