Saturday, December 15, 2007

At the Tuileries

Among the many out-of-print books that are now online is Imbert de Saint-Amand's Marie-Antoinette at the Tuileries (1893). In spite of the panegyrics, there are many quotes from original letters as well as day-by-day accounts of the life of the royal family during their life under virtual house arrest from October of 1789 until the end of 1791. The following passages describe the tightening of security around the family after their escape attempt in June 1791. The queen, especially, was closely guarded (as anyone can see, it would have been impossible for her to have entertained Count Fersen, as some authors claim.)
It had been resolved that [the queen] should have no personal attendant except the lady's maid who had acted as a spy before the journey to Varennes. A portrait of this person was placed at the foot of the staircase leading to the Queen's rooms so that the sentinel should permit no other woman to enter. Louis XVI was obliged to appeal to Lafayette in order to have this spy turned out of the palace where her presence was an outrage on Marie Antoinette. This espionage and inquisition pursued the unfortunate Queen even into her bedroom. The guards were instructed not to lose sight of her by night or day. They took note of her slightest gestures, listened to her slightest words. Stationed in the room adjoining hers they kept the communicating door always open so that they could see the august captive at all times. (pp223-224)
The family continued to assist at daily Mass, albeit with difficulty.
The precautions taken were so rigorous that it was forbidden to say Mass in the palace chapel because the distance between it and the apartments of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette was thought too great. A corner of the Gallery of Diana, where a wooden altar was erected, bearing an ebony crucifix and a few vases of flowers became the only spot where the son of Saint Louis, the Most Christian King, could hear Mass. (pp.225-226)

However, their fortitude was admirable.
The royal family endured their captivity with admirable sweetness and resignation and concerned themselves less about their own fate than that of the persons compromised by the Varennes journey, who were now incarcerated....Louis XVI, instead of indulging in recriminations against men and things, offered his humiliations and sufferings to God. He prayed, he read, he meditated. Next to his prayer book his favorite reading was the life of Charles I either because he sought, in studying history, to find a way of escaping an end like that of the unfortunate monarch, or because an analogy of sorrows and disasters had established a profound and mysterious sympathy between the king who had been beheaded, and the king who was soon to be so. (pp. 226-227)


Anonymous said...

I love that you put the Count Fersen rumors to rest.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Glenna, I am doing my best.