Huffington Post - Busting Marie Antoinette Myths: 7 Things She Never Did
Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.”
Marie Antoinette was not blond.
Marie Antoinette was not French.
Marie Antoinette’s passion for fashion didn’t bankrupt France.
Marie Antoinette never milked her own cows.
Marie Antoinette was not promiscuous.
Marie Antoinette was not the power behind the throne.
I dig all of this. EXCEPT MARIE ANTOINETTE WAS SO PROMISCUOUS. Everyone in Versailles was. She had multiple affairs. Even one with a woman.
But, hey, her hubby wouldn’t give it to her so she had to get it somewhere.
There is no proof suggesting that Marie Antoinette had multiple affairs or was promiscuous. Although some believe she may have had an affair with Axel Fersen from Sweden - whether physical or not - the Fersen affair is still a much debated subject.
However, the rumors of her having affairs with many men and women are merely that - rumors. Comte de Mercy-Argenteau reported Marie Antoinette’s actions extensively to Marie Theresa from 1770 to 1780, and had a network of “spies” to assist him in his reports - from her confessor down to her maids. There is not a mention of Marie Antoinette having an affair in his reports - if Mercy reported that Marie Antoinette bought an expensive necklace, he would most certainly report that she was having an affair or that he thought she was having an affair.
Many affair rumors came from the court itself. From people who were offended by her dislike of French court etiquette, from people who were excluded from her private circle, from people in opposing political factions, etc, and some of the pamphlets are thought to have been funded by the comte de Provence in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the king, queen and their children. The biggest glut of affair propaganda came in 1789 when the freedom of the press increased. Post 1789 is where many of the more popular images we have of “Marie Antoinette propaganda” come from, such as the images of her entwined in bed with several men and women and that infamous penis-ostrich.
Many of the sheets and pamphlets follow a similar thread, whether they are post or pre 1789: find something she did, and make up the rest. She watched the sunset with friends… they were having a drunken orgy! She had female friends… they met together at the Trianon and pleasured each other! She went to a horse race with the comte de Artois… he must have fathered her son! Etc etc. Others are simply made up using all the rumors that swirled around the queen, like “The Royal Bordello” which has the queen having sex with several men because her previous lover, the duchesse de Polignac, has fled from France.
In any case… in all the letters and other contemporary sources we have surrounding her life, nothing but rumors and propaganda suggests she was having affairs with men and women.