The National Wardrobe
When she was a young girl in Austria, Marie Antoinette was rather rough-and-tumble. She liked horseback riding and hunting. But at Versailles, her tomboy tendencies were squeezed out of her with each tightening of her corset. Marie Antoinette hated being put on display and having grand ceremonies made out of everyday activities like getting dressed and eating meals.
She need only receive a letter from her mother to remind her of her place. Marie Antoinette was, after all, in a marriage of diplomacy -- Maria Theresa couldn't stand for her daughter to fail Austria. Though she acquired the reputation of a spendthrift, Marie Antoinette wasn't always so fast and loose with her budget. Her mother rebuked Marie Antoinette for keeping a slovenly appearance, and the letters she wrote to her homesick daughter were full of reminders about wearing clean clothes and grooming her hair [source: Schmidt].
Marie Antoinette doffed her unfashionable togs for the latest in French couture from the house of Rose Bertin. During Louis' reign, he incurred more than 2,000 million livres in debt by contributing reinforcements to the American Revolution; Marie built up her debt in her closet [source: History Channel]. She had nearly 300 dresses made annually for her various social engagements at the court of Versailles, her private parties at Petit Trianon and for the stage of her jewel-box theater [source: Amiel].
But it wasn't just dresses that Marie and her couturier fussed over. She had an original hairstyle commissioned -- the gravity-defying pouf -- and even had an exclusive fragrance made for her by Jean-Louis Fargeon (also her glovemaker). Marie Antoinette's elixir evoked the gardens and orchards at Petit Trianon, and it was supposedly so strong a scent that it gave her away during her family's plotted escape from the Tuileries [source: Street].
Her pricy parties and extensive wardrobe earned Marie Antoinette the moniker Madame Déficit. She couldn't shake the title -- not that she tried. Marie Antoinette was far removed from the revolutionary murmurs in Paris. And her ignorance ultimately culminated in her death sentence.
To learn more about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, traipse over to the next page.
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More Great Links
- "Affair of the Diamond Necklace." Encyclopædia Brittanica. (July 31, 2008.) http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-9030269
- Amiel, Barbara. "Misunderstood Marie Antoinette." Maclean's. Vol. 119, Issue 44. Nov. 6, 2006 (July 31, 2008). EBSCOhost.
- Baldrige, Letitia. "Taste: Acquiring What Money Can't Buy." St. Martin's Press, New York: 2007.
- Covington, Richard. "Marie Antoinette." Smithsonian. Vol. 37, Issue 8. November 2006 (August 2008). EBSCOhost.
- Fersen, Hans Axel von. Encyclopædia Brittanica. (July 31, 2008). EBSCOhost.
- Fraser, Antonia. "Marie Antoinette: The Journey." Anchor Books, New York: 2001.
- "The French Revolution." The History Channel. DVD. 2005.
- Goldberg, Jonah. "The Democrat's Frog Libel: Let Them Eat Cake Economics." National Review Online. Feb. 27, 2004 (Aug. 1, 2008). http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200402270844
- Grubin, David. "'Let them eat cake!' a new PBS documentary examines the many myths surrounding Marie Antoinette." USA Today. September 2006 (Aug. 1, 2008). EBSCOhost.
- "Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution." PBS. Sept. 14, 2006 (August 2008). http://www.pbs.org/marieantoinette/
- Muschamp, Herbert. "A Current Affair." New York Times Magazine. 2006 (August 2008). ProQuest National Newspapers Core.
- Schmidt, Carol. "She never said, 'Let them eat cake'." Montana State University Research and Creative Activities. 2003 (Aug. 1, 2008). http://www.montana.edu/wwwvr/activities04/Antoinette.html
- Street, Julie. "Long Live the Queen." France Today. June 2008 (August 2008). EBSCOhost.
It pays to promote. That's how Amerigo Vespucci got a new continent named in his honor. That and a little historical misunderstanding.