Saturday, May 16, 2009

Marie Antoinette's Wedding Day

On Wednesday May 16, 1770 Marie Antoinette Josephe Jeanne Archduchess of Austria married Louis Auguste Dauphin of France.
Although there had been much lightning at La Muette, the next day, Wednesday, 16 May 1770 dawned brightly, fortunately for the crowds,including many great ones, who had to get up early and make the three-hour carriage journey to Versailles. Admission was by ticket only--with many stern official orders to the effect that this must be respected--but there were probably 6000 people present of all ranks. For the great ones, full court dress (grand habit de cour) was de rigueur: swords and silk coats for men,tightly boned bodices, hooped skirts and a long train for women, as well as elaborately dressed and powdered hair. The Duchess of Northumberland for one had to get up at 6 a.m. to have hers done.

The full panoply of Versailles was now loosed upon a central figure who, in the words of one observer, was so small and slender in her white brocade dress inflated with its vast hoops on either side that she looked "not above twelve." Yet the dignity of Marie Anotinette who had "the bearing of an archduchess"--the result of that rigorous grooming of her childhood, which had been the most efficient part of her education--was universally commended. And this was a place where style and grace of self-presentation were of paramount importance. The Dauphin on the other hand was generally reported as being cold, sulky or listless throughout the long Mass, in contrast to his bride. And he trembled with apprehension as he placed the chosen ring on her finger.
from Marie Antoinette The Journey by Antoina Fraser