Details About Marie Antoinette And Axel Von Fersen's Secret Love Affair

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French Queen Marie Antoinette may be one of history's most misunderstood characters. For one, as Britannica points out, although she was the Queen of France, she wasn't French. She was born Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna von Österriech-Lothringen in Vienna, Austria. Also, as National Geographic notes, she never said the phrase she's most famous for saying: "Let them eat cake." But the attribution of the words to her portrayed her as a heartless monarch with no care for her people. Since she wasn't actually French, she became an easy scapegoat for the patriotic masses who wanted someone to blame for the ills of society, rather than French King Louis XVI. The historical record actually shows that she was much kinder and more generous than her reputation gives her credit for.

Even now, centuries after her beheading during the French Revolution, more layers to this deeply misunderstood monarch are being uncovered. In 2016, Harper's Bazaar reviewed a recently published book by historian Evelyn Farr that shined a light into Marie Antoinette's private love life. The book contains love letters written over decades between her and a man she said she loved "madly." That man, however, was not the King of France.

Marie Antoinette was passionately in love with Axel von Fersen

Farr's book is titled "I Love You Madly: Marie-Antoinette and Count Fersen: The Secret Letters." And there's a reason these letters were secret: they contain some pretty juicy details about how the Queen of France felt about Swedish Count Axel von Fersen, whom she first met when she was only 18 years old. There's even evidence that points to him being the father of at least two of her children. In her book, Farr reveals that the illicit lovers used invisible ink and code names to hide their correspondence.

While there is no smoking gun that points to them actually having a physical relationship, one can only infer what went on between two people who wrote things like, "I live and exist only to love you — adoring you is my only consolation." Elsewhere, Fersen expressed his frustration with having to keep their affair secret: "My God, how cruel it is to be so near and not to be able to see each other!" Marie Antionette could also lay on the romance pretty thickly herself. "I am going to close, but not without telling you, my dear and very tender friend," she wrote Fersen, "that I love you madly and never, ever could I exist a moment without adoring you."