Marie Antoinette: A Short Biography (Part 3 of 5)
CONTINUED FROM HERE. Marie Antoinette's interference in public affairs, almost necessitated by the king's weakness of character, produced violent jealousies.
The dilapidation of the finances, which had reached a crisis before she arrived in France, was openly charged to her extravagance. It was in vain that she strove in private charity to remove the prejudices against her conduct.
In the severe winter of 1778 the Parisians, in aknlowledgement of her gifts, erected to her a monument of snow, and their memory of benefits was as cold and short-lived as their means of testifying it.
In 1785 the reputation of the queen received a severe blow from the affair of the necklace:
The Affair of the Diamond Necklace was a mysterious incident in the 1780s at the court of Louis XVI of France involving his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette. The reputation of the Queen, which was already tarnished by gossip, was ruined by the implication that she had participated in a crime to defraud the crown jewellers of the cost of a very expensive diamond necklace. The Affair was historically significant as one of the events that led to the French populace's disillusionment with the monarchy, which, among other causes, eventually culminated in the French Revolution.
The diamond necklace was commissioned by Louis XV for his mistress, Madame du Barry. At the death of the King, the necklace was unpaid for, almost bankrupting the jewellers and leading to various unsuccessful schemes to secure a sale to Queen Marie-Antoinette.
The acquittal of Cardinal de Rohan, a former French ambassador to the court of Vienna, which seemed to reflect on Mary Antoinette, caused her many bitter tears.
The unfortunate ministries of Calonne and Lomenie de Brienne were attributed to her, and she is said to have opposed with all her influence the assembly of the notables and the states-general.
[During the reigns of Louis XV (1715–1774) and Louis XVI (1774–1792), several ministers, most notably Turgot and Necker, proposed revisions to the French tax system so as to include the nobles as taxpayers, but these proposals were not adopted because of resistance from the parlements (provincial courts of appeal). Members of these courts bought their positions from the king, as well as the right to transfer their positions hereditarily through payment of an annual fee, the paulette. Membership in such courts, or appointment to other public positions, often led to elevation to the nobility (the so-called Nobles of the Robe, as distinguished from the nobility of ancestral military origin, the Nobles of the Sword.) While these two categories of nobles were often at odds, they both sought to retain their privileges. CONTINUED HERE.