Few people maintain an attitude of impartiality towards Marie Antoinette. At the time of her death she was compared with Messalina and Agrippina. Later, on the return of the monarchy, she became the ‘martyred Queen,’ and was spoken of almost as a saint. Neither extreme is, of course, the true picture.
… at first it seemed to me that there emerged from my research a not very intelligent woman, concerned chiefly with glorifying her own dainty charms in which she delighted, careless, light-hearted, pleasure-loving… yet generous and good-hearted—a very ordinary human being.
But the fascination of Marie Antoinette is the sudden emergence of the brave and noble woman who took the place of the frivolous one almost overnight. It is difficult to believe that the butterfly of the Trianon is the same woman who endured so stoically her sufferings in the Temple and Conciergerie…
It has been an absorbing pleasure to try to understand this woman of dual personality[.]