Tag Archives: Royalty

Cooper_Queen-Catherine-of-Braganza (2)

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

 

72px-Rose_of_sharon_Icon.svg

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.

72px-Rose_of_sharon_Icon.svg

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.

72px-Rose_of_sharon_Icon.svg

 

Marie-Antoinette with her children by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

Marie-Antoinette: The Maligned Queen

I wrote how impressed I was with how Philippa Langley headed the operation to find Richard III’s grave.

Richard III. A very complex man. Shakespeare brought us the image of a murderous hunchback with a withered arm which caused the king to be maligned.

Is there a “maligned queen” in history?

Hollywood and sensational biographers keep bringing an image of an irresponsible  Marie-Antoinette only caring about looks, the most expensive luxuries in life, and her dashing lovers. And we keep falling for it.

Even I resisted the idea to give her her own post. Everyone knows who Marie-Antoinette is, so why bother? But as I researched her sister-in-law and daughter I was led to a different side of the queen who NEVER said “Let them eat cake.” Very few actually know the real Marie-Antoinette.

One of my favorite websites about strong woman is Elena Maria Vidal’s website Tea at Trianon.  Anyone truly interested in Marie- Antoinette needs to go there. Good layout, pictures, and FACTS about Marie-Antoinette. Vidal backs up her articles with credible sources and gives references where we can learn more. I like how she discusses when certain myths appeared, who made them popular, and their motives. Her article  “Marie Antoinette: A Reputation in Shreds” is a must-read for every student who studies the French Revolution era and every history teacher—including college professors.

Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family Varennes, 1791

Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family Varennes, 1791

Before I post about the three wise women of Christmas, I knew I had to post about Marie-Antoinette. She kept coming to my mind because she was a person who understood the true meaning of Christmas. I thought how she encouraged her children to give away their Christmas presents. How she didn’t leave her husband, and how she strived to keep the family together to the point of her hair actually turning white in prison.

Marie-Antoinette is one of the women I respect most in history.

Marie-Antoinette in the Temple

Marie-Antoinette in the Temple

 

Paintings:
Marie-Antoinette with Her Children by Élisabeth Vigée-LebrunVarennes, 21st June 1791, XIX sec. painting
Marie Antoinette in The Temple, XIX sec. painting

477px-Heinrich_Friedrich_Füger_003 (2)

Poet Profile: Princess Marie-Therese of France

Marie-Therese did not like to think of the time she spent in the cell and would not like to be remembered for being a prisoner in it for so long. Hopefully, she wouldn’t mind being regarded as an example on how to deal with loneliness and painful circumstances.

In an earlier article, I wrote about her aunt Elisabeth helping her find ways to cope and what to do when she was completely alone. Her aunt advised her to keep quiet around guards, When Marie-Therese was alone and needed to voice her frustrations, she turned to writing. Writing was a means of survival. She called herself “the most unhappy creature in the world.” No matter how depressing her writings, writing kept her from going totally insane.

Reading Treasures: A Retreat for Everything Marie Antoinette  included a translation of some of Marie-Therese’s poetry in their post called  “I was your king’s daughter:the poetry of Marie Therese Charlotte in captivity” Her poem “I Was Your King’s Daughter” was found in a book kept by  family of Madeleine Bocquet-Chanterenne. The translation in English reads:

I was your king’s daughter
separated from all my family.
I languish in this sad jail
Alas! I say with good reason
Even though I am alone and sad
My jail would appear happy to me
If I was in this place with my brother.
To my mother, to the Conciergerie
I asked to be reunited
But as an answer, my jailers
Say: this has nothing to do with us.
Spread your blessings on her,
God! Open promptly your jail.
A short time ago, at night
I was sleeping peacefully in my bed.
I got suddenly woken up
By the enraged noise of my locks.
They were coming to my door, they were knocking.
I replied immediately: who is there?
I was asked to open up, I replied:
I am getting up and leaving my bed.
I was hoping that I would get out,
I was expecting to leave the tower.
I go to the door, I finally open it!
They come in with my jailer
I look at them, hoping they would ask me
to follow them and come.
But alas! They stare at me
And suddenly without saying a word, they go out with my jailer.
This poem makes me want to go back in time and say to the teenager that she’ll make it out alive. It was a horrible ordeal but she kept fighting.
This poem also shows it’s important for schools to let their students write poetry. I taught a little English class after school. There was so much material that needed to be covered, I didn’t think about poetry that much. After the last day (when the students actually wrote a poem), I regretted that I hadn’t incorporated  more poetry into the lessons.  Writing poetry wasn’t an academic requirement but I think it would have helped the children more with problems outside of school.
Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France (1778-1851) by Heinrich Fuger