Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Testimony of an Attorney for the Queen

Here is the testimony of one of Marie-Antoinette's brave attorneys, Chaveau-Lagarde:
The Conciergerie, as is well known, is the prison in which are confined persons due to be judged or those due to be executed after sentence.

After passing through two gates one enters a dark corridor which one could not locate without the aid of a lamp that lights up the entrance. On the right are the cells, and on the left there is a chamber into which the light enters by two small barred windows looking on to the little courtyard reserved for women.

It was in this chamber that the Queen was confined. It was divided into two parts by a screen. On the left, as one entered, was an armed gendarme, and on the right the part of the room occupied by the Queen containing a bed, a table and two chairs. Her Majesty was attired in a white dress of extreme simplicity.
No one capable of sympathetic imagination could fail to realize my feelings on finding in this place the wife of one of the worthiest successors of St. Louis and the august descendant of the Emperors of Germany, a Queen who by her grace and goodness had been the glory of the most brilliant court in Europe and the idol of the French nation.

In presenting myself to the Queen with respectful devotion, I felt my knees trembling under me and my eyes wet with tears. I could not hide my emotion and my embarrassment was much greater than any I might have felt at being presented to Her Majesty in the midst of her court, seated on a throne and Surrounded with the brilliant trappings of royalty.

Her reception of me, at once majestic and kind put me at my ease and caused me to feel, as I spoke and she listened, that she was honoring me with her confidence.
I read over with her the bill of indictment, which later became known to all Europe. I will not recall the horrible details.
As I read this satanic document, I was absolutely overwhelmed, but I alone, for the Queen, without showing emotion, gave me her views on it. She perceived, and I had come to the same conclusion, that the gendarme could hear something of what she said. But she showed no sign of anxiety on this score and continued to express herself with the same confidence.

I made my initial notes for her defense and then went up to the registry to examine what they called the relevant documents. There I found a pile of papers so confused and so voluminous that I should have needed whole weeks to examine them. (Read entire post.)
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