The Interrogation of Nicole d’Oliva part 1

In 1785, it was discovered that a diamond necklace was missing. The Royal Jewelers said they had handed it over to the Queenand that she owed them for it. The Queen said she

The Palais-Royal, where Nicole d’Oliva met Nicolas de La Motte.

had never made such a purchase, in fact had turned down this very necklace because it was too expensive, and had no idea where the jewelers’ necklace had gone. That summer, an adventuress made Jeanne de La Motee-Valois was arrested, followed shortly by various of her associates, including Nicole d’Oliva. Nicole had been friends with Jeanne, and in fact had taken part in a peculiar midnight meeting in the parks of Versailles. Nicole was in Brussels with her amour when she was arrested for having taken part (however unwittingly) in Jeanne’s schemes. She was clapped in the Bastille, where she gave birth to a son, and then was moved to the Conciergerie. Below is a translation of a transcript I happened across during a Google Book search. As I mention in this post, I really don’t know French, but I made a go at translating this because I wanted to know whether there was any new information to be mined. The answer is no, not really. It makes interesting reading, anyway.

This is part 1, perhaps the more interesting of the two parts (part 2 will come shortly), as it concerns the Grove of Venus scene. Parts quoted in French were impossible for me to decipher properly. Anything in brackets in my input. If you aren’t familiar with the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, I suggest starting with The Short Story; this might not make sense otherwise. I took some small liberties with wording. I apologize that it’s somewhat stilted; I attempted as literal a translation as possible. I was tripped up in a few places. Maybe there is someone out there with a better command of French who can help with those phrases.

From Thursday, January 19, 1786

Before us, Jean Baptiste Pierre Maximilien Titon, advisor to the King in Parlement, in the halls of the government of the castle of the Bastille, has been led by M. Losme, major adjoint,  Marie-Nicole Leguay d’Oliva or Designy.

We asked her name and nicknames, age, station [ie social position], and residence. She said she was named Marie Nicole Leguay d’Oliva or “Designy”, thirty-four [sic–she was 22-23] years old, bourgeois, from Paris, residing on the Rue Thiroux, Chaussée [Carriageway] d’Antin.

We asked if she did not know of a woman named Madame de La Motte-Valois. She said yes.

We asked at what time she met Madame de La Motte, and in what manner she met her. She responded that in the late spring of 1784 at the Palais-Royal, when she was walking with a child, she was followed by a young man whom she did not know. Shortly after she returned home to the Rue du Jour, at the back of the Hotel Lambesc, her servant Francois announced a gentleman who wished to speak to her—she did not know him.  This person, who was the same person as he who had followed her at the Palais-Royal, entered and presented himself honestly, and she received him. He asked permission to come and see her. He was asked who he was, and said he was the Comte de La Motte. She permitted him [the honor] to come and see her.

We asked if she knows a Jew named Nathan. She answered yes.

We asked if she did not request this Jew to suspend legal proceedings that he might against her, because she would shortly make a fortune; and [we asked] if she did not make him [the Jew] part of what had happened between her and Monsieur and Madame de La Motte; and [we asked] if she did not also tell him that Madame de La Motte would make him money and would lead him to Versailles. She replied that she did not speak to M. Nathan before going to Versailles; that upon her return, she told him she would give him money because Madame de La Motte had given her 15,000 francs; and indeed, she gave the said M. Nathan 100 crowns, which was the sum total of what she had at that time.

We represented to her that we knew perfectly well she was acquainted with Monsieur de La Motte, but that she must tell us whether she was acquainted with Madame de La Motte and how. She responded that seven or eight days after she met the aforementioned Monsieur de La Motte, coming to her home as he habitually did almost every day, he said one day, being very gay, that he had just left a house where there was much talk of her. She asked him which house it was and who the people were. He said it was a lady. She responded that she was astonished, not seeing in those days either man or woman [presumably, she kept to herself]. He assured her that he had spoken well of her, and that the lady was a very fine lady and attached to the Court. She told him this was one more reason that she was surprised. He replied that this same lady proposed to come that same night to her home and that he would bring the lady to her. Indeed, that evening, he came to announce that lady, who entered only a moment later. She said, “You must be astonished to see me, not knowing me.” She replied the surprise was a very pleasant one. Then this lady sat and drew from her wallet letters that she claimed to be from the Queen. She said that she was a very well-placed woman; that she was attached to the court; and that she could not tell her name but might be able to one day.

On reading fragments of the letters, the respondent told this lady that she understood nothing of all this.

The lady said, “Dear heart, I am like this with the Queen [twisting her fingers together]. She confides in me fully; and she has charged me to do whatever she asks of me whenever she asks it of me.”

The lady said that if she [the respondent] did what she was told, she would make her a gift of 15,000 francs; that the Queen would be most gracious; and that, if she wanted, she would take her to a notary and make her a contract for 15,000 francs. At this, the respondent said to the lady that she was extremely flattered to be chosen to do something that would please the Queen, that it was not self-interest that guided her. The lady said, “Si vous êtes décidée, ce que vous ne pouvez pas vous empêcher de faire vis-à-vis d’une personne comme cela, le sieur de Lamotte viendra vous prendre demain au soir et vous amènera chez moi à Versailles [If you are agreeable, and you cannot help but do this thing for a person like that–meaning the Queen–then Monsieur de La Motte will pick you up tomorrow night and take you to my home in Versailles].” The respondent told the lady that she could not refuse such a proposal from the Queen. Indeed, Monsieur de La Motte came to her home the next day after noon, and they left at dusk for Versailles.

Arriving at Versailles, they met before the gate with Madame de La Motte and her maid. [She and Monsieur de La Motte] climbed down [from the carriage], and Monsieur de La Motte, after talking to Madame de La Motte, conducted her along with the maid to a house on the Place Dauphine in a furnished hôtel. The respondent was left alone with the maid for about two hours, after which Monsieur de La Motte came back with his wife.

Upon entering with a very gay air, she said she had been at the home of the Queen, who was very pleased and “elle voudrait être au lendemain pour savoir comment cela se serait passé” [she, the Queen, would be there the next day to see everything that was to happen]. The respondent asked the lady what she wanted her to do, to which Madame de La Motte said, “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

The next afternoon, Madame de La Motte dressed the respondent and told her that she would take her that evening to the park, but first she would speak with the Queen. “Après lui avoir parle” [After she, Madame de La Motte,  spoke with her, the Queen?], a great lord would come to the respondent, and she would deliver to him a letter, which Madame de La Motte handed to her. Indeed, that night about ten o’clock, Madame de La Motte took her to the park and gave her a rose, saying, “You will hand this to the person who will appear to you and say, ‘You know what this means.’”

Madame de La Motte left her for a moment to look for the great lord who was to come. And when that person came, the respondent handed him the rose, saying, “You know what this means.” She did not hand over the letter because she was too preoccupied.

Madame de La Motte returned at that moment and said to her, “Come quickly, come quickly.” The respondent retreated with Monsieur de La Motte, to whom she gave the letter, having forgottento hand it to the great lord. The person to whom she handed the rose retreated with Madame de La Motte. Note that she did not see the Queen or anyone other than those whom have been mentioned. She returned to Monsieur de La Motte’s place, where the lady his wife joined them and told them that she had just come from the Queen’s palace and that she [the Queen] was very happy.

The next day, Madame de La Motte showed her a letter that she said was from the Queen. In the letter it said, “Ma chére comtesse, I am delighted with the person you procured for me. She has fulfilled her mission marvelously and can be assured of her fate.”

The respondent returned that evening to Paris with Monsieur de La Motte in a Court carriage. Madame de La Motte gave her, at various times, 4000 francs, the latest installment being 1000 écus in lieu of the 15,000 francs [due to the respondent]. This was all she, Madame de La Motte, could give her at the moment.


3 thoughts on “The Interrogation of Nicole d’Oliva part 1

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