Marie Antoinette Cover
Marie Antoinette

1. How important was Marie Antoinette's childhood in Austria -- hereditary enemy of France -- in influencing her career? Was it ever possible for an Austrian princess to have a satisfactory life in France?

2. Was Marie Antoinette's relationship with her mother the Empress Maria Teresa, conducted in copious correspondence 1770-1780 (when the Empress died), a damaging or a supportive element of her life?

3. Marie Antoinette's marriage to the Dauphin, later Louis XVI, was unconsummated for 7 1/2 years. What effects did this have on her character -- and her relationship wth her husband?

4. How far were contemporary (and subsequent) accusations of extravagance and frivolity against Marie Antoinette justified?

5. In Marie Antoinette's lifetime, she was the target of numerous vicious libels about her sexuality. Assess the part these libels played in blackening the image of royalty in France, and how justified they were.

6. Assess the political role of Marie Antoinette in the years shortly before the Revolution: Should she have tried to influence Louis XVI more or kept completely clear?

7. Marie Antoinette was a patron of the arts, especially music and opera, and an enthusiast for the environment, especially trees and flowers. Are these activities an essential part of the royal role?

8. Once the Revolution started, Marie Antoinette could probably have escaped by herself, or with her little son disguised as a girl. Instead she saw it as her duty to remain at the King's side. Was this the right decision for an unpopular queen to make?

9. Was Marie Antionette entitled to communicate with France's enemies in an attempt (unsuccessful as it turned out) to secure the safety of her family?

10. Marie Antoinette's courage at her trial and execution aroused widespread admiration at the time, even from her enemies. How far had her character changed since her youth or were such qualities always latent?