I was hoping to have some more history posts from Mr. Al for you now, but he decided to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month, too. He’s got his research books piled up and his legal pad ready, but we’re going to extend his intermission until December. Sigh.
He started working on another historical series, but I talked him into writing for NaNo, and seriously doubt he will be providing me with any new posts just yet. So I asked him to let me have any more of the kind of pictures I’ve been posting over the last week. Instead, he gave me this:
Continue reading Mr. Al Goes Exploring
Mr. Al does a lot of this sort of thing. He makes postcards from old photos, putting in his sense of humor. I think sometimes he rivals LOLcat. I’m going to be posting one of these each week until I can get him to fork over a guest post.
Mr. Al was walking around near campus when he saw this. What amazed him was that it was made using pieces of bark like they had as ground cover around the tree. My guess is some art student was in the mood.
Maria Theresa’s response to her growing infirmities was to push herself even harder. When she was told that these exertions would be her undoing, she redoubled her efforts. These were not the actions of a woman who was denying her mortality; they were the actions of a woman who knew she was dieing and wanted to get it over with. There was very little in the world that frightened Maria Theresa. Nothing frightened her personally. Certainly not the thought of her own death.
If she could no longer write, no longer walk, no longer discharge her duties to the Empire, the Church, and the dynasty, then she was ready to go. Besides, she knew, knew in her heart and soul, that Francis was waiting for her. In the autumn of 1780, Maria went out with Joseph on one of the hunting parties that both he and his father loved so much.
Continue reading Ah Maria, The End
If Maria Theresa, Queen of Austria, was feeling her age by 1780, it isn’t hard to understand why. If she’d had only two children instead of sixteen, and those two were Marie Antoinette and Joseph, that would have been enough to age Mother Theresa prematurely.
Toss in fourteen more, the rigors of not just running, but re-building the Austrian Empire from practically the ground up, starting this at age twenty-three, with no formal training, in what was very much a man’s world, and the fact that by 1780 she had long ago given up a physically active life; she was feeling every minute of it.
In the first years on the throne she could ride at a gallop for hours, she could and did literally dance all night, night after night. Meals were spare and taken on the run. She must have cut quite a figure. Indeed, many visitors, mainly male, wrote about her striking physical appearance. Some of these fellows quite fell in love with her at first sight.
Continue reading Ah, Maria, the End is Near
Watching Marie Antoinette take her place in the history books was not easy for her mother. Snubbing the king’s mistress would prove the least of Marie’s mistakes.
In 1774, King Louis XV died. The Dauphin became King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette became Queen of France and life did not improve. For Maria Theresa things became, if such were possible, even worse. France was still vital to Austria’s long term strategy of containing Prussia. Maria still had a very full plate, but her daughter becoming a French Queen did not make them easier.
In fact, Marie Antoinette as Queen was in a position to do incalculable damage. Of this possibility, she was oblivious. With her father-in-law dead and her husband on the throne, Madame Dubarry was no longer an issue. But Marie had returned to the unfortunate habit of intriguing with court favorites against politicians and others with whom she had a bone to pick.
Continue reading Ah Maria, A Long Distance Scolding
As my readers may recall, Marie Antoinette’s finally speaking to Madame Dubarry was hardly the end of her troubles. A baby was still years away and Marie had begun to acquire the very unfortunate habit of publicly displaying contempt for her husband. The girl never learned. Said Joseph after the 1777 visit to Paris, “She does not love him in the least.”
I say “The 1777 visit” because it was the big one that finally put some, ahem, firmness, into Marie’s husband’s resolve to father a child on the woman who, at this point, probably actively hated him. No one knows what Joseph said to these young persons, it was a very private conversation. Afterward in letters and in conversation, Joseph alluded to the subject of his little speech.
Joseph being Joseph, he was no doubt blunt to the point of being mean. Perhaps that’s what the boy needed, because the deed was done not long after and Marie Antoinette found herself pregnant.
Continue reading Ah Maria, What Does it Mean to Be Untouchable
So many people became embroyled in the stalemate between Marie Antoinette and the King’s mistress, Madame Dubarry – starting with the king’s daughters and ending with, of course, Mom; Maria Theressa of Austria.
Marie Antoinette’s continued slighting of Madame Dubarry had finally been pushed to it’s logical, or perhaps I should say illogical conclusion. France and Austria were facing the possibility of war. This was not Marie’s fault alone. Brother Joseph’s connivance in the partition of Poland was the event that was causing the most strain between the two countries., but his little sister’s unbelievably gauche behavior was not putting King Louis in a good mood. Add to this the undeniable strain between Marie and her husband, the fact that not only were there no babies forthcoming but the young couple didn’t even seem to be trying to make them, what was up with that?
The only person in all of Europe who really could speak to Marie, to tell her what she needed to to be told, was mom. Mom didn’t like this because she was more than aware that she was going to order her daughter to be nice to a whore, but, that’s life. Sometimes you have to find a way to get your gay husband to impregnate you, sometimes you have to kiss and make up to your father-in-laws favorite A-number one “girlfriend.”
Continue reading Ah Maria, It’s a Royal Dressing Down
Queen Maria accidentally gave Marie Antoinette a puritanical upbringing by example. But she knew when to draw the line. How to teach as much to Marie?
“The Court of Versailles was beside itself with delight at the spectacle of this child setting herself up against the King’s mistress, therefore, against Louis himself.” And this was what Marie Antoinette could not grasp. She was too young and too un-worldly to understand what Madame Dubarry meant to King Louis. As a result, she continued to diss Dubarry at every opportunity.
Needless to say, King Louis got an earful from his girlfriend. No doubt Madame Dubarry knew full well that the King’s daughters were real source of the trouble, but they were untouchable. And she could not ignore the fact that Marie was an enthusiastic participant even if she didn’t fully understand what she was doing. Bookmakers were doing a land-office business taking wagers on what would happen next.
Continue reading Ah Maria, How to Tell Who Reigns
Maria Theressa of Austria sent her daughter, Marie Antoinette, off to France with little preparation and many fears. Prince Louis didn’t help matters when he put off the consummation for years.
Wrote Maria to Marie on the subject of getting her husband to…cooperate…so to speak.
“On no account any peevishness, but only tenderness and caresses; for too much eagerness could ruin everything. Gentleness and patience are the only things that can help. Nothing so far is lost. You are both so young. On the contrary, it is better this way for the health of both of you. You will both grow stronger. All the same, it is only natural that we old parents long for the consummation.”
According to one historian; “As time went by she forgot about patience.”
Once a month Marie sent mom a letter telling her how things were going. Mom would respond to these letters. Indeed, mom was sending out detailed letters every two weeks. It seems never to have occurred to Marie to ask her mother how she came to possess such detailed information about stuff she had never even written home about.
Continue reading Ah Maria, She’s the Most Powerful Woman in France