The Bad Queen

In this installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France.

From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can’t help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and even a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay for her reckless extravagance—with her life.

Includes historical notes, an author’s note, and bibliography

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  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547487885

  • ISBN-10: 0547487886

  • Pages: 432

  • Price: $5.99

  • Publication Date: 04/12/2010

  • Carton Quantity: 10

  • Age(s): 12,13,14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 7-12

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level 990L
    • Guided Reading Level Z


Carolyn Meyer

Carolyn Meyer is the acclaimed author of more than fifty books for young people. Her many award-winning novels include Mary, Bloody Mary, an ABA Pick of the Lists, an NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, a New York Times bestseller; White Lilacs, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, and an IRA Young Adults' Choice; and Marie, Dancing, a BookSense Pick. Ms. Meyer lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit her website at
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  • excerpts

    No. 1: Marry well

    The empress, my mother, studied me as if I were an unusual

    creature she’d thought of acquiring for the palace

    menagerie. I shivered under her critical gaze. It was like being

    bathed in snow.

     “Still rather small, but I suppose she’ll grow. Her sisters

    did,” my mother said half to herself. She caught my

    eye. “No bosom yet, Antonia?”

     I shook my head and stared down at my naked toes,

    pale as slugs. “No,Mama.”

     Swathed in widow’s black, the empress frowned at

    me as if my flat chest were my own fault. “She’s no beauty,

    certainly,” she said, speaking to my governess, Countess

    Brandeis. “But pretty enough, I think, tomarry the dauphin

    of France.” She signaled me to turn around, which I did,

    slowly. “My dear countess, something must be done about

    her hair!” my mother declared. “The hairline is terrible—

    just look at it! And her teeth as well. The French foreign

    minister has already complained that the child’s teeth are

    crooked. King Louis has made it quite clear that everything

    about my daughter must be perfect before he will

    agree to her marriage to his grandson.”

     Brandeis inclined her head. “Of course, Your


     “One thing more, Antonia,” said my mother sharply.

    “You must learn to speak French—beautifully. And this

    too: from now on you are no longer Antonia. You are Antoine.”

    She dismissed us with a wave and turned her attention

    to the pile of official papers on her desk.

     Antoine? Even my name must change? I gasped and

    groped for an answer, but no answer came, just one dry

    sob. The countess rushed me out of the empress’s chambers

    before I could burst into tears. That would have been

    unacceptable.Mama didn’t allow her daughters to cry.

     I’ve thought of thismomentmany times. And I think

    of it again, no longer attempting to hold back my tears after

    all that has happened to me since then.

    My mother was known to all the world asMaria Theresa,

    Holy Roman Empress, archduchess of Austria, queen of

    Hungary and Bohemia, daughter of the Hapsburg family

    that had ruled most of Europe for centuries. Mama believed

    the best way to further the goals of her huge empire

    was not through conquest but throughmarriage. I’d heard

    her say it often: Let other nations wage war—fortunate Austria

    marries well. She used us, her children, to form alliances.

     There were quite a lot of us to be married well. My

    mother had given birth to sixteen children—I was the

    fifteenth—and in 1768, the year in which this story begins,

    ten of us were still living. Three of my four brothers

    had been paired with suitable brides. The eldest, Joseph,

    emperor and co-ruler with ourmother since Papa’s death,

    was twenty-seven and had already been married and widowed

    twice. Both of his wives had been chosen by our

    mother. Joseph still mourned the first, Isabella of Parma,

    with whom he had been deeply in love, but not the second,

    a fat and pimply Bavarian princess whom he had detested

    from the very beginning. I was curious to see if

    Mama would make him marry well for a third time.

     Next in line for the throne, Archduke Leopold was

    married to the daughter of the king of Spain. Then came

    my brother Ferdinand, thirteen, a year older than I, betrothed

    since he was just nine to an Italian heiress. No

    doubt he would soon marry her. The youngest archduke,

    chubby little Maximilian—we called him Fat Max—was

    not onMama’s list for a wife.He was supposed to become

    a priest and someday an archbishop.

     Of my five older sisters, Maria Anna was crippled

    and would never have a husband, and dear Maria Elisabeth

    had retired to a convent after smallpox destroyed her

    beauty. (All of us archduchesses had been given the first

    name Maria—an old family tradition.) My other sisters

    had been found husbands of high enough ranks.

     Maria Christina, calledMimi, was my mother’s great

    favorite, and somehow she had been allowed to marry the

    man she adored, Prince Albert of Saxony. Lucky Mimi,

    one of the most selfish girls who ever lived!

     Maria Amalia was madly in love with Prince Charles

    of Zweibrücken, but Mama opposed the match—he wasn’t

    rich enough or important enough—and made Amalia

    promise to marry the duke of Parma. Amalia didn’t like

    him at all, and she was furious withMama.

     “Mimi got to marry the man she loved, even though

    he has neither wealth nor position,” Amalia stormed, “and

    Mama gave her a huge dowry to make up for it. So why

    can’t I marry Charles?”

     Silly question! We all knew she had no choice. Only

    Mimi could talk Mama into giving her whatever she

    wanted. Maria Carolina, the sister I loved best, had to

    marry King Ferdinand ofNaples. This was the final chapter

    of a very sad story: two of our older sisters, firstMaria

    Johanna and then Maria Josepha, had each in turn been

    betrothed to King Ferdinand. First Johanna and then

    Josepha had died of smallpox just before a wedding could

    take place. Ferdinand ended up with the next in line,

    Maria Carolina. He may have been satisfied with the

    change, but Carolina hadn’t been.

     “I hear he’s an utter dolt!” Carolina had wailed as her

    trunks were being packed for the journey toNaples. She’d

    paced restlessly from room to room, wringing her pretty

    white hands. “And ugly as well. I can only hope he doesn’t


     It didn’t matter if he stank.We had been brought up

    to do exactly as we were told, and Mama had a thousand

    rules. “You are born to obey, and you must learn to do so.”

    (This rule did not apply toMimi, of course.)

     Though she was three years older than I, we had

    grown up together. We had also gotten into mischief together,

    breaking too many of Mama’s rules (such as talking

    after nightly prayers and not paying attention to our

    studies), and our mother had decided we had to be separated.

    In April, when the time came for her to leave for

    Naples, Carolina cried and cried and even jumped out of

    her carriage at the last minute to embrace me tearfully

    one more time. I missed her terribly.

     That left me, the youngest daughter, just twelve years

    old. I knew my mother had been searching for the best

    possible husband forme—best for her purposes; my wishes

    didn’t count. Now she thought she had found him: the

    dauphin of France. The Austrian Hapsburgs would be

    united with the French Bourbons. But she also thought I

    didn’t quite measure up.

    After my mother’s cold assessment, Brandeis led me, sobbing,

    through gloomy corridors back to my apartments in

    the vastHofburg Palace in Vienna. She murmured soothing

    words as she helped me dress—I had appeared in only

    a thin shift for Mama’s inspection—and announced that

    we would simply enjoy ourselves for the rest of the day.

     “Plenty of time tomorrow for your lessons, my darling

    Antonia,” the countess said and kissed me on my

    forehead. She hadn’t yet begun to call me Antoine, and I

    was glad.

     Her plan was fine with me. Neither Brandeis nor

    I shared much enthusiasm for my lessons. I disliked

    reading—I read poorly—and avoided it as much as I

    could. Brandeis saw no reason to force me. She agreed

    that my handwriting was nearly illegible—I left a trail of


Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547487885

  • ISBN-10: 0547487886

  • Pages: 432

  • Price: $5.99

  • Publication Date: 04/12/2010

  • Carton Quantity: 10

  • Age(s): 12,13,14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 7-12

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level 990L
    • Guided Reading Level Z

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