Monday, April 30, 2012

Trivia Monday!

I do enjoy our Trivia Mondays, and I hope you do too. Last week I asked "What Enlightenment Monarch has been portrayed by both Danny Huston and Jeffrey Jones, though in very different ways; and apparently requested upon his death that his epitaph should read 'Here lies _, who failed in all he undertook.'?"

Cassidy correctly answered "I'm thinking Marie Antoinette's brother, Emperor Joseph II? I know Jeffrey Jones played him in Amadeus." Yes, Cassidy, Joseph II is correct. It's sad to think that the real Joseph died believing himself to be a failure, when today he is considered one of the monarchs who best embodied the Enlightenment ideal. It's a good lesson in not being too hard on yourself.

I have an extra hard trivia question for you all this week. Are you ready?

One of the Great Officers of the Crown of France died in 1782, leaving a vacancy for his position that was never filled. What was the office called? Extra credit for you if you can also name the decedent.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 14th, 1782

Word has arrived that the repairs to Lespinasse are nearly complete. I have sent word back to my estate agent that he may contact Lafayette's estate agent about viewing the property. I hope he is still interested in it and has not purchased elsewhere in the meantime. Perhaps I ought to send a note to the Marquis himself as well.

Clementine's presentation at court fast approaches in only a week. Her mother has consented to allow her to attend events in advance of it, but only those hosted by me (it seems I am to be trusted, after all), and only when accompanied by a chaperone; usually the Dowager herself.

I find that this does not make my course of action any clearer, but rather more difficult to discern. I hosted a light dinner the other day, with cards to follow. The weather was unseasonably fine and we were obliged to open the windows to cool the room, but still the old cat dozed in her chair in a corner of the room after the dishes were cleared away. Without the stern gaze of her mother Clementine quite came alive, her eyes sparkled, she engaged in conversation, she laughed, and in so doing I believe she caught the eye of quite a few gentlemen; but she herself seemed to have eyes only for one. The Marquis de Menars played a hand for her, since she has had little opportunity between the convent and home to learn, and she stood behind him fanning the back of his neck to keep him cool. He claimed the effort of his brain to win for her was making his head too hot and that he would have to remove his wig, at which she exclaimed with a laugh that he should not dare to, and tapped his shoulder reproachfully with her free hand.

His manner towards her is so sweet, so lively, and so seemingly genuine that I find myself wishing to provide no impediment to what would in any usual circumstance seem to be a good match. I catch myself believing his intentions to be right, but only one of three things can be true; he is a clever villain, he is something of a deceiver, or he is guilty of merely having a strong temper. They say the gentleness of a woman may soothe the temper of a beast, but if Clementine is to enter into an imperfect marriage I would prefer that it be the one which allows me access to F-'s private dealings. Still, I hesitate to knowingly ruin a young girls potential happiness. Good and evil wrestle within me.

One of my other guests noticed my intent gaze as I was watching Menars and Clementine, and she asked after it with the kind of arch curiosity which supposes it knows the answer. The matter between he and I is not so far in the past that people have forgotten it. I answered that I was thinking how proud the late Comte de Rodez would be of his sister, who has blossomed so charmingly.

Later Clementine herself took me aside and said "You were very close with my brother, and you have been so kind to me. I hope you will not think me impertinent if I ask...are the rumors about the two of you true?" I looked at her, thinking that a lengthy silence would quell any desire to continue the conversation, but she persisted. "Were you...lovers?"
"No." I answered. "Merely good friends." Still she continued.
"Then, as you were so close to him, perhaps you could tell me if another rumor is true." Again I waited, and eventually she continued. "Was he...fond of men."
"He had many male acquaintances of whom he was very fond. He had a very charming manner."
"Yes, but did he prefer their company...to that of women."

I paused a while and said "I understand what it is that you are asking me. The truthful answer is that, yes, he did prefer the company of men, and one in particular; the Marquis de Franconville-aux-bois. In fact, the Marquis was present when your brother died."

Clementine thanked me, but I ceased to really listen, because a horrible thought had occurred to me. The Marquis was present when R- died, and he was the one who informed me of everything I know regarding that terrible event. If I can not trust him, then how much of what he has told me can I also not trust? Most chillingly of all, did R- really die the way he said he did? I have never spoken to his mother of the specifics of that day, and I don't know how to begin, but she is the only other person who was there; she and the doctor. Somehow I feel I must find out exactly what happened.

Olympe, Comtesse

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trivia Monday!

Our trivia question last week was "What famous Brit said 'Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.'?" I confess I gave you a little bit of a clue and a misdirect with the picture that accompanied the question, because while it was a still from the movie Amazing Grace, it did not feature the speaker.
 Caroline correctly guessed that it was William Pitt, who was also represented in the  film by one of my favorite actors, Benedict Cumberbatch. The real William Pitt the Younger was, at that time, the youngest Prime Minister to take up the office, at the age of 24.

So onto this week's trivia:- What Enlightenment Monarch has been portrayed by both Danny Huston and Jeffrey Jones, though in very different ways; and apparently requested upon his death that his epitaph should read "Here lies _, who failed in all he undertook."?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Court Presentation- Honors of the Court Part 6

"Thus, anyone who wanted to be admitted to enjoy the honors of the court was to first have proof of enoblement dating from the year 1400 and which would be established, as with large noble chapters, by three original titles of each degree of parentage. Some writers, among others the author of Memories of the Marquise de Crequy, have claimed that we chose the year 1399 as a starting point, because this date was anterior to the oldest nobility in memory of which there are traces, and they added that the family of Gamaches Rouault, ennobled in 1400 for services rendered to the crown in the office of high treasurer of France, had provided the first example. This assertion is a gross error; the letters patent of nobility of Clement Rouault, whose outcome was the home of Gamache, are the May 24, 1317, not 1400. Philip the Bold had already, in the year 1270, conceded letters of nobility. Philip of Valois and John the Good would not be happy to make themselves noble in urgent need of money in 1339 and in 1361 they were granted the authority to create a fee to the chambers of accounts and to the delegated Commissioners in the provinces."

Ah, titles for money; a win for the crown, a concern for those already-ennobled. I think we can guess how that went over.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pompadour Shoes Next Up From American Duchess

Could I be more excited about these shoes? No, no I could not. The question is not so much do I want them, or will I get them, as how many will I get? As always with American Duchess they conform to strict standards of authenticity (except for being all left and right lasted, for your comfort), and are frankly just little works of art. They will be offered in either black or ivory brocade, and pre-order starts May 14th, so mark your calendars! For more information you can check out Lauren's post here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trivia Monday!

What famous Brit said "Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Favourite- Dress Fabric

Dress fabric hand-painted in China 1775-1800 (LACMA)
I wonder why this was never made into a garment? The detail and level of realism is very good.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 2nd, 1782

So much has happened since I last recorded anything here, but I have been entirely too busy to write during the day and too tired at night. My meeting with the Marquis de Menars turned out to be quite unexpected.

After pleasantries were exchanged he launched rather suddenly into a series of inquiries regarding my relationship with the De Rodez family, proclaiming himself, once again to be a good family friend. When I pointed out that dear friends do not challenge each other to deadly duels, he retorted that he could not vouch for his temper at the time, and had wished afterwards to retract the challenge, but could not do so without further embarrassment. He had not expected the duel to be so fierce.

Thinking to shock him with my knowledge of his deeds I then accused him of being the author of the plan to poison me. His countenance was all surprise at this and he flatly denied even being in town at the time of the affair, claiming to have been the guest of the Duke d'A- then.

Before leaving he admitted to having heard from the Dowager Countess de R- that it was I who caused her to doubt his sincere interest in her daughter, and his plea that I should understand how truly he wished to be the fortunate husband of a woman he had admired since girlhood, touched my heart considerably. After he departed I considered for a long time everything that he had said, and determined to find out whether he really had been away at the time of my poisoning.

Duly I sent a note to the Duke d'A- himself, requesting of him the name and substance of a dish that the Marquis had raved to me about since his visit. In due course the answer came, and in it the Duke confirmed that the Marquis de Menars had been his guest at that time, and suggested a dish which might be the same as that which he described. This sent me into a whirl of confusion. If Menars had not been in Paris at the time, then why did my servant, the footman Robert, claim that he had been the one who had given him the poison? And more disturbing still, why did F- and R- tell me that they had seen Robert thrown out of his Paris home when he went to confront the Marquis? Try as I might I could not seem to reason a way in which they might all be telling the truth; and if Menars were not lying, as it seemed that he was not, then who was behind the poisoning, and who was it that lied? If F- were indeed behind Thierry's Lettre de Cachet, what else might he be capable of? And was dear R- involved as well?

All of this swam through my mind like a snake in a pond, slithering into my every memory of the last few years, causing me to doubt what I had never doubted before. I barely slept night after night. Finally, the wretched clerk from the police brought me the original letter which had condemned Thierry as a spy, and which caused the Lettre de Cachet to be issued against him. It was very plain, but in an elegant hand and well-written. The paper held traces of perfume, which I feel sure I have perceived upon the Marquis de Franconville-aux-bois' person. The question which I now must answer is why he would plot so much treachery against me. Then I must act quickly to bring him to ruin.

Olympe, Comtesse