The adultery of Marie-Antoinette unmasked by modern science
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In a recent study using a technique called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, scientists discovered previously written eight-letter sentences between Marie-Antoinette and Swedish Count Axel Fersen, who was allegedly her lover. Further analysis revealed that the correspondence had been censored by Count Fersen himself. The changed words, which included “beloved,” “worshiping,” and “madly,” have now sparked some sort of controversy: Are these salvaged sentences further evidence of an affair, or not?
The answer to this question is a definite yes. Just to set the record straight, no queen, including Marie Antoinette, has used a word like “beloved” lightly to a man other than her husband. She could be punished for adultery, and maybe even executed, for it. It’s a very big risk to take if you don’t think so, and that’s why Fersen, who kept copies of these letters and feared they might fall into the wrong hands, edited these particular words.
The scandalous life of Marie-Antoinette’s apartments in Versailles
It has long been suspected that Marie-Antoinette was in love with the Swedish count. By 1779, her attraction to Fersen was so obvious that the Swedish ambassador noted that the queen could not hide her feelings in public. The diplomat was elated when his compatriot left to fight in the American Revolution and a scandal was averted. But after Fersen’s return in 1783, there is substantial evidence of privacy. The documentation includes the exchange of secret letters, as well as Fersen’s diary, which is filled with entries detailing how much he loved someone named “Elle” (his codename for the queen), but how he couldn’t. marry her because she was already married. But the most important revelations came from the head of the royal guard at Versailles, the Comte de Saint-Priest, who reported that when Fersen was in town he stayed, often for days, at Marie Antoinette’s private shrine. , the Petit Trianon, and that the king was aware of the affair but that the queen had somehow bypassed it.
Then there are the pregnancies of Marie-Antoinette. Before Fersen arrived, it took her seven years to conceive her first child, a daughter. Almost three years passed between the birth of this first daughter and her next child, a son. This last period corresponds to the years when Fersen had gone to fight in America.
But less than a month after her return, she went from two pregnancies in ten years to three pregnancies in three years. The first ended in a miscarriage, but the other two gave birth first to a son and then to another daughter, who died in infancy. The surviving boy bore a strong resemblance, not to Louis XVI, but to Fersen. It is about the child who will die in the tower during the Revolution, which one calls today Louis XVII. (Those who deny the case are referring to a 2019 study by a French geneticist, who claimed to have established a genetic link between Louis XVI and this second son by testing a hair believed to have been preserved since 1792. This same scientist, apparently very busy guy, is also the author of an article in which he claimed to have isolated Jesus’ DNA from a tunic and reconstructed his appearance.)
There is additional evidence that the King and Queen did not spend much time together and that Louis frequently ate and drank so much that he was almost in a coma and his servants had to carry him to bed. It’s hard to get pregnant when you pass out all night alone in your bedroom.
As solid as this documentation is, until now it has always been rejected on the grounds that if all this were true Marie-Antoinette would certainly have been arrested and punished. But X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy is not the only technique providing new evidence. Advances in neurology have made it possible to determine that Louis XVI was born with an autism spectrum disorder. Although very intelligent, he was unable to look anyone in the eye, had great difficulty conversing, had to stick to a strict schedule, and cried when upset. He also didn’t understand the mechanics of conception until his wife’s brother came to visit and explained it to him. Louis didn’t seem to need sex. Marie-Antoinette’s enemies threw women at him, but he ignored them.
Autism also explains how the king got to know the queen’s affair and not put an end to it. Marie-Antoinette was Louis’ emotional support. He needed her.
Marie-Antoinette recognized him. She cares about Louis and does everything she can to protect him during the Revolution. She would sacrifice her life in this effort. But it was Fersen she loved. The Earl had a series of mistresses, that’s right, but that was only because he couldn’t have her. He said so in his diary. Fersen worked frantically until the day she died to save her. When these two were spelled “beloved” and “worshiped,” they meant it.
The redacted letters were written between 1791 and 1792, towards the end, when Marie-Antoinette was a prisoner in Paris. They are simply further proof of a case that should have been written into the history books long ago.
Nancy Goldstone is the author of In the shadow of the Empress: the provocative lives of Marie-Thérèse, mother of Marie-Antoinette and her daughters, as well as six previous books including Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Outstanding Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots; The rival queens: Catherine de Medici, her daughter Marguerite de Valois and the betrayal that ignited a kingdom; The Maid and the Queen: The Secret Story of Joan of Arc; Four queens: the Provencal sisters who ruled Europe; and The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily. She has also co-authored six books with her husband, Lawrence Goldstone. She lives in Del Mar, California.
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