Scientists use copper technique to uncover French queen Marie Antoinette's torrid love affair

By on
A Woman Dressed As Marie Antoinette From The Video Game 'Assassin's Creed: Unity' Promotes The Game In The Ubisoft Booth At The 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Known As E3, In Los Angeles
A woman dressed as Marie Antoinette from the video game "Assassin's Creed: Unity" promotes the game in the Ubisoft booth at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2014. Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

New scientific research has led to the discovery of certain secret quotes in letters written by France’s ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. These secret quotes seem to prove her love affair with Axel de Fersen, a friend of France’s royal family.

The first of 13 passages written by the queen and later obscured by an unknown censor have been found by a team at France’s Research Centre for the Conservation of Collections (CRCC). The research is funded by France’s National Archives.

According to a press release, it was the slight variation in the concentration of copper between the two inks that enabled the researchers to distinguish the two writings on the letter.

Earlier attempts at deciphering the obscured content had repeatedly failed. The recent breakthrough is the result of cutting-edge imagery technology, in which the researchers used X-ray and different infrared scanners to “discriminate between the two levels of writing.” They found that some carefully drawn circular scribbles had been used to cover up the original, reports the Telegraph.

The relationship between Marie Antoinette and Fersen has been a subject of historical debate for long.

The findings suggest that the Queen had a torrid love affair with Axel and had two children with him. A letter dated Jan. 4, 1792, reads: “I will end [this letter] but not without telling you, my dear and gentle friend, that I love you madly and that there is never a moment in which I do not adore you.” This was just six months after Fersen unsuccessfully tried to take her and her captive husband, King Louis XVI, away from Paris. The king was executed a year later.

The research was aimed, among other things, at using the copper technique to “better understand and preserve” other objects that are part of France’s cultural heritage, reports France24.com.