Wednesday, June 1, 2011


For lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.--Psalm 59:3

"The winners get to write history"--attributed to Napoleon

Marie-Antoinette (1753-1793) is possibly the most controversial woman on this calendar. She is frequently denounced as spending millions of the French treasury on fountains or candles, thus bankrupting the French crown, being uncaring about the peasants (e.g. "Let them eat cake"), and ultimately causing the French Revolution which guillotined her. However, I believe this portrait is too harsh. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were the best monarchs that France had had for over one hundred years. Marie-Antoinette gave to the poor "bountifully" as M. Guizot says in his History of France. In gratitude they erected a monument of snow which said, "Fair queen, whose goodness is thy chiefest grace/With our good king here occupy thy place/Though this frail monument be ice or snow/Our warm hearts are not so." The problems with the Treasury began after the disaster of the Seven Years' War, and were only made worse by a spendthrift Minister of Finance. Marie-Antoinette had very little to do with the bankruptcy of the Crown. In fact, she rejected a diamond necklace after being informed that it cost the equivalent of two frigates (fast ships of 40-60 cannons). The French Revolution was caused more by Louis XV than by Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

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