Category Archives: Royalty

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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.

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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

Amazing What People Respond–And Don’t–To

Oh, Michal.

Writing about someone for over five years can be exhausting and painful. You search for facts but also need to know others’ perspectives. It opens my eyes when people have different views which makes me consider my material. Over five years, I’ve attempted to contact different kinds of people with a variety of opinions.

The people who have a generally positive view of Michal have thoughtful insights—sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t, but I like hearing from them just the same.

Then there are those who take a negative approach to define her character…

Let me tell you about these people. They might include her in an anthology. Or a book on marriage. Sometimes to make a better story, they smear her name. I try to reach out regardless to know how they came to certain conclusions. Perhaps they don’t actually consider her overall story. Correction: they don’t at all. Maybe that’s why I haven’t heard from these people. Not one single response from them in my five years of research and writing about the Israelite princess.

If one Anti-Michal contacts me, I will put blue streaks in my hair this summer. Maybe red. I’ll leave it up to my readers. I will definitely post it.

Now I know Michal is not alive but I am still very protective of her and want to take the hair dye an extra step further. If an Anti-Michal says “I’m sorry,” I’ll also take a reader to a steak dinner.

Further Views of Catherine of Braganza

I know that there are those who don’t share my favorable views of prominent women I post about. I am also well aware that Catherine of Braganza herself has haters.

To some, Catherine is responsible for the slave trade due to her dowry she brought with her marriage to Charles II and England. This is a serious issue we need to consider.

Catherine’s parents took risks in order to prevent Portugal from crumbling. Catherine was a woman in her early twenties when she found out she was going to marry the king of England in exchange for protection against foreign threats.  This case is hard to judge because a country’s princess acted out of duty . She was a good queen and wife to Charles, but made comments that she didn’t look at the marriage as favorable towards her.

She was tied in a tough spot (like most of her life). Catherine did what was in her power to save people and individuals. Sometimes she succeeded and sometimes she didn’t. In a book about the Popish Plot, it talked about how she stepped in for individuals but at the same time, the queen couldn’t save everybody.

Catherine’s life and the events surrounding it were so complex. I don’t see her as responsible for the trade.

 

 

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She Lives With Angels: Others’ Views of Michal and Catherine

 

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Okay, since November 25 was Catherine of Braganza’ birthday, I decided to add another post about her…

If you look around my blog, you might discover that I’m writing a biography of Michal,King  David’s first wife, and the similarities she shares with other princesses. Now,  I don’t imagine Michal looking like any of those princesses.

The last princess I’d ever compare Michal to in physical appearance is Catherine of Braganza. As I was doing some online Michal research, I came across a website about biblical woman and was taken aback that the author, Elizabeth Fletcher, inserted Catherine’s portrait into a her Michal post.  Ironic, isn’t it?

rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

Catherine_of_Braganza, by (after) Dirk Stoop

I emailed her about my project and asked why she used Catherine’s picture. She responded:

“I used her face because the emotions on the Princess’s face seemed to sum up what Michal must have felt…I see sadness, real grief and the beginning of wisdom/understanding in the Princess’ face, even though she is so young. It is a subtly tragic face, and no other image I’ve seen fitted Michal so well.”

That makes sense.  Neither princess foresaw the struggles they’d face. Dirk Stoop’s painting of Catherine before her marriage to Charles screams naïve.

It would be a mistake, however, to judge the two women solely on that portrait. As I mentioned in my earlier post about Catherine , you can see her story unfold with her further portraits.  She transformed from a neglected princess bride into a calculating queen. I cannot rule out, though, both princesses might have carried a certain sadness described by Ms. Fletcher.

Did Catherine ever view herself as Michal?  Neither produced an heir, and both saw their husband as father to many. Even if she didn’t, others made a connection during her lifetime.

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I was surprised to discover John Dryden and Nahum Tate’s 1681/82 allegory poem, “Absalom and Achitophel” in which they based Michal off of Catherine. Michal/Catherine gets one of the more favorable edits:

Such was the charge on pious Michal brought
Michal, that ne’er was cruel e’en in thought.
The best of queens, the most obedient wife,
Impeached of cursed designs on David’s life,
‘Tis scares so much his guardian angel’s care.
Not summer morns such mildness can disclose
The Hermon lily and the Sharon rose,
Neglecting each vain pop of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high;
She lives with angels, and as angels do,
Quits heaven sometimes to bless the world below,
Where, cherished by her bounty’s plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile and orphans sing

Whether the two women can be considered angels, the stanza lets the reader know the risks they took to help others.

It’s a relief I’m not the only one to remember and liken Michal to figures thousands of years after her death.

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Happy Birthday, Queen Catherine!

For this November’s Nano Wrimo novel, I decided to write a nonfiction account about Catherine of Braganza. (Click here for my 2014 post about Catherine.) The Queen’s overall story is not about being the wife of a faithless husband. It’s more about doing what’s best for her country. And it is a love story, but not the way people think. I read secondary sources about Catherine falling helplessly in love with her husband. I don’t think that was the case. There were other people she cared about and loved more.

I’ve enjoyed reading about her relationship with  her family members.   One of my favorite discoveries was found in The Memoirs of Ann, Lady Fanshawe. Lady Ann’s husband served as an ambassador to Portugal. The Fanshawe family visited Portugal shortly after  the royal wedding and meeting Catherine in England.  I found it touching when Lady Ann talked about interacting with Queen Luisa, Catherine’s mother,

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Queen Luisa in 1632

 

Luisa asked about Catherine’s health and passed on a gift that Lady Ann needed to give to Catherine.

A few months later, Lady Ann did what Queen Luisa asked. Catherine received it “with great expressions of kindness.” Lady Ann recorded she stayed with Catherine for an hour and half, “which time Her Majesty (Catherine) spent in asking questions of her mother, brothers, and country.”

 

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Queen Catherine in 1665

 

The passage wasn’t sappy but a matter of fact. I find Lady Ann’s account sentimental because this situation has occurred in my life a few times. Just a couple months ago, a family friend passed through town and passed on a gift from my folks. We talked about home town news but more about little family things like dogs and upcoming weddings. Some serious, some silly things.  It’s nice when home comes to you.

 

 

Images:
Portrait of Luisa Francisca de Guzman by Alanzo Cano

Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England by Peter Lely

 

 

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Completed Summer Story: Princess Michal, Wife of King David and Daughter of Saul

My “summer” project is completed! This means the basic things I wanted people to know about Michal got posted.  Below are the posts that are in more of a chronological order.

  1. Summer Story: Princess Michal, Wife of King David and Daughter of Saul
  2. The Lord Looketh on the Heart
  3. A Family Reference Guide
  4. Early Life and Traditions
  5. Her Physical Appearance
  6. Michal in the Movies
  7. David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins
  8. Manipulation and Marriage
  9. The Good Wife
  10. The First Window Scene
  11. Why Michal Didn’t Run Away and Why David Didn’t Rescue Her
  12. The Battle of Gilboa
  13. Relationship Rumors and Allegiances
  14. Trail of Tears
  15. Blessed Are the Peacemakers
  16. Persuasion, Party, and Murder
  17. The Assassination of a King
  18. Reacting to Wives, Concubines, and Children
  19. The Ark of the Covenant and Fight Chapter
  20. Treason and Queens Making Scenes
  21. Possible Psychological Effects on Michal (Just a Few)
  22. David’s Calf?
  23. Understanding Michal—Easier When You’ve Been In Her Place

Copyright (c) by herstoryline.com and Sarah Patten

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Understanding Michal–Easier When You’ve Been in Her Place

I’m no Michal expert.

I just  try to pull her story together.  There are other women who relate to her more than I do. I relate to her, but once certain women know the basic facts of her story, they would have more powerful insights on Michal’s character and her decisions.

A lot of Michal’s outburst came from a culture–the culture of royalty–that few understand. Women have vocalized how they relate to Michal after comparing aspects of their lives to hers.

For example,  poet Rachel Bluwstein wrote a poem that compared her love and hate for a man by linking herself to Michal. She explored the question: is it possible to love and hate someone at the same time? To love and hate someone is another psychological phenomenon that’s been studied more in depth the last couple years. It is something very real.

Then there’s the desire for children. For some of us, it seems nearly impossible.  I was impressed with blogger Suzanne Burden’s beautiful post “Barren Guilt By Association” who now sees Michal in a new light since they shared similarities. Even though we don’t live in biblical times, not having children is still painful beyond words.

I respect women who do what they can to do add to society. The kind of women who are like Michal. Who fight for what they believe in. Who sometimes are the victims. But victims turn into heroes by conquering themselves. They recognize and appreciate their victories.

I have the strongest feeling Michal wouldn’t want anyone to give her the full fledged label of “victim.” She would want to be known as a hero. Her example of sacrifice and bravery make her one. It’s time for her critics and sympathizers to grasp this and let others know of this heroine.

 

Further Reading:

“Barren Guilt By Association” by Suzanne Burden