Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 1780

A letter from F- in Rodez says that he is with R-, who has fallen ill. He says not to come, and that seeing me might only upset the Comte more. R- is raving, threatening to marry as well, alternately weeping, cursing, and sleeping. He does not eat and F- will not give him drink. The doctor has been with them, and the Comte's mother is due to arrive from Lyon within a few days.

I feel that this is all my doing, and now one of my dearest friends will not see me,

Olympe, Comtesse

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

Someone had a lot of fun with this!

July 23, 1780

Despite the fact that Saint Saturnin is a far cooler than busy Paris I am still loathe to venture out from these stone walls. I have been ill inclined to do anything these past few weeks, in truth. I did venture to Paris and see Thierry and dear Christine, who is now gone to her Aunt and Uncle in Sweden (whom she fears may be arranging a marriage for her next now that her sister is wed). The court is away from Versailles and Paris until the weather cools, and I have given Msr. Poisson some incentive to seek both of us a charge in the Royal Service.

Thierry has received greater acclamation and further duties from the Ferme, and even Philippe Guillaume Tavernier Boullongne of Préminville, the Fermier General, has taken notice of him. I should not be surprised if soon he were to be far richer than I. We shall see what transpires.

Soon, when the court returns, F- and I will have to announce our engagement. Already I am receiving daily letters from Maman on preparations, not to be undertaken without her involvement. I do believe she has been looking forward to this for years. For my part, I would as soon not have anything to do with it, and I sit in the quiet of Saint Saturnin with Reinette, reading, painting, and playing my harp very ill. I am determined more than ever that I have little need of some of my other properties, and it is very likely that I will spend most of my time in Paris in the future, and so F- and I will only need, say, three homes in Auvergne to which we may travel. I will retain Opme, Saint Saturnin and my home in Riom, I think, and sell the rest.

Right now it is too hot to think.

Olympe, Comtesse

Thursday, July 22, 2010

French Song- A la Cour du Palais (At the Court of the Palace)

1) A la cour du palais
Lundi, Mardi tra la la

A la cour du palais

Y'avait une servante
Y'avait une servante, Lundi, Mardi danse
2) Elle a tant d'amoureux

Qu'elle ne sait lequel prendre
(3) Elle a le fils du roi

Et son valet de chambre)

4) C'est un p'tit cordonnier

Qu'a eu la préférence
5) Lui a fait des souliers

En maroquin de Nantes
6) Et c'est en la chaussant

Qu'il lui fit sa demande
7) La belle si tu voulais

Nous coucherions ensemble
8) Dans un grand lit carré

Couvert de toiles blanches
9) Aux quatre coins du lit

Quatre pommes d'oranges

or (un bouquet de pervenches)
10) Et là nous dormirions

Jusquà la fin du monde
10) Dans le mitan du lit

La rivière est courante

11) Tous les chevaux du roi

Viennent y boire en bande
12) Le noir s'est noyé

Le plus beau de la bande
13) Si le roi le savait

Il nous ferait tous pendre

And now in English...

At the court of the palace

Monday, Tuesday tra la la

At the court of the palace

There was a servant, Monday, Tuesday dance

She has so much love

She doesn’t know which one to take

She had the son of a king

And his servant

It is a little shoemaker

That is the preference

He has made some shoes

In Nantes Moroccan leather

And it is in the shoes

That he has made his request

Beautiful, if you would like

We would sleep together

In a big square bed

Covered in white sheets

At the four corners of the bed

Four apples of oranges

Or a bouquet of periwinkle

And there we would sleep

Until the end of the world

In the middle of the bed

The river is coursing

All the horses of the king

Come there to drink together

The black is drowned

The most handsome of the group

If the king knew it

He would take us all

The translation is my own, I take full responsibility for any mistakes. For the melody see the video below...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let's Talk About Titles!

I've been putting this one off for a while because it can get complicated. Not only were there noble titles in the 18th century, this everyone knows, but confusion arrives when (a) those titles are translated into French, (b) one person holds multiple titles, (c) the same title is applied to people of differing ranks, or (d) a title is held by someone nominally but without legal recognition, or (e) lots of people suddenly die (a la guillotine) or are forced to flee and the succession lines get very confusing.

Take for example the title "Prince". There are Princes of the Blood, i.e. those related to the Royal Family, like Prince Louis Phillipe d'Orleans. To gain this title one would have to be descended from the male line of the reigning royal family, although a Princess of the Blood could marry into the title. Everyone remember the part in "Marie-Antoinette" where the Comtesse de Noilles is whispering about the proper greeting order, and who is a Princess of the Blood or only a Princess of the Blood by marriage? This is what she means.

What if someone is not "of the blood"? You can still be a Prince or Princess! How about the Princess de Conde, Charlotte de Rohan? For her "Princess" was just a nominal title, something that the cadet branch of the Bourbon family was called, much as the distant descendants of royalty are still called today. They didn't rule a principality, were very far from being in line for the throne, and in her case was a Princess by marriage even. Interesting fact, if you look at her parentage Princess Charlotte's mother was Anne Marie Louise de la Tour d'Auvergne (familiar...) and the family's Turenne branch with it's Duchy of Bouillon were styled "princes of Turenne".

Not related in any way to the royal family? You can still be a Prince or Princess, Prince Louis de Rohan, aka Cardinal Rohan of "The Affair of the Necklace" infamy, was! In certain very theocratic political systems, like France in the 18th century, very prestigious religious titles were given the honorific 'Prince', such as Cardinals and the Pope.

Obviously those who rule a principality are known as Princes, but where were these sovereign states in the 18th century? The Principality of Orange (as in William of Orange) was one, and so was the Principality of Sedan which was a part of the Duchy of Bouillon, and therefore became property of the French Crown when the Duchy was confiscated. Everything is related.

The title of Prince doesn't fall into the category of titles difficult to recognie in a foreign language, but here are some that people do mix up:-

Comtesse/Comte= Countess/Count
Marquis/Marquise= Marquess (Earl), Marchioness
Duc/Duchesse= Duke/Duchess
Roi/Reine= King/Queen
Cavalier/(Ma)Dame= Knight/Lady

So where do all of the Princes line up? Rank being important and all, who goes in what order? After the King would come the heir, known as the Dauphin, then his brothers, the Princes of the Blood, then the Princes of the Blood by Marriage, the Princes of Principalities, Princes styled by patent of the King, Princes styled hereditarily, and finally everybody else.

Then Napoleon came along and started to hand out Princely titles to his victorious generals, so things only became more confusing...

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”- Nicolas Chamfort

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Re-enactment Frustrations

I am intensely jealous of those of you who live out west where there are costume societies and costumed picnics to attend, and even more so of those of you who live abroad in places like Sweden and England (where, as my fiance says, "The history comes from), because you can play out your reenactor lives in actual period buildings.

I live on the east coast of the U.S.A., near to Washington, DC, and there are a plethora of reenactment societies here; Civil War, Revolutionary War, etc, but I have yet to find a single 18th century non-American society. I don't really want to be a colonist; I mean, isn't part of the fun of a persona the ability to be someone that you're not? To take on, if only for a few hours, the mindset of someone that you'd rather have been?

I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism for many years, and is in fact how I met my fiance, but it's the 18th century that I love much more than the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, and frankly the politics of the oganization really bothered me. There was talk last year about starting a similar group for 18th century reenactors whether European or American, but it fizzled out very quickly.

So I suppose I'm just posting this to rant and with the fervent wish that someone out there in my area might feel the same way.

*Photo courtesy of duran textiles

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blog-Anniversaire Giveaway Results

The results are in! The randomly generated results are

#1- Gentlewomanthief for the book
#2- Madame Berg for the surprise gift

Ladies, please e-mail me at so that I may get your party favors to you. Prizes will be redistributed if not claimed within one month.

Back to the celebrations!