Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > European History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

European History European History Forum - Western and Eastern Europe including the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old July 21st, 2013, 10:54 AM   #1

Axel's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
From: USA
Posts: 333
Blog Entries: 6
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


Click the image to open in full size.


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

Click the image to open in full size.


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

Click the image to open in full size.


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?

Last edited by Axel; July 21st, 2013 at 11:01 AM.
Axel is offline  
Remove Ads
Old July 21st, 2013, 11:32 AM   #2

Gudenrath's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Denmark
Posts: 2,626

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]
Gudenrath is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 11:36 AM   #3
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Feb 2013
From: French Republic
Posts: 1,702

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
CathareHeretic is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 11:38 AM   #4

Miss Hearts's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Texas
Posts: 623

Good and interesting post. Just shows you how a tabloid can influence people's opinions and ruin a person's reputation.
Miss Hearts is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 11:43 AM   #5

annelouise17's Avatar
Colonial Savage
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: Amerikay
Posts: 5,350
Blog Entries: 2

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.
annelouise17 is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 12:14 PM   #6

Marbel's Avatar
Citizen
 
Joined: Jul 2013
From: New Jersey, USA
Posts: 7

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.
Marbel is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 12:44 PM   #7

Axel's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Jun 2013
From: USA
Posts: 333
Blog Entries: 6

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."

Click the image to open in full size.
Axel is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 01:20 PM   #8
Historian
 
Joined: Dec 2010
From: Oregon
Posts: 1,829

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axel View Post
“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?
Knarly Dan is online now  
Old July 21st, 2013, 01:43 PM   #9

HistoryFreak1912's Avatar
History Freak since 1999.
 
Joined: Apr 2009
From: Alabama, USA
Posts: 4,402
Blog Entries: 20

Quote:
Originally Posted by annelouise17 View Post
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?
HistoryFreak1912 is offline  
Old July 21st, 2013, 01:59 PM   #10

Miss Hearts's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Jan 2013
From: Texas
Posts: 623

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbel View Post
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.
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.
Miss Hearts is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > European History

Tags
antoinette, marie, press, revolution, tabloid



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Marie-Antoinette Commander European History 83 August 11th, 2013 08:56 AM
The End of Marie Antoinette! CathareHeretic European History 52 July 5th, 2013 10:41 PM
How much power did Marie Antoinette really have? HistoryFreak1912 European History 8 July 4th, 2013 03:41 PM
Marie Antoinette okamido European History 73 October 21st, 2011 02:48 AM
Marie Antoinette.....A Porn in their game moonshadow European History 28 August 4th, 2009 07:32 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.