Monday, April 17

Bad Queen: Marie Antoinette {Young Royals Lit-Based Unit Study}

"The Queen is requested to stay within her allowance."  More than once, a young queen, far from her home, received this plea...but it fell upon deaf ears.  Marie Antoinette's story is one of tragedy, most being symptoms of a world in turmoil, but also some of her own making...

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were not popular monarchs.  Marie Antoinette wasted limited French money, limited due to a deep debt from wartime affairs, to pay for her luxurious lifestyle and outrageous fashion.  During this time, France was also hit with famine due to poor growing conditions.  Harsh summers and unforgiving winters ruined the harvests, causing the price of bread to skyrocket and leaving the peasants starving and in a state of revolt.

The Three Estates
France was composed of Three Estates.  The First Estate was the Catholic clergy; the Second Estate was the nobility; the Third Estate was made up of the peasants and middle class.  Nearly 98% of the entire French population belonged to the Third Estate.

The monarchy created a voting system where one vote was given to each estate - despite the fact that a mere 2% of the people represented 67% of the vote.  When it was proposed that taxes be raised, it only took the First and Second Estates voting together to outnumber the majority.  This eventually led to the French Revolution, also known as the Reign of Terror.

Historic References from the Book

  • The French went deeply into debt during the Seven Years War.  When the American Revolution broke out, France added to that debt by aiding the Americans in an attempt to get back at the British.  Between 1778 and 1782 the French provided supplies, arms and ammunition, uniforms, troops, and naval support to the Continental Army.  French assistance was crucial in securing the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.
  • The Age of Enlightenment was marked by the great philosophical questions, which led to the peasant class no longer being enamored by the the monarchy.  High society had long lived in grandeur off of the backs of the bourgeoisie, or middle class, but now the peasants saw the inequity of the social system and were discontented by it.
  • Duc d'Orléans was a French royal title granted by the King of France to one of his close relatives.  It eventually became a family line known as the "Orléans branch" of the Bourbons.
  • Hans Axel von Fersen was a Swedish count, aide-de-camp to Rochambeau in the American Revolutionary War, diplomat and statesman, and a friend of Marie-Antoinette.
  • The Great Fear was a period of panic and riot by peasants and others amid rumors of an “aristocratic conspiracy” by the king and the privileged to overthrow the Third Estate.  This led to the storming of the Bastille on July 14th.
  • The Tuileries Palace was a royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine, directly in front of the Louvre. It was the Parisian residence of most French monarchs until it was burned in 1871.
  • For the record, there is no historic evidence to suggest that Marie ever said, "Let them eat cake."
  • The Palace of Versailles is a former royal residence, just west of Paris, built by King Louis XIV.  It began as a simple hunting lodge, but eventually morphed into the seat of court and government.  In 1789, the palace was largely abandoned and emptied of its contents, and the royal family and capital of France returned to Paris.

Learn more about the French Revolution:

A World of Revolution!     &     A Tale of Two Cities novel study

Our spine novel for this unit study is The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette

Get the entire unit in the Young Royals bundle!

Includes seven unit studies covering the entire series. Each unit addresses a historic era from the eyes of a young royal, and these are told in living history format.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product samples:   Mary, Bloody Mary

  • Mary, Bloody Mary
  • Beware, Princess Elizabeth
  • Doomed Queen Anne
  • Patience, Princess Catherine
  • Duchessina: Catherine De'Medici
  • Wild Queen: Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Bad Queen: Marie Antoinette