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 →
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.”
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 →
Over the years, several fires happened in Paris, but one of the most interesting was the Paris Opera House fire of 1763. Columns of thick black smoke were noticed at the Opera House the day after Easter on 6 April around midday. Word quickly reached officials, and they immediately rushed to the Opera House hoping to put it out. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, the building was beyond help. Within an hour and a half, the Opera House was completely consumed by fire. Continue reading →
A plot to save Marie Antoinette, known as the Carnation Plot (also referred to as either le complot de l’oeillet or affaire de l’œillet) was one of many devised while she was imprisoned. The Carnation Plot was inspired by a chevalier of St. Louis, named Alexandre Gonsse de Rougeville. Rougeville was loyal to King Louis XVI and had been at his side when a mob broke into the Tuileries and harangued the King and Queen on 20 June. Two months later, he was there during the insurrection at the Tuileries known as 10 August.
After 10 August, Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned at the Temple. Louis XVI was then guillotined on 21 January 1793. Several months later, at 1:00am on 1 August 1793, Marie Antoinette, now known as the Widow Capet, was transferred from the Temple to an isolated cell in the Conciergerie. She was identified as prisoner 280. Continue reading →
The Sériziats and Jacques-Louis David were related through marriage. David’s wife was Marguerite Charlotte Pécoul, whom he had married in 1782 and who at the time was about half his age. Marguerite’s sister was Emilie Pécoul. She became Madame Sériziat when she married Pierre Sériziat. Pierre was a rather dapper and elegant looking fellow who might be described as a dandy. He was also wealthy and owned a country home in Favières (Seine-et-Marne), near Tournane-en Brie, about twenty miles east of Paris.
David was a French painter of the Neoclassical style and considered to be the preeminent painter of the Georgian era. He was also a Jacobin, supporter of the French Revolution, and a friend of Maximilien Robespierre. In addition, he was a member of the National Convention and voted for King Louis XVI’s death, which so upset his wife she divorced him in 1793.
Charles Claude Théveneau, better known as the Chevalier de Morande, was a Frenchman who wound up in London working as a pamphleteer and journalist. In that capacity, he found himself in trouble for comments he said in the press and once even found himself challenged to a duel. It occurred in 1778 after Morande made some unkind remarks about a man and his wife in the press. The man, Henry Bate (who in 1784 became Henry Bate-Dudley), was a reverend and an editor for the Morning Post. Bate was also nicknamed “The Fighting Parson” or “The Reverend Bruiser” for having fought some young men in Vauxhall Gardens.
The duel between Morande and Bate was scheduled for a Friday morning, 28 August 1778, at 5 o’clock at the Ring in Hyde Park. Bate’s was accompanied by Captain Bailie and a surgeon and Morande’s second was a Mr. Austin. After the pistols were loaded, Bate got out of his post-chaise and took his ground. Morande followed immediately.