Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30th, 1783

One would think it were possible to cease being surprised by the events of life, and yet they never do cease in amazement. Finally I am at liberty to write of the events of the last few days, and indeed of the many months since last my husband and I were together.

When two years ago we fled Paris, and my ill-advised nuptials with the Marquis de Franconville-aux-Bois, the letter that came to us in Lille saying that Thierry had been denounced as a spy for the English was written by a man with whom he worked. I had thought it all a wild chase, the choice to go to Marseille and then on to Venice following our secret wedding, merely a necessity to escape the Lettre de Cachet which would have imprisoned him indefinitely. I have been much deceived.

Believing the accusation to be the work of F- I have plotted tirelessly against him, imagining him the greatest of monsters and author of my misfortunes, but it seems that in his role as agent for the Ferme Generale Thierry became very useful for his English connections. In short, though a spy indeed, it was the English upon whom he was gathering information. The accusation, a way of making our enemies trust him. The flight to Venice, a means to meet with important people from the English court who were abroad. When he disappeared and I did not know where he had gone, he had slipped into England. The war in the colonies finally finished, he was invited to return home, and his reward? It seems that his family has suddenly been made aware of a long-standing claim to an old title through his mother. So now he is a landless Marquis.

Overjoyed at this news, and not in small part confused, I laid before him all of my doings since he left. The destruction of all of F-s interests, the ruin of his home in Saint Martin-du-Tertre, the disgrace of my own cousins, and the return of cousin Godfrey to the post of Grand Chamberlain, as well as everything surrounding Clementine de Rodez; whose wedding is to take place in only a few short days.

Thierry was most upset by these revelations, as much as I was befuddled by his own, and I must admit there was something of an argument. He is greatly unsettled by what he sees as "the incessant intriguing of courtiers and wits." For several days we did not see each other or speak and I wondered very much what our lives would become. Fortunately, knowing that there was still the question of whether or not F- was behind my poisoning and R-s death, Thierry forgave me my mistaken machinations on his behalf.

Now there is only the question of whether two people who are, in fact, already married may be married again by the church, as I may finally, lawfully, be joined with him as my peer.

Olympe, Comtesse

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25th, 1783

Though Mme Elizabeth will not be permitted to spend her nights at Montreuil there is much activity surrounding the transfer of her household goods to the estate, where she will likely spend most of her days. It was due to these activities that I was unable to attend the court presentations, which I had been pressed to do by my friends. Little did I realize that a surprise had been planned for me.

Undeterred by my failure to attend, Msrs. Menars and Poisson received permission to approach and speak with my mistress in her salon, and their conversation, held with her in low voices and glances in my direction, soon gave me to know that something was amiss. My mistress, appearing very sly and merry, gave a nod of assent and the two gentlemen left the room.

They were reintroduced but a few moments later and with them was announced a Marquis de Mercoeur, the title of which gave me some confusion. Mercoeur is a title long associated with certain lands in Auvergne, but which was rendered quite extinct until several years ago. Revived for the King's brother, Artois, as a duchy it was then exchanged for the richer Duchy of Poiteau. As various sovereigns and persons of consequence have assumed new identities when visiting Versailles, to escape the confines of ettiquette, I thought it might be something of a similar nature. This did not explain the curious connection with myself, however.

Immediately when the Marquis appeared all was explained and I could not do aught but stare frozen, though what I very much wished to do was to fly to him, for it was my own, dear, Thierry! The formal introductions were made, and somehow my mistress seemed to understand much because not only did she say to him "I think you know our Comtesse d'Auvergne," but she then suggested a turn in the gardens and left Thierry to accompany me.

The story he told me then will have to wait until another day, as I am summoned to dress Mme Elizabeth and cannot delay.

Olympe, Comtesse

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shopping the Museums

Every once in a while I like to do this; just "shop" around to all of the museums websites and put together an outfit that I know my historical counterpart would love. We'll start with the simple but lovely Gaulle, this one from Denmark has the light, ethereal feel I know I always associate with the style.

I think a colored sash is just the perfect accompaniment to the white of these gowns. How about one in the same bluish-green color as the sash worn by Mme Lavoisier in David's portrait of she and her husband?

Then maybe we could add a fichu, which would necessitate a fichu buckle, would it not? I just love this English one from LACMA, with it's rhinestones and pink swirl detail.

Of course no outfit is complete without a pair of stunning heels. These embroidered silk satin ones, again English and from the LACMA, will match perfectly down to the pink ribbon ties, and being c.1785 makes them appropriate for our current time period as well.

It would be inappropriate to go out without a hat, so I shall don this little old thing, maybe with a few flowers, but only after having my hair meticulously tended to. I need volume to offset the size of the hat and the narrowing silhouette of my gown.

Then there's just one more thing to grab before heading out; my bag! So what if it has someone else's name embroidered on it, this will be just the explosion of color that my subdued outfit needs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22nd, 1783

It is for certain now that I will leave Sully, though I have grown so fond of it; and it seems that my mistress will have a new home as well! The King, having taken possession of my cousins' estate, Montreuil, upon their misfortune has gifted it to his sister in a most charming fashion. The Queen, walking in the gardens there with Mme Elizabeth, informed her that it was to be her home, whereupon Mme was delighted and grateful to all. She even took pains lest her joy should cause me discomfort, being related as I am to its' previous owners, but I soon put her at ease on that account.

I am persuaded by Messieurs Poisson and Menars to attend the court presentations, though I'm sure they will be insufferably tedious. Now that most of the treaty negotiations are complete there is far less amusement at Versailles, and yet there seem to be as many people as ever. There is hope, however, that when Mme goes to Saint Cloud for the summer months that I will be released to return to Auvergne. I have seldom hoped more fervently for anything, except the pleasure of my husband's company, of which I have been so long deprived.

Olympe, Comtesse

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Was the question perhaps too easy? No one answered last week's trivia question, though the clue was in the picture.

"Which famous victim of the guillotine was described as the 'Ste Genvieve' of the royalists, and considered for sainthood herself?"

The answer is; Madame Elizabeth, sister of Louis XVI. Refusing to go into exile she saw it as her duty to remain by her brother's side through all of his misfortunes, and eventually followed him to the guillotine. Her insistence on keeping faith with her Catholic principles, and her desire to to encourage others even to the point of praying for them at the foot of the execution site, led to her consideration for sainthood. The people in charge of her execution group decided to enact one final cruelty by having her go last and watch all of the previous beheadings, but one by one those who preceded her stopped to ask her blessing before mounting the scaffold, and she herself walked to her death with immense poise; that is, until her fichu fell away. Madame Elizabeth said to the executioner, "For the love of your mother, cover me!"  Those became her final words.

For this week I ask:- The scientist, Emilie du Chatelet, is known as much for her relationship with Voltaire as she is for her work in the field of physics; but the famous couple once found themselves in a spot of trouble when in the middle of a card game he told Emilie that he suspected some of the other players of cheating. They didn't think anyone else would understand their conversation, as they were speaking what language, not much in use at the court of France?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


It's been too long since we've done this. Last time I asked "What was the "fowl" name given to the pinkish hue of eighteenth-century champagne?"

A Traveller In Time correctly responded "Oeil de perdrix or partridge eye." Sounds yummy.

 This week's question is an easy one:- Which famous victim of the guillotine was described as the "Ste Genvieve" of the royalists, and considered for sainthood herself?