"She was not a guilty woman, neither was she a saint; she was an upright, charming woman, a little frivolous, somewhat impulsive, but always pure; she was a queen, at times ardent in her fancies for her favourites and thoughtless in her policy, but proud and full of energy; a thorough woman in her winsome ways and tenderness of heart, until she became a martyr."
"We have followed the history of Marie Antoinette with the greatest diligence and scrupulosity. We have lived in those times. We have talked with some of her friends and some of her enemies; we have read, certainly not all, but hundreds of the libels written against her; and we have, in short, examined her life with– if we may be allowed to say so of ourselves– something of the accuracy of contemporaries, the diligence of inquirers, and the impartiality of historians, all combined; and we feel it our duty to declare, in as a solemn a manner as literature admits of, our well-matured opinion that every reproach against the morals of the queen was a gross calumny– that she was, as we have said, one of the purest of human beings."
"It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely there never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like a morning star full of life and splendor and joy. Oh, what a revolution....Little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fall upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look which threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded...."
~Edmund Burke, October 1790
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Caroline of Naples is one of the main characters in my novel Madame Royale. She does not enter until the middle of the story, but then she upstages everyone else. She was high-spirited and much more like Marie-Antoinette than the queen's own daughter, Marie-Therese-Charlotte. Caroline was Marie-Antoinette’s grand-niece, her sister Queen Maria Carolina's granddaughter. The author Chateaubriand always flirted with her, calling her a "crazy, Italian tight-rope artist." She had a wonderful singing voice and could sing and play any operatic song after hearing it only once.
Caroline of Naples was known as the Duchessede Berry from the time of her marriage to Berry in 1816. Caroline introduced sea-bathing to high society and it was considered quite scandalous. She also enjoyed window shopping and they named one of the first Parisian street-cars after her. In spite of her impetuous ways, she was quite popular with the French people. She was also a generous patroness of the arts and her charitable contributions usually exceeded her annual income. Berry was murdered before her eyes in February of 1820 and their son Henri “the Miracle Child” was born in September, 1820. Their country home was Rosny, where Caroline had a special chapel devoted to Berry's memory. When Berry was killed at the opera, Caroline said, "I have lost the only person in the world who can make me happy."
It is a very romantic story how she secretly married an Italian count Ettore deLucchesi-Palli in Rome, and then went to Brittany to try to regain the throne for her son in 1832. She ended up hiding in a chimney in a farmhouse and almost was burned alive. She never lost her courage and her dignity, even during her imprisonment in the fortress of Blaye, where she was forced to give birth in front of the guards. In the 1830's, after her secret marriage, adventure in Brittany and pregnancy, she was stripped by Charles X of her royal title and was styled "ComtessedeRosny." She and Marie-Therese-Charlotte always quarrelled, although the Duchesse d’Angouleme ended up raising Caroline's older children, Henri and Louise. The two sisters-in-law were eventually reconciled, and would spend their winters in Venice together, until Therese died in 1851.
Caroline’s second husband, Count Ettore deLucchesi-Palli was a scion of one the first families of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. He was also known as Prince of Campofranco, and later as Duke della Grazia. He and Caroline had a castle at Brunsee in Gratz, Austria, which is where she died in 1870.
Baroness Orczy of The Scarlet Pimpernel fame wrote a biography of Caroline, as did Andre Castelot. Imbertde Saint-Amand'sThe Duchessede Berry and the Court of Charles X is loaded with intimate details of court life.
When she was taken prisoner after almost being burned alive, Caroline said, "I have done what a mother could to regain the inheritance of her son." Brave, foolish, feisty, headstrong, loveable Caroline, she would not give up.
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