Monday, March 23, 2009

The Queen's Agony

Her neck never stopped aching from the vise-like grip with which his short arms had locked around her, refusing to let go, as the commissaries began to drag him from her arms. His cries of "Maman! Maman!" echoed within her still. Her heart was not broken, it was gone. ~from Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal, Chapter Seven: "The Sacrifice"

On July 3, 1793, eight year old Louis XVII was forcibly removed from his mother the Queen. His sister Madame Royale later described the scene thus:

On the 3d of July, they read to us a decree of the Convention, that my brother should be separated from us, and placed in the most secure apartment of the tower. As p223soon as he heard this sentence pronounced, he threw himself into the arms of my mother, and entreated, with violent cries, than to be separated from her. My mother was stricken to the earth by this cruel order; she would not part with her son, and she actually defended, against the efforts of the officers, the bed in which she had placed him. But these men would have him, and threatened to call up the guard, and use violence. My mother exclaimed, that they had better kill her than tear the child from her. An hour was spent in resistance on her part, and in prayers and tears on the part of all of us.

At last they threatened even the lives of both him and me, and my mother's maternal tenderness at length forced her to this sacrifice. My aunt and I dressed the child, for my poor mother had no longer strength for any thing. Nevertheless, when he was dressed, she took him and delivered him herself into the hands of the officers, bathing him with her tears, foreseeing that she was never to see him again. The poor little fellow embraced us all tenderly, and was carried off in a flood of tears. My mother charged the officers to ask the council-general for permission to see her son, were it only at meals. They engaged to do so. She was overwhelmed with the sorrow of parting with him, but her horror was extreme when she heard that one Simon62 (a shoemaker by trade, whom she had seen as a municipal officer in the Temple), was the person to whom her unhappy child was confided. She asked continually to be allowed to see him, but in vain. He, on his side, cried for two whole days, and begged without intermission to be permitted to see us.

~Private Memoirs, by Madame Royale, Duchess of Angoulême, translated by John Wilson Croker. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1823, pp 223-225.



Enbrethiliel said...


This part of their lives is always agonising to read. My heart bleeds for little Louis.

lara77 said...

I admit that everytime I read the ordeal of Louis XVII being forced to leave his mother my eyes begin to well; I am not a mother but all one has to do is imagine you were the age of the young King and being forced to never see your mother again. I hope in my heart all the people responsible for this act of barbarism answered one day to Our Father in heaven.

Gareth Russell said...

I think the only phrase that can possibly describe what happened to Louis XVII is "too horrible." In that, it is quite literally so excessively horrible that the mind struggles to comprehend it.

Matterhorn said...

Such cruelty. Absolutely tragic.

Ms. Lucy said...

Ever noticed how, often when we refer to atrocities in history, we end up talking about them as matter-of-factly. This is one absolute case where it's just impossible. The whole thing is incredibly tragic and painful.

Christine said...

This was, without a doubt, the hardest part to read in your historical novel; as a mother, I cannot imagine such agony.

Archduchess Maria Carollton said...

I feel the same as Gareth. It is difficult to comprehend the suffering of MA and her family. To have her small child torn from her arms screaming, and then to actually hear his cries as he is abused, what more can a woman go through?

When I first read the true account of what happend to her little child, I was horrified, haunted.