Saturday, October 28, 2006

Marie Antoinette

Last nite B. and I went to see the movie. Stupendously boring. I wouldn't see it again for free. I'm not much of a Marie Antoinette fan, for that matter, but an article I read in The New Yorker a while back piqued our interest in going to see the movie. (B. and I rarely go to the movies since B. works most weekend nights.) It turned out that the article is a helluva lot more interesting than the movie. Go read it while you can. Yet one thing neither the article nor the movie really gets to the bottom of (no pun intended) is the conjugal problem between Marie and Louis.

According to a 2002 article from the Guardian, "[o]ne of the underlying causes of the French Revolution, the disastrous marriage between Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, has been brought down to size [pun intended, for sure] by a meticulous investigation into the royal couple's sexual incompatibility. Put simply, the king was endowed with a ' bracquemart [sic] assez considérable' - a rather large penis - and Marie-Antoinette suffered from a condition known in the court as ' l'étroitesse du chemin', a narrow vagina, that made her frigid."

"I refuse to believe that it is my daughter's fault," the empress [Marie's mother] wrote to her ambassador at Versailles, maintaining demands for an operation on the king even after several intimate inspections by doctors. They repeatedly said there was no evidence of phimosis, a narrowing of the preputial orifice, a theory that Zweig [a biographer] insisted on after reading nagging letters from the imperial mother-in-law replying to misleading correspondence from her daughter.

From the "Circumstitions" website:
It is widely reported that Louis XVI of France could not father children until he was circumcised. Unfortunately for the story, he was already a father well before the alleged operation. Remondino invented this lie in his history of circumcision. It served his need to find historical precedent for circumcision in Europe, to make the ritual seem less alien and more familiar. These were calculated lies without any historical basis. A more scholarly study from France (Le phimosis de Louis XVI (1754-1793) aurait-il été a l'origine de ses difficultés sexuelles et de sa fecundité retardée? [Prog Urol. 2002; 12(1):132-7] by G. Androutsos) thoroughly debunked this myth.

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