Napoleon II, Son of Napoleon I and Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma

Birth of Napoleon II. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Napoleon II, son of Napoleon I and Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma was born at the Tuileries Palace on 20 March 1811. It was a dangerous birth that caused the attending doctor, Antoine Dubois, to fear that either the Archduchess or the child might die. Marie Louise was worried enough that she told Dubois if he had to choose between her or her child, the child must be saved. Napoleon I was also worried and wrote: Continue reading

Anecdotes about the Court of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte, Author’s collection.

There are many anecdotes about the court of Napoleon Bonaparte. One book, Memoirs of the Court of Napoleon Buonaparte, published in 1819, contained numerous anecdotes and was supposedly written by Madame Durand, a lady of the bedchamber to Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise. Madame Durand was also the widow of General Durand and served Marie Louise for four years.

Here are some of the anecdotes related by Madame Durand and provided almost verbatim: Continue reading

Napoleon Bonaparte’s Mother: Letizia Ramolino

Napoleon Bonaparte's mother
Napoleon’s Mother, Letizia Ramolino. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s mother, Letizia Ramolino was a sensible, pragmatic, domineering, and no-nonsense mother, and even after Napoleon became Emperor, she still acted like his mother. To demonstrate, once when Napoleon presented his hand for her to kiss, she flung it at him and presented her own hand instead. Although Napoleon and his mother had their differences with one another, Napoleon still respected her and once said of her, “She has always been an excellent woman, a mother without an equal; she deserved all reverence.”[1]

Perhaps, Napoleon felt that way based partly on what his mother Letizia once wrote about her early life, marriage, and children: Continue reading

5 People Marie Antoinette Disliked (or Despised)

A View of Hameau de la Reine. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Marie Antoinette loved hot chocolate, towering hairdos, and flowers. She also loved the small château called Petit Trianon that Louis XVI gave after he became King. It was Marie Antoinette’s retreat where she could ramble through pathways dressed in muslin gowns and floppy hats and pretend she was a commoner. She could also visit the Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet) near Petit Trianon with its rustic gardens, dairy, and functional farm. Yet, despite all these things that Marie Antoinette loved, there were at least five people at court that she disliked (or despised). These five people included Anne d’Arpajon, Madame du Barry, Jacques Necker, Madame de Genlis, and the famous general of the American Revolution Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Continue reading

Count d’Artois at the Scottish Palace of Holyrood

Engraving of Count d’Artois. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

After the Bastille was stormed in July of 1789, Louis XVI’s youngest brother, the Count d’Artois, fled France with his family. They lived briefly in Italy and Germany before finally settling in Great Britain in 1792. There the Count became a leader of the French émigrés and was welcomed by King George III, who also gave him a generous allowance.

Although the Count d’Artois was welcomed in Great Britain, he wanted the Bourbon monarchy to rule in France. So, he outfitted an army on borrowed money around 1795 and became involved in a royalist uprising against revolutionaries in La Vendée. Things did not go as planned. He was beaten and returned to Great Britain defeated. However, before he landed in Great Britain, he was “advised that should he step ashore he would be liable to imprisonment for debt under British law if he did not meet the sum due.”[1] Continue reading

Anecdotes of the Princesse de Lamballe’s Travels

Princesse de Lamballe. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The Princesse de Lamballe enjoyed traveling and went numerous places in and around France. Sometimes she traveled with the King and Queen’s court, her sister-in-law (Louise Marie Adelaide), or her adopted daughter (Madame de Lâge]. Sometimes these trips were for relaxation and sometimes they were targeted to help the princess’s health as she suffered from convulsive vapors and was said to faint at the slightest thing. For instance, numerous observers reported that she fainted from the smell of violets, at the sight of a lobster (even in a painting), or after hearing the famous castratro, Gaspare Pacchierotti.

The first anecdote is about a trip to the Fontainebleau Palace, which is located southeast of Paris some 43 miles away. It was a spot that King Louis XVI and his court traveled to annually, and during one of these annual trips in 1775, the Queen and the Princesse de Lamballe decided to relax by sailing on what the Queen called her Gondolas on a lake near the palace.

“[A] gondola window fell and hit the Queen, bruising her arm. The event so frightened the princess that she fainted, and when she awoke, she found the Queen solicitous for her welfare while everyone else tended to the Queen.”[1] Continue reading

11 Facts About Marie Antoinette You May Not Know

facts about Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette at the age of thirteen; by Joseph Ducreux, 1769. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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

The Indictment Against Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette au Tribunal révolutionnaire. By Alphonse François From Painting by Paul Delaroche (1857). Courtesy of Library of Congress
Marie Antoinette au Tribunal révolutionnaire. By Alphonse François From Painting by Paul Delaroche (1857). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

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.”[1]

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

Louis XVI’s Sibling: Count of Artois or Charles X

The Dauphin Louis and the Dauphine Marie Josèphe, Public Domain
The Dauphin Louis and the Dauphine Marie Josèphe. Public Domain.

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

A Plot to Save Marie Antoinette: The Carnation Plot

Marie Antoinette. Author’s Collection.

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