Imperial Mother, Royal Daughter
- Imperial Mother, Royal Daughter: The Correspondence of Marie Antoinette and Maria Theresa
Olivier Bernier - Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985 – 326pp - £12.95
- Enlightened Absolutism (1760-1790)
Edited by A. Lentin - Avero Publications, 1985 – XX+291pp - £23
The letters show Marie Antoinette's progression from a gauche fourteen year-old Dauphine to a twenty-five-year-old wife and mother exercising an influence on affairs of state, though never as substantial as Bernier suggests. Much in these pages is familiar: the scorn for Madame du Barry, the twitterings of Louis XVI's pro-Austrian devote aunts, late nights at the faro table, the rise of the Polignacs, and the Queen's seven-year wait for a consummation of the marriage. Marie Antoinette was the well-placed protectress of the Franco-Austrian alIiance of 1756 which, twenty years later, was wearing thin, and it was her main task (as her mother and Mercy saw it) to ensure that her husband's ministers gave the Empire their unambiguous support. She did an indifferent job. Bernier offers ample documentation of the so-called 'Potato War' (1778-9) between Austria and Prussia, and it is clear that no amount of special pleading by the Queen would induce Vergennes to give meaningful French assistance to Joseph II's objective of annexing Bavaria.
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