Monday, May 14, 2007

Madame de Tourzel

Madame de Tourzel was a devout lady chosen by Marie-Antoinette to be governess of her children after Madame de Polignac had to flee from the Revolution in July of 1789. There are many people who wonder why the queen and her children did not also try to escape at that time. It is because Marie-Antoinette would not desert her husband. "I will die at his feet!" she exclaimed. Louis XVI, of course, would not abandon his people. Early in the crisis the king and queen made the decision that they would not be parted from their children, but would keep them close at hand, not knowing what was going to transpire next in the tidal wave of events. So Marie-Antoinette chose as governess as trustworthy and reliable a person as she could find. "I entrusted my children to friendship," she remarked. "I entrust them now to virtue."

The queen wrote detailed and explicit directions about the care of her two surviving children for Madame de Tourzel, whose youngest daughter Pauline was a teenager. Pauline became a close friend of young Madame Royale. Both mother and daughter were close to the rambunctious Louis-Charles and were devoted to the saintly Madame Elisabeth.

Madame de Tourzel was with the royal family on the October night in 1789 when Versailles was stormed. It is she who reported in her Memoirs how the queen's bed was slashed by the mob. The governess and her daughter accompanied the royal family to Paris and shared their house arrest at the Tuileries. She recorded how one of the first actions of the queen at the Tuileries was to build a staircase joining her room with the king's, so that the family could get to each other when the mob attacked again, which it did in June and in August of 1792. Madame de Tourzel was with the royal family when they tried to escape in 1791 and shared the long ordeal of the re-capture. When Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and their family were imprisoned in the Temple, Madame de Tourzel and Pauline were not permitted to join them but were placed in one of the prisons in Paris. Somehow, they escaped the September Massacres, in which the queen's friend Madame de Lamballe was torn to pieces.

Madame de Tourzel lived to see the Restoration in 1814 and in 1830 Charles X made her a Duchess. She and Pauline were united with Madame Royale, whom Pauline served as lady-in-waiting. Share


Marie said...


I find your blog so inspiring. You are the one who has also inspired in me to focus on women of grace and courage. I have written another piece on one of the Romanovs. Thankyou for being my inspiration to focus on the positive and write in a way that elevates women and the inner strength which we all possess.

Please keep me in your prayers:). I am still in much pain and am living on pain medication till this spell is over. In case your wondering it is TMJ a very cruel disorder.

With love and friendship,


elena maria vidal said...

I will pray, dear Marie. I am so sorry you are going through so much.