The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette

by Carolyn Meyer

History paints her as a shallow party girl, a spoiled fashionista, a callous ruler. Perhaps no other royal has been so maligned—and so misunderstood—as Marie-Antoinette.
     From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. She tried to please everyone—courtiers, her young husband, the king, the French people—but often fell short of their expectations. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can’t help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and unimaginable luxuries. But as Marie-Antoinette’s lifestyle gets ever-more recklessly extravagant, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty—and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay.
     In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France. Includes historical notes, an author’s note, and a bibliography.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547482491
  • ISBN-10: 0547482493
  • Pages: 432
  • Publication Date: 06/13/2011
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
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  • About the Book
    In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France.

    From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can’t help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and even a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay for her reckless extravagance—with her life.

    Includes historical notes, an author’s note, and bibliography

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    No. 1: Marry well

    The empress, my mother, studied me as if I were an unusual
    creature she’d thought of acquiring for the palace
    menagerie. I shivered under her critical gaze. It was like being
    bathed in snow.
     “Still rather small, but I suppose she’ll grow. Her sisters
    did,” my mother said half to herself. She caught my
    eye. “No bosom yet, Antonia?”
     I shook my head and stared down at my naked toes,
    pale as slugs. “No,Mama.”
     Swathed in widow’s black, the empress frowned at
    me as if my flat chest were my own fault. “She’s no beauty,
    certainly,” she said, speaking to my governess, Countess
    Brandeis. “But pretty enough, I think, tomarry the dauphin
    of France.” She signaled me to turn around, which I did,
    slowly. “My dear countess, something must be done about
    her hair!” my mother declared. “The hairline is terrible—
    just look at it! And her teeth as well. The French foreign
    minister has already complained that the child’s teeth are
    crooked. King Louis has made it quite clear that everything
    about my daughter must be perfect before he will
    agree to her marriage to his grandson.”
     Brandeis inclined her head. “Of course, Your
    Majesty.”
     “One thing more, Antonia,” said my mother sharply.
    “You must learn to speak French—beautifully. And this
    too: from now on you are no longer Antonia. You are Antoine.”
    She dismissed us with a wave and turned her attention
    to the pile of official papers on her desk.
     Antoine? Even my name must change? I gasped and
    groped for an answer, but no answer came, just one dry
    sob. The countess rushed me out of the empress’s chambers
    before I could burst into tears. That would have been
    unacceptable.Mama didn’t allow her daughters to cry.
     I’ve thought of thismomentmany times. And I think
    of it again, no longer attempting to hold back my tears after
    all that has happened to me since then.

    My mother was known to all the world asMaria Theresa,
    Holy Roman Empress, archduchess of Austria, queen of
    Hungary and Bohemia, daughter of the Hapsburg family
    that had ruled most of Europe for centuries. Mama believed
    the best way to further the goals of her huge empire
    was not through conquest but throughmarriage. I’d heard
    her say it often: Let other nations wage war—fortunate Austria
    marries well. She used us, her children, to form alliances.
     There were quite a lot of us to be married well. My
    mother had given birth to sixteen children—I was the
    fifteenth—and in 1768, the year in which this story begins,
    ten of us were still living. Three of my four brothers
    had been paired with suitable brides. The eldest, Joseph,
    emperor and co-ruler with ourmother since Papa’s death,
    was twenty-seven and had already been married and widowed
    twice. Both of his wives had been chosen by our
    mother. Joseph still mourned the first, Isabella of Parma,
    with whom he had been deeply in love, but not the second,
    a fat and pimply Bavarian princess whom he had detested
    from the very beginning. I was curious to see if
    Mama would make him marry well for a third time.
     Next in line for the throne, Archduke Leopold was
    married to the daughter of the king of Spain. Then came
    my brother Ferdinand, thirteen, a year older than I, betrothed
    since he was just nine to an Italian heiress. No
    doubt he would soon marry her. The youngest archduke,
    chubby little Maximilian—we called him Fat Max—was
    not onMama’s list for a wife.He was supposed to become
    a priest and someday an archbishop.
     Of my five older sisters, Maria Anna was crippled
    and would never have a husband, and dear Maria Elisabeth
    had retired to a convent after smallpox destroyed her
    beauty. (All of us archduchesses had been given the first
    name Maria—an old family tradition.) My other sisters
    had been found husbands of high enough ranks.
     Maria Christina, calledMimi, was my mother’s great
    favorite, and somehow she had been allowed to marry the
    man she adored, Prince Albert of Saxony. Lucky Mimi,
    one of the most selfish girls who ever lived!
     Maria Amalia was madly in love with Prince Charles
    of Zweibrücken, but Mama opposed the match—he wasn’t
    rich enough or important enough—and made Amalia
    promise to marry the duke of Parma. Amalia didn’t like
    him at all, and she was furious withMama.
     “Mimi got to marry the man she loved, even though
    he has neither wealth nor position,” Amalia stormed, “and
    Mama gave her a huge dowry to make up for it. So why
    can’t I marry Charles?”
     Silly question! We all knew she had no choice. Only
    Mimi could talk Mama into giving her whatever she
    wanted. Maria Carolina, the sister I loved best, had to
    marry King Ferdinand ofNaples. This was the final chapter
    of a very sad story: two of our older sisters, firstMaria
    Johanna and then Maria Josepha, had each in turn been
    betrothed to King Ferdinand. First Johanna and then
    Josepha had died of smallpox just before a wedding could
    take place. Ferdinand ended up with the next in line,
    Maria Carolina. He may have been satisfied with the
    change, but Carolina hadn’t been.
     “I hear he’s an utter dolt!” Carolina had wailed as her
    trunks were being packed for the journey toNaples. She’d
    paced restlessly from room to room, wringing her pretty
    white hands. “And ugly as well. I can only hope he doesn’t
    stink!”
     It didn’t matter if he stank.We had been brought up
    to do exactly as we were told, and Mama had a thousand
    rules. “You are born to obey, and you must learn to do so.”
    (This rule did not apply toMimi, of course.)
     Though she was three years older than I, we had
    grown up together. We had also gotten into mischief together,
    breaking too many of Mama’s rules (such as talking
    after nightly prayers and not paying attention to our
    studies), and our mother had decided we had to be separated.
    In April, when the time came for her to leave for
    Naples, Carolina cried and cried and even jumped out of
    her carriage at the last minute to embrace me tearfully
    one more time. I missed her terribly.
     That left me, the youngest daughter, just twelve years
    old. I knew my mother had been searching for the best
    possible husband forme—best for her purposes; my wishes
    didn’t count. Now she thought she had found him: the
    dauphin of France. The Austrian Hapsburgs would be
    united with the French Bourbons. But she also thought I
    didn’t quite measure up.

    After my mother’s cold assessment, Brandeis led me, sobbing,
    through gloomy corridors back to my apartments in
    the vastHofburg Palace in Vienna. She murmured soothing
    words as she helped me dress—I had appeared in only
    a thin shift for Mama’s inspection—and announced that
    we would simply enjoy ourselves for the rest of the day.
     “Plenty of time tomorrow for your lessons, my darling
    Antonia,” the countess said and kissed me on my
    forehead. She hadn’t yet begun to call me Antoine, and I
    was glad.
     Her plan was fine with me. Neither Brandeis nor
    I shared much enthusiasm for my lessons. I disliked
    reading—I read poorly—and avoided it as much as I
    could. Brandeis saw no reason to force me. She agreed
    that my handwriting was nearly illegible—I left a trail of
    scattered in...

  • Reviews
    Praise for Carolyn Meyer's Young Royals books:
     
    "High drama . . . irresistible."—Booklist
    "Riveting."—Publishers Weekly
    "Masterful."—VOYA
    "Captivating."—SLJ

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