Nicknames of the French Royals

France's Flag, Courtesy of Wikipedia
France’s Flag, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Nicknames have been around for a long time and used for a variety of reasons. They were popular in France and even the country of France had a nickname. It was a poetical designation similar to that given England of “Merry England.” However, in France’s case it was “La Belle France.” Frenchmen also gave the nickname “Monsieur Dimanche” (which literally means “Mr. Sunday”), to a creditor in allusion to the fact “tradesmen and artisans had no other holiday, and usually collected their debts on Sunday.” Frenchmen also conferred nicknames upon French royalty and this resulted in King Louis XVI and his relatives having nicknames. Continue reading

Places of the French Revolution: La Force

Interior of La Force in 1840, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Interior of La Force in 1840, Courtesy of Wikipedia

La Force prison was originally known as the Hôtel de la Force and was the private residence of Henri-Jacques Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force. Near the end of Louis XIV’s reign, the hotel was divided into two parts: One part was called the Hôtel de Brienne, and the other part retained the name of La Force, with its entrance on Rue du Roi de Sicile.

The two buildings then passed through several owners until they were obtained by the war ministry in 1754. In 1780, Hôtel la Force was converted into a prison, used to imprison debtors and those charged with civil offenses, and renamed La Grande Force. At the same time, La Grande Force appeared, Hôtel de Brienne was demolished, and, on the same site, a new prison was erected called La Petite Force, which initially held female prostitutes. Continue reading

Marie Antoinette and a Boar Hunt

Marie Antoinette hunting
1783 Equestrian Portrait of Marie Antoinette in Hunting Attire by Louis-Auguste Brun, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Hunting was a popular sport in the 1700s, and there is at least one record of Marie Antoinette attending a hunt. It occurred in the Forest of St. Germain in Laye, an area that lies about 20 kilometers West of Paris and is located in a meander (bend) in the River Seine. Several Englishmen were invited to attend the boar hunt. One of the English hunters recorded his observations. He summed up the entire event as a “bore” noting that “there was a great deal of hard riding, but no sportsman-like feats performed.”

The Englishman also reported that it was the first time that he laid eyes on France’s Queen, Marie Antoinette. He described her as “an Imperial model of female beauty: rich and royal were her charms.” Besides wearing the uniform of the hunt, Marie Antoinette also sported an excess of gold lace and an abundance of white ostrich feathers that stuck out of her hat and looked so regal, he claimed she was “entitled to the epithet of the Queen of Women, and une belle parmi les belles.” Continue reading