Monday, June 17, 2013

Marie Antoinette and Erzebet Bathory

I am listening to the audio book of Marie Antoinette; The Last Queen of France, by Evelyne Lever. She brings up some interesting parallels between the lives of these two women, both once powerful but brought to downfall and disgrace: First, Marie Antoinete was accused of adultery, lesbianism, and being a "blood thirsty monster." Erzebet, it is implied, had a child out of wedlock, and is portrayed in an adulterous relationship with the artist Carvaggio in the film Bathory. Erzebet is accused of being a vampire and werewolf, and of lesbian relationships. It seems these are stock charges levelled against unpopular women, especially aristocrats, whom a mob wants to destroy. Also, both women counted on male relatives in other countries or sovreignties to raise armies to save them, and both were disappointed. In the case of Erzebet, I would also like to note that Thorne describes the fate of other women in Erzebet's time, similar to hers, including her own niece Anna Bathory. Widows, especially rich ones, were clearly easy targets. It was a scandal for a woman past child bearing age to rule alone and to own properites and wealth in her own right. There were only certain subject positions from which an aristocratic woman could speak, and these included impending death, madness, pending execution [violetn or unnatural death]. For those who want to read more, consult the books mentioned previously, and the works of scholars Ann Rosalind Jones and Mary Ellen Lamb. Also, one might read about Maximillian and Carlotta in Mexico, and the Czarina Alexandra in Russia, for similar, more modern stories.

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