The Secrets of Marie Antoinette

Marie, Author, Olivier Bernier, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-385-19156-2
The informal but puritanical, family-centered Austrian court had ill-prepared Marie Antoinette, daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa, for marriage to the future Louis XVI of France, nor for the strict etiquette but lax morals of the French court. Attended by intriguing courtiers, the 15-year-old bride found little support in her weak, sexually incompetent husband. Moreover, she antagonized King Louis XV's mistress du Barry and listened to false counselors. This background, entertainingly provided by Bernier (Pleasure and Privilege, etc.), elucidates the empress's correspondence (17701780) with her daughter and with the Austrian ambassador Mercy, Maria Theresa's spy at the French court. The empress used her letters and Mercy's influence to mold Marie Antoinette into an obedient tool of Austrian policy. The correspondence depicts the Austrian monarch as manipulative and hypocritical, but often justifiably stern with her charming, not very intelligent daughter whose frivolity, extravagance and insensitivity to public opinion she deploredthe very traits that led the French queen to her tragic end. October 25
Reviewed on: 09/01/1985
Release date: 09/01/1985
Paperback - 326 pages - 978-0-88064-064-0
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