Authors: Kathryn Lasky
January 1, 1769
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
I do solemnly promise to write in this diary given to me by my tutor, Abbé de Vermond, if not every day, at least every week, even though writing is not easy for me. For I shape my letters poorly and do not too often know the proper spelling. Still, this is my resolution for the new year.
Archduchess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, daughter of Maria Theresa of Habsburg, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nations, and the late Emperor Francis of Lorraine
January 3, 1769
My second time writing. I am keeping the resolution. Abbé de Vermond would be proud. I spelled the word
correctly, too, I think. I am grateful to the Abbé for giving me this beautiful little diary. It is blue, the color of the sky, and has gold
fleurs de lis
engraved — the symbol of the French Court — or one of the many symbols. I must learn all the symbols of the French Court. I must learn French! Here now I shall list all the things I must learn over the next year:
• to write and read French (I speak it well, as it is the language of the Court here)
• to dance in the French manner
• to walk, in the manner of the French Court, as if I float in the immense panniers, or side hoops, of the French ladies’ dresses
• to read better
• to write better
Why must I learn these things better than other girls my age, better than any of my sisters or brothers, of which I have fifteen? Why? Because I am to be Queen of France. More about that later. My hand and my brain are too tired to explain.
January 4, 1769
I now am refreshed so I shall explain. I am just thirteen and before I become Queen, I must first be what the French call the
. It is their word for the highest Princess in the land. The Dauphine is the wife of the Dauphin, the eldest son of the King. The French King is Louis XV. His son died. So now his eldest grandson is the Dauphin. His name is Louis Auguste. I am to marry him, probably next year. And when Louis XV dies, the Dauphin shall become King Louis XVI and I shall become Queen Marie Antoinette. Together we shall rule. But for now I am an Archduchess. I am thirteen and everyone calls me Antonia. I am not yet ready to be a Dauphine, let alone a Queen. Everyone tells me this at least sixteen times a day.
Here is a list of the people who tell me this:
• Mama, the Empress
• Countess Lerchenfeld, my Grand Mistress, or governess. I call her Lulu for short.
• Noverre, my dance instructor
• Monsieur Larseneur, the French hairdresser
• Abbé de Vermond, the French tutor
• many brothers and sisters
I am not ready because I do not write or read in my own language well, not to mention French. Although I am a better reader than a writer, I just hate to read. But I am not stupid. I think some thought I was stupid. But Abbé de Vermond told Mama that I am “clever” and that I am “capable of learning and eager to please” but that I am a bit lazy. He gave me this diary because he thought that if I had someplace private to put my innermost thoughts, I would be more eager to write and thus improve my awful handwriting and spelling. He promises never to read it and, best of all, never to tell Mama I am keeping it. That is important because Mama is very nosy. Extremely nosy. I spelled that word,
, right. The Abbé would be very pleased but he shall never see it, if he keeps his promise. And I shall keep mine to him to keep writing. It does become easier each day. I think soon I shall write some more about my innermost thoughts. I’ll make a list of the topics now for next time so I won’t forget.