Written correspondence between Marie-Antoinette and her lover Count de Fersen, some parts of which were previously deemed “illegible” due to censor marks used to redact the letters, have now been deciphered with the help of new scanning technique, the French National Archives revealed on Wednesday, as cited by AFP.
“For the first time we can read Fersen's writing using unambiguous sentences on his feelings for the queen, which had been carefully hidden”, the project’s leading researchers said in a statement.
The team of researchers of the REX project, which lasted for 95 days, used the so-called x-ray fluorescence system (XRS) technique to analyse the content of the inks used for writing and censoring. As a result, 8 out of 15 redacted letters previously deemed illegible have now been brought to light in order to be scrutinised by researchers and the public.
“The principal conclusion of the REX project is less about sensational revelations on the relationship between Marie-Antoinette and Fersen, and more about the expression of feelings of hope, worry, confidence and terror, in a particular context of forced separation and imprisonment”, the French National Archives’ statement said.
According to historians, the written conversation between the French queen and her lover took place several years after the French revolution in 1798, when Marie-Antoinette has already been living under house arrest in Paris's Tuileries palace with her husband King Louis XVI.
Austria-born Marie-Antoinette came to power in 1774, after her husband ascended the throne but was executed almost 20 years later, while accused of high treason following the French Revolution. The last queen of France left her mark on history with her heavy and lavish spending as the population of her country suffered from hardship and financial strain.