Monday, May 23, 2011

"Capet, wake up!"

 Below is an excerpt of a poem by the great Victor Hugo in honor of the little son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. After being dragged from his mother's arms at the age of eight, he was mistreated in the Temple prison. The child was beaten, given strong drink, and generally corrupted in order to force him to testify against the queen and his aunt Madame Elisabeth. The French title of the poem, Capet, éveille-toi! or "Capet, wake up!" recalls how the little king was repeatedly awakened in the course of the night and prevented from a decent sleep, as an additional method of torture. He died at the age of ten on June 8, 1795, covered with sores, diseased, mute and alone.
What if thy wasted arms are bleeding yet,
And wounded with the fetter's cruel trace.
No earthly diadem has ever set
A stain upon thy face.

"Child, life and hope were with thee at thy birth;
But life soon bowed thy tender form to earth,
And hope forsook thee in thy hour of need.
Come, for thy Saviour had his pains divine;
Come, for his brow was crowned with thorns like thine;
His sceptre was a reed."
Image from Vive la Reine. Share


Anonymous said...

It was only fairly recently that I sought to find out what happened to the children of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. I had assumed the worst and almost didn't want to know, then after visiting Versailles, I had to know. Reading this just consumes me with sadness, even two centuries after the fact. Your blog is a wonderful resource and I know I'll be referring to it often. Denise x

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Denise, I was happy to discover your blog, too!

Julygirl said...

The historical novels, 'Trianon', and 'Madame Royale' by Elena Maria Vidal are a great source of information regarding the events of Pre and Post French Revolution.

Anonymous said...

The thought of what happened to the young dauphin deeply saddens me too.

Elena, had he made his First Holy Communion yet?

elena maria vidal said...

No, Gette, he had not. In those days they did not make their First Communion until they were at least twelve. The royal family were deprived of the sacraments after August 10, 1792, except the King and Queen were individually able to assist at Mass and communicate before death.

lara77 said...

Victor Hugo's poem breaks my heart. The innocence of childhood destroyed by unmitigated evil. I will always wonder if the Dauphin had survived the revolution; what King would he have been? A forgiving one or a vengeful one?