Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Family Papers

When the last of my maternal grandfather's siblings, my great-aunt Bet, passed on, the accumulated family history that had belonged to her was left to her daughter, Marion, and granddaughter, Fontaine, who is the family history keeper/researcher of the two.  During a family history extravaganza weekend that my brother, Michael and I shared with them a couple of years ago, Marion and Fontaine, knowing my interest in such things, gave me this document that was among the family papers they'd inherited.  It  is unsigned, undated.  Its existence in the Maury family papers only indicates that someone along the way thought it worth keeping.  Maybe someone that believed him to be related to our branch of the Maury line.  Nothing concrete, but still interesting to me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hotel L'Àcadamie, Paris: One Snowy Day

On the way out the door and took a moment to take a picture of my enthusiastic, agreeable travel partner.  It was snowing and I had to hurry.  Please excuse the unmade bed.  (Truth be told, I rarely make my bed.  I like rumpled sheets.)

Musée Carnavalet - I look like I'm holding my breath in anticipation

I'm meeting my friend, Terri, tomorrow to talk about our 2015 Marie Antoinette tour!

First Day, probably the most important day of my school year, certainly the most high profile, is OVER.   If one can be high profile (in the little pond that is TWHS) while in a windowless bunker-like room with thousands of sheets of paper containing students' names, and an adding machine, I was.  For the record, our active student count is 3034.  Or, is it 3043?  Oh, well, it's in the past and all balanced and on a cart ready for me to pawn off on someone else who I'm sure will be delighted to see it.

So, now I can concentrate on the crazy-good Mother-Daughter tour to Austria and Paris that Terri and I are going to lead.  She's going to lead and I'm going to run along next to her and provide a steady stream of the Marie Antoinette, French history chatter that I've had to suppress for six years.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"The best way to mend a broken heart is time and girlfriends."

Gwyneth Paltrow said, according to a quote source website, "The best way to mend a broken heart is time and girlfriends."  The website doesn't explain the context in which Ms. Paltrow made this observation, but maybe she should've added wine to the list.  I wish it had been Kirsten Dunst that said it since this she played Marie Antoinette in a movie, which would make it more applicable, but I don't always get what I want.

The Princesse de Lamballe's and Queen Marie Antoinette's friendship began with the Queen offering consolation to a broken-hearted Princesse.  It seemed like a good idea to launch into this story with some lame humor, at the risk of seeming insensitive, because the story gets progressively more dark and depressing as it goes along...

Given the insulated, often lonely, life she led, it's no wonder that Marie Antoinette so valued her intimate female friendships.  The first and most long-lasting of them was with the Princesse de Lamballe.

Formerly Princesse Marie Louise of Savoy, she married the Duc de Penthièvre's son, the Prince de Lamballe, when she was seventeen years old and attained the title of Princess de Lamballe.  Like most royal and aristocratic marriages of the day, it was arranged by their families.  Nonetheless, the Princesse recorded in her memoirs that her husband-to-be was so anxious to get a pre-official presentation look at her that he joined the group that traveled to meet her when she arrived in France, disguised as a page.  She was so taken with the page that during the journey to Paris, she exclaimed, "I hope my prince will allow his page to attend me, for I like him much.  What was my surprise when the Duc de Penthièvre presented me to the Prince and I found in him the page for whom I had already felt such an interest!  We both laughed and wanted words to express our mutual sentiments.  This was really love at first sight."

Alas, their bliss was short-lived.  The duc de Penthièvre had selected Princesse Marie Louise hoping that her beauty and purity would influence his son to abandon his dissolute lifestyle.  A lifestyle he shared with his sister's husband the infamous duc de Chartres.  Didn't happen.  Within two years he had sold her diamonds, run off with an opera singer, and died of a venereal disease.

The Princesse de Lamballe softened the edges of the story in her memoirs by blaming it on the brother-in-law, the duc de Chartres, for leading her husband astray.  She claims that he did so because she had rejected his advances.  Maybe and maybe, but the duc de Chartres, later, after he'd inherited the title of duc d'Orleans, went on to turn his family residence, the Palais Royale, into a den of iniquity, crawling with thieves, prostitutes, radicals, and gambling, to fund his debts.  He was also rumored to have used his intimate knowledge of Versailles to direct the mob up the stairs to Marie Antoinette's bedchamber in the early morning hours of October 6, 1789, the day the Royal Family was forced to abandon the chateau for the decidedly less comfortable lodgings at the Tuileries.  THEN, as a revolutionary, the self-styled Philippe Égalité, he voted for the death of his own cousin, Louis XVI.  He is (dis)credited, by historians, as contributing to the delinquency of the Prince de Lamballe, but it wasn't simply because the Princesse de Lamballe shut him down.  I'm pretty sure he was just a bad guy.

Sorry, I tend to go off on a tangent when Chartres/d'Orleans/Égalité's name comes up.

For better or for worse, the Princess' heartbreak over the death of her husband, who died in her arms, led to her friendship with Marie Antoinette.  In her own words, "It was amid this gloom of human agony, these heart-rending scenes of real mourning, that the brilliant star shone to disperse the clouds, which hovered over our drooping heads…  it was in this crisis that Marie Antoinette came, like a messenger sent down from Heaven, graciously to offer the balm of comfort in the sweetest language of human compassion.  The pure emotions of her generous soul made her unceasing, unremitting, in her visits to the two mortals (she and her husband's grieving father) who must else have perished under the weight of their misfortunes….  From that moment I became seriously attached to the Queen of France."

The Princesse's attachment to the Queen spanned twenty years - from the light, heady years of Versailles and the Petit Trianon to the dark years of the Tuileries and Tower.  (In the interest of good taste, I resisted the urge to make a head-less association with the Tuileries and Tower.  If it's within parentheses, it doesn't count.)

This Post is so Convoluted that I Don't Know What the Title Should Be

The Lamballe was Marie Antoinette's first close friend in France, but their friendship wasn't without its ups and downs.  At the beginning, even the ever critical Austrian Ambassador, comte de Mercy-Argenteau, who was always quick to send a courier galloping to Austria to deliver reports of Marie Antoinette's latest misstep to her mother, had good things to say about the Queen and her new companion.  His June 7, 1774 missive said, "Her Majesty often sees in her cabinets, the princesse de Lamballe, née princesse de Carignan; she is sweet, pleasant, no intriguer, and quite without any drawbacks.  For some time already, the Queen has felt real friendship for this young Princess and her choice is an excellent one because Mme Lamballe, though a Piedmontese, is not at all close to Madame or the comtesse d'Artois."

The friendship was still strong on August 31, 1775, when the Queen wrote to her mother, "The comtesse de Noailles has resigned;  the King has granted me Mme de Lamballe as Superintendent…  I hope that what my dear Mama will learn about Mme de Lamballe will convince her that there is no fear to be had of her connection with my sisters-in-law.  She has always had a good reputation and is not at all Italian…"  Marie Antoinette doesn't mention to her mother that by choosing her friend as Superintendent of the Household, she was, in effect, demoting the comtesse de Noailles,  (whom she referred to as Madame Etiquette, because of her strict observation of the court rules and rituals the stifled Marie Antoinette)   The powerful Noailles family was not one to be crossed and by doing the Queen made enemies when she should've been stockpiling friends.

The Italians were stereotyped as crafty and manipulative - "intriguers," as they were known.  Both Mercy and Marie Antoinette point out that the Lamballe wasn't close to Marie Antoinette's sisters-in-laws (who were siblings) because alliances were never a good thing at Versailles.  That place was a snake pit.

A cloud soon drifted into the sunny skies above these girlfriends.  A third girl.  Recipe for disaster.  Yolande de Polastron, the duchesse de Polinac, arrived at Versailles the same year that the Princesse was appointed Superintendent of the Household.  Her charms and beauty were thought to be considerable, but I've got to stop getting sidetracked, so I'll leave it at that.  By January 17, 1778, Mercy wrote to the Empress, back in Austria, "The Queen often has some difficulty in keeping up the appearance of friendship between the princess de Lamballe and the comtesse de Polinac.  As the latter's favor grows, that of the Superintendent withers away so that she has now become a bore and an annoyance to the Queen."

A familiar scenario.

Note that first Yolande was the duchesse de Polinac, then the comtesse.  Her fortune and standing, and that of her extended family, soared under Marie Antoinette's patronage.  The less-favored members of the court were jealous, the People were incensed, and pamphleteers from both camps churned out libelles of the (non-existant) sexual exploits of the Queen and her friend.  It was during the years of her friendship with the Polinac that Marie Antoinette became hated by many of her subjects.

The whole reason I brought this up is that in her memoirs, the Lamballe says she left Versailles to stay with her father-in-law at Rambouillet during this time.  Being odd girl out is never much fun - presumably the Lamballe left Versailles because she didn't approve of the Polinac and was jealous the Queen and her new favorite.  According to her memoir, the Lamballe believed she'd been poisoned while she was at Rambouillet.  She didn't specify who might've wanted to poison her, only that it wasn't a member of her father-in-law's household.

The whole reason I wanted (Lord, do I like to give "the whole reason" or do I not?!) to mention the poison episode is that it's one of the anecdotes in the Lamballe's memoir that made me question their validity which makes me question the validity of just about every source.  I've not read that particular poison story anywhere else.  And, who is this mysterious Catherine Hyde editor person?  How do I know she didn't write that memoir herself?  Sure, there are verifiable stories in it, but what about some of the lesser known and unknown stories?  Are they true?   It's hard to tell, but I'm going to go with Yes, because to read her memoir is to feel like I'm sitting on the couch with my feet tucked under me, listening to Marie Antoinette's closest friend share stories of events that happened more than two hundred years ago.
Yolande de Polinac

In Better Days: Girlfriend-y Tête-à-Têtes au le Petit Trianon

Thanks to my sparkly and tenacious friend, Elissa, and the connections her Chasing French History  afford, we held our collective breath as we feasted on a private tour (us, a resident expert and a security guard - that's private)  of the normally unseen rooms in Marie Antoinettes' private chateau, the Petit Trianon.  It's well within walking distance of Versailles for those of us for whom, like Elissa and me (and her husband, Matt, who'd smilingly walk anywhere for her and carry her stuff, too) no distance would be too great.

The Princesse de Lamballe was such a close friend of Marie Antoinette's that she had her own small suite of rooms in the Petit Trianon.  The A-List was short, due to the size of the chateau and the scant number of intimates that Marie Antoinette could trust and with whom she could let down her hair.  Or take off her crown, as the case may be.

The Princesse de Lamballe actually lived in these rooms.  The tour guide and security guard rewarded our awe and informed, reverential comments and questions by expanding the tour, letting us see and experience more than we'd even hoped.  Not many people have the honor of walking on the wooden floorboards of the stage in Marie Antoinette's private, tiny jewel of a theatre.  We did, because Elissa is ridiculously charming and persuasive.

Micah and I happened to visit the Petit Trianon on one of the infrequent days that the chapel was open. Marie Antoinette and the Princesse were devout Catholics although, at this point in Marie Antoinette's life, her faith was perhaps more rote than later, when she desperately needed it.  You know what they say about atheists in foxholes.

Marie Antoinette valued the Princess de Lamballe's friendship during these days, but couldn't have imagined the path it would take.  She couldn't have known the depth of the friendship nor could she have been aware of the well of untapped strength into which her fragile, sensitive friend would draw to prove her loyalty.  Neither of them had been tested.  As Thomas Jefferson said of the Court of France around this time, and I paraphrase, because I don't have his exact words in front of me:  …The French Court is so thoroughly insulated by luxury and the service of underlings that they pass through life with scarcely a jostle….  

Jefferson said it better (surprise!) but I can't find where I recorded the quote.  It's probably on a post-it note on the floor of my car, concealed by month-old french fries (unintentional French reference) or in the pocket of a forgotten pair of pajamas.  

Challenges increased and Marie Antoinette was forced to rise to the occasion over and over.  She was quoted more than once, as she mused that she hardly recognized herself in her new role, that she felt that one never knows oneself until tested by extremity.  She credited her mother for her newfound strength.

Hyde and Seek

I'm looking for the truth.  How sure can one be that a memoir published after a person's death is authentic?  The Secret Memoirs of the Princesse de Lamballe edited by Catherine Hyde is a case in point.   According to Catherine Hyde, it was through the fact that she was a music student of the composer Sacchini that she came to the attention of the Lamballe and Marie Antoinette.  Catherine records modestly, "when one day teaching Maria Antoinette, he so highly overrated to that illustrious lady my infant natural talents and acquired science in his arts , in the presence of her very shadow, the Princess Lamballe, as to excite in Her Majesty and eager desire for the opportunity of hearing me…"  The Princesse de Lamballe went to the rue de Bacq convent in which Catherine lived and studied, to hear her play and was impressed.  The young woman spoke four languages and, what's more, was converting to Catholicism and must've seemed to be the kind of girl that could keep a secret, because the Lamballe employed her for a variety of assignments.  Or, as Catherine wrote, "I became the protégé of this ever-regretted angel."  

Catherine became something of an all-purpose Fille Vendredi.  (I'm sinking low with that one.)  During the Revolution and the years that the Royal Family and their attendants, including the Princesse de Lamballe, were at the Tuileries and Tower, she was a courier, a spy, an errand-girl within France and abroad.  In this capacity, she was "repeatedly a witness, by the side of the Princess Lamballe, of the appalling scenes… when the Queen was generally selected as the most marked victim of malicious indignity.  Having had the honor of so often beholding this much-injured Queen and never without remarking how amiable in her manners, how condescendingly kind in her deportment toward everyone about her, how charitably generous, and withal, how beautiful she was;  I looked upon her as a model of perfection."

Catherine describes how the Princesse, only months before her death, delivered the journal into her hands in a private alley of the Tuileries, for her to read and protect.  Catherine supplemented it with her observations and memories and, violà, a glorious evening reading the events of the French Revolution as seen through the eyes of the Princesse de Lamballe and her secret agent.

The top three pictures are of the remains of the burned Tuileries Palace.  They're practically unmarked in an obscure park in Paris.  If not for Elissa, I'd not be aware of them.  Their existance hasn't been mentioned in anything I've read.

I was standing on the former location of the Tuileries when I took the picture of the Eiffel Tower in the snow last March.  The Tuileries was the fourth side of the square formed that was formed by it and the Louvre.  The engraving is of the Tuileries before it burned down.  Behind it, in the distance, are the Obelisk, standing in what is now know as the Place de Concorde, and beyond that, the Arc de Triomphe.

The cuter-in-real-life orange, waterproof shoes are on my feet standing on the snowy ground on which the Tuileries stood before it was burned down in 1871.

I confess.  The title of this post was stolen from a post on Marie Antoinette forum.

Bleached by Sorrow

At some point in 1791, the date of which, in order not to get side-tracked by researching, I won't specify, the Princess de Lamballe left Paris.  She and Marie Antoinette continued to correspond.  Marie Antoinette sent the Lamballe this ring made with her (MA's) own hair.  Marie Antoinette sent the ring and a letter in which she writes "The King, Elizabeth (Louis XVI's younger sister), and all of us, are anxious for your return.  But, it would grieve us sorely for you to come back to such scenes as you have already witnessed…"  She also says that the change in her hair color is a result of being "Bleached by Sorrow" due to her tribulations.   She signed, "Ever, ever, and forever, Your affectionate, Marie Antoinette"

I took this picture of the ring in Musée Carnavalet - my favorite museum in the whole world.  Nothing else compares. 

Loyalty and love won out over fear of scenes.  As the Princess related in her memoir, "On receipt of these much esteemed epistles, I returned, as my duty directed, to the best of Queens, and most sincere of friends.  My arrival at Paris, though much wished for, was totally unexpected.  At our first meeting, the Queen was so agitated that she was utterly at a loss to explain the satisfaction that she felt in beholding me once more near her royal person.  Seeing the ring on my finger, which she had done me the honor of sending me, she pointed to her hair, once so beautiful, but now, like that of an old woman, not only gray, but deprived of all its softness, quite stiff and dried up."  

"Madame Elizabeth, the King, and the rest of our little circle, lavished on me the most endearing caresses.  The dear dauphin said to me, 'You will not go away again, I hope, Princess?  Oh, mamma has cried so hard since you left us.'  I had wept enough before, but this dear little angel brought tears into the eyes of us all."

"To abandon her in adversity, Sire, would stain my character…"

The Princess' friends and relatives tried to persuade her to leave France, but she refused.  Her
father-in-law, the Duc de Penthièvre, himself revered as a man of honor and philanthropy, loved his widowed daughter-in-law as his own and persuaded the Court of France to entreat that the King of Sardinia, as head of her family, urge her to leave the Royal Family and return to the safety of her native country.

This is the letter the Lamballe wrote him, in response to his request.:

"Sire and Most August Cousin,
     I do not recollect that any of our illustrious ancestors of the house of Savoy, before or since the great hero Charles Emanuel, of immortal memory, ever dishonored or tarnished their illustrious names with cowardice.  In leaving the Court of France at this awful crisis, I should be the first.  Can Your Majesty pardon my presumption in differing from your royal council?  The King, Queen, and every member of the Royal Family of France, both from ties of blood and policy of states, demand our united efforts in their defense.  I cannot swerve from my determination of never quitting them, especially at a moment when they are abandoned by every one of their former attendants, except myself.  In happier days, Your Majesty may command my obedience;  but, in the present instance, and given up as is the Court of France to their most atrocious persecutors, I must humbly insist on being guided by my own decision.  During the most brilliant period of the reign of Marie Antoinette, I was distinguished by the royal favor and bounty.  To abandon her in adversity, Sire, would stain my character, and that of my illustrious family, for ages to come with infamy and cowardice, much more to be dreaded than the most cruel death."

The Murder of the Princesse de Lamballe

The Princesse's service to the Royal Family was over in August 1792 when she, and Governess to the Children of France, the Marquise de Tourzel, and her teenage daughter, Pauline, were removed from The Temple, and imprisoned at La Force.  On September 2, in one of the most well-known atrocities of the September Massacres, the Princesse was subjected to an impromptu mock trial.

 What happened, according to Catherine Hyde's account, as included in her editing of the Lamballe's journal:
"The massacres had begun at midnight.  The fiends had been some hours busy in the work of death.   The piercing shrieks of the dying victims brought the Princess and her remaining companion upon their knees, in fervent prayer for the souls of the departed.  The messengers of the tribunal now appeared,  The Princess was compelled to attend the summons.  She went, accompanied by her faithful female attendant.

A glance at the sea of blood, of which she caught a glimpse upon her way to the court, had nearly shocked her even to sudden death.  Would it had!  She staggered, but was sustained by her companion,  Her courage triumphed.  She appeared before the gore-stained tribunes.

After some questions of mere form, her highness was commanded to swear to be faithful to the new government, and to hate the King, the Queen, and royalty.

"To the first," replied her highness, "I willingly submit.  To the second, how can I accede?  There is nothing of which I can accuse the Royal Family.  To hate them is against my nature.  They are my sovereigns.  They are my friends and relations.  I have served them for many years and never have I found a reason for the slightest complaint."

Hyde says that an eyewitness, someone who had known the Princesse since childhood, had been at the scene, followed the Princesse's body for as long as possible afterwards and had personally related the events to herself (Hyde).

According to Antonia Fraser's "Marie Antoinette, the Journey," when pressed to denounce the King and Queen, the Princesse, once so fragile that she fainted at the least provocation, refused, with the words: "I have nothing to reply.  Dying a little earlier or a little later is a matter of indifference to me.  I am prepared to make the sacrifice of my life."
Thus rebuked, the judges released her, knowing full well that their directive sent her to the street where the frenzied mob was ready and waiting.  They set on her immediately.  Reports vary, but agree that at the very least, she was sexually mutilated and decapitated.  Supposedly her head was taken to a barber to repair the damage enough that her famous blond locks would be recognizable when her head decorated the end of a pike.

The witness accounts of Cléry, Louis XVI's valet de chambre, and Marie-Thérése, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI's daughter, among others, are uncontested.  The crowd, drunk on a combination of wine, hatred, and ignorance, boisterously paraded to The Temple Tower, the head of the former Princesse Marie Louise of Savoy aloft, where they attempted to show it to Marie Antoinette.  In a twisted attempt at humor, they wanted the Queen to kiss the lips of the woman whom the libelles had (falsely) accused of being her lover.  The King and Queen, their children, the King's sister, Elizabeth, their remaining attendants, and their guards were aware of the chaos that had taken over Paris as (the pre-planned) violence spread from the prisons to the streets.  Cléry and the Tisons,  a couple who'd been assigned to aid/guard/spy on the family, were the first to see the Lamballe's head.  The loyal Cléry rushed to the family to prevent them from seeing the sight, but before he had a chance to break the news to them, an official brusquely told Marie Antoinette that the head of the Princesse de Lamballe had been brought on a pike to illustrate how "the people avenge themselves of tyrants."    Marie Antoinette, according to her daughter, Marie-Thérése's (she was the only member of the captive family to survive the Revolution) memoirs, was, for a moment, "frozen with horror" before she dropped to the ground, unconscious.

Some people claim that the Duc de Penthièvre, at one time one of the wealthiest men in France, paid a fortune in bribes in an attempt to rescue his daughter-in-law then spent a fortune for the recovery of her body and/or head, in order to give her a proper burial.  No one really knows if that's true.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rachael and Maury

The Wedding and Reception

 Michael - Father of the Groom

 Betsy Fauntleroy and my father's wife, Mary Belle

Allie reading a poem Michael had written for Maury
My son and my father

With my son, David

Never has it been more obvious that my husband, Terry, and brother, Jerry, are soulmates than at this wedding.  Had it not been for Jerry's handwritten letter to Terry asking that he come, he might not have even made the trip.  They were two peas in a pod for most of the weekend.  When Jerry said their relationship was like his with Bill McFarland, his childhood best friend that died in Vietnam, I knew that this was serious business.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Busy every minute

 Jake, Jack, Katie - I have to point out here that Katie and my nephew, Jake, grew up down the street from each other in Bay Colony, rode the bus together and married 34 years later.  Their wedding was one of the most special I've ever attended.
 Allie, Michael, Ryan

Katherine (I'd like to post the picture of Kath dancing with David but it's scandalous.)
Jerry and Elizabeth

Terry and Don

 David and Don

Jack and Mary
Allie and Terry

 Ben and Mona
David and part of my foot

Emily Jane, David, Katie
Katie, Jim, David

Caroline and Katie


There's no photograph to memorialize it, but my favorite cousin image is of David's arrival at the hotel at Friday midnight.  He hadn't been able to get there in time for the cousins' dinner, but most of us were gathering in the bar.  I came down in the elevator, walked across the lobby, looked up to see Maury and David in a big, long embrace.  I love to see my children with the children of my siblings and love that they all love to get together.