Welcome back to the illustrated history!
This weeks topic is Marie Antoinette in her early years and how she was manipulated as a dauphine. On May 16th 1770 Marie Antoinette was married to Louis Auguste (Louis XVI). She was then Dauphine of France. (Princess of France) She was only 15years old and had left her home country in a ceremonial farewell a few days prior and would never return to her family.
She was not fluent in french nor was she familiar with the rules of the royal court in versailles.
In Versailles, everything was about elegance and manners. There was not such a thing as being natural. Everything had rules and if they weren’t followed it would cause an uproar through the mirrored halls of versailles. She was judged and called „l’autrichienne“. She had not yet grasped, that she would once be the queen of france and was very insecure. But she had a natural elegance that was pleasing and her grandfather in Law, King Louis XV, was very fond of her.
Madame Noailles, first Lady in waiting (dame d’honneur) took care of Marie Antoinette to accommodate her to the expected behavior of a future queen. And she had quite a task ahead of her. Often, Marie Antoinette would flee with the younger children and play with them wildly in the halls of versailles. Marie Antoinette was far away from being an accountable grown up. Marie Antoinette called her, in her letters to her Mother Marie Theresia, Queen of Austria, Madame Etiquette because she would stop correcting her.
The days of the dauphine were pretty planned and she was quickly bored. She was often seen with the daughters of King Louis XV. The three of them, to which Marie Antoinette reffered as the three old Aunts, were never married or had children. Being the less interesting children of King Louis XV must have been excruciating. All three of them were bitter, that her beloved mother was replaced with several mistresses. Though long deceased they hated every mistress her father brought to the royal court of versailles. Then, it was to be expected of the king to have several woman next to his wife. It was not unusual.
But as the Dubarry became King VX newest and last mistress the three old aunts had enough. Not only was Madame Dubarry brought from the Street into Versailles, she wasn’t even royal in the slightest. Her title was bought by King Louis himself to make her able to appear in Versailles. So as a result, Madame Dubarry was hated viscously. And they played a very intricate game with Marie Antoinette to get revenge.
Being the mistress of the king is a delicate position. In favor to please the king, everyone was clearly trying to be nice to Madame Dubarry. Although they all still felt as if they’d had to talk to the lowest scum. The Dubarry herself was actually not a very competitive person. She had seen the worst in life and knew, that poverty was around the corner. Her king showered her with diamonds and jewels. He did everything for her. And why not take advantage of this?
The only thing left unfulfilled was this tiny detail. That Marie Antoinette talked to her.
The three old aunts, Madame Sophie, Madame Victoïre and Madame Marie Adelaïde knew perfectly well, what she wanted next. So they told Marie Antoinette what a terrible person Madame Dubarry is. And that she was only courtesan from the streets of paris. No Manners and no Class. How dare her, to ask for a few words from the royal dauphine.
Marie Antoinette being easy manipulated and being grown up in a very conservative family was flabbergasted by the thought of a mistress itself. So it was easy for the three old aunts to plan out everything. Marie Antoinette and Madame Dubarry meet several times and never did Marie Antoinette look at her or even talked to her.
You may ask. „Why didn’t Madame Dubarry talked to her?“ The answer is easy.
She wasn’t allowed. Marie Antoinette had a higher position and never was a person below her position allowed to talk first. She had to wait until Marie Antoinette broke the ice.
But she didn’t. She dismissed the advice of her mother and the king himself to finally talk to her. Madame Dubarry was naturally fuming and crying to the point where Louis XV had enough.
This case had almost gone political and it was the direct order of her mother that made Marie Antoinette finally speak to Madame Dubarry.
The whole court held its breath as Marie Antoinette stopped next to the Dubarry. Looked slightly past her and said: „There are a lot of people in Versailles today.“
Then she left and never talked to her again. She wrote her mother that she had never felt this undignified and her mother shall never ask her for such degrading favor again. This was a first glimpse of Marie Antoinettes future character. And it left her mother scared for her daughter life.