Marie-Antoinette The Making of a French Queen John Hardman

Publication date:
24 Sep 2019
Yale University Press
376 pages: 235 x 156mm
24 color illus.
Sales territories:


Buy this eBook

You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers:

A new look which fundamentally overturns our understanding of this famously "out of touch" queen

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, John Hardman redresses the balance and sheds fresh light on Marie-Antoinette’s story.

Hardman shows how Marie-Antoinette played a significant but misunderstood role in the crisis of the monarchy. Drawing on new sources, he describes how, from the outset, Marie-Antoinette refused to prioritize the aggressive foreign policy of her mother, 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.

John Hardman is one of the world’s leading experts on the French Revolution and the author of several well-regarded books on the subject. He was formerly lecturer in modern history at the University of Edinburgh.

“Splendid . . . masterly . . . a wonderfully gripping biography.”—Allan Massie, Wall Street Journal

“[A] splendid biography  [. . .] It sheds genuine new light on a celebrated and tragic figure whose faults did not merit the appalling fate she suffered”—Munro Price, Literary Review

“The impressive depth of Hardman's knowledge of the old regime's factional court politics makes it essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about the decision-making that led France into revolution - decisions in which the queen played an active part”Marisa Linton, BBC History Magazine

“In his new biography of the queen, John Hardman goes beyond the cliches of Marie- Antoinette's life - the enormous wigs, her extravagant spending and 'let them eat cake' - to reveal her as a political mover and shaker with real influence, particularly during the last months of the French monarchy”Laura O’Brien, History Today

“Hardman is far more than a biographer, his works are key to understanding the politics of the reign of Louis XVI. Steeped in the original sources and well able to decode the plots and schemes of the factions, this is both an entertaining and convincing new interpretation of the tragic Queen”—Peter Campbell, author of Power and Politics in Old Regime France

"Superb. Hardman draws upon his vast knowledge of the period to present a new, deeply researched and compelling portrait of a much-maligned queen'—Julian Swann, author of Exile, Imprisonment, or Death

“Gripping and beautifully-written. Hardman centres on the queen's political role, long a subject of myth and controversy. He cuts through both with forensic skill, and reveals a much more intelligent and impressive figure than the frivolous spendthrift of legend.”—Munro Price, author of The Fall of the French Monarchy

"A fresh perspective grounded in robust scholarship, Marie-Antoinette offers readers new insight into the political role of the last Queen of France."—Will Bashor, author of Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days