Marie Antoinette - A ROYAL CHILDHOOD

A ROYAL CHILDHOOD (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Famous People Geography Government World History Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Social Studies Trials Film

Bernardo Bellotto (1721–1780) painted this oil-on-canvas of Schönbrunn, Marie Antoinette’s childhood home, as it appeared between 1758-1761. Today the work is maintained by the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History, or, the Museum of Fine Arts) in Vienna.


Madame Antoine - as the young Habsburg archduchess (born on November 2, 1755) was known to people outside her family - was a beautiful girl who loved music and dancing. Her favorite instrument, which she played herself, was the harp.

Although her mother was Empress, Antoine lived during a time when women usually held supporting roles. Using Vienna’s archives, Edward Crankshaw (in his book Maria Theresa) breathes life into the history of Antoine’s childhood. She was taught, for example, that young women must obey.

At page 250, Crankshaw quotes Maria Theresa’s observation (made the year after Antoine’s birth) about her daughters:

They are born to obey and must learn to do so in good time.

When they were not performing official duties, however, the Habsburgs (also spelled Hapsburg) lived a more relaxed lifestyle than other European royalty. This was especially true when compared with the French court at Versailles, where life was very formal and courtiers observed even the most private moments - including child birth - of the royal family.

While her mother was busy with governmental matters, Antoine’s father  doted on his children.

Known as Francis Stephan, Duke of Lorraine (before he married Maria Theresa), he was Emperor Francis I (after the marriage). To become Emperor, he abdicated (in 1736) from the Duchy of Lorraine (territory, now in France, whose ownership was long-disputed by France and various Germanic powers).

Depending on the time of year, Francis and Maria Theresa moved their family back and forth between three palaces in, and around, Vienna. Their lifestyle was far different from that of the common people:

Because his wife managed the affairs of state, Francis I had time to do as he pleased. Knowledge of this did not escape his wife who, though she loved her husband, warned one of her ladies-in-waiting:

Never marry a man who has nothing to do.

Perhaps Maria Theresa should have admonished herself to avoid a son-in-law completely unprepared to rule his kingdom.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Dec 17, 2015

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"A ROYAL CHILDHOOD" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2006. Feb 24, 2020.
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