The French Revolution has always been my favourite historical period. After years of learning about the Merovingians (oh, yes!) and about this or that war mostly against la perfide Albion, I remember it as a refreshing change to be taught about exciting events actually taking place in France and not involving military strategy (I could have told soldiers what to do – in Latin and French – at the age of 15). It became even more fascinating when, after we all took the Gaston Berger personality test in class, I discovered I was Robespierre’s alter ego. His nickname was L’Incorruptible so he was a hard act to follow (as if!). And I don’t have the time right now to even hint at the influence Marat has had on my life.
Anyway, however flawed those revolutionaries may have been, they were instrumental in having Marie-Antoinette guillotined. And for that I have to applaud them. Although, I suppose, she and that ninny of a husband of hers, could have been sent away into exile somewhere, if they hadn’t had so many supporters abroad. They did try to escape, but were caught and brought back to face the music.
Marie-Antoinette was a silly woman. She was sent to France from Austria as a very young girl and did nothing but spend spend spend. She was the Queen and it wasn’t in her remit to bother about her subjects’ welfare so she didn’t. The people got fed up with her and with all the other freeloaders who were making their lives a misery, and executed them all. End of story.
Unfortunately, that airhead pops up again and again, and now there’s a new film about her. There’s also a new book about the perfumes she used. I love perfume but I couldn’t care less about her tastes in that respect. I want to know about truly great women. Women who have achieved something; who have done something for humanity; who are role models; whose lives are uplifting. Spare me the aristocrats and the courtesans: they have nothing to teach us.
I don’t know why Sofia Coppola’s film was booed at Cannes. Let’s hope it’s because it’s a bad film not because the tide is turning and the French are getting all misty-eyed about Marie-Antoinette again and resent anything disparaging said against her. I don’t keep up with those things but I expect there still is a Comte de Paris (the so-called heir to the throne) waiting for the monarchy to be restored in France. So far, luckily, he’s been a figure of fun, but who knows?
The Tsar and his family had a similar fate. Tough. The Romanovs never showed any mercy towards anyone, why should they have been spared? (Even today I can hardly bring myself to call St Petersburg by its old name: it conjures up so many horrific pictures).
Forgive me for not shedding tears over tyrants. Those people were bad. And the fact that they died in terrible circumstances does not make them better. Given half a chance they would have become even worse and their heirs would have followed in their footsteps.
A slap to anyone who romanticizes and mythologizes oppressors!