• Mon, Jul 30 2012

Shelved Dolls: Madame du Barry – Cinder-F*ckin’-Ella

Her most powerful enemy, though, wasn’t Lauraguais or Choiseul, it was Marie Antoinette.

It’s possible that Marie Antoinette hated du Barry because minister Choiseul had been instrumental in arranging Marie Antoinette’s marriage to Louis XVI.

It’s possible that Madame du Barry laughed at some story told slandering Marie Antoinette’s mother (really. This was supposedly something she did that enraged Marie Antoinette).

It’s possible that, if people at Court made some allowances for du Barry’ presence, it was largely due to the fact that they knew that the King was still mourning Madame de Pompadour. Marie Antoinette, new to court from Austria, and only a teenager, had no such knowledge.

Or it’s possible that Marie Antoinette just thought that du Barry was unspeakably vulgar. This seems possible because Marie Antoinette certainly declared this enough to everyone.

Madame du Barry tried to befriend the Queen the only way she knew how – by sending her diamonds. Marie Antoinette sent back a message saying that she (Marie Antoinette) already had quite enough. Moreover, she told the court that she was not going to say a single word to Madame du Barry. Which was unfortunate, as it immediately estranged her from King Louis XV, whose advice might have been useful to the young queen at Court. It’s odd – people periodically said mean things about Pompadour, and the King was very lenient with them, but he was wildly protective of du Barry.

Marry Antoinette was eventually convinced to talk to du Barry. At Court, during a ball to celebrate the New Year, Marie Antoinette said only one sentence to du Barry, which ran “there are a lot of people at Versailles today.”

Whether Marie Antoinette meant that simply as an observation, or a dig at du Barry’s common background, you can decide for yourself.

Soon after that, Louis XV fell victim to smallpox. Before he died her renounced Madame du Barry, saying that he would always have tender feelings o friendship towards her. Those tender feelings did not last long since he died almost immediately afterwards.

Following his death only 15 aristocrats visited Madame du Barry with their respects, and Marie Antoinette forever afterwards referred to the people who had as “one of those 15 carriages.” Amusingly, when her brother, Emperor Joseph – who quite liked du Barry – went to visit Marie Antoinette to offer sex advice on how she and Louis XVI might produce an heir, he referred to himself as “the sixteenth carriage.”

Jeanne du Barry left Versailles weeping in such a way that even Marie Antoinette was said to have remarked – sincerely – that it was obvious she loved the King. And then Marie Antoinette had her exiled from Court.

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  • Ellen W.

    Can I be “Team NOT Marie Antoinette?” (Yes, I know she was treated very badly and didn’t have an easy life. But you’re the one who decided we had to pick a team!)

    There are things to love about both of them and I want to have Pompadour’s cleverness and taste, but du Barry’s generosity and optimism. Okay, fine, and Marie Antoinette’s poise.

    • Jennifer Wright

      Everyone is allowed to be team not Marie Antoinette. Though honestly, I never really got why Marie Antoinette and du Barry didn’t become friends. Both of them were strangers to the Court’s customs (M.A. was Austrian) hated by the public and known for having kind of vulgar tastes. Especially since the last Queen and Pompadour were buddies! Though I suppose that goes along with disliking people because they show traits we dislike in ourselves.

    • Naomi

      I imagine that if nothing else, Marie Antoinette was very concerned about fitting in at Versailles and being on the court’s good side. It’s like the new girl in school being a twat to fit in with the popular mean girls.

  • Adrienne

    It was hard to pick a team (although I picked Pompadour) as I think I would like both in their own ways! Thanks Jennifer yet again for picking such interesting dolls to profile!

  • Naomi

    You and I feel precisely the same way about both Pompadour and du Barry. We should be friends.

  • Lisa

    Do more research and read the book by Stanley Loomis, which is better description of Madame du Barry. She was perhaps more educated than the ladies at court. The hatred of her was partly due to her up bringing, but mostly due to jealousy… Being the mistress of the king was a very coveted position.

  • Lisa

    Madame du Barry was kind, and a great lover and supporter of the arts. Madame Pompadour, from what, I have read was a B..ch on wheels… Madame du Barry was also a friend of Voltaire. She was an good cook, since her mother worked from time to time as a cook. In the convent she became educated, as I stated earlier.. and refined in manners probably more so than some of the royal women, who hated her. Madame du Barry was also the first to wear assorted gems together, and also one of the first to use the services Rose Bertin , later deemed dress maker to the Queen.

  • Lisa

    Also for the record,du Barry was pretty happy and lived a damn good life, up until Mr.Greive got hold of her and Zamor and others, turned on her.