Episode 53: Marie Antoinette Reboot, Part One

Posted 11 June 2015 by

**Giveaway details at bottom of post!**

Once upon a time there were two podcasters who began their women’s history show with an episode about Marie Antoinette. Four and a half years later they revisited her life simply because they felt there was more to say about this woman who has been long misquoted and misunderstood. They were able to add a great deal of content and context and have a much longer conversation -two parts!- about the life of the last Queen of France.

(The first episode was never heard again and we all lived happily ever after.)

Marie in her softened years, by Louise Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun

Marie in her softened years, by Louise Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun

Maria Antoine Josepha Joanna was born into Austrian royalty on November 2, 1755. She was a girl with a fine pedigree, stunning looks, graceful carriage and a pleasant demeanor. The path of her life was created by her mother who took great pride and long thought into marrying-off her children not necessarily for love, but for political reasons. Her youngest daughter would be plunged into an extraordinary life in a foreign land first as the Dauphine of France, then as Queen, style icon, mother,  and eventually, political prisoner and symbol of all that was wrong with her adopted country.

But this isn’t a Disney Princess story.  It was one of patience, sacrifice, duty and planning, and –quite frankly- it wasn’t all big fashion, cake and champagne. That was the image, not the reality. In some regards, the history of Marie Antoinette was not only a result of her upbringing and the political climate, but she was also a victim of the social media of her time (and ultimately, the guillotine. Ouch.)

We cover the early life of Maria Antonia in more detail in the podcast (we cover EVERYTHING in more detail in the podcast), but let’s sum up her parents as this: Theirs was a very powerful marriage. Empress Maria Theresa had succeeded her father to the throne of a little collection of lands  called the Holy Roman Empire (we jest, it was sizable) and with Papa, Holy Roman Emperor Francis I they created the Hapsburg-Lorraine dynasty.  As part of her Empress duties, Maria Theresa grew her own collection of political pawns…er, children. Maria Antonia was the 15th of 16, and the 11th daughter.

Go big or go home, 'eh Maria Theresa? So many children there wasn't room for them all. Martin Van Meytens 1754

Go big or go home, ‘eh Maria Theresa? The Imperial family–so many children there wasn’t room for them all. Martin Van Meytens 1754


Marie Antonia was so far down the marriage list it’s almost as if she was forgotten or put on a shelf “for later” for most of her happy, carefree childhood. But by the time that she was 10, Mama was forced to pull her off the shelf. A series of incidents took one, then another of her sisters out of the marriage game so when the Dauphin of France, Louis Auguste was ready to be matched to cement a Franco-Austrian alliance, the only contender was the sweet in temperament, pretty but seriously unpolished Maria Antonia. There were no other options; within in a couple of years the deal and her fate were set.

Tutors, stylists, hairdressers and 1700s orthodontia were brought in and and transformed Maria Antonia.  Within a year she went from rough around the edges Archduchess to Queen-to-be.

Marketing piece, um, portrait believed to be Marie Antoinette by Martin Van Meytens

Marketing piece, um, portrait believed to be Marie Antoinette by Martin Van Meytens

The (happy?) couple had yet to set eyes upon each other in 1770 when Maria Antonia packed up, said her good-byes to the family and life that she knew and left Austria.

She would never return.

But what awaited 14 year-old Maria Antonia after her after 2 1/2 week journey with 57 carriages, 117 footmen, 376 horses? A new french name, Marie Antoinette, a 15 year-old future king for a husband and a little palace named Versailles. (Again, we jest, it was huge)

Home sweet honkin' big palace- Versaille

Home sweet honkin’ big palace- Versailles

After a tour through the kingdom, the two had their second, in-person wedding full of  pomp and champagne. They headed off to the marriage bed, all eyes on them to begin producing future rulers of France…and nothing happened.

For seven years nothing really happened in that marriage bed. Marie Antoinette’s life was busy though. She had styles to set, parties to attend, social rules to learn…then break. Within that time Louis took the throne after his grandfather died, and Marie Antoinette earned the love of their people as a kind, beautiful and oh, so stylish Queen.

During her living big phase Jean-baptiste Gautier Dagoty

During her living big phase Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty


Marie Antoinette's playhouse: la Petite Trianon

Marie Antoinette’s playhouse: la Petite Trianon (click link to learn more)

We give you the full scoop on her partying days, her fashion, her friends, her life and her struggles during her first few years in France. And we carry on about the marriage consummation…seven YEARS?!

Will she and Louis ever get things working? Will she really party through the French Revolution? Who is Axel Von Fersen and just how important was he to Marie Antoinette?

And most importantly how did she get from beloved Queen to the gallows?

Part Two, our friends. We shall reveal all in Marie Antoinette Reboot, Part Deux



Having a bad day? Whatever day it is, you are NOT alone! Michael Farquhar has collected 365 historically bad days in his new book, Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year.

From terrifying to tragic to sober or hysterical epic ooop-si-days happen to everyone. Some people just do them bigger and this book is the place to read about the biggest, baddest days ever.

The fine people of National Geographic have given us TWO copies to pass along to you. Post a comment (only one) proving you are a real person (maybe share your really bad day…or not, we aren’t nosey like that, you can just say hi or tell us your favorite historical woman or whatever appropriate comment you would like to make. Yes, we will delete offensive ones, we don’t tolerate that kind of antic.)

Random drawing on June 27, 20150504_book-bad-day Entries end Friday, June 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM CST. We will contact winners via email. Good luck, this is an entertaining book to own!

(All comments held for moderation. From home page: click  COMMENTS at the top of the post, above the player bar; from the show page, comment field appears at bottom.)


(Media recommendations and links will be in the Shownotes for Part Two)

42 Responses to Episode 53: Marie Antoinette Reboot, Part One

  1. Ally says:

    Hey History Chicks! I started listening to your podcast about 4 years ago and let me say I have loved every episode. Please keep doing what you are doing.

  2. Christie Kong says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! Would love to find out what some bad days have been 😀 I’ve enjoyed your podcasts with my sewing time!

  3. Sparrow says:

    I am SO happy you ladies are back!

    (Thank you for your help with posting a comment, Susan)

  4. Jennifer H says:

    LOVED the Gone with the Wind podcast! Poor Scarlet had a series of bad days (even if she did bring much of it on herself).

  5. Gabbie says:

    My apartment is falling to pieces and I accidentally washed my iPhone trying to frantically get my flea-infested scrubs off of me and into the washer.

    Also, I’m a real person.

  6. Megan says:

    So glad you guys are redoing the Antoinette episode and making it better (can it even be possible? With you ladies, I bet!) She was amazing, the poor dear. My favorite chick in history? Mary Shelley, hands down. I wish you guys would make a longer episode about her. She was so much more than just William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter.. She put up with Percy Shelley’s crazy antics and for that, I think she deserves an award, gold star and more or maybe I’m biased, I have dedicated my life and education to the Romantics after all. 🙂

    Your podcast definitely makes my work day go by faster and that I appreciate so much!

  7. Carrie says:

    I recently discovered your podcast and I absolutely love it. I loved having my conception of Queen Victoria challenged! I can’t wait to get to all the other women you’ve covered.

  8. Sophie says:

    I had a bad day today! Took my baby girl out for a walk in her pram to help her sleep and we got caught out in the rain with no brolly!!

  9. Jill says:

    Welcome back, guys! And thanks for the giveaway! Would you consider doing a podcast on Hypatia and/or Ching Shih?

  10. Destiny says:

    I love your podcast so much! It’s definitely one of my favorites.

  11. Susan Bornt says:

    Always thrilled when a new episode of The History Chicks shows up in my podcast feed and even more thrilled to see a reboot of Marie Antoinette!

  12. lee says:

    Thanks for the Marie reboot. I am in the process of re-listening to my favorites- I am on Mrs. Astor now and Marie was next. Thank you so much for your work!

  13. Jennifer Gordon says:

    Great re-visiting on Marie A. How about an hour devoted to Mamma, Marie T.?

  14. Lyd says:

    That book seems like a great pick-me-up on a bad day! I’m loving the reboot:)

  15. Heather says:

    I loved this episode! I was having such a rotten day (I won’t go into details) but suffice it to say your show reminds me all the time…It could always be worse! Thanks.


  16. Martin says:

    First episode I’ve listened too. Definitely going to go through the back catalog. You two are great! And I love that you provide notes and links!

    Also, this episode goes well with the Revolutions podcast current series on the French Revolution: http://www.revolutionspodcast.com/

  17. Celine says:

    So happy you ladies are back on the air! The Marie Antoinette podcast was what got me hooked in the first place, so I’m excited to hear even more in the reboots 🙂 I’d love to be considered for your giveaway!

  18. Kyesha Wood says:

    Welcome back Ladies! You were greatly missed. I have been listening to your podcast for a year and a half and love it. I’m sure you have a very long list of ladies to research and record podcasts for, but I would love for you to do a podcast on Abraham Lincoln’s wife. She is an interesting character and (keeping with the theme) she historically had one very bad day. Another lady I would love to hear a podcast on is Pocahontas. She has a very interesting story and her life has been very misrepresented by Disney. I think her acutal life was much more interesting. Thanks Ladies! Please keep doing these podcasts!

  19. Heather says:

    Couldn’t live without you two! You make my days better everyday! Thanks!

  20. Corrie Side says:

    Love your podcast! Hi from Canada 🙂

  21. Sarah Jones-Hill says:

    I loved the first Marie Antoinette podcast. It’s such a sad and fascinating story. My daughter and I have loved sharing the new podcast, this time around.

  22. Kristen says:

    I’m so excited you’re back! You have been a wonderful asset to upholding my relationship with my best friend this year – we graduated from college last spring, and she’s in Germany and I’m in the U.S. We binged your whole history and chatted about nearly every one together, fan-girling over the history and you guys! We were both so excited to see the new episode (I got a Facebook message screaming NEW HISTORY CHICKS PODCAST GO LISTEN GO LISTEN), and I loved the newly comprehensive Marie Antoinette.
    I’m also a history teacher, and you warm my heart – I listened to Josephine Baker the day I taught the ’20s!

  23. Anna says:

    Real person! Love your podcast, so happy to have more Marie Antoinette, can you really ever have enough? My favorite historical woman/women are the Romanov sisters, I remember reading books about them in my middle school library and being so enthralled. In terms of bad day: this week marks a year of my sweet doggy dying 🙁 but I’ve realized its all about celebrating his little life. Thanks ladies!

  24. Laura says:

    So happy to have you both back. I’ve been listening since the beginning and am thrilled that you’ve added to your M.A. episode! I’ve learned about so many fascinating women by listening to your podcast, thank you!!

  25. Raven says:

    I Love your show! I started listening 3 years ago. I have all of your episodes on my ipod as I refused to delete them so I can go back and listen to them again and again. I eagerly await new episodes. You ladies have no idea how much better you make my nights at work! (which I work third shift in an office by my self for the most part) I loved your series on the Tudors. I am so happy y’all posted a new episode. Thank you ladies so much for making my nights go by faster by listening to y’all.

  26. Robyn says:

    Hi there! I really enjoy your podcast on my commute to and from work 🙂
    One of my favorite women from history is Constance Markievicz, I really hope you are able to profile her one day.
    Fingers crossed I win the book!! 🙂

  27. Heather says:

    What an awesome giveaway! Marie Antoinette has always been so interesting to me! Loving the reboot!

  28. Natalie Rowe says:

    Can’t wait for the second half of Marie Antoinette. Love all the podcast!

  29. Maria Murillo says:

    Hello ladies!! It’s nice to hear from you again. I been watching the history channel’s Texas Rising and I really like the character of Emily West..I really liked her and I was surprised to know she really was a historical person.

  30. Lisa says:

    I’ve loved your podcasts since the first Marie Antoinette episode. It’s like listening to two friends and learning more history as a bonus. Thank you.

  31. Julie Harvey says:

    Hello ladies, I have just recently discovered podcasts, I listen while at work, and I devoured all of your episodes. I have been jonesing for more, so I am happy to have more episodes, but I am always sad when they end because I know that I will have to wait again for another episode.

  32. Mary says:

    Hi Beckett, hi Susan! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the reboot For Marie Antionette!

  33. Danielle says:

    Loved this episode! Marie Antoinette is one of my favorite chicks. I didn’t think it was possible to improve on your first episode (it’s one of my favs!) but you ladies did it. I love, love listening to you at work and I’ve learned so much in the process. You help all my bad days get better : )

  34. Grace says:

    So glad to see you guys revisiting Marie Antoinette! She’s one of my favorite historical figures and one of the first I became interested in. Looking forward to part two!

  35. Emily says:

    Hi! I get so excited everytime there is a new episode! Thanks for making my commute home much more pleasant!

  36. Chrystal Montoya says:

    Hi History Chicks! My horrible day was last Saturday. For the first time this year I attempted to jog, I hate hate hate jogging, I left my house jogged for about 30 seconds and inhaled a bee. Yes, a bee. I coughed it up and spit it out and when back home. Maybe next year I’ll try again. Thank! Chrystal

  37. Kate says:

    My day was so bad, even the dog died! Thanks ladies for the ear candy that gets me through the hard times! Keep it up!

  38. Laura says:

    Hi Historychiks! I am a noobie fan from Argentina, only just found you two weeks ago whilst researching!! 🙂 let me tell you, after this amazing discovery, my days at work have not been the same. I am loving every single one i’ve heard so far! cheers to your clever and funny remarks, may many more podcasts come!!!

  39. Liz says:

    I am a Tudor need! Anne of Cleves I think is my favorite of all of Henry the VII wives. She outlived all of them! I am planning a trip with my mom to the UK to see all of their burial places! Should be fun!

  40. Renee Lebreton says:

    Hi History Chicks! I started listening to your podcast this month and I really love it! I’m looking forward to going through each episode. Keep up the good work – your podcast makes my commute to work bearable! Since you did Laura Ingalls Wilder, I’d like to suggest L.M. Montgomery and the Anne of Green Gables books.

  41. Karen Remmes says:

    I enjoy your podcasts so much. They take me out of my day and back in time. And I learn a great deal about the real life of historical women (and some fictional, which is fun).

  42. Beth Gibson says:

    I had a good day today because I went back and listened to some of your earliest podcasts at work. I am so anxious for a new season of history girl talk. I have once suggested Rachel Jackson, but it would also be fun to hear about Bonnie Parker, and I would love to hear about Catherine the Great as well. There are several ladies I could suggest that would be awesome to hear more about!!! I love you ladies! So glad to have found you!!!