Marie Antoinette is often considered one of the most fascinating and interesting women of 18th century France. If you are familiar with her at all, you probably know that she was born on 2 November 1755 and was the fifteenth and second youngest child of Empress Maria Theresa and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She married Louis-Auguste (later Louis XVI) by proxy at age fourteen on 19 April 1770 and met him for the first time about a month later at the edge of the Forest of Compiègne.
When Louis XV died about four years later, Louis-Auguste assumed the throne as Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette then became Queen of the French. She and Louis XVI had four children — Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, Louis-Joseph, Louis-Charles (Louis XVII), and Sophie — and only Marie-Thérèse Charlotte grew to adulthood. However, there are many other interesting things about her, and, so, here are 11 facts about Marie Antoinette you may not know. Continue reading →
An indictment against Marie Antoinette was drawn up by the Public Accuser of the Revolutionary Tribunal, Antoine Quentin Fouquier-Tinville, on 13 October 1793. The indictment considered the Queen’s life, “from the epoch of her marriage in 1770, to the memorable era of the 10th of August, 1792.”
Once the indictment was prepared, it was given to the Queen. At the time, she was imprisoned at the Conciergerie as Prisoner no. 280. She requested defenders, which was granted. She then selected lawyer Guillaume Alexandre Tronson du Coudray and the well-known and respected lawyer Claude François Chauveau-Lagarde. Because her trial was scheduled to begin the next morning on 14 October, her defense team had less than a day to prepare.
The Norfolk Chronicle published the indictment, and it is provided below verbatim: Continue reading →
Charles Perrault was a seventeenth century French author and member of the Académie Française, and French folklore became synonymous with him because he was the person who laid the foundation for a new form of literary genre known as the fairy tale. Among the many fairy tales that he wrote was one called Barbe Bleue or Bluebeard. It was first published in 1697 and was intriguing enough to permeate literature of the eighteen and nineteenth centuries even though the story was written in the seventeenth century.
Bluebeard was the story of a wealthy, violent, and ugly nobleman named Bluebeard because of his indigo blue colored beard. Bluebeard had married several times only to have his wives mysteriously vanish and his story began with him having once again “lost” a wife. Wishing to find a new wife, Bluebeard visited a neighbor who had three lovely daughters. Unfortunately, for Bluebeard the daughters were fearful of him because of his odd colored beard, and none of them wanted to become his wife. To convince the daughters that they have nothing to fear, Bluebeard hosted a sumptuous feast and regaled the daughters with charming stories and plied them with dainty treats. The daughters began to think that perhaps Bluebeard was not so bad, and, so, when he selected the youngest daughter to take as his bride, she willing went to live with him in his three-story castle in the countryside. Continue reading →
Charles Philippe of France was born 9 October 1757 at the Palace of Versailles. He was the youngest son of the Dauphin Louis and the Dauphine Marie Josèphe and was known throughout most of his life as the Count of Artois (Comte d’Artois). His father died in 1765 and his mother died two years later from tuberculosis. This left Charles and his siblings — Louis Auguste (the future Louis XVI), Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence (the future Louis XVIII), Clotilde (“Madame Clotilde”), and Élisabeth (“Madame Élisabeth”) — orphans. Because the Count of Artois was the youngest, it seemed unlikely he would ever become king. Continue reading →
There were a variety of vehicles found in France in the 1700 and 1800s. Here is the list A to Z.
Ambulance Volante – This translates to “flying ambulance” and was developed by a French battlefield surgeon named Dominque-Jean Larrey so that the wounded could be quickly transported from the battlefield to field hospitals. They were so named because of their speed (or ability to fly) when they carried the injured off the battlefield and to the rear where surgeons could more effectively deal with their wounds. The ambulance volante was manned with a trained crew and a horse-drawn wagon modeled after the “flying artillery.” Crews assigned to each ambulance included a doctor, quartermaster, non-commissioned officer, a drummer boy (who carried the bandages), and 24 infantrymen functioning as stretcher bearers. There had been a long-held tradition of waiting to collect the injured until after the battle ended, but after 1797, flying ambulances were always present with the army’s advance-guard and cared for the wounded on the battlefield. These ambulance volantes proved so effective and so serviceable to the critically wounded that they served as the forerunner to the modern military ambulance and triage system eventually adapted by armies throughout the world. Continue reading →
Although Napoleon liked many things, such as giving people nicknames, there were several things and people he disliked (or hated). He hated anyone who was weak and he hated it when other European countries fought against him for power. There were also seven other things that he disliked or hated. They were Great Britain, Madame de Staël, bad books, cats, dogs, Kashmir shawls, and Toussaint L’Ouverture.
Napoleon hated Great Britain as much as the British feared him. Because of their fear, the British meddled in French affairs and that caused Napoleon to consider the British a constant thorn in his side. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), he battled a fluctuating array of European powers that formed into various coalitions, and were financed and usually led by Great Britain. Napoleon wanted to destroy the British and hoped to replace their empire with French influence. Even after he was forced to abdicate and the victors sent him to Elba, he still felt superior to the British. When he escaped Elba and before the Battle of Waterloo, he declared: Continue reading →
Despite Rosalie Duthé being considered the first dumb blonde, she attracted the attention of some of the most distinguished men in Europe and France, including monarchs and future monarchs. This attraction also resulted in her becoming one of the most celebrated courtesans of her time. A nineteenth century writer noted that Duthé’s fame “equalled the renown of the Laises or Phrynes of ancient Greece, or that of the Imperias and Marozias of the Rome of the Middle Ages,” and although a twenty-first century writer agreed, she described Duthé as
“[A] famously vacuous creature who had taken the polite conventions of feminine modesty to an extreme. She had developed a habit of long pregnant silences. Perhaps she had nothing to say, but her mystery and her secretive allure, combined with a number of other more tangible attributes, meant that she gathered appreciative customers from the highest social and political ranks.”
Mathematician extraordinaire Sophie Germain was born on 1 April 1776 in Paris, France, to a wealthy silk merchant (or perhaps a goldsmith) named Ambroise-François Germain and a woman named Marie-Madeline Gruguelu. Thirteen years later, in 1789, the French Revolution broke out, and it was during this time that Sophie became interested in mathematics.
Her interest in mathematics began after her parents confined her to her home. That was because there were many revolts and a lot of danger when outside. Stuck indoors, Sophie began to explore her father’s library and one day found a book about the legend of Archimedes’s death. According to legend, when Roman soldiers invaded Archimedes’s city, he was “so engrossed in the study of a geometric figure in the sand that he failed to respond to the questioning of a Roman soldier. As a result he was speared to death.”* Archimedes’s story so impressed Sophie, she decided mathematics must be a very interesting subject and immediately began devoting herself to its study. Continue reading →
The Château de Bagatelle, located in the Bois de Boulogne, initially existed as a small hunting lodge for the Maréchal d’Estrées and was designed for brief stays while hunting. Later, the daughter of Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé owned it. Her name was Louise Anne de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Charolais, and she occupied it for twenty years. When she died on 6 April 1758, she left it to her nephew, Louis-François-Joseph de Bourbon-Conti, who was the last Prince of Conti, and, in 1770, the Prince de Chimay became the owner. Continue reading →
Up to the late 1800s, it was difficult to keep a premature baby warm. This inspired the creation of infant incubators and although French Doctor Stéphane Étienne Tarnier did not invent the first infant incubator, he did invent what he called a “couveuse” or “brooder.” His baby warming device was inspired by devices used to incubate poultry. At the time, Dr. Tarnier was a well-respected obstetrician, and, today, he is often considered the doyen of French obstetrics of the late nineteenth century because of his many groundbreaking ideas related to this field.
Prior to Dr. Tarnier’s invention of the couveuse or brooder, babies were kept warm by swaddling and were swaddled in the following manner:
Take a square baby-blanket and place it diagonally on the table or bed. Turn down one corner … four inches … to come up over the baby’s head. Spread over this blanket a lap of raw cotton. Have the baby’s napkin and binder on, and a flannel undervest. Make a cap out of the cotton, fitting it over the baby’s head and bringing it down … under the chin. Then roll the baby up in the cotton lap. Bring the blanket around this firmly, so as to hold it; the portion of the blanket on the baby’s right being brought over and tucked in on the left side, the portion on the left being correspondingly folded over toward the right. The corner of the blanket left at the feet is then folded up over the front, and the whole held in place by … a strip of muslin bandage or ribbon. The bandage is first applied beneath the chin, crossed under the back, again crossed in front, the end being brought forward [and fastened in a bow] … at the feet.