We launch our podcast with a woman who has been long misunderstood. She is most remembered for two things, and one is completely inaccurate. That’s right, total tabloid fodder that morphed into historical “fact”.

Maria Antoine Josepha Joanna, born into Austrian royalty 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 (whose wasn’t, right?) 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, mother, style icon,and eventually, political prisoner and symbol .

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 yeah, ultimately, the guillotine. Ouch.)

During the episode we discussed a number of images. To set the story, here is a painting of a young -12 or 13 year old Antoine, as she was called. Her name Maria Antonia would change to the more familiar ( to us) Marie Antoinette when she moved to France.  When this was  painted, she would have been still being groomed for her role in France.

Painting by Martin Van Meytens

We discussed a painting, also by Martin Van Meytens, of the Imperial family into which Antoine was born. We had been struck by the younger children off in the distance, not yet of an age when they would have been useful for political reasons.

Imperial family–see all the misty children just waiting to be pulled front and center?

This is a portrait that really, to us, encompasses the image of  the woman.

by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, this is how we think of her. The dress! The hair! The posture!

The images that haunt us are of the son who died at age 10 due to conditions of his imprisonment.  There was a wonderfully conspiratorial, yet disproven,tale of imposters and claims that he was released and lived a long life. However, DNA testing has proven that the heart, saved in a crystal jar and resting in Saint Denis Basilica outside of Paris, is indeed that of the young dauphin.

Painting of the young Dauphin, Louis Charles son of Marie Antoinett and Loui XVI-

In an attempt to cleanse your brain of that last image, let’s leave you with this one. Marie Antoinette and two of her children- Princess Marie Therese Charlotte, Dauphin Louis Joseph- in happy times.

Time Traveling With The History Chicks

If you would like to learn more about Marie Antoinette, here is what The History Chicks recommend:

Watch Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette movie. http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/marieantoinette/index.html There are a few historical inaccuracies (and the modern touches set off quite a bit of controversy in France after the production crew was allowed into Versailles to film)  but overall it gives a great feel  for who the woman really was, and how the world looked to her. Plus, there are the fashions which, quite frankly, will rock you in places you didn’t know existed and have you longing for bone corsets to come back in style, looking at Snooky hair bumps a little differently, and searching out square toed shoes.

Next, get your hands on a copy of Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. It’s rich and descriptive and painfully accurate.  If you are like one of us you will have to reread some pages because you get lost in all the Maries and Louis’s but do it, you won’t regret it.

This is a great book, we both devoured it!

After that you should have a good understanding of the woman, and can veer off  in a number of directions depending on your other interests.  Dive into the subculture with some of the links on our blog roll, although we stalk Tea at Trianon http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/ and Marie Antoinette’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century http://marie-antoinettequeenoffrance.blogspot.com/ . There are so many more, and such a wonderful abundance of people who have studied this woman and are passionate about her, it won’t be long before you are redecorating your home with gilded chandeliers and planning a trip to Versailles. When you do that, here is a link to Rick Steves’ Versailles page that had we talked about. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/france/versailles.htm Looks amazing, right? Gonna plan that trip?  Take us with you? Thanks.

Here is another book  that we had mentioned, it’s a stunner for sure.

Tony Spawforth Versailles: A Biography of a Palace

If we have inspired you to make a Marie Antoinette costume, we like this site –actually if you want to dress up like anyone we discuss, you can find some really valuable information about wardrobe on this site. The Costumers Manifesto http://www.costumes.org/

Music featured on our podcast comes courtesy of http://music.mevio.com/

And finally, only because we mentioned it and we feel responsible to give you all the links we discussed… Archie McPhee has this *insert our opinion on how tasteless this item is here* Marie Antoinette action figure. *heavy sigh* http://www.mcphee.com/shop/products/Marie-Antoinette-Action-Figure.html

You clicked that one, didn’t you?

Please check our Special Features page for more trivia about Marie Antoinette!

As always, music for our podcast comes courtesy of Music Alley. Visit them at music.mevio.com.