X-rays reveal censored parts of Marie Antoinette’s letters to Swedish rely

1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, by Jean-Baptiste-André Gautier-Dagoty. X-ray analysis of letters between the queen and a Swedish count revealed words that had been blacked out, rendering them illegible—until now.

Enlarge / 1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, by Jean-Baptiste-André Gautier-Dagoty. X-ray evaluation of letters between the queen and a Swedish rely revealed phrases that had been blacked out, rendering them illegible—till now. (credit score: Public area)

Most individuals affiliate Marie Antoinette with the affair of the diamond necklace, “Allow them to eat cake!” and the onset of the French Revolution. The French queen and her royal husband, Louis XVI, had been guillotined in 1793, 10 months aside. However her colourful life additionally included a potential clandestine love affair with a Swedish rely, and historians have been diligently working to decipher the surviving letters between the 2 for years.

The letters had been cyphered, as was the customized on the time for politically delicate correspondence. Fifteen of the surviving letters within the assortment of the French Nationwide Archives even have important parts redacted, amounting to some 108 illegible traces in all. Because of cutting-edge x-ray imaging strategies and knowledge processing strategies, the redacted parts of eight of these letters have lastly been revealed, in accordance with a brand new paper revealed within the journal Science Advances. The analysis is a collaboration between the Nationwide Archives, the French Museum of Pure Historical past, and the Fondation de France.

Marie Antoinette and Rely Hans Axel von Fersen of Sweden met as youngsters at a masquerade ball, when she was nonetheless Dauphine of France, and he turned a frequent customer to Versailles thereafter. Her royal husband famously proved unable to consummate the wedding for the primary seven years.

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