When it was finally decided that Marie Teresa’s youngest daughter, Archduchess Maria Antoina, was to wed the Dauphin of France, the Empress of Austria set about “correcting” her daughter’s faults.
Granted, such a grand title and responsibility had left little time for her children, especially the youngest who was never considered in the Empress’ political chess-game of marital alliances across Europe. It was suddenly brought to (the future) Marie Antoinette’s mother that the young Archduchess “hardly knew how to read and write in the three languages in use at the Viennese court”. This included her native German. *yikes*
Intelligence aside, the girl’s teeth were unfortunately aligned and a French specialist, Pierre Fauchard, was brought in with a brand new invention (braces!) to correct this unfortunate incident. This first use of wires was known as the Fauchard’s Bandeau. Made of precious metal and horseshoe-shaped, it had regular perforations through which golden wires were threaded. In three months her teeth were princess presentable, though it took a platinum bandeau to fix hers. (Many biographies cite the process as “the p
elican” but the Pelican is just a set of pliers for yanking out teeth.)
Not quite as grave as vicimization to the world’s firt orthodontic work was the fact that Marie Antoinette was rather near-sighted. This was not as much of a crisis as most of the elegant fans a flutter at court included lorgnettes (think opera glasses) through which she could peer across the salons and ballrooms without having to be a “nerd”.
On the upside, Marie Antoinette’s short-sightedness brought an enchanted, misty glimmer to her large, blue-grey eyes.