5 days ago
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Our Story Thus Far
It began in 1779, with Olympe spending the summer at the home of a friend in Briancon, all the while making plans for a legal case over some land adjoining Auvergne. This case would eventually take her to Paris at the close of the summer for a sojourn at the l'hotel de Sully, but not before taking part in a minor theatrical production, avoiding the advances of undesirable suitors, and ferreting out the secrets of some of the other guests. Having already met her paramour, Thierry Duverney, in 1775 she also tried to utilize her connections to find him employment that might lead to significant honors, but success in this venture would be a long time coming.
As women holding titles and land in their own right was something of a rarity in 18th century France, Olympe was frequently the object of fortune-hunters at every level of society; and even the King strongly suggested when she presented her suit at Versailles, that she should within the year marry a man of appropriate rank. An offer was made to confirm Olympe's heirs in securing the Duchy of Bouillon, a family title of great wealth and significance currently held by a childless cousin, if she should meet this condition.
This left Thierry out of the picture and in the process of seeking an appropriate mate she caught the attention of the Marquis de Menars. Olympe, overhearing his plans for her money, decided to publicly ridicule him, and with the help of her friends; the Marquis de Franconville-aux-bois and the Comte de Rodez, she succeeded in doing so. A duel followed in which Menars was seriously wounded, and in return for which he would supposedly attempt to poison our Comtesse. In this the villain was aided by one of Olympe's own footmen, whom she had forced into marriage with one of her maids for the sake of their child.
The poisoning was discovered, but Menars involvement could not be proven. The footman was left to survive the wrath of his clandestine employer, and Olympe with her two champions fled home to Auvergne where she was joined by Thierry once more. While there the Marquis de F- made a surprising offer. Despite his long attachment to the Comte de R- he suggested that he and Olympe should marry and that his family alliances would serve to protect her from further menace. As many 18th century marriages were so frequently attended by infidelities on both sides that true fidelity was considered extraordinary, Olympe eventually agreed.
Unfortunately, this sent the Comte de Rodez into a self-destructive phase, and he died in August of 1780 at his home outside of Paris. At the time Olympe was still in Auvergne and the news of his death reached her by way of F-, who proceeded to use it to press her for a speedier marriage. The more he pressured her, the more reluctant she became. Thierry, having managed at last to secure a position with the Ferme Generale, had begun to travel extensively inside and outside of France, and Olympe wavered between acquiescence and flight.
In the end Thierry returned to Paris a mere few days before the wedding was to take place, and Olympe delivered an ultimatum to F-, who was forced to call off the ceremony. Taking the precaution of leaving Paris for Lille, they planned to marry there in secret, but were instead roused to flight once more by the arrival of a warning from one of Thierry's friends. A letter had been given to the police denouncing Thierry as a spy for the English, and a Lettre de Cachet was issued against him. Further intrigue saw our protagonists meet up once more in Marseille for the long-awaited marriage, before parting in Venice.
Olympe returned to Auvergne, sold one of her estates to the recently-returned Marquis de Lafayette, and rented another, giving her the money to pursue her own interests and the case for Thierry's innocence. At the same time she began to suspect that not all was as it had seemed. Having reason to suspect that R- did not die the way he was reported by F- to have gone, and that Menars was not behind her poisoning after all, Olympe set about to wreak vengeance upon the Marquis de Franconville-aux-bois, whom she held responsible for all that had occurred.
Utilizing her new wealth and his own debts, she ruined F- financially and even went so far as to have his former home demolished. Not long after, two of her own relatives were ruined in a very public way, and she feared reprisal by F-s family connections, but relied upon her cousin, the Duke de Bouillon to save them.
At the time of my writing this is all that has occurred of significance. Additional characters about whom you may read more are her two half-brothers; Andre and Matthieu, with whom she has very different relationships.