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Who was the real Marie-Antoinette? She was mistrusted and reviled in her own time, and today she is portrayed as a lightweight incapable of understanding the events that engulfed her. In this new account, Marie-Antoinette: The Making of a French Queen (Yale University Press, 2019), acclaimed historian of 18th-century French history and the biographer of Louis XVI, John Hardman redresses the balance, corrects and tears away the smears and calumny and sheds fresh light and understanding on Marie-Antoinette’s story.

Hardman shows how Marie-Antoinette played a significant but misunderstood role in the crisis of the last years of the ancien regime. Drawing on new and or rarely used sources, he describes how, from the outset, Marie-Antoinette refused to prioritize the foreign policy of her mother, the Queen-Empress Maria-Theresa, bravely took over the helm from Louis XVI after the collapse of his morale, and, when revolution broke out, listened to the Third Estate and worked closely with repentant radicals to give the constitutional monarchy a fighting chance. For the first time, Hardman demonstrates exactly what influence Marie-Antoinette had and when and how she exerted it. In short Hardman, whose biography is only the second by an academic in the past one-hundred years, provides the reader with a valuable insight into the world and the thought of Marie-Antoinette. Accordingly to historian, Monroe Price, writing in the Literary Review, Hardman has written a "fascinating biography", which is "major contribution to the subject." In short, Hardman's book is one that any serious scholar or student of 18th-century French History cannot go without.

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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