General Jarjayes, commander of the French palace guards, finally cracks when his wife gives birth to the couple’s sixth daughter. Desperate for an heir to take his place, the general decides to raise his youngest girl as a boy, Oscar François de Jarjayes.
The general doesn’t fool anyone, of course; but Oscar becomes a soldier of such fine skill and character that everyone accepts her regardless.
Marie Antoinette, as seen in The Rose of Versailles, is not an evil woman; she’s just profoundly ignorant. The princess of Austria is married off to the seemingly asexual prince of France at a young age to cement a fragile peace. Moving from one sheltered existence to another, and married in name only, Marie never really grows up.
The same can not be said of the French court, a mass of nameless professional leaches who live off the tax money of the citizens of France, while showing open contempt for the same.
We see them frequently conspiring with each other to maintain their positions in the court; positions not earned but bestowed by the good graces of the queen. How lucky they all are that the queen is such an easily fooled moppet.
The people of France, meanwhile, are starving in the streets; and as they see the aristocracy endlessly fighting to out-excess each other with the nation’s tax money, they grow bitter and angry, a bitterness directed at the outsider queen, Antoinette.
An economic system in which money is funneled from the many to the few is inherently unstable; and not just because the ‘many’ are libel to start a revolution and break out the guillotines. To use a modern example, a large company like Apple’s success is dependent on having tens of millions of people buy iPhones; but as middle-class wages continue to stagnate year after year, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford them.
What we see in The Rose of Versailles is the end stage of that process. The people have been taxed into abject poverty. How much tax can they contribute to the nation when they are unable to find jobs? The aristocracy are frankly too stupid to care; concerned only with their immediate comfort, they are unable to perceive what effects the actions of today will have on tomorrow.
Oscar is in a difficult position. She sees the horrible injustice of it all, but is duty bound to stand by the queen (duty bound, and perhaps a little starstruck). At several times throughout the first half of the series, however, she is given the opportunity to fight for the people by proxy. In each case, a member of the aristocracy kills an innocent citizen on the street (I’m not sure if that happened a lot in the actual history, or if it is just anime shorthand to exemplify the court’s callous attitude towards the poor).
But when it comes time to metaphorically pull the trigger, Oscar flinches. Is this because of an inherent, involuntary respect for the rank of aristocracy, or a simple pragmatic belief that fighting them will only end in failure? Either way, tradition wins out over righteousness; which is, in the end, why most injustices are allowed to fester.