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Nature of the abuse?

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Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:17 pm

This post is in reference to how the Simons treated the prince, not his treatment when he was in virtual seclusion and solitary confinement.

I was poking around a bit and I found a few authors who argue that Louis XVII's abuse at the hands of the Simons was not conscious and that the family was merely raising the prince as sans-culottes raised their children. Obviously there is a great disparity between how upper and lower class people treat their children; this is true even today, and I imagine it was far more so in the 18th century. In other words, while it is true that Louis had to endure the disciplinary beatings and was given cognac to drink, this was normal treatment coming from sans-culottes. A different perspective and certainly harmful for the young boy, but the result of ignorance rather than malice.

I'm sure the theory is unpopular here. What's the evidence against it?
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Didishroom on Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:59 pm

Simon would wake the boy out of sleep an random hours to keep in a semi-stupified state. This is a common tactic of brainwashers. He was known to call the boy over and kick him in the face with his shoe and nearly took out his eye. San Coulottes were an innovation of the Revolution. They did not represent the whole peasant or working class so I;m not sure one could argue that's how San Coulottes raised their children as if it were some long staring cultural tradition of French peasantry.

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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:24 pm

My initial post was perfectly polite and I don't appreciate, what I perceived to be, a harsh tone. I asked a question. If you did not mean to be jarring in your response I apologize for misinterpreting you.

Anywho, I'd like a citation for that. Moreover...a sans-culotte...is not an innovation of the Revolution. I guarantee you, there were lower-middle class shopkeepers in 1788. Unless you are using the phrase solely in reference to those of a Revolutionary faith [in which case Robespierre, who wore breeches, would also be a sans-culotte] but I was using mine in the larger sense of lower class shopkeepers - as many did, contemporaneously.

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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Elena on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:59 pm

Bunnies my friend, I know Didishroom did not mean to sound anything but polite. He is a perfect gentleman. I have known him for years, online. Cool 

I do think that corporal punishment was part of life for all classes, especially the working class. People beat their children routinely, and children at schools and in workshops were beaten as well.  pale It was considered part of a bringing up a child. Sad  This does mean they molested them or starved or allowed them to be crawling with lice and scabies. I think Louis XVII suffered a great deal of abuse under Simon but it was in some ways worse when Simon left and he was at the mercy of the guards.

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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:06 am

I apologize for misinterpreting the response. Genuinely - I'm so touchy sometimes!  Embarassed If I recall, I misread a post of yours too and got snappy once, didn't I Elena?  Laughing 

I still haven't gotten a source on that though. To clarify, it's not a topic I've research in depth and truth-be-told I wouldn't know where to begin [I don't know much about, or care much about, Simon one way or another]. Any jumping off points would be appreciated. I imagine it's Barras's report? It was Barras, wasn't it? Anyone know where I could read that?
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Elena on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:14 am

Yes, I remember. Wink  I don't recall. I read about the abuse in Madame Royale's memoirs.

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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:21 am

With due respect, I'm not sure Madame Royale would be in a "position to know" and I'm uncertain that she would be on frank terms with anyone who would be.

But, thinking back -- the trial of Antoinette. Kids don't just say "oh yeah my mom molested me" if you give them a cookie. So there was probably something going on there.

It took me a moment but yeah, okay.
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Elena on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:26 am

I don't know. Remember that MTC and her mother and aunt could hear a lot of what was going on downstairs.... Sad 

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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  MadameRoyale on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:47 am

Hi everyone!

I have been reading through Deborah Cadbury's book about Louis XVII, called The Lost King of France. It outlines the story of his life and then goes on to discuss the finding of the little heart in 2002 and DNA analysis. There are some pretty vivid depictions of the little boy's treatment in the Temple. There was definitely some brainwashing going on, but also, from the descriptions in the book, it seems to be part of Simon's nature to torture the child as part of his job description. Cadbury hints that that was part of the reason Simon was chosen for the task. For sure as well, as Elena said, it became much worse and even more heart breaking after Simon was dismissed. At that point none of the guards wanted to be seen as being kind to the boy and he was left very much alone. It was difficult to read these passages. After doctors came to intervene, none of the instructions were carried out, it appears, from a fear of how it would appear. The sad thing about the treatment of little Louis Charles is that no one quite seemed to know what to do with him, both as a political tool and as a human being. : (
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:44 am

Eh...but Cadbury's not a primary source and as a secondary one she's always shaky at best. She's not as terrible as, say, Nagel, but she still has a narrow scope and seems unable to contextualize or calibrate. I think I left a review of her book somewhere on this site. [Did I?] It's been years since I've read it so it's hard for me to pull specifics, but off the top of my head and pursuant to the touchy topic at hand: Cadbury maintains that no one took the child's urine or feces and that eventually his waste covered his floor. This isn't particularly credible in light of how his jailers were certainly feeding him and bringing him water to wash with every day. I agree with Hilary Mantel [oh goodness I can't believe I'm agreeing with her on anything] that this is more likely an instance of "dirty protest" which is a common psychological reaction to deprivation - which is abuse in and of itself, and in no way exonerates his jailers. But it's a different tone of abuse than the former discussion and has a tone of pathologing the Revolution and is little different from pre-revolutionary pamphlets alleging that royals were more like animals than people.  It is often forgotten that this duel of calumny is being fired both-ways. In that vein, it's worth noting that our characterization of Simon has a feedback loop: We know he was sadistic because he tortured the dauphin and we know he tortured the dauphin because he was sadistic. But then we hit a rut since post-1794 Simon gets a good alibi, being dead and all. How many Marquis de Sades do we have just lying around?

That being said, as I referenced, the child's behavior at Antoinette's trial cinches the deal for me. There was abuse. It's tone and manner is what I'm sketchy on.
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Re: Nature of the abuse

Post  Diane Marie Taylor on Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:26 pm

I have not yet read Deborah Cadbury's book, but it is sitting on my dresser in the "to read" pile. Would you care to elaborate on why you don't think she is the best source of information? What did you like about her book, and where do you think she could have done a better job? Also, the line about saying she is not as terrible as Nagel got my attention. What are the issues with Susan Nagel? I read her book and this isn't something that was slopped together in a weekend, she definitely did her research. What are Nagel's strong points? Where do you think she could improve? I'm also curious about your backgrounds as well to be knowledgeable enough to see "flaws." Have you been studying French History for a while, and if so, to what extent? Do you have anything new to add that we can look forward to learning something new -- perhaps your own books about the subject? I hope so, I'm on the lookout for something new on the subject.

I for one, am the new kid on the block. I have never studied history and did my best to avoid it. Until 10 months ago, I knew nothing about Marie Antoinette other than she was guillotined and that people hated her. I didn't even know she had children. Through a twist of fate, I am now studying Marie Antoinette and her family and it's been a real crash course. Naturally, I am not as "up to speed" as most of you on here -- so I am open to suggestions on the best way to educate myself. I'm also a single Mom that works full time, so I really don't have an abundance of time to devote to being a book worm. I read the posts on here and participate in intellectual discussions.

Thank you! Very Happy 
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:20 pm

I am a history student with a focus in French History who works closely with, and is in correspondence with, several specialists in the field including Chrisawn. I'm uncomfortable with revealing my name. One of the theses I assisted with [ts La légende noire de Robespierre will be shortly published as introduction to Sophie Wahnich's upcoming collection. I am currently writing a piece of nonfiction but it's unrelated to the French Revolution. This field of historiography is so polarized that I don't dare drop a book until my credentials are unassailable. Being 21, I haven't had the time yet. I would've had to start college at like, 15, and I wasn't that smart.

In any case, newcomer or not, history shouldn't be a matter of the Pillars of Academia deigning to share the Truth of History with others. As a science, it's a fairly simple one that largely consists of calling out bull droppings. I've seen high school students notice a flaw in the reasoning of PhD students: don't let credentials [or a lack thereof!'] sway anything. Your opinion on any historical event, so long as you can back up your claims with some semblance as fact, as as valid as mine or McPhee's or Wahnich's or Schama's or anybody's. An opinion can be ground on false fact "I think Antoinette was a bad person because she said 'let them eat cake!' but intrinsically 'I think Antoinette was a bad person' can't be a wrong. If I'm making sense. I don't know. But the fact that you admit that You Don't Know Everything probably means you know more than you think -- it's always the ones who think that they "finished" studying the French Revolution because they "know everything" who are the most erroneous in their assertions. And to clarify, no: I don't know everything. I'm still learning...as my question about Louis XVII proves! So if I ever say something that seems to absurd or just doesn't logically flow, speak up. I'm probably going to debate you about it but I guarantee I won't ever go "well, what would you know?" because on some things you know more than me, undoubtedly. I study Antoinette peripherally, as she comes up a lot in popular discussions of the period, so I have working-knowledge, so to speak. So you probably know more about her person than I do.

I mean, if we are going to play a "who has more credentials" game I do beat out Cadbury, who is primarily a scientist and not trained in the art of the historian. But that's not a fair criticism in itself for the reasons I outlined. In any case, I gave an example already on her poor research. She doesn't "Go one step more," so to speak and accepts all memoirs and offhand recollections as the gospel truth without troubling to question motives -- or if she does, she falls into the logical fallacy of assuming that All Royalists Tell the Truth All the Time but Revolutionaries Lie All the Time. As I've said, it's been too long since I've read it to give an adequate, "Well she did A wrong and B wrong and C wrong because x, y, z." But, to employ the one method that keeps sticking in my mind: the touchy issue of feces really should've just been asked "why." A psychological review of common "dirty rebellions" undergone by prisoners would have immediately offered Cadbury a more plausible theory than the one she outlined, which is that "the Revolutionaries presented the dauphin with water to clean with every day but were simultaneously uninterested in his cleanliness." Uhm. Okay.

As for Nagel --- she's a little easier to tackle, since I have my notes. Nagel’s mistake is to rely heavily for sources on discredited memoirs from the day, which are compilations of gossip, urban legends, and hysteria -- and moneygrubbing schemes, as the 19th century was a period when "invented" "exaggerated" memoirs were a fad. Historians tend to use memoirs sparingly or couch them with heavy acknowledgment of the potential taint; the exception to this would be, say, Aaron Burr's memoirs which are indispensable to study the man. And are also hilarious.

Anyway, the tenuous nature of memoirs is never mentioned in her book. Neither is the fact that Madame Campan's memoirs in specific, which provide the large crux of her work, have been declared "unreliable" by historians as far right as Cobban. This isn't a leftist crying about how the right-wing has a firm mouthpiece for their views, this is a right-wing historian acknowledging that he can't honestly use Campan to prove what he very much wants to prove.

Almost 24 pages of Nagel's book are paraphrased from this unreliable source.

Where are her other sources coming from?

Good question! You should ask Nagel for me sometime! Her footnotes are few and far between. It’s as if Nagel only inserts them because she feels it will give her work a more professional and reliable air. But this has the counter-effect; the couple of footnotes on one page leave the subsequent pages looking all the more bare. Moreover, the footnotes are never for large, pivotal discussions. They tend to be for comparatively inconsequential detail. I'm glad you decided to tell me how you know how many dresses Madame Royale had when she was two. I don't really care, though. If you're going to footnote only one thing, how many dresses a toddler has shouldn't be one of them.

There's also the impression that Nagel locked herself in Versailles with the Royal Family. The Revolutionary going-ons are incomprehensible to her because her eyes never stray from the Bourbons. But then her explanations of Revolutionary overhauls are not explanations at all. Things happen because reasons. Everything just happens so much. That actions have consequences surprise her; yeah, Antoinette's conspiring with foreign powers to reassert the absolute throne! ...Why are bad things happening to Antoinette?! Consequences surprise her. Half the time I feel like she's staring forlornly at me, "Why did this happen?" she pleads.

...It's not my job to tell you. You're writing the book!

And this inability to observe cause-and-effect does make everything appear so random and incomprehensible. On one hand, the People Love the Bourbons, right to the end! On the other hand Angry Mobs don't seem to like Bourbons at all. This contradiction is never addressed, let alone resolved ---- unless she gets a cardboard bad guy like the Duke of Orleans or Robespierre who also do Things because Reasons that...we're not bothering to discuss today. [I mean, since I work with Robespierre so much: Nagel tells us that the last letter Antoinette wrote to her sister was found under Robespierre's matress. Wow, pretty intense! ...What's the source?

...You're not gonna give me a source?

...Okay.]

And frankly, on a personal level, this common "THINGS ARE HAPPENING AND I DON'T KNOW WHY!!!" line drawn by some recent historians of the French Revolution - Nagel included - grates on me to no end. I am of the opinion that history repeats itself unless you learn from it. But in refusing to explain, they are refusing to learn. If you try to figure out why those Mobs marched - and beyond "Because Bad Guy told them to" then you can fix things so they don't march.

Does that answer your question? Sad


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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:31 pm

Cadbury uses some secondary sources but she also uses many primary sources. She herself is not a historian but a scientist and she uses a lot of scientific methodology in drawing her conclusions. Cool 

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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:35 pm

Bunnies wrote:I am a history student with a focus in French History who works closely with, and is in correspondence with, several specialists in the field including Chrisawn; I'm currently attending a class taught by Peter McPhee. I'm uncomfortable with revealing my name. One of the theses I assisted with [ts La légende noire de Robespierre will be shortly published as introduction to Sophie Wahnich's upcoming collection. I am currently writing a piece of nonfiction but it's unrelated to the French Revolution. This field of historiography is so polarized that I don't dare drop a book until my credentials are unassailable. Being 21, I haven't had the time yet. I would've had to start college at like, 15, and I wasn't that smart.

In any case, newcomer or not, history shouldn't be a matter of the Pillars of Academia deigning to share the Truth of History with others. As a science, it's a fairly simple one that largely consists of calling out bull droppings. I've seen high school students notice a flaw in the reasoning of PhD students: don't let credentials [or a lack thereof!'] sway anything. Your opinion on any historical event, so long as you can back up your claims with some semblance as fact, as as valid as mine or McPhee's or Wahnich's or Schama's or anybody's. An opinion can be ground on false fact "I think Antoinette was a bad person because she said 'let them eat cake!' but intrinsically 'I think Antoinette was a bad person' can't be a wrong. If I'm making sense. I don't know. But the fact that you admit that You Don't Know Everything probably means you know more than you think -- it's always the ones who think that they "finished" studying the French Revolution because they "know everything" who are the most erroneous in their assertions. And to clarify, no: I don't know everything. I'm still learning...as my question about Louis XVII proves! So if I ever say something that seems to absurd or just doesn't logically flow, speak up. I'm probably going to debate you about it but I guarantee I won't ever go "well, what would you know?" because on some things you know more than me, undoubtedly. I study Antoinette peripherally, as she comes up a lot in popular discussions of the period, so I have working-knowledge, so to speak. So you probably know more about her person than I do.

I mean, if we are going to play a "who has more credentials" game I do beat out Cadbury, who is primarily a scientist and not trained in the art of the historian. But that's not a fair criticism in itself for the reasons I outlined. In any case, I gave an example already on her poor research. She doesn't "Go one step more," so to speak and accepts all memoirs and offhand recollections as the gospel truth without troubling to question motives -- or if she does, she falls into the logical fallacy of assuming that All Royalists Tell the Truth All the Time but Revolutionaries Lie All the Time. As I've said, it's been too long since I've read it to give an adequate, "Well she did A wrong and B wrong and C wrong because x, y, z." But, to employ the one method that keeps sticking in my mind: the touchy issue of feces really should've just been asked "why." A psychological review of common "dirty rebellions" undergone by prisoners would have immediately offered Cadbury a more plausible theory than the one she outlined, which is that "the Revolutionaries presented the dauphin with water to clean with every day but were simultaneously uninterested in his cleanliness." Uhm. Okay.

As for Nagel --- she's a little easier to tackle, since I have my notes. Nagel’s mistake is to rely heavily for sources on discredited memoirs from the day, which are compilations of gossip, urban legends, and hysteria -- and moneygrubbing schemes, as the 19th century was a period when "invented" "exaggerated" memoirs were a fad. Historians tend to use memoirs sparingly or couch them with heavy acknowledgment of the potential taint; the exception to this would be, say, Aaron Burr's memoirs which are indispensable to study the man. And are also hilarious.

Anyway, the tenuous nature of memoirs is never mentioned in her book. Neither is the fact that Madame Campan's memoirs in specific, which provide the large crux of her work, have been declared "unreliable" by historians as far right as Cobban. This isn't a leftist crying about how the right-wing has a firm mouthpiece for their views, this is a right-wing historian acknowledging that he can't honestly use Campan to prove what he very much wants to prove.

Almost 24 pages of Nagel's book are paraphrased from this unreliable source.

Where are her other sources coming from?

Good question! You should ask Nagel for me sometime! Her footnotes are few and far between. It’s as if Nagel only inserts them because she feels it will give her work a more professional and reliable air. But this has the counter-effect; the couple of footnotes on one page leave the subsequent pages looking all the more bare. Moreover, the footnotes are never for large, pivotal discussions. They tend to be for comparatively inconsequential detail. I'm glad you decided to tell me how you know how many dresses Madame Royale had when she was two. I don't really care, though. If you're going to footnote only one thing, how many dresses a toddler has shouldn't be one of them.

There's also the impression that Nagel locked herself in Versailles with the Royal Family. The Revolutionary going-ons are incomprehensible to her because her eyes never stray from the Bourbons. But then her explanations of Revolutionary overhauls are not explanations at all. Things happen because reasons. Everything just happens so much. That actions have consequences surprise her; yeah, Antoinette's conspiring with foreign powers to reassert the absolute throne! ...Why are bad things happening to Antoinette?! Consequences surprise her. Half the time I feel like she's staring forlornly at me, "Why did this happen?" she pleads.

...It's not my job to tell you. You're writing the book!

And this inability to observe cause-and-effect does make everything appear so random and incomprehensible. On one hand, the People Love the Bourbons, right to the end! On the other hand Angry Mobs don't seem to like Bourbons at all. This contradiction is never addressed, let alone resolved ---- unless she gets a cardboard bad guy like the Duke of Orleans or Robespierre who also do Things because Reasons that...we're not bothering to discuss today. [I mean, since I work with Robespierre so much: Nagel tells us that the last letter Antoinette wrote to her sister was found under Robespierre's matress. Wow, pretty intense! ...What's the source?

...You're not gonna give me a source?

...Okay.]

And frankly, on a personal level, this common "THINGS ARE HAPPENING AND I DON'T KNOW WHY!!!" line drawn by some recent historians of the French Revolution - Nagel included - grates on me to no end. I am of the opinion that history repeats itself unless you learn from it. But in refusing to explain, they are refusing to learn. If you try to figure out why those Mobs marched - and beyond "Because Bad Guy told them to" then you can fix things so they don't march.

Does that answer your question? Sad 

You are right! Authors should list their sources! cyclops 

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Re: Nature of the abuse

Post  Diane Marie Taylor on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:21 pm

Thank you, Bunnies. Yes, that does answer my question and gives me more to think about. I admit, the things you mentioned were above my head so I will be re-reading your post several times. It also solidified my opinion that I am in no way ever to be qualified as a "historian." I read Nagel's book and I didn't have any of those issues that you stated. But again, I don't have a trained eye for these things and you do! I did pick up on other things that I don't believe anyone else would notice. After reading Nagel's book, I looked at it as a piece of Swiss Cheese -- good substance, with some holes in it. The political stuff I couldn't begin to wrap my brain around it, which is why maybe I've always found history boring and tried to avoid it (no offense intended, we can't all be the same). We all have different gifts. Thank you for pointing out that Nagel appears to be very one-sided and for the Bourbons, as if she "lived in Versailles." That actually helps answer a question I've had.

I understand about concealing your identity until you have all your ducks lined up. I too, am writing a book and I'm not about to tip my hand too much on here when it's not even close to being done. I feel confident that this discussion blog is a good place for me to get information and share ideas.  Very Happy 
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:40 am

Diane Marie Taylor wrote:Thank you, Bunnies.  Yes, that does answer my question and gives me more to think about.  I admit, the things you mentioned were above my head so I will be re-reading your post several times.

Honestly, the miscommunication is probably not on your end. I'm verbose and I'm rarely clear enough when I contribute to forums because I type in a train-of-thought style that has the bonuses of being conversational...with the detriments of not being precise.  

What I was trying to say re: credentials is that the possession of an M.A or PhD merely means that the individual has the capacity to make a solid argument. It's not the substitute for the same. In Game of Thrones, one character sneers to Joffrey that "The man who calls himself king isn't truly king!" or somesuch. It's the same deal, really. If someone reads your argument, says "Whoa I don't see how abc makes sense," and your only retort is, "But I have a PhD and you don't!" your argument is probably tenuous. A person with a PhD shouldn't have to shout it to the heavens; their training should show in the quality of their work. It's the classic Argument from Authority' logical fallacy in action.

tl;dr: Degrees are nice but they're the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. But I'm still getting my degree, if only because I don't want my arguments discounted by people who can't grasp that concept. Sorry for the rant, I just feel very strongly about this..

I did pick up on other things that I don't believe anyone else would notice. After reading Nagel's book, I looked at it as a piece of Swiss Cheese -- good substance, with some holes in it.

What stuff did you pick up?  Smile 

The political stuff I couldn't begin to wrap my brain around it, which is why maybe I've always found history boring and tried to avoid it (no offense intended, we can't all be the same).  We all have different gifts.

Indeed we do. One of my dearest friends is racing for his PhD in --- I think it's computer programming? It's so far outside my comprehension that I can't even understand half of what he's talking to me about. I can't tell HTML coding from a mildly decent photoshop, really.

But regarding the political stuff, it might not be you at all. Nagel and people like her tend to...not...go into the political stuff. They don't seem to get it, or want to discuss it, so they can't very well make their readers understand, can they?

Thank you for pointing out that Nagel appears to be very one-sided and for the Bourbons, as if she "lived in Versailles."  That actually helps answer a question I've had.  

What questions? But regarding bias, it should be noted that a bias is rather unavoidable so long as Humans are discussing Humans. And in an area like the French Revolution, which set the stage for modern politics - we still use the terms "left" and "right" which were coined in the Revolution to distinguish "radicals" from "moderates" - biases are going to be even more piqued. It's one of the most politically charged areas of study, and historians have used it to opine on their nation's current political structure ever since it debuted.

We're effectively arguing about How We Think the World Should Be Run, and those are never going to be pretty arguments. For my part, I tend to prefer historians - and this is one of Nagel's strengths - who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Bolding your first chapter with, "Yo! I like the Bourbons!" or "Hey! Lafayette and the Feuillants are where it's at!" at least lets your readers know where you stand -- it's the insidious "I am the God of Objectivity" theses that are dangerous. The reader should know to question the author on Everything Always and the author should at least be aware of their own bias. Make strides to mitigate it, sure, to consciously make the effort to throw The Other Guys Some Rope...but still be aware of it, because it won't go away. If you think it has, then you're more biased than you've ever been.

So, to clarify, Nagel's problem isn't that she's biased. Cadbury's problem isn't that she's biased. J.W Croker is one of my favorite historians; he was an entrenched royalist, as biased as they come...but he supported his views with fact, not calumny, and he made strides to understand, if not agree with, his opposition. On the other side of the fence, there's Albert Mathiez: entrenched Republican. Biased. Still supporting his views with fact, not calumny, and making strides to understand, if not agree with, his opposition. If you're not biased about this Revolution, you probably either don't know about it or don't have an Opinion about Anything - Politics, Philosophy, Ideology, Morality, Economics, Religion. Seigneurialism dies, Capitalism is born, Socialism is conceived --- Communism finds its first martyr in Babeuf! These theories and their proponents have been steering the Western World since. Sometimes, we're discussing the French Revolution but we're really not: Furet received thousands of dollars from the Reagan Administration  to use the French Revolution as a thinly-veiled metaphor to discuss the USSR. It's been used as a vehicle for political debate for centuries. How could someone not have a bias?

Again, the problem isn't that Nagel (or Cadbury) is biased.  The problem is that they don't seem to be very discerning with their sources. The problem isn't that they like the Royal Family and sympathize with their politics. The problem is that they don't seem to be aware of what those politics are. The problem is they are so busy ogling the royal family that they fall into the same trap the royal family arguably did: they are ignoring the rest of France. When the Revolution comes, they are baffled and can't explain it any firmer than "these bad guys are doing things!" When they're getting analytical, they'll explain that the bad people are bad because tehy are beheading people. Okay. Why are they beheading people? 'Cuz they're bad guys. Feedback loop, feedback loop, feedback loop.

No, really: the bare-bone basic tenets of revolutionary politics are lost on them. Cadbury can't even seem to place Robespierre on the political spectrum: he's pointed out as an ominous arrival to the Estates-General early in the text, the implication that he's carrying the virus of ill-defined "radicalism." Hey, wait: in 1789, Robespierre was a Monarchist! Hey, wait, in 1789...so was Danton! Hey, so was Collot! Hey so were Billaud and Carnot! Hey so was Barère and Herault, Fréron and Vergniaud! Hébert and...Marat? Marat, the infamous rabble rouser? What's he doing publishing journals praising the merits of Louis XVI? Hey, Saint-Just...what's Robespierre's friend Saint-Just doing publishing a pamphlet defending Marie-Antoinette, calling her "more victimized than victimizer?" These are pretty radical people! What changed their mind about Louis XVI? Surely this is worth discussing, we could maybe analyze whether or not their motives were ---

HEY THEY'RE BAD GUYS THEY DO THINGS BECAUSE THEY ARE BAD. WE DON'T DISCUSS THE WHY THEY ARE BAD GUYS

But in caricaturizing the family's opposition, Nagel - because I can no longer speak for Cadbury, my memory being what it is - caricaturizes the royal family. Why are they doing what they're doing? My goodness, why is Antoinette conspiring with her relatives in Austria to overthrow the Revolution? What is so very important? Oh wait, I forgot: Antoinette is good and doing things because she is good! Goodness, what was I thinking!

Croker would tell us, "I think the Revolutionaries were bad people because they replaced stability with anarchy and were ruthless in achieving their ends." And then he goes on to explain what he means. And then we can choose to agree or disagree with his arguments. Nagel tells us, "I think the Revolutionaries were bad people because they were bad!!!!11!!!!" And...we're just supposed to...accept it.  

Things just happen so much because.

One day, you're literally king of the world but suddenly, and without warning or explanation, an angry mob is marching in a homicidal rampage towards your house! Good gosh, why is this happening to you?!

Because.

(I ranted. I'm sorry.)
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Re: Nature of Abuse

Post  Diane Marie Taylor on Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:32 am

There is no need to apologize for sparking a good discussion. I totally agree with what you said about everyone having a bias, and I never really noticed Nagel's circular reasoning. I'll look for it next time I thumb through it. I wasn't really looking for political points of view anyway, I was more into the personalities and the interactions. I could tell Nagel had a bias for the Bourbons (and that should come as no surprise since the book is about MTC), but I wondered if it was a political bias, a personal one, etc. Then you pointed out that she was living in Versailles with the Bourbons -- yes, it does feel like you have stepped back in time to live in Versailles. She definitely accomplished that.

As far as seeing something that no one else saw, the best example I can think of was the switch theory of MTC. I knew the minute I started reading it it wasn't true, but what bothered me was that this rumor has lingered for 200 years and I wondered why. Then all of a sudden it hit me about a month ago (approximately 9 months after I originally heard about it), that the reason this rumor wouldn't die was because the BOURBONS THEMSELVES STARTED THIS RUMOR. It was a miracle MTC survived prison, and she still had to face the reality that people wanted her dead. The Dark Countess was just a decoy to get a rumor started that MTC went into hiding -- to help ensure MTC's safety. When you are in the public eye, some are going to love you and some are going to hate you. Those that loved MTC never bought into it, those that hated her were distracted with a good conspiracy theory. It worked too -- she lived to be 72 years old, and some people to this day think she went into hiding after coming out of prison. It's just a simple case of wag the dog. Pay this young girl to appear veiled in public every now and again, not speak, be mysterious, and disappear for a while. People see what they want to see, and some people saw "the real MTC in hiding." Nope, just a decoy bought and paid for by the Bourbons. The powers that be will always play a game of wag the dog to some degree. It's important to step back and look at the big picture once in a while.

I couldn't agree more when you said we are humans discussing humans -- yes! We are all connected and we have a lot more in common than we realize. Yes, history absolutely repeats itself until we learn from it.
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:36 pm

Then you pointed out that she was living in Versailles with the Bourbons -- yes, it does feel like you have stepped back in time to live in Versailles. She definitely accomplished that.
Which would be a fine stylistic choice for a novel or film. In this sense, the Coppola film's vapidity is fair. The audience doesn't know about the economic downturn in France because the protagonist doesn't know; since it is told from Antoinette's perspective, this withholding of information is a well-crafted narrative device (and one of the few that the film employs). But Coppola was crafting a work of fiction. The historian shouldn't just step into the shoes of their subject they should be peeking around the corners, rummaging through the drawers, uncovering what their subject doesn't know and sharing it with their readers. I just genuinely don't see the purpose of writing a book about how confused this Revolution makes you. ...Like...go take a course, I guess? Read a few more books? If you're confused, Nagel, you're probably not ready to teach your audience about anything.

I can't really comment about the MTC switch theory. I specialize in the period until the crowning of Napoleon and then my knowledge peters out into generalities.

But, back to the subject of the thread: Louis XVII!

Right now my findings are but a superficial gloss; and, until my schedule clears, they'll probably remain such. Mostly I just pulled my copy of Croker's "The Prisoners of the Temple" and tracked his sources. Because unlike somebody, he gives them.

Er, two of them. Okay. One is Madame Royale's memoirs which he quotes at length.

Then there's Louis XVII, sa Vie, son Agonie, sa Mort by M. Beauchesne. I haven't time to read it all yet but so far I'm seeing a lot of references to corporal punishment. So, like, the kid doesn't want to wear a red cap? Then...make like Elsa and let it go, dude, we don't gotta wallop on the kid. Apparently Simon's wife had subscribed to Disney philosophy and told her husband to bugger off. It worked -- but while she was against physical abuse she was completely down with emotional, and as a compromise snipped the dauphin's curls off.

When Simon wasn't being That Awful he was being Pretty Awful and made dauphin clean his shoes and such. More humiliation. But yeah, so far Croker and Beauchesne aren't recording any successive instance of physical, corporal abuse on the part of Simon. Oh, there's cruelty--- Simon threw cold water on the sleeping child because ---- ??!!! ????!! I know I was just ranting about how 'because' should really be punctuated with an answer but, ????!!!!!!??? --- and refused to let him leave the soaking mattress. This may well have provoked the illness which ultimately would kill the child. In any case, this does seem like an isolated incident and not a systematic case of abuse-to-get-stockholm-syndrome or brainwashing...which is actually very disconcerting.

Think about it for a second: if the Committee doesn't want to ransom the boy off because they don't want an army marching into France with him at its head, and they don't want to execute a child, and they aren't trying to condition him to be a fruitful citizen of their Republic (see what Cromwell did with Charles I's children) then what, exactly, is the plan? Brainwashing implies some purpose, some end-goal, perhaps having the would-be King of France cheering on a cockade. There ain't no goal here. There's just...

Well, Senart's memoirs put it nicely. I don't like memoirs for the reasons I outlined and Senart's editor even confessed to garbling them, but in light of everything else this extract might be meaningful:

Simon asked the Committee of General Security, "So, like, what's my job here? 'Cuz I'm raising this kid but I don't know the plan? We banishing him?" "No!" "We killing him?" "No!" "But then what?" And they responded, "S'en defaire" or "to get rid of him."

 Neutral Well, that's not good.

Simon and his wife actually hit the "eject" button in January 1794 and seek employment elsewhere - this surprised me, as I had been under the impression that they ruled the roost until Thermidor. Not so! They left and were replaced with ----- nobody.

 Neutral Whelp, that's getting worse.

Barras would have it that he then arrived into the prison and heroically ordered the prince's conditions to be improved but there's actually no evidence that Barras had anything to do with that aside from Barras. Well, whoever gave the order [Laurent, Croker says?] the prince's conditions were improved to accede to some of the bare necessities of the later-Geneva Convention. Iron bed, clean bedding, suit of clothes, etc. From there it's just a tag-team game of different keepers, none of whom seem to be sociopaths - Gomin even gets the kid some playing cards, convinces toy-makers to fork over some toys. It all really reads as "too little, too late" and in a few months the boy is dead.

So...that was a really depressing way to spend my afternoon.
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Re: Nature of Abuse

Post  Diane Marie Taylor on Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:49 am

I agree it can be frustrating when you think you are being a good detective, following a lead, and then the path turns cold -- whether the information you are getting is coming from an unreliable source, no source is cited, or the information given simply didn't answer your questions at all.

As far as following a reliable source, it sounds like Madame Royale's memoirs is the most reliable one as of right now -- who better than someone who was actually there? I personally am cautious about trusting the accounts of his jailers. While you are right, not all of them are sociopaths, the ones that were would also give an angelic view of themselves and their actions. Unfortunately I have personally known a few sociopaths (in my own family at that) -- their self view is very honorable. They don't ever do anything that isn't "justified." Nothing is ever their fault -- it's always yours. If they stab you, it's because you ran into the knife. If they hit you, it's because "you made them do it." They never, ever take responsibility for their actions, they will take all of the credit and none of the blame. They know how to show you their good side long enough to disarm you and gain their trust, but know that they truly don't have a good side. They are masters at studying human emotions and know how to show you what you need to see just long enough for them to use you for whatever they need to use you for. I could go on and on, so I'll just stop there. The point is, that while not all of those in charge of Louis Charles were sociopaths, the ones that were would also give detailed accounts that they did nothing out of the ordinary!

I can tell you have a lot of drive and passion -- hang on to that. I know that you will get the answers you seek. In the meantime, don't lose sight of the big picture: a healthy, 8-year old boy went into prison and came out a corpse 2 years later. His malnourishment and filthy living conditions were the cause of his demise. Although some of his jailers may have had a hand in more emotional punishment than physical, others did not. If he were only emotionally and mentally abused, a 10-year old malnourished and disease-ridden corpse would not be the result. There had to be physical abuse in there somewhere, and no one is admitting to inflicting the abuse. Just because there is not adequate written accounts of it, it doesn't mean that it didn't happen. In forensics, they say that their client is the victim and they are to be the voice because they are no longer alive to speak for themselves as to what happened. We should keep this mentality for Louis Charles, because this is absolutely a murder case. As you can tell, I have a lot of passion for this as well.  I love you 
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Re: Nature of the abuse?

Post  Bunnies on Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:45 pm

As far as following a reliable source, it sounds like Madame Royale's memoirs is the most reliable one as of right now -- who better than someone who was actually there?

She wasn't there though. That's the chief cusp of her complaint: that she was forbidden to see her brother. We can't simultaneously lament the cruelty of their separation while highlighting her as our most reliable witness.

I personally am cautious about trusting the accounts of his jailers.

As am I. I think you may have misunderstood the references I primarily cited. M. Beauchesne's Louis XVII, sa Vie, son Agonie, sa Mort is a monarchist work. It's also a secondary source but was written using compilations of eye-witness accounts that we no longer have access too. Beauchesne's romantic and has a tendency to exaggerate - not mitigate. With that in mind, the sum total of the abuse he recounts is summarized in the above. Same with J.W Croker, who was also a monarchist [or a Feuillant. He's doing that British The-French-Can't-Do-Anything-Right thing.]  

As for Republican memoirs, [regarding this matter] I've only read Barras and extracts of Senart. I wrote that Barras's seemed questionable, given that he's Barras the only proof we have that he truly mended the prince's conditions himself is Barras. As for Senart, he is a liar by rule of thumb and his memoirs were edited by a counterrevolutionary but the conversation between Simon and the CSG regarding "getting rid" of the Dauphin seems hardly outside the realm of possibility and fits with what we know. Aside from my discounting of Madame Royale, I don't really see how you could have any quarrel with the sources that I chose to employ considering they were monarchist across-the-board. Nor did I ever deny physical abuse [my title of this thread was "Nature" of the abuse]. Certainly, pouring water on a sleeping child in a dank prison cell is abusive and may well get him sick, or aggravate an illness. And considering the Jacobins/Directory chose not to promptly provide their prisoner with a doctor, this makes them accountable for their death. If I recall, even Madame Royale thinks that her brother died because he never had a chance to recover from the illness he contracted while still living with his family and that he died due to lack of medical care. But even here it is worth noting that in 1788, 40% of children died before reaching adulthood and that even the dauphin's elder brother had also died of an illness while being the most carefully minded child in the country. That's important context. [Edit: Oops! This is a typo. I misread "40% of the children survived to adulthood as "40% of the children died before adulthood. So, okay: 60% of children died before reaching adulthood - the highest point it had been since 1680.]

I genuinely don't see how, "I don't think the dauphin was systematically brainwashed" is being translated into "nothing bad ever happened to the dauphin ever." Certainly the boy was abused and neglected. There's no debate there.

I also feel the need to point out that my employment of the term 'sociopath' was facetious. I don't diagnose  historical figures with mental illnesses, both due to the lack of rounded evidence to make an appropriate diagnosis and because these diagnoses tend to be the end, not the beginning, of analysis. If an historian diagnoses Jacques as a sociopath, everything he does suddenly stems from that diagnosis. It's a more advanced version of the "Things because reasons" escape route I was mocking earlier. Even if the figure was truly a sociopath, I find it funny: I'm currently studying the public's perception of serial killer's in contrast with the reality, and spend an inordinate amount of time shifting through news reports relating to these murder cases. I've yet to see a singular incidence of an admired journalist or biographer ever say, "Ted Bundy killed women because he was a sociopath." Instead they say "Ted Bundy, a sociopath,  killed women because in his mind [conjectured motive]." Such is True Crime, a dimestore genre; history, allegedly housed in the lofty halls of academia, contents itself with monosyllabic explanations of complicated phenomena.

I don't do that, is what I'm trying to say. Psychobiographies are trash, as any reader of Stefan Zweig's Marie-Antoinette could testify.  Evil or Very Mad Even the mad have methods.

But there is another piece of a sociopath's diagnosis that you omitted: they tend not to have a grasp of consequences. B doesn't necessarily follow from A; this is one reason they are so commonly repeat offenders. The jailtime subsequent to their offense appears as an isolated event from their crime. And in this, Marie-Antoinette most certainly shares with their delusion. She encourages a war with Austria, writing "the fools! Don't they know they are playing right into our hands?" and even goes so far as to smuggle French battle plans to Austrian invaders. In so doing she was effectively sentencing French men to die on the battlefield. Did she not think that maybe, just maybe, there would be negative consequences? Either she was too stupid to think that any French men would die, or she didn't care -- and Marie-Antoinette wasn't stupid. This was pointed out to her by one of the jailers who took her son away, who said that he had been separated himself from his two sons who were fighting on the front. Two wrongs don't make a right but surely this man's complaint is not without its merits? Surely his sons were as valuable as Antoinette's...unless...they're not? And why wouldn't they be? Are we truly going to dismiss his sorrow as the ramblings of a sociopath desperate to justify every cruelty?

I found a quote by Victor Hugo which summarizes my views on this whole matter:


The conventionary stretched forth his hand and grasped the Bishop's arm.
"Louis XVII.! let us see. For whom do you mourn? is it for the innocent child? very good; in that case I mourn with you. Is it for the royal child? I demand time for reflection. To me, the brother of Cartouche, an innocent child who was hung up by the armpits in the Place de Greve, until death ensued, for the sole crime of having been the brother of Cartouche, is no less painful than the grandson of Louis XV., an innocent child, martyred in the tower of the Temple, for the sole crime of having been grandson of Louis XV."

"Monsieur," said the Bishop, "I like not this conjunction of names."

"Cartouche? Louis XV.? To which of the two do you object?"

A momentary silence ensued. The Bishop almost regretted having come, and yet he felt vaguely and strangely shaken.

The conventionary resumed:—

"Ah, Monsieur Priest, you love not the crudities of the true. Christ loved them. He seized a rod and cleared out the Temple. His scourge, full of lightnings, was a harsh speaker of truths. When he cried, 'Sinite parvulos,' he made no distinction between the little children. It would not have embarrassed him to bring together the Dauphin of Barabbas and the Dauphin of Herod. Innocence, Monsieur, is its own crown. Innocence has no need to be a highness. It is as august in rags as in fleurs de lys."

"That is true," said the Bishop in a low voice.

"I persist," continued the conventionary G—— "You have mentioned Louis XVII. to me. Let us come to an understanding. Shall we weep for all the innocent, all martyrs, all children, the lowly as well as the exalted? I agree to that. But in that case, as I have told you, we must go back further than '93, and our tears must begin before Louis XVII. I will weep with you over the children of kings, provided that you will weep with me over the children of the people."

"I weep for all," said the Bishop.
"Equally!" exclaimed conventionary G——; "and if the balance must incline, let it be on the side of the people. They have been suffering longer."


[And no, I don't think Marie-Antoinette was a sociopath. That's silly. But I don't think Simon was one, either.]
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