• History

Marie Antoinette’s Secret Love Children Revealed in New Book

1 minute read

The French Revolution may have ended over two centuries ago, but Marie Antoinette is still a source of intrigue.

The newest attention has nothing to do with her lavish lifestyle that fanned the flames of the 18th-century uprising. Instead, a historian believes that her lover — and not King Louis XVI — may have fathered two of her children, People reports.

Historian and author Evelyn Farr compiled the most complete set of extant letters between Marie Antionette and her intimate confidant Axel von Fersen, a Swedish diplomat and count. The pair used codes and invisible ink, among other strategies, to keep their messages private. And Farr said that after scrutinizing the cryptic love letters, she believes Fersen fathered two of Marie Antoinette’s children.

Marie Antoinette had been married off to King Louis XVI at age 14, and began a relationship with Fersen four years later, Farr told People. “If she hadn’t had him, how absolutely awful her life would have been,” she said.

Read more at People.

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com