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Circumstances of His Death

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Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:11 pm


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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:07 pm


The boy-king Louis XVII was forcibly removed from his mother Marie-Antoinette in the summer of 1793. He was eight years old. He was beaten and abused, especially when he refused to deny God. He was forced to sing obscene songs and curse and swear. He was shown pornography. The soldiers poured alcohol down his throat so that he became drunk. It was in an intoxicated state that he was forced to sign the testimony that his own mother had committed incest with him. One can see from his handwriting that he was not himself, especially when comparing it with his schoolwork.

Why did the builders of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" feel compelled to torment a small child? Because they knew that children are the future. To manipulate and enslave a child's mind, to weaken his free will through alcohol, pornography and sexualization, is to make him a creature of the state, an automaton, a drone. The horror of the Temple prison has been replicated, in some degree at least, by every totalitarian dictatorship, by the communist and fascist regimes who wished to enslave the Church and make a god of the nation-state. When the state becomes a god, it is insatiable, for every false god is a demon. (Sources: The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during the Revolution by Nesta Webster, Louis and Antoinette by Vincent Cronin)


Handwriting of the Dauphin Louis-Charles, from his exercise books, with corrections from his father, Louis XVI.

The drunken scrawl of the eight year old Louis XVII in prison.

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Circumstances of his death.

Post  Rex from Australia on Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:19 am

Does anyone know if the men who so shockingly treated this poor child were ever brought to justice?

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:11 pm

Simon and Robespierre both died on the guillotine. I don't know what became of some of the others. As far as I know there was never any official inquiry into the boy's death, other than what Madame Royale conducted on her own. I think the powers-that-be were always too afraid at what would be revealed to the public.

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Julygirl on Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:19 pm

Leah Marie Brown has an extensive post on the mistreatment and death of Louis XVII. Crying or Very sad Sad

http://leahmariebrownhistoricals.blogspot.com/2012/07/on-this-day-adieu-ma-chere-mere.html
Our unfortunate story opens in the Temple Prison on this day, the third of July, 1793. Dusk has fallen, wrapping the medieval fortress in a velvet blanket of darkness, and the fractured royal family (By this time, Louis XVI has already been executed), is about to begin their evening ritual of prayers and reading.

Suddenly, the door to their cell swings open, banging loudly against the stone walls, and a contingent of municipal officers enter.

Marie Antoinette is told she will be forcibly separated from her beloved seven-year-old son, Louis-Charles.

She does not take the news calmly. She stands at the foot of her son's bed, arms splayed, loudly, vehemently refusing to let anyone near the frightened boy. In this moment, she is not Marie Antoinete, former Queen of France and Navarre, but Marie Antoinette, the mother. A primal instinct to protect her threatened offspring is greater than any desire to appear dignified. The stand-off lasted nearly an hour.

Finally, one of the municipal officers threatens violence if she does not peacefully yield to the parting.

Can you see her in that moment? Perhaps she let her arms fall heavily to her sides. Maybe her shoulders slumped and her chin dropped to her chest in a posture of defeat. Her sense of hopeless must have hung thick and heavy in the air. It would have taken a hard-hearted individual to stand idly by and witness such an emotionally-charged scene.
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:42 pm

Elena wrote:Simon and Robespierre both died on the guillotine. I don't know what became of some of the others. As far as I know there was never any official inquiry into the boy's death, other than what Madame Royale conducted on her own. I think the powers-that-be were always too afraid at what would be revealed to the public.

I feel the need to defend Robespierre here. Not on the grounds that harming Louis XVII was "okay" but on the grounds that there is no evidence that Robespierre was responsible for the abuse.

There is only one singular incident that can be used to paint Robespierre was personally responsible for Louis XVII's neglect. This incident is recorded in Madame Royale's memoirs, where she said that she was visited in prison by a man who she "thought" was Robespierre because of the deference the guards showed to him. He poked through her books for awhile but said nothing to her. She then handed this man a note where she asked to see her brother. Nothing came of it.

Madame Royale's identification of Robespierre seems tenuous at best. The princess herself isn't entirely certain. For that matter, I find it unlikely that Maximilien Robespierre would have personally decided to do a search of the princess' cell. If he suspected that she had compromising materials why not send an underling to look?

But if this man was Robespierre, his ignoring her request would be a sin of omission in regards to the treatment of the prince...If, of course, Robespierre could have altered the treatment of the prince.

Once again, we have to use the memoirs (since they are our only evidence) to check how much influence Robespierre would have had when it came to pandering to his more human sensibilities. We learn that this alleged visit took place two or three days after the execution of Madame Elisabeth. Robespierre had strongly objected to the execution of this elder princess but it had gone on without his approval. So his influence wasn't at its peak; indeed, it seems that the more radical members of the CSP, such as Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois, were on the rise. On that note, his pleas for Madame Elisabeth's life probably antagonized men like Collot d'Herbois (at least, Robespierre thought it did and confessed as much in an unguarded moment to Barere). This being the case, would Robespierre want to risk the fury of his colleagues when, as far as he knows, no one's life is in any danger and when he is likely to fail anyway?

Probably not.

But even had he decided to take the risk, Maximilien Robespierre was a member of the Committee of Public Safety. Louis XVII, meanwhile, was the responsibility of the Committee of General Security. The Committee of General Security was, with the exception of Le Bas, who was often absent on mission, and David, staffed by Robespierre's enemies. He wasn't dictating orders to them and if he did, they probably wouldn't obey. It was up to them how Louis XVII was treated - and we don't even know if they bothered to inform the CSP and Robespierre of their decisions.

There's also the little fact that Robespierre was executed in 1794 and the prince died in 1795. So that's a year that the abuse continued without any Robespierrist influence.

Robespierre shouldn't shoulder the responsibility for this life. In highlighting him for proscription, we are allowing the true men responsible to escape unscathed. Vadier or Amar would be more apt. Unfortunately, whereas Robespierre would have paid for his crime on the scaffold, I believe both Vadier and Amar lived to a ripe old age.

...Although, I'm even reluctant to type Vadier or Amar's names. I am not as familiar with the politics of the Committee of General Security, so I might be accusing the wrong men. But they seemed to be the bloody vanguard of that body so I stand by my educated guess. To be fair to them: I could be wrong as to their individual responsibility. But even if they were individually innocent (and I doubt they were) the blame still falls on their Committee.

Not Robespierre's.
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:06 pm

Interesting points. It should also be noted that Madame Royale wrote her Memoirs under the guidance of Madame de Chanterenne, who came from the political enemies of Robespierre, and wanted to color him to be as evil as possible.

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:27 pm

That is true. Assuming that Chanterenne was influencing Madame Royale's pen, this would buffer my argument. Because to reiterate: aside from his alleged sin of omission in refusing the princess to visit her brother, we don't have any evidence of Robespierre arranging the abuse at all, considering Louis was the responsibility of a rival body. Even I'm just making waves over nothing and Madame Royale was correct in her identification of Robespierre, this isn't even proof in itself that Robespierre knew or was responsible for the abuse. All it would prove was that he found Madame Royale's imprisonment suitable and that he didn't think she should see her brother.

But back to Chanterenne, I doubt Madame Royale would consciously defame someone, influence or no influence. Furthermore, had they wanted to employ calumny, they were pretty tame in calling a Republican "impudent" and having him ignore a note. If if was a conscious blackening I'd imagine that there would have been some allusions to cannibalism, dictatorial theocracies, human sacrifices and some puppy-kicking sprinkled in for good measure. If you're going to lie, why lie small? But maybe I'm just too used to Thermidorian pamphlets...

Madame Royale may well have just been mistaken. Robespierre was famous and she knew his name. At the time, she may have ignorantly assumed that the mysterious visitor was Robespierre and just clung to the conclusion her whole life. Or perhaps she had been visited by Maximilien's younger brother, Augustin. The pair had been mistaken for one another on other occasions - this is why, if you read the accounts of Thermidor, it sometimes seems as though Maximilien Robespierre is in two places at once, for people kept mistaking Augustin for his more illustrious sibling. This is just pure speculation and is ground in nothing factual at all (I'm not even certain Augustin was in Paris at the time in question), but I have an easier time imagining Augustin doing a menial task such as searching a prisoner's cell than I can Maximilien...
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Tue May 28, 2013 5:32 pm

I fell into a discussion over the matter with Anna Amber on tumblr and since it pertains to this thread I thought I'd share.

She wrote to me:

I got curious, and I’m not 100% sure on this but:

There are at least two published versions of Madame Royale’s memoirs. The earliest edition was published in 1817 without her permission—this early edition, published without her name and retaining her original third person perspective, was made from a copy of the original manuscript she wrote in the Temple. The later editions, published as early as 1823, were from a longer manuscript that she worked on with Louis XVIII, who helped her edit and “correct” her updated manuscript.

In the original 1817 French edition of her memoirs, there is no mention of a visit from Robespierre or a mysterious man at all. (There is the chance that there is a mention of a visit elsewhere in the memoir, but unless she used tricky phrasing that didn’t involve using the word man, visit, think, respect, or Robespierre, then probably not.)

The 1823 French and English editions of her memoirs, however, do include this visit. The new edition expands on certain incidents, which may have been the choice of Madame Royale or at the nudging of her Uncle to give the manuscript more detail. For example, in the original 1817 manuscript she merely mentions that she was interrogated and lists some items that were taken away. In the 1823 edition, a portion of one of her interrogations is included (‘Come, young citizen, tell us, have you a great many knives?’ ‘No, gentlemen, only two.’ etc) to, perhaps, give the readers more details about her sufferings in the Temple.

So, why is the mysterious visit in the expanded versions of her memoirs but not (as far as I can tell) in the original or at least, earlier, manuscript? I think that one plausible explanation is that as Madame Royale was dictating her memoirs and talking about these expanded memories, she remembered a visit from a respected man whom she did not know—a minor detail, maybe something to include, maybe something to leave out. It wouldn’t be a huge leap to assume that from there, someone—either Louis XVIII or Therese herself—proposed the idea that perhaps this mysterious visit from a man who looked over her books and was treated with great respect, deference even, was actually the infamous Robespierre.

I responded:

Do you happen to know whether it was the first or second edition that was written under the guidance of Madame de Chanterenne? Her influence may also relate to the odd inconsistency.

I know I cast doubt on the validity of the speculation in another post, but I do find it odd that someone who was consciously trying to calumniate Robespierre would confine themselves to noting that he acted insolently. Wasn’t it Hitler or someone of his kin who said that if you are going to lie, lie big? The mellow, almost incidental, “Oh, it might’ve been Robespierre” makes me inclined to think that if nothing else, Madame Royale or whoever was influencing her writing, believed that they were speaking the truth - this doesn’t omit the possibility that they were mistaken, of course, just genuine.

The Thermidorian legend of Robespierre’s wanting to wed Madame Royale likely also has a connection here. And it was bantied about during his lifetime. The question is how this ties in to the alleged visit. Was the legend o the marriage spawned from one of Robespierre’s enemies hearing that he was having secret rendez-vous with a princess of France? Or was the legend of the visit inspired because of the legend of the marriage? Sort of a retroactive, “Oh, Madame Royale was visited by a mysterious man? Well we know Robespierre wanted to marry her so it must’ve been him” type deal.

She replied:
The earlier manuscript was the one she wrote in the Temple, so that would be the one that Chanterenne may have had a hand in. Her shorter earlier manuscript may also have something to do with her social isolation—some of Chanterenne’s reports on Therese, for example, mention that she still had difficulty in speaking and writing even after she was given books, writing tools, etc, to use. The history of the memoirs publication is also a bit fuddled, admittedly—there are unauthorized editions, truncated/summarized editions, translated editions, editions with/without the memoirs of Clery & Hue and letters of Elisabeth, and so on.

I think it’s more plausible that they assumed they were telling the truth as well—both that the visit happened and that someone (Therese or otherwise) believed it was noteworthy to include because it may have been Robespierre. As you said, if they really wanted to hammer home the point that Robespierre was a Big Bad Wolf who visited the Temple there are plenty of easy ways to embellish that story to make it a lot more dastardly than “Someone, I think Robespierre, came to visit me and looked haughtily at my books.”

It’s the chicken and the egg, isn’t it? Did the legend of Robespierre wanting to whisk off a Bourbon bride start because he visited the Temple, or did the bride legend itself spawn the story that he visited the Temple? Which then may have traveled through the years, possibly influencing Therese or Louis XVIII in their decision that the visitor was noteworthy because he may have been Robespierre.

The whole thing can be seen in its original context here.

I also mused elsewhere about the date of Robespierre's visit to Madame Royale. M. de Beauchesne, who I believe spoke to Madame Royale, places the date immediately after the execution of Madame Elisabeth, as I argued earlier. Since Robespierre was unusually vocal about his protest of this particular execution, it is clear that his power wasn't at its nadir. And I know this is somewhat off topic, but I do think the two incidents [the alleged visit and the execution of Madame Elisabeth] are connected in some way, although I couldn't tell you how. Was Robespierre visiting Madame Royale’s cell in order to check for counter-revolutionary material that could perhaps retroactively justify Madame Elisabeth’s execution? Was it a personal visit, just a prickling of conscience? Were the Thermidorians right and was Robespierre actually visiting to see if Madame Royale had the hips to be a broodmare for the next dynasty?

It really is puzzling business.
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Tue May 28, 2013 7:47 pm

I saw this exchange on Anna's site and I am grateful to you for transferring it here since I think it is very helpful to our understanding of the conditions in the Temple. Madame Royale wrote her memoirs in 1795 under the direction of the Thermidorean Madame Chanterenne, who filled in for MTC details that the princess could not have known due to her solitary confinement. Madame Royale wrote/ dictated while still in the Temple prison so that would have been the first edition and of course everything was slanted to make the former revolutionary regimes look as bad as possible. Not that extreme ill-treatment of the Dauphin did not occur; it may even have been worse than we know. In the memoirs of Madame de Gontaut, governess of the grandchildren of Charles X, there are conversations recorded that occurred with MTC about the imprisonment which are very horrifying and which I detail in my novel Madame Royale.

It is known that later in life MTC tried to buy up every existing copy of her own memoirs. Psychologists claim that people with post-traumatic stress disorder (which I believe MTC had) often alter their story of past events. For one thing, she had probably discovered that Madame Chanterenne had had an agenda. And perhaps more details had emerged in her memory? Perhaps she had been able to piece together more information which made her original story seem incomplete? We may never know her true intentions.

As for the visit of Robespierre, I believe he did visit Madame Royale in prison but she did not know who he was until later. What his intentions really were are a mystery.

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Tue May 28, 2013 8:18 pm

I am consulting Susan Nagel's book, Marie-Therese, Child of Terror, p. 275. There was several editions of MTC's memoirs, most of them unauthorized. The edition edited by Louis XVIII in 1819 wanted to make it clear that Louis XVII had died in the Temple. The authorized edition published in 1823 coincided with an unauthorized edition published by Madame de Soucy, to whom Madame Royale had given a copy of her prison recollections as a souvenir of their journey Vienna. The princess felt betrayed and was very concerned about her story being accurately told.

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Tue May 28, 2013 9:08 pm

Elena wrote:I saw this exchange on Anna's site and I am grateful to you for transferring it here since I think it is very helpful to our understanding of the conditions in the Temple. Madame Royale wrote her memoirs in 1795 under the direction of the Thermidorean Madame Chanterenne, who filled in for MTC details that the princess could not have known due to her solitary confinement. Madame Royale wrote/ dictated while still in the Temple prison so that would have been the first edition and of course everything was slanted to make the former revolutionary regimes look as bad as possible. Not that extreme ill-treatment of the Dauphin did not occur; it may even have been worse than we know. In the memoirs of Madame de Gontaut, governess of the grandchildren of Charles X, there are conversations recorded that occurred with MTC about the imprisonment which are very horrifying and which I detail in my novel Madame Royale.

I didn't mean to imply that the abuse never occurred. Embarassed My initial contention was that Robespierre was comparatively foreign to it, what with his being antagonistic to the Committee of General Security and then dying in 1794, where the abuse continued, and arguably became worse, into 1795. And from there I was just musing as to the alleged visit.


As for the visit of Robespierre, I believe he did visit Madame Royale in prison but she did not know who he was until later. What his intentions really were are a mystery.

Eh, that's really the thing though. The only evidence that he visited is that Madame Royale said he visited, and even then apparently she didn't even raise this point until the second edition of her memoirs. And in this second edition she has a caveat, noting that she believes the man to be Robespierre. Like Ms. Amber pointed out to me, it's sort of like discussing the origins of the chicken or the egg. Did the story of Robespierre's wanting to marry Madame Royale spring up from his visit to the prison? Or did Madame Royale assume that the bestial Robespierre visited her because of the rumors of his intention of marrying her? [Like I said, I skirted off topic somewhere.]

Elena wrote:I am consulting Susan Nagel's book, Marie-Therese, Child of Terror, p. 275. There was several editions of MTC's memoirs, most of them unauthorized. The edition edited by Louis XVIII in 1819 wanted to make it clear that Louis XVII had died in the Temple. The authorized edition published in 1823 coincided with an unauthorized edition published by Madame de Soucy, to whom Madame Royale had given a copy of her prison recollections as a souvenir of their journey Vienna. The princess felt betrayed and was very concerned about her story being accurately told.

Which I respect her for. I've never doubted Madame Royale's sincerity, although apparently her companions are not without blemish. Which had to have been inordinately frustrating for her. Louis XVIII wants to make it explicit that Louis XVII died in the Temple. Is this because it's the truth or is it because Louis XVIII wants to consolidate his position on the throne? We now know that, whatever his motives, Louis XVIII wasn't wrong, but it had to have been difficult for the princess.
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Tue May 28, 2013 10:37 pm

Oh, I understood that you were not implying that the abuse never occurred. Smile I just wanted to make certain that I was not sounding like I was mitigating the abuse since Madame Royale's memoirs were slanted against Robespierre, etc. by her editors. And you are correct that the neglect of the Dauphin worsened after Robespierre's death.

I don't think the story about Robespierre's proposed marriage to Madame Royale originated with her. The rumors were circulating in royalist circles after it was discovered, from her description, that Robespierre had visited her. Joseph Turquan's biography of Madame Royale goes into this and so does Minnergerode Meade's Son of Marie-Antoinette. MTC described Robespierre as a lean man in a powdered wig, nankeen suit, with steel spectacles. She had no idea who he was but she later claimed she demanded a doctor for her brother, whom she had not seen in months. She was much later told it was Robespierre who had come to see her and that he had thought about marrying her. She was probably told this by Madame Chanterenne or by her uncle Louis XVIII.

Louis XVIII had to make it clear that Louis XVII was indeed dead because of all the rumors circulating that the boy had survived, rumors which were enhanced by the various claimants who started coming out of the woodwork.

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Wed May 29, 2013 2:56 am

Elena wrote:
I don't think the story about Robespierre's proposed marriage to Madame Royale originated with her. The rumors were circulating in royalist circles after it was discovered, from her description, that Robespierre had visited her.

Not quite. The rumor started to circulate during Robespierre's own lifetime. Robespierre himself references it in one of his speeches. It's probably sourced in the future-Thermidorian rather than the Royalist circles. In any case, because it started circulating so early, we can't attribute it to Madame Royale. She has a good alibi, being in solitary confinement and all.

I meant to imply that did the legend begin to circulate because a Thermidorian heard of Robespierre's visit to Madame Royale? Or did Madame Royale retroactively decide she was visited by Robespierre due to the legend?

As to alternative to the root being Robespierre's visit, I'd wager that the marital legend may have been circulating simply due to Robespierre's reluctance to execute Madame Elisabeth. Or due to the another legend, which comes from a dubious source, that the CSP wanted to poison Madame Royale but refrained because Robespierre objected. Again, dubious source, but it should be noted that this is one of those under-the-table-deals that wouldn't be documented in the first place. Either of these could have started tongues wagging.

Joseph Turquan's biography of Madame Royale goes into this and so does Minnergerode Meade's Son of Marie-Antoinette. MTC described Robespierre as a lean man in a powdered wig, nankeen suit, with steel spectacles. She had no idea who he was but she later claimed she demanded a doctor for her brother, whom she had not seen in months. She was much later told it was Robespierre who had come to see her and that he had thought about marrying her. She was probably told this by Madame Chanterenne or by her uncle Louis XVIII.

Yes, and the source for this story [as far as I'm aware] is M. de Beauchesne who at least spoke to Madame Royale. He wrote, "The day after the execution of Madame Elisabeth - that is, 11th May - Madame Royale was visited by Robespierre. She did not speak one word to him. She only gave him a paper, in which he had written, “My brother is ill. I have written to the Convention to be allowed to take care of him. The Convention has not yet answered me. I repeat my demand." Nothing came of it, which is why I argued earlier that this was the only tangible evidence we can cite to tie Robespierre to the dauphin's abuse: he would have been an accomplice by omission of act, of being alerted to a child's distress and ignoring it.

That Madame was later told it was Robespierre adds substance to my retroactively accusing him due to the rumor of the intended marriage, theory. Of course, even if their reasons for marking him were dubious, it doesn't necessarily mean that Robespierre didn't make the visit.

It's something we'll never know, clearly, but it is a curious incident. I'd complain that historians haven't paid it enough attention but honestly, aside from satisfying curiosity it doesn't really warrant much scholarship.

Louis XVIII had to make it clear that Louis XVII was indeed dead because of all the rumors circulating that the boy had survived, rumors which were enhanced by the various claimants who started coming out of the woodwork.
Of course. You can't have someone questioning your claim to the throne. It's perfectly reasonable.

I just wanted to make certain that I was not sounding like I was mitigating the abuse since Madame Royale's memoirs were slanted against Robespierre, etc. by her editors. And you are correct that the neglect of the Dauphin worsened after Robespierre's death.

Oh, trust me. If we dismissed memoirs because they happened to have a bias, we wouldn't be able to use any memoirs at all! You just gotta calibrate for the bias, is all.

As to the dauphin's worsening condition --- there's no non-embarrassing way to phrase this question so I'm just going to dive in. In Jennifer Donnely's novel Revolution it's mentioned in passing that someone questioned the Dauphin's treatment under the Directory, started to raise a ruckus, and was mysteriously poisoned. Do you know if that incident actually happened or is it dramatic license?
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Wed May 29, 2013 9:33 am

Wow, thanks for the wonderful analysis! Yes, the doctor who tried to intervene died under mysterious circumstances. Crying or Very sad

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:38 am

Mysterious circumstances, eh? Do we have any clues as to the identity of the potential murderer? Or the motive? Because, while I'm probably the farthest thing from an apologist for the Directory, one of its leading members was Barras. And while Barras did murder hundreds of people at Toulon, his questionable morality still would not ordain the abuse of a child. You see this sort of thing even in modern-day prisons; a mobster will apparently have no problem with murdering dozens of people and will live in a comparatively happy way with fellow murderers but will nevertheless look at a pedophile with absolute loathing. Oh, and murder them. That's sorta why they have to segregate child-abusers from the general population.

When Barras visited Louis XVII in prison after Thermidor he expressed his shock and even arranged for the conditions to be less stringent. Now, at some point they got worse again but...why? Who organized that, who wanted to cover it up, and why? Before the theories would flutter around about how Louis-Charles had passed away and the government was trying to cover it up but we know from DNA evidence that that's not the case. So...? It's just a very curious matter.

Er, also. I found another contemporary speculation over Robespierre's marrying Madame-Royale. From the 1794-95 song entitled La Tombeau de Robespierre
:

Under the guise of law, he aspired
By promoting his own dictatorship
To become the real king
Of a fictitious Republic.
This proud plan fell flat
And, frustrated in his canine appetite,
Instead of marrying a Capet
he espoused the guillotine!

And I also found that Croker, who is swiftly becoming one of my favorite historians, who tries to answer the question I posed above. He suspects that the legend grew because of Robespierre's visit to Madame Royale, but he doesn't even seem it necessary to question the the accuracy of Madame Royale's memoirs on this point, so I'm not entirely convinced by his argument. Meh.
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:44 pm

I agree. cheers Croker is definitely one of the most reliable historians about this period. He interviewed many people who had lived through the Revolution in order to come to a balanced perspective of events. If he believed the story about Robespierre visiting Madame Royale, he probably has reason to believe it. Since so many of his sources or at least their relatives were still alive when he wrote it was difficult for him to reveal where he had heard certain things.

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:12 pm

Ooh, if I could bend time and shove Croker into a room with Albert Mathiez. Two historians with diametrically opposed biases but who both have the integrity to bow to the evidence at it stands without inventing, omitting, or twisting the evidence in order to press that bias forward. All the respect for Mr. Croker and M. Mathiez.

Still, he is usually very assiduous with his sources but he wasn't on this point. Moreover, the individuals who he was speaking to may have been themselves mistaken or retroactively shifting the facts to fit with what they later learned. Dan Todman, in writing his book on the Great War, said, "Studying how people thought in the past is difficult. It is not possible to conduct a retrospective survey of opinion even amongst those still alive, since their recollections of how they thought even a short while ago will have altered over time." I agree with him. I mean, if Madame Royale herself could have been duped by a myth into believing that the uppity visitor was Robespierre, which was my theory, who could Croker speak to that could know better?

I guess the idea that Robespierre had visited Madame Royale fits the best according to the facts as we know them, but I just wonder why nobody mentioned it during his lifetime (they mentioned that he wanted to marry her, never that he visited her), raised it as a charge against him immediately after Thermidor (they used his employment of a bag stamped with the fleur-de-lis to wipe away the blood from his jaw as evidence of his royalism, but not a visit to the princess?), or included it in his more lurid and spectacular biographies -- they always raise the charge of the intended marriage without ever bringing forward the most compelling evidence in favor of the charge. There's no mention of it at all until the second edition of Madame Royale's memoirs? It just smells so fishy and it can't be answered and it's probably going to drive me mad.

But it is just a matter of curiosity. Honestly, the veracity of the visit doesn't alter my view on Madame Royale, Robespierre, the Revolution, the Terror...I'm just inordinately curious. It's probably been a burr in my side since I first started researching the Revolution. The idea of a visit has such a poignant element to it, the killer visiting the prison of his victim's daughter.
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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Elena on Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:10 pm

Interesting points. Today is the anniversary of the death of Louis XVII. Here is an excerpt from my novel Madame Royale which I offer as a tribute, not as an exegesis Cool Wink :

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/01/marie-thrse-charlotte-confronts-widow.html
After returning to France in 1814, after twenty years of exile, Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, was contacted by the Sisters of Charity at the Hôpital des Incurables in Paris. One of their patients was Madame Simon, widow of the infamous Simon the cobbler who had brutalized the little Louis XVII in the Temple prison. Widow Simon claimed that the boy king had been smuggled out of the Temple in a basket of laundry, and that he had not died in 1795, but had been replaced by another boy who died in his place. The princess did not know what to make of such a wild story. In December of 1814 she went incognito to the hospital with two friends to personally interview the cobbler's widow. The following is a rendition of the confrontation from the novel Madame Royale:
....A frail old woman sat alone by the stove. She was in a wheelchair, a white linen cap on her head, a shawl around her shoulders and a blanket across her legs. She was tatting in the fading December light streaming through the window.

"Mère Simon, some people are here to see you, " said Sister Lucie. She withdrew without curtsying, as Thérèse had asked her. Lifting her veil, Thérèse approached the cobbler's widow. Her eyes met the steel grey ones in the withered face. It was a hard visage, as hard as she had ever remembered it to be, but not evil. She stared keenly at Thérèse for several seconds before looking down again at her tatting.

"Sit down, Madame," said Widow Simon, gesturing to a chair. Thérèse sat down; Pauline and Mathieu remained standing by the door. "You have heard, I suppose, that I was once the governess of the Dauphin. People talk of nothing but the Dauphin nowadays. Everyone wants to know about him; I tell them everything I can recall."

"Yes, Madame Simon," said Thérèse, trying to soften her grating voice. "I would like to hear about the Dauphin. They say he was a handsome child."

"Handsome!" exclaimed Mère Simon. "Ah, mon Dieu, he was like an angel with his golden curls and thick eyelashes! Both of my little Bourbons were beautiful children. Yes, his sister was a lovely girl, too." She furtively glanced at Thérèse. "A proud lass, but lovely. Oh, la la, but my Charles was a naughty rascal."

"You took care of him, did you not?"

"Indeed, yes, Madame." The old woman stopped tatting and closed her eyes. "I made certain he ate all the food on his plate. I swept his chamber everyday and mended his clothes. I changed his bed linen often. Those tales about lice-- well, not while I, Jeanne Simon, resided at the Temple. My Charles loved me and I loved him. He wanted to come with us when we left."

"Your husband," asked Thérèse, hesitantly, "did he love Charles?"

Madame Simon's eyebrows arched defiantly."I do not care what stories you may have heard, but Simon did not hit Charles all that often. Why, he only hit him when he was drunk, and then he would hit me, too, for that matter. And Charles was a rascal-- all those princely airs and graces, those fine manners and book-learning, why, it just made Simon as mad as can be. He had to beat it all out of him, and knock some sense into his head. He would have done the same to a boy of our own. But he never hit him with an iron poker, knocking him half-dead. That's an evil lie. And he never broke his toys, or killed his pet birds. Not Simon. As for the guards--well, that's another story altogether. They would wake the little fellow up every few hours a night, when they let him sleep at all, to make certain he was still there. 'Capet, are you awake? Show yourself, you whelp!' they would call. It angered me, I must say. Simon did no such thing. He even bought Charles a dog, which was given to the boy's sister after he left."

"Yes," said Thérèse, remembering little Coco. "So I have heard. But tell me, did you take the Dauphin away with you?"

"We did, indeed. Simon smuggled him out in a hamper of dirty linen. Hiding the likes of Monsieur Charles was no easy task, let me tell you. Then Simon took him to some place called Vitry. Afterwards, Simon was killed. I did not see the Dauphin again for many years."

Thérèse suppressed a small gasp. "You saw him, Madame? When?"

The old woman's eyes brightened and her face glowed. "My Charles came to see me in 1802. He stood right here in this room."

Thérèse felt her pulses pounding, as she hid her emotion. "From the tower of the Temple until 1802 is a long time," she said lightly. "How were you able to recognize him?"

"By the scar on his upper lip, where the rabbit scratched him." The hard mouth softened into a sly smile. "Madame, I recognize you quite well, notwithstanding your disguise, although I have not seen you for very much longer....You are Madame Marie-Thérèse!"

Thérèse stood up and almost bolted from the room....

~ from Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal, Chapter 14, "The Hospital," copyright 2000 by E. M. Vidal

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Re: Circumstances of His Death

Post  Bunnies on Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:01 pm

Wonderful, as all your works are.

Gah, I should've posted this earlier while it was still fresh in my memory. Last week, on the anniversary of the Dauphin's death, I started chatting with Vivelareine and I -- I honestly forget what I said. The chatting system we used doesn't have an outbox so I can't check. I think I asked whether or not his condition improved or deteriorated post-Thermidor, because I had heard conflicting reports. She responded:


If the reports by the those that visited him post-Thermidor are to be believed, his confinement was improved (in that he was giving new clothing, better food and taken for walks) in late July/early August, but he died from an illness in the spring anyway. … Of course now that I want to access the page to find out when a visit occurred, the English translation of Jean Baptiste Harmand’s report won’t load. Anyway, when Harmand visited he reported that Charles had swellings on various areas of his body and had a look of “resignation” and “indifference,” even as he listened to Harmand’s commands and walked around, ate food, etc. It is possible that the loss of his family, the isolation, and so on, exacerbated his condition to the point that even better treatment could not do much to fix it. (Especially if he did die from a form of tuberculosis, which may have been inevitable and brought on earlier by the physical and mental stress of his condition—to speculate, anyway.) 


And then I guess I said something about the changeling theories, and how they came about from Louis XVII's seclusion -- to me, that would place the heavy confinement in 1795, but she said:



I think that the changeling rumors started because of the seclusion! But in a different ‘order,’ so to speak. One of the more popular changeling theories is that the reason that Louis Charles was put into seclusion was that someone (who?) rescued him and put a substitute in his place. (Sometimes the substitute is mute, deaf, etc, sometimes not.) In any case, this meant that he had to be kept from the guards as much as possible so that they didn’t know the substitution took place until, presumably, it was too late to actually do anything.



So I'm still confused as to when the confinement became particularly stringent, because again, Vivelareine is saying one thing and I think I've heard different things here and it's been so long since I've read Cadbury. 


Oh, and here's a scene from the 1982 Scarlet Pimpernel I ripped featuring a less physical aspect of the Dauphin's abuse:






(And sorry for the psychotic font of this post. It went quirky once I posted Amber's responses to me and I'm too lazy to change it back.)
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