It’s odd to think that this straightforwardness might have been part of Polignac’s appeal but remember that, while Marie Antoinette wasn’t great at managing the populous at large, she did really like doing nice things for people. I think she liked people feeling grateful towards her. Maybe it was because her mother wasn’t very nice to her. Maybe it was just who she was.
Yolande Polignac seemed only mildly enthusiastic about any of this kindness. She was said to have a very calm nature – though she was known to laugh a great deal – which Louis XVI approved of, especially in contrast to the Princesse de Lamballe. She wasn’t a fainter, basically. But that laughing may have also masked the fact that Marie Antoinette liked her much more than she liked Marie Antoinette.
However, she did give up her lover with extreme speed when Marie Antoinette said she didn’t like him.
The Princesse de Lamballe, on the other hand, was devastated. Just kept fainting dead away when Marie Antoinette kept paying so much attention to Polignac. What’s really tragic about this was that, because of her post as Superintendent of the Queen’s Household, the Princesse de Lamballe could never really break away from Marie Antoinette, and thus was forced to spend the rest of her life trying to regain her favor. Marie Antoinette’s affection – in letters and person – transferred to the Duchesse de Polignac, while the Princesse de Lamballe desperately spent a fortune at the Queen’s favorite dressmaker (Rose Bertin) so she and Marie Antoinette could dress alike.
Oh, yeah, that Superintendent position couldn’t be transferred. When you were given that position you were truly supposed to be the Queen’s best friend forever.
It is items like this that make me amazed that people who love role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons don’t become absolutely obsessed with the French Court. They took all the things that might be normal like having friends and made up rules and rituals to accompany them. And furthmore, rules and rituals that could never be broken. I Seen one way that’s an incredibly orderly approach to life. Seen another way, that’s terrifying.
And either way, the Princesse de Lamballe spent the rest of her life pretty dolefully feeding Marie Antoinette breakfast in bed and staring at her with sad, moon-y eyes.