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.”
Perhaps, Napoleon felt that way based partly on what his mother Letizia once wrote about her early life, marriage, and children: Continue reading →
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 →
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.”Continue reading →
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.” Continue reading →
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 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, 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 →
Henri, Count of Chambord was born on 29 September 1820 at the Tuileries Palace and named Henri of Artois. Henri was the son of Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, and his wife Princess Caroline of Naples and Sicily. Unfortunately, Henri’s father, the Duke of Berry who was also the youngest son of Charles X of France, was assassinated seven months before Henri’s birth and died on 14 February 1820.
To ensure the legitimacy of Henri’s birth by the Princess Caroline, witnesses were brought in, and among the witnesses was Maréchal Suchet who had been chosen by Bonapartists to witness and certify the birth. The birth happened so quickly the Princess refused to have Henri separated from the umbilical cord before the official witnesses arrived. Thus, when Suchet arrived, the Duchess supposedly told him to tug on the umbilical cord and see that it was still attached. According to the British ambassador Sir Charles Stuart, “Suchet proved a bit faint-hearted and she repeated, ‘Mais tirez donc, M. le Maréchal.'”
Marie Antoinette’s hair was of intense interest to the French in the 18th century. In fact, the hairstyles she created and wore helped to establish her identity as a French queen. With the help of her hairdresser, Marie Antoinette created some of the most memorable styles, including one towering pouf that featured a French frigate, complete with masts and rigging, called Pouf a la Belle Poule. Eventually, however, the queen’s hair began falling out. Just as quickly as her towering pouf hairstyles had risen to extraordinary heights, short locks became all the rage when her hair was chopped off.
The Queen’s hair changed again after France found itself in the middle of a revolution. It was reported that suddenly the Queen’s strawberry blonde hair was white and that it became white practically over night. But the idea that a person’s hair can turn white over night, did not first happen to the French Queen. The first mention of someone’s hair turning white overnight was printed in the Talmud, where it was claimed that it happened to a 17-year-old Jewish scholar because of overwork. There were also apparently other cases of hair turning white over night, which were pointed out by one nineteenth-century doctor in the following description: Continue reading →