Category Archives: Royalty

Olga, Tatiana, and Marie-a.k.a. OTMA

OTMA’S Last Poetry Project Introduction

The Romanov execution occurred July 17, 1918 in the basement of the building, the Ipatiev House. The family spent their last months at the house which was also known as the “House of Special Purpose.” When studying about the events at the house, you get a sort of preview of how the family members would act in their final moments.  The family’s reactions varied. The two elder sisters, Olga and Tatiana, held on to each other. The middle sister, Marie, put up a good fight and Anastasia went unnoticed at first before she was killed. (Yes, each member of the family was murdered.)

The Romanov’s last days and the house’s atmosphere included a variety of boredoms, friendliness, and tensions.  It’s an incredible story where everyone seems to have their own agenda, strengths, and flaws. What is exactly was going through their heads? Part of my exploring includes writing poetry from the viewpoint of the sisters—Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia—also known officially as OTMA during their lives. My humble “hypothetical’ project has been depressing, fun, and fulfilling. I’ve written multiple poems from the viewpoint of each sister and hope to do more.

And don’t worry—note every poem will be posted.

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The Princess, the King, and the Tyrant

It’s strange to start out with the moral at the beginning of the story, but that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you. No, Maximilien Robespierre will tell you:

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Maximilien Robespierre was a well-spoken leader who led with terror.

 

“Citizens, take warning; you are being fooled by false notions.”

Those words are taken from an address to justify the execution of Louis XVI.

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King Louis XVI of France wanted peace.

It also sums up what others would feel toward Robespierre as time went on. Basically, it leads to the question: What is truth?

Maximilien Robespierre had pushed for Louis XVI’s execution but wasn’t for Princess Elisabeth’s, the King’s sister.

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Princess Elisabeth of France. The King’s youngest sibling.

Yet, she was executed May 10, 1794. And a couple months later, Robespierre would be executed.

The lives of the Princess, the King, and the Tyrant were connected way before the French Revolution.

Losses

An important place to start is the year of 1764. It was important to both the Robespierre and the Bourbon families.

In May, Maximilien Robespierre turned six, and the royal Bourbons welcomed a baby princess.

In July, Robespierre’s mother gave birth—to a stillborn son. She died soon after. Robespierre’s sister recalled in her memoirs this death changed him. He lost his childhood. In addition to that, his father left the family. The man who was supposed to be one of the most important  role models in a young boy’s life distanced himself from his children. I consider this to be Robespierre’s first major rejection.

The Bourbon children lost their parents to death within three years of Princess Elisabeth’s birth.

Successes

Despite losing parents young, Louis, Elisabeth, and Robespierre were all very intelligent and accomplished individuals. Just to mention some examples: Louis excelled in languages; Elisabeth in mathematics; Robespierre in rhetoric. All three wanted to be models of virtue. The Bourbon children took a religious approach while Robespierre leaned on secular philosophies.

Elisabeth carried a certain charm from her earliest days. Despite being a wild child, Elisabeth grew up to be lovely and known for her piety and wit. There were three proposed marriages, but in the end, she and her brother, now King, agreed that she would stay with the family.

Sometime early in Louis’ reign, he and his wife stopped by the school Robespierre attended. In fact, Robespierre was handpicked to give a speech in Latin at the special ceremony for the King and Queen. It turned out to be a dismal day. It was rainy, the monarchs were running late, and when they did arrive, they stayed in their carriage for the speech and ceremony. They left promptly after the ceremony. Robespierre had just been rejected by high society.

Life’s not fair! Right, Robespierre?

But Robespierre was a bright student and would eventually move up his way into politics after completing school. He started on a small scale during the king’s early reign. Louis and Marie-Antoinette had more of a positive image then.

To someone like Robespierre, it probably seemed as if the King had everything. Besides not agreeing with the King’s politics, I think there were other things that Robespierre  would find bothersome about the King. Louis XVI had obtained power through family deaths. He had a beautiful family, and he had a live sibling born in 1764. The King got a free pass while Robespierre slaved away to get to the top.

Annoying Sister

Elisabeth annoyed her sister-in-law at times. She could surprise her brother. But there was never any doubt that these individuals cared for one another, and that the King and Queen would be eternally grateful to Elisabeth for staying with the family to the very end.

Elisabeth felt she was following God’s plan for her. She was heaven sent in the eyes of Louis and his family.

She was certainly a type of nuisance for Robespierre. If only she had escaped like some of her other family members, he wouldn’t have been caught in a desperate situation.  He fought for her at her trial. But he lost. He just wanted her to be exiled, not guillotined.

People marveled at her poise during her trial and execution.

She had just turned thirty the week before she was executed in May 1794.

Fooled by False Notions

More and more people considered themselves “fooled by false notions.” The new government had stressed equality and virtue— so why were so many being punished and put to death?

Robespierre and his comrades became distrustful of one another. They too felt they had been fooled. They weren’t as loyal as they professed they would be. He had helped to reform this new society, and now he and former allies were betraying each other. This was  Robespierre’s third and final rejection.

Robespierre was executed in July 1794. Had his stillborn brother lived, he would have turned thirty a few weeks before—the same age as Elisabeth, who had met her death in her birthday month of May for being loyal to family. An eerie coincidence.

While I don’t accept that Robespierre is scapegoat of history, I do feel sorry for him. He had all these ambitions and felt that to fulfill them, he needed to take away life. In the end, the curse he set on so many rebounded on him.

 

Sources:

Maxwell-Scott Mary Moniac. Madame Elizabeth de France, 1764-1794.

Robespierre, Charlotte. Charlotte Robespierre’s Memoirs: Part 1.By   http://revolution-fr.livejournal.com/2370.html  accessed August 16, 2016.

Ten Brink, Jan. Robespierre and the Red Terror. 1899.

Trail and Execution (French): de Beauchesne, Alicide-Hyacint

Images:
Princess Elisabeth of France by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (Public domain in U.S.) 1782

Portrait of Louis XVI by Antoine-Francois Callet. 1788 (Public Domain in U.S.)

Portrait of Maximilien Robespierre. 1790 (Public Domain in U.S.)

 

 

 

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Review of Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy by Elena Maria Vidal left me a lot to think about. 

Elena Maria Vidal is a fantastic writer and researcher. She paints a realistic portrait of Marie-Antoinette with facts to back all of it up. It’s very exciting. This book is spiritual, adventurous, and sweet.

I was especially surprised to learn about two specific pieces of unique artwork. It was fun to find out that Louis XVI kept a certain, flirty picture of Marie-Antoinette on his desk in which she’s dressed like a goddess holding a vase with his profile on it. The other one was a tearjerker sketch of Marie-Antoinette entering heaven to her welcoming husband and her two children who died before her.

One of the most memorable scenes comes from a memoir of a servant who witnessed Louis XVI coming into Marie-Antoinette’s room. While he’s being comforted by his wife, she commands the servant to leave.

From other examples, it’s obvious he suffered from depression, but with all the exterior events and past memories, who could blame him? And shouldn’t Marie-Antoinette get the most dedicated wife award? She stuck with him despite the multiple times he wanted her and their children to go to safety.

The spouses gave each other strength and were concerned parents. After their deaths, their daughter was provided for thanks to Louis’ emergency fund and Marie-Antoinette’s diamonds that had been sneaked out of France.

Thank you, Ms. Vidal, for providing so much information that makes me want to learn more!

 

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Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI: A Fairly Odd or Fairly Normal Couple?

Thank heavens Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI married!

The marriage of Louis and Marie-Antoinette would affect brought light to future generations.

The marriage of Louis and Marie-Antoinette would bring hope to future generations.

Unfortunately, Louis inherited the last king’s heavy debts. His grandpa and great-grandpa also left the royal court in a disgusting state. It was embarrassing. Fortunately, he had a good companion by him. He was fifteen when he married fourteen-year-old Marie-Antoinette. It was good for the people and for them.

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For The People

American Power Couple

Marie-Antoinette and Louis were not Americans, but let’s face it–none of Americans’ founders were technically born United States citizens.

Louis provided supplies and military forces for the needy Americans and Marie-Antoinette was supportive and involved. I include the power couple among the founders of the United States. When I look at the list of American founders, I am embarrassed with the loose morals of some of them. I’m proud that Louis and Marie-Antoinette held on to their high standards. In a way, they remind me of Abigail and John Adams in the fact that they were  also a power couple that helped America become great.

I believe the marriage of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI was literally a match made in heaven. I’m very serious, and we should sincerely thank heaven for their marriage. Americans would not be enjoying freedom–or perhaps not be Americans at all–if it had not been for Marie-Antoinette and Louis.

The People’s Champions

You can say that the Queen and King were interested in freedom in general. He played tug-a-war with nobility. He wanted them to pay higher taxes to benefit the poor. Some of Marie-Antoinette’s stand out projects included a safe haven for unwed mothers and educating the less fortunate children with her own. The King and Queen were generous with their own personal funds.  Marie-Antoinette and Louis were very aware of France’s needs. They were true Christians who practiced what they preached.

rose-243630_960_720For Them

In the Beginning

They had a beautiful relationship. At first there was none–they were strangers. Plus, like many other in the French royal court, Louis was leery about an Austrian becoming queen of France someday. But gradually over time, they established a friendship, and eventually it went beyond that.

It’s mystified the past and present why Marie-Antoinette and Louis didn’t consummate the marriage right away. Some have thought of legit reasons and some are downright disrespectful and crude.

Whatever it was, here’s a simple fact:
Marie-Antoinette was fourteen and Louis was fifteen years old when they got married.

My conclusion:
Come on! They were much too young!

Forget royal expectations of starting a family right away. Whether or not they were attracted to another, both were still getting to know their own bodies.  I think it’s very probable that it wouldn’t have felt natural for these two individuals at this age. It would have been premature. Meanwhile they were developing a friendship.

Dauphin Louis Auguste in 1769. A year later, he would marry "the Austrian." He would associate that stigma with her the first part of their marriage.

Aw…Dauphin Louis Auguste in 1769. A year later, he would marry Marie-Antoinette. Some negatively used “the Austrian” to describe her.

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King Louis XVI at age 21 around 1776. Tall and well-built, he surely  knew by now that Austria wasn’t that bad.

I think the timing of the intervention by the Emperor of Austria, Marie-Antoinette’s brother, was perfect.

By now–seven years after their wedding– the couple was more ready for his frank talk. The couple soon acted like newlyweds and started a family the next year.

Marie-Antoinette was twenty-three and Louis was twenty-four years old when their first child was born. Much more natural.

In short and in order they were strangers, then friends, and then lovers.

Marie-Antoinette took an interest in hunting, one of her husband's favorite activities. Here she is looking adorable in hunting clothes at 16.

Marie-Antoinette took an interest in hunting, one of her husband’s favorite activities. Here she is looking adorable in hunting clothes at 16.

 

Here Marie-Antoinette is painted in her 1778 hunting garb. She's be a mother by the end of the year.

Here Marie-Antoinette is painted in her 1778 hunting garb. She would be a mother by the end of the year.

Throughout the Marriage

I believe they were faithful to another. Believe it or not, sensational storytellers, couples don’t have to be mushy to love each other. In the royal couple’s jobs and in child-rearing, they showed support one toward another.

I’m amazed the couple stuck by each other despite terrible and bogus rumors constantly surrounding them. Their love was shown through respect. That example of loyalty extended to their children and Louis’ sister. It reminds me of what Jeffrey R. Holland said, “The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.” That’s what Marie-Antoinette and Louis’ union and legacy are actually about.

Families Are Forever

The Bourbons’  writings in prison are touching and revealing of their deepest beliefs. Marie-Antoinette’s last letter is written to her sister-in-law, Elisabeth, and it is heart wrenching, but also full of hope. In regards to her late husband, she writes:

“I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments.”

There’s tremendous comfort in Marie-Antoinette’s belief of being reunited with loved ones and family. She continues, “Where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one’s own family?”

Marie-Antoinette and Louis’ daughter, Marie-Therese, wrote her thoughts on the walls of the Temple prison, and you can feel her emotion and know she believes that she’s being watched over. The following tells how she feels about the afterlife, her parents’, and God:

“Live, my good mother! whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings. O my father! watch over me from heaven above, O my God, forgive those who made my parents suffer!”

Marie-Antoinette and Louis believed and also instructed their children to forgive. One could argue the couple wasn’t always on the same page but they were always in the same book in the sense they shared the same faith and spiritual beliefs as well as doing all they could to better children and country.

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Fitting In

It’s hard to categorize the couple into one group. They weren’t your typical American patriots and they didn’t agree with all the royals’ lifestyles either. In that way they are odd. But you chip away their positions, though, and you’ll find they’re not so weird.

It’s time accept Marie-Antoinette and Louis were a good fit for each other, and they were a a very normal couple.

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Sources:

Holland, Jeffrey R. “The First Great Commandment.” Www.lds.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Aug. 2016. <https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-first-great-commandment?lang=eng>.

“Louis XVI of France” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 7 Aug 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

 

“Marie Antoinette.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

“Marie-Therese” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 12 July 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

Vidal, Elena Maria. “Last Letter of Marie-Antoinette.” Tea at Trianon. N.p., 26 May 2007. Web. 9 Aug. 2016. <http%3A%2F%2Fteaattrianon.blogspot.com%2F2007%2F05%2Flast-letter-of-marie-antoinette.html>.

 

 

Images:
Featured image: Coronations commemorative medallions  of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Pd-Old.

Engraving of the wedding of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette. {{PD-1923}}

Portrait of Louis XVI of France by Joseph Duplessis. 1776.{{PD-1923}}

Picture of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette talking to her brother  by Joseph Hauzinger.

Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, the later Queen Marie Antoinette of France, at the age of 16 years by Joseph Kreutzinger, 1771.  {{PD-1923}}

Queen Marie Antoinette of France, 1778 either by Antoine Vestier or Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty.  {{PD-1923}}

 

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What Changed My Mind About Marie Antoinette

I haven’t always liked Marie Antoinette. I still don’t. I admire her.
If you asked me eight years ago how I felt about the queen, I would say she’s horrible. I read a book about it. Yet also in the library was a book about the summer she and Louis fell in love and also how sickening rumors tore down her image. I had mixed feelings about Marie Antoinette. Information about her is so contradictory and confusing.
Mothers Day two years ago I was asked to give a talk in church. I was asked to include mothers–or mother type figures–in the talk. That was easy. Princess Elisabeth, the sister of Louis XVI. She had no children but helped her niece, Marie-Thérèse, become a survivor during the French Revolution. I had the Bourbon family fresh on my mind because I just read Susan Nagel’s book, Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter.
The book left me plenty to think about. I was shocked by Marie Antoinette. Just how good of a mother, wife, and sister-in-law she was. I was touched when I read about a scene where Marie Antoinette counsels her daughter on how to present herself to the king with reverence and respect.
But it was the summer of 2014–my “Soul Searching Summer”–is when I officially knew I loved Marie Antoinette and that she’s a good role model.
I read a lot  on Elena Maria Vidal’s website Tea at Trianon –a site that presents straight facts that prove Marie Antoinette is a totally different from media portrayals and sensational biographies. My heart was softened when I read about other people’s memories of her and laughed at her interactions with Princess Elisabeth.
I came to love Marie Antoinette by learning about how she interacted with people. I’ve prayed and pondered about it. Marie Antoinette was truly good.
Image:
Queen Marie Antoinette of France and two of her Children Walking in The Park of Trianon  by Adolph-Ulrich Wertmüller
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The Eerie Comparison Between Queen Catherine and Princess Diana

Both married a Charles. Both were used as a poster child to boost the Royal Family’s image. And of course, both had to be a patron of the arts because that’s what a typical royal woman does.

But there’s something much deeper about their similarities. Last November, I drafted a biography of Catherine of Braganza. As I was scratching down obvious comparisons between  Catherine and Diana (a step-descendant of Catherine’s), an eerie feeling came over me.

I felt like saying, “You two remind me of each other.”

tudio of Jacob Huysmans,painting,(circa 1670)

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I thought about why I would say that to them. Here are some of those thoughts.

I never interviewed them. The closest I ever got was reading what others had to say about them–and literal pictures. How they were used by the public to make money, and in turn, Catherine and Diana manipulated the media. They were able to display their disadvantages which caused people to pity them. They were pretty good at creating propaganda

In private, they could be something else. The Portuguese Infanta and Charles II’s direct descendant could get moody, bossy, and say things that I cannot write in this blog. They gave their servants and husbands headaches.  Diana and Catherine searched for good causes. They were fun. Both disguised themselves in public for laughs. After their marriages ended (one through death and one through divorce), they managed to gain further wealth.

If Catherine and Charles II had a daughter, she might have been a lot like Diana. Heck, their daughter could have also even resembled Diana physically.  Diana was tall like Charles. Catherine’s father had been a fair blonde–could Catherine have passed down that coloring to her kids if she had them?

If Catherine and Diana had been contemporaries, I think they would have liked each other. It’s difficult to say, however,  if they would have continued to be friends. Both women had rocky relationships with good friends.

Historians may challenge me on these thoughts. To me, their similarities are overwhelming. I acknowledge, though, that there are significant differences.

One big thing I’ve been asking is: why did one survive and why one didn’t? I’ve began research and am starting to answer that question…

 

Images:
Catherine of Braganza as St. Catherine by Jacob Huysman
Time magazine’s issue of Diana and Charles’ Divorce