Washington (AP) – “Not without you.” “My dear friend.” “You are the one I love.”
My Antonet sent these expressions of love – or more? – In letters to his close friend and rumor monger Axel Van Fersen. Someone later used black ink to write on words, seemingly effective, perhaps charming, to reduce language.
In France, scientists have devised a new method to uncover the original text, separating the chemical composition of the various inks used on historical documents. He experimented with his method by analyzing the private characters between the French Queen and the Swedish Count, which are housed in the French National Archives.
It allowed them to read the original words and even identify the person who scratched them – Farson himself.
“It’s always interesting when you find out you can think more about the past,” said Rebecca L. Spang, a historian who studied the French Revolution at Indiana University.
The letters were exchanged between June 1791 and August 1792 – a time when the French royal family was under strict surveillance in Paris after trying to flee the country. The French monarchy will soon be overthrown, and both Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI will be beheaded next year.
“At that time, people used very flowery language – but here, it’s a really strong, really intimate language. We know that with this text, (a) there is a love relationship.
Extensive letters written on thick cotton paper discuss political events and personal feelings. Redacted phrases, such as “crazy” and “beloved”, do not change the overall meaning, but change the tone of the relationship between the sender and the recipient.
Marie Antoinette and Ferson met in France when they were both 18 years old. They remained in touch until his death.
“In 18th-century Western Europe, there is a kind of letter writing that gives you access to the character of a person like no other,” said Didier Lynch, a historian who studied literary culture at the time at Howard. Said Involved in the study.
“Like the metaphorical state of undressing, they bowed their heads and showed who they really are,” he said.
But sensible writers also knew that their letters could be read by a wide audience. In 18th-century Europe, some journalists used secret codes and so-called “hidden ink” to hide their full meaning from some eyes.
Correspondence was exchanged between Marie Antoinette and Ferson, who had never been married. Parts of the text were written in black ink. His family kept the correspondence until 1982, when the letter was purchased by the French National Archives.
In eight of the 15 characters that the researchers analyzed, the chemical composition of the ink, that is, iron, copper, and other elements, differed considerably in that they could map each layer separately, and thus retrieve the original text. Are
“It’s amazing,” said Ronald Schechter, a historian who studies Mary Antoinette’s library at William & Marie and was not involved. He said the technique could also help historians understand phrases and references in diplomatic correspondence, sensitive political correspondence, and other writings that have abandoned historical analysis in response.
Michelle said the most surprising discovery was that her team could identify the person who censored the letters. It was Ferson who used the same ink to write and rewrite some letters.
However, its motives remain a matter of speculation.
“I bet he was trying to save it,” said Harvard’s Lynch. “Throwing away his letters would be tantamount to throwing away his hair. He wants two contradictory things: he wants to keep the letters, but he also wants to change them.
Follow Christina Larson on Twitter: larsonchristina.
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