"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
A Note on Reviews
Unless otherwise noted, any books I review on this blog I have either purchased or borrowed from the library, and I do not receive any compensation (monetary or in-kind) for the reviews.
Caroline Moorehead’s profound scholarship brings to light an episode of
the Second World War that would have remained shrouded in the mist of
legend if not for her efforts. In the mountains of eastern France, the
rugged villagers of Chambon, as well as the inhabitants of the
surrounding countryside, devised an ingenious network in order to hide
Jewish children and others being hunted by the Gestapo. Most of the
villagers and farmers belonged to various Protestant sects while others
were Catholic. Their leaders saw hiding Jews as a basic human duty, not
as anything heroic. In contrast to what was going on in other parts of
France, where Frenchmen were collaborating with the Nazis in order to
round up the Jews, most of the villagers of Chambon indeed shine forth
as examples of Christian fortitude. Hiding the Jewish children did not
mean merely keeping them in the attics; it meant clothing, feeding, and
educating them. When the Gestapo became aware of their work, the
villagers had to lead the children over the mountains into Switzerland.
Many were captured, tortured and killed. Village of Secrets shows both
the best and the worst of humanity.
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