If you read my last post on Historical Loves, you’ll see that it was about Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI. While their love was more of compassion and friendship, she did have another love… a fiery and passionate affair.
Their love was one that went down in history. She was seen as a frivolous woman. Newspapers at the time called her a sexual fiend who favored women and men alike. They condemned her for her affair with Count Fersen, a Swedish soldier.
Marie Antoinette devoted most of her life to the royal causes and lived in a marriage which was far from passionate. Her passion for dance, the arts, plays, gambling, and flirtation continued to build until she found her match.
When Count Fersen arrived, Antoinette was immediately captivated by his pale blue eyes and tall, dashing demeanor. The two were inseparable. At first, she kept him at a distance, but then realized she couldn’t fight it anymore. Their conversations grew longer and their intimacy deeper.
Marie Antoinette began spending more of her time at her estate, Le Petite Trianon. She threw extravagant parties and invited all her close friends. It was an escape from the proper court life at Versailles. It was a place she could be herself and delve into her passions. Count Fersen was one of several attendees who appeared frequently. The two spent countless hours beneath the sheets and had calming walks around her estate.
King Louis XVI knew full well that the rumors of Count Fersen were true, but he understood that is wife needed the outlet. It wasn’t seen as proper, and he wished newspapers didn’t spread news of it or belligerent lies.
The love between Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen was easily seen. The two weren’t together for political reasons, nor were forced to carry on a show for any reason besides their own pleasure. People saw how happy Antoinette was, even her daughter saw this.
Marie-Thérèse, Antoinette’s first born, saw how her mother talked of Count Fersen and how she looked at him. It was different than when Antoinette looked at Louis. There was an unspoken intimacy between the two. For Marie-Thérèse, this was a conflicting concept at first, but as she grew older she understood that what her mother and Count Fersen had was pure, passionate love. It was something you rarely find in those days, let alone when you’re a noble.
People saw Antoinette’s affair as a frivolous mistake, yet another reason she was turning into a poor monarch. Her appetites for luxury, gambling, and sexual pleasure were consuming her. Some people even believe Count Fersen was to partially blame for this.
When the Reign of Terror erupted, and the royal family was under attack and imprisoned, Count Fersen was their to help. Some may have thought it awkward that her lover was helping while the King was next to her, but to be honest, it was seen as anything but. Count Fersen aided in their Flight to Varennes, which unfortunately failed.
Count Fersen was their until the day Marie Antoinette died. He fought eagerly to save her life along with her husband and children. He became an important part of all their lives. He understood Antoinette’s duty to her husband and accepted they would be nothing more than lovers.
While Marie Antoinette does have a bad rep for being scandalous and a child who doesn’t care about her duties, she was a person who found true and deep love. With Count Fersen, she was able to feel as if she was back in her home country of Austria. She felt more like herself with him than she did with anyone else.
Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen are a tragic love that will forever go down in history. A decorated soldier fell in love with a beautiful Queen who was eventually killed by her country.