Marie Jossel: Jeanne de La Motte’s mother

I am currently working through one of Jeanne de la Motte-Valois’s memoirs. It is available online through Google Books (click this link to go there). This version is the original English translation, published in London’s Paternoster row in 1791. At this time, Jeanne was living in London. Shortly after the publication of this memoir, she died after a fall from a London window onto the London streets (some say she was pushed).

Jeanne de la Motte-Valois

Presumably, Jeanne told her story in French. Unless her English was very good, someone translated this work. Whoever did it was not a great prose stylist. The wording is clunky at best. Most of the sentences stretch on for a week or two without any reason for doing so. Combined with the fact that the English of 220 years ago was slightly different from the English of today, the language of the memoir itself can be a bit tedious. But once you get used to it, it’s worth the trouble. The story is extraordinary.

Google Books offers a text version of the book. You can highlight, copy, and paste the words. But because the software isn’t perfect, and because the page images have some flaws, the text version is messy. As I go, I am copying the text and cleaning it up. I’m doing it roughly; there’s simply too much work for me to go through it with a fine-toothed comb. However, I will bring to the readers of this blog some of the results of this clean-up.

The first of these posts will be about Marie Jossel, Jeanne’s mother. Jeanne was not, to say the least, her mother’s biggest fan. According to Jeanne, her father–the son of a minor nobleman, descended from the illegitimate child of Henri II, unprepared to support his family in any way–had been intended to marry a young noblewoman practically since his birth. As a young man, he fell for a maid in his household, the lovely but barbed Marie. Jeanne’s father, named Jacques like Jeanne’s brother, wanted to marry Marie, but his father disapproved. In spite of his father’s disapproval, Jacques married Marie (the English translation refers to her as Maria for no discernible reason).

As Jeanne herself puts it:

Maria [or Marie] Jossel, a girl who had the charge of the house at Fontette [meaning she was a maid], was the person who had attracted his [Jeanne’s father Jacques’s] eye. She was solicitous to please him and in a short time became pregnant. My father, wishing at once to make her an honorable reparation and to legitimate his child, was induced to ask my grandfather’s consent to marry her; [Jacques’s father], thinking such a union degrading to an illustrious line of ancestry, gave a pointed and formal refusal. This opposition did but increase my father’s ardor; who, after many unsuccessful efforts to win my grandfather to compliance, and remaining unmarried till he was thirty-six years of age (four years longer than the law required) [until the age of thirty, men were required to seek their father’s approval to marry in France], at length solemnized the marriage at Langres in Champaign, under the names of James de Luz and Maria Jossel, where my father had purchased an estate upon which he resided some time previous to the nuptials. About a year after, my grandfather, upon his deathbed, forgave the indiscretion of his son; after whose decease my father and mother left Langres to take possession of the estate at Fontette [the family estate, where Jeanne herself was born].

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Location, Location, Location

You might be surprised that the setting for the Affair of the Necklace was not just Versailles, nor even just Paris. In fact, the setting wasn’t even restricted to France. To understand what occurred in 1784-6, we have to look at what happened before and afterwards. This means going from the town of Fontette to Brussels to London.

Fontette and Bar-sur-Aube: It was in the small town of Fontette, France, in the Aube department in the Champagne-Ardenne region, that Jeanne de Valois was born in 1756 to the last scion of a bastard line of the royal Valois family–and his wife, a former servant girl. About 15 miles away is the town of Bar-sur-Aube, which was a much larger town and the home of Jacques Claude Beugnot, who knew Jeanne longer than almost anyone else. It was in the dilapidated château de Fontette that Jeanne grew up in poverty. When she was still young, she was, according to her own tale, taken to Paris with her siblings by her parents. She returned to the region on occasion, to Bar-sur-Aube. It was here that she truly met Beugnot, when both were young adults. It’s possible he had been aware of Jeanne and her family as a child. Later, Jeanne would go to Paris and Versailles in an attempt to make good on the famous Valois name. She returned in triumph to Bar-sur-Aube after defrauding Cardinal Rohan out of a significant amount of money. It was here that she was later arrested for the theft of the Diamond Necklace (actually, she was told she was being “escorted” to Paris, but of course she was escorted right to the Bastille). This sleepy little town was the birthplace of one of the most famous ladies of her day.

Strasbourg and Saverne: Located in the long-disputed Alsace region in France, Saverne was the familial home of the Rohans. Cardinal Prince Louis de Rohan lived in the Château de Rohan there, but the nearby and larger town of Strasbourg was a common stomping ground. It was here in 1770  in Strasbourg that Marie Antoinette was first welcomed into France as the young bride of the dauphin Louis Auguste. She was greeted at the cathedral by none other than Cardinal (then bishop) Prince Rohan himself. He conducted mass for her benefit. Many years later, another lady, the Marquise de Boullainvilliers, arrived in Saverne to visit the Cardinal (and stopped along the way in nearby Strasbourg to visit the mystic/confidence man Count Cagliostro, who became a confidante of Rohan and later moved into Rohan’s palace in Saverne). In the Marquise’s wake came a young Jeanne de La Motte-Valois and her husband. Jeanne was the Marquise’s ward; her husband had just been discharged from his garrison at Luneville, and the couple were apparently looking to get some help from the Marquise. It was here that Jeanne first met the Cardinal who she would, later, use as part of her plot to steal the Diamond Necklace. This is where the most important meetings of the Affair took place. This is where the paths of the major players crossed. It was only a few years later, in 1784-6 that these connections would be used as part of a massive theft.

The Rohan family Palace in Saverne.

Versailles: The town of Versailles is not the same as the palace of Versailles–though usually “Versailles” refers to the palace. In the late 18th century, before the Revolution, the palace was the center of power. Most courtiers were housed in the vast palace complex, but some people lived outside the palace gates in the town. Jeanne de La Motte-Valois (self-styled “Comtesse” de La Motte) had a house outside the palace, according to Nicole d’Oliva, the prostitute hired by the Comtesse to play the part of the Queen as part of a hoax. This house was apparently on the Place Dauphine, a small square off of the southeast corner of the Palace. For some time, this is where the Comtesse lived as she weaseled her way into the confidence of credulous courtiers…….

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The Palais Royal

The last major stop in my whistle-stop tour of Diamond Necklace sites was the Palais-Royal.

Visiting the Palais

The itinerary for my final morning in Paris was: the Rue du Jour, the Palais-Royal, and finally the Louvre. It was an extended morning and we got going early, so this wasn’t pushing it, really. I’ve posted already about the Rue du Jour. The Louvre, while amazing, isn’t especially pertinent to the Affair of the Diamond Necklace.

Aside from nearly getting run into by a guy on a motorbike, the walk from the Rue du Jour was fairly quick. It was actually longer than it looked on the map, but what else is new? I can see that, if I were Nicole d’Oliva going from my house on the Rue du Jour to the Palais-Royal, where she plied her trade (so to speak), she might have chosen to take a cabriolet if she could afford it. The roads would have been messy and muddy. They weren’t paved and all kinds of trash and refuse (think horses taking dumps) of all kinds were mixed into the mud. There were no sidewalks, and the lighting, while extent, was poor at night. For all these reasons, it would have been a matter of safety and hygiene to take some form of conveyance.

That’s assuming that one could afford that. The accounts given by Nicole of herself make it sound as though she was fairly hard off. I’ve given my fictional Nicole a bit of class, but the real Nicole probably would have scraped by on the takings she got from working the men at the Palais-Royal. It would have been a very hand-to-mouth existence. It’s entirely likely that she wouldn’t have had the money to take a cabriolet. My fictional Nicole doesn’t mind the walk, but then again, she’s a little crazy.

In any case, the Palais-Royal was still closed when we got there quite early in the morning. I should say, the shops were closed. Sadly, they were doing work on the building, so the logia was boarded up. The courtyard was perfectly open. There is a modern installation of black-and-white-striped columns of varying heights here. It could come off as pretentious, but it is actually really pretty.

The shops weren’t open, but the gardens were. They’re really lovely, and since it was early spring, everything was just coming into bloom. I can’t vouch for the statue (I would guess it’s Victorian), but it would have probably looked similar at the time of the Affair of the Necklace. After looking around the gardens, there wasn’t much to see, and we still had lots to see at the Louvre before heading off to the airport to fly back to London.

The Palais in the 18th Century

The Palais-Royal that Nicole knew was a mixture of the refined and the crude. Having been a palace for many years (it was first built by Cardinal Richelieu), it was a grand building and retained some high culture: it housed the magnificent art collection of the Orleans family (who owned the place after Richelieu) and the Comédie-Française (a theater).

Mercier was not positively impressed by the Palais. His account of it in the Tableau de Paris is seething with moral indignation. He says, “Vice holds sway here.” This is a (not so) veiled reference to the women of vice who, just like Nicole, used the Palais as their base of operations. There were some hours during which respectable women could be found in the Palais: before 11:00 in the morning and around 5:00 in the afternoon. Aside from this, Mercier mentions that the place kept the police very busy, meaning it was rife with crime; there would have been a great deal of petty crime like pickpocketing.

The Palais, though originally the private residence of the Orleans family (cousins to the king), had been opened up to the public about the time that Nicole d’Oliva would have known it. Part of the palace was still the private residence of the Orleans, but the gardens and a series of shops were a public shopping mall. There were cafes (that were the hotbed of Revolutionary fervor; it was here that Desmoulins encouraged the crowd to attack the Bastille), boutiques, and hair salons. The gardens were beautiful, and the ladies and gentlemen would have walked here freely.

Nicole d’Oliva and the Palais

Mademoiselle Nicole d’Oliva was born in the Saint-Eustache section, near the Palais. As a young woman, she lived nearby on the Rue du Jour. This was her haunt. She was going about her business in 1784 at the Palais-Royal when she noticed a man looking at her.

At first, Nicole didn’t think much of it at first, but she noticed this man several times. Their eyes met, they would come across each other; they tried to pretend not to know each other. I can imagine the situation. One day, while Nicole was sitting at a cafe with a child friend (who was this child, anyway?), he finally came to speak to her. This probably was not unusual, as she was a prostitute. She may have been too embarrassed to bring up the fact that she had noticed him watching her.

Later that night, Nicole reports that he showed up at her door, and they started to be . . . friends? One wonders exactly what the relationship was, though it isn’t hard to imagine. In any case, this was Nicolas de La Motte, the self-styled Comte. He had been making cautious advances because he wanted something out of Nicole. It wasn’t immediately evident that what he wanted was for her to help in his and his wife’s plot to on a Cardinal of the Church out of huge sums of money. He and his wife, the Comtesse de La Motte, pulled her into the plot a little at a time.

It turns out that the Comtesse had heard of Nicole’s resemblance to the Queen, and she had sent her husband to start reeling in the young whore. It worked; the rest, as they say, is history. And it all began at the Palais-Royal.

Resources on the Palais Royal

A detailed look at the history of the Palais-Royal, including information about how the palace was used during its many stages.     http://eng.archinform.net/projekte/16288.htm

A brief look at visiting the Palais-Royal today. http://www.aviewoncities.com/paris/palaisroyal.htm

If you happen to read French, here is a book on the history of the Palais courtesy Google Books: Histoire du Palais-Royal

A first-hand account of Paris in the 18th century. Panorama of Paris. Louis-Sebastian Mercier.

The Rue du Jour

I have at last returned and (for the most part) recovered from my Continental trip. No, I was not stuck by an ash cloud; I got back to London (where I’m based; I’m not a native) on Monday, and the chaos began on Thursday. It is now the following Tuesday and there is still no sight of alleviation.

My trip to Paris was fruitful in that I saw several of the places on my list. Unfortunately, for various reasons that really don’t seem to make much sense in retrospect, I didn’t get to them all. Suffice it to say, I never made it to the Grove of Venus, which was actually heartbreaking, and I didn’t make it to the Rue St Gilles, which was less devastating.

I did, however, make it to the Rue Du Jour. Here’s the Google Map version.

The Rue du Jour was where my favorite Parisian prostitute resided in the 1780’s, when she met my favorite callow chevalier. I mean, of course, Nicole d’Oliva and Nicolas de La Motte. Nicole lived here, in the shadow of the Eglise Saint Eustache, a fantastic old pile. It is also directly in the proverbial (though not literal, as in the case of the church) shadow of Les Halles, which was a great marketplace. Now the marketplace has been sunk underground with the Metro even further below. It was quite a maze down below, and it was all we (me and my traveling partner) could do to find our way outside. Once outside, it took some time to orient ourselves because of the way the streets twist and split and braid around each other.

First, Les Halles. This was a covered marketplace, first created here in the 12th century. It would have been pretty obvious to Nicole, though at this moment I haven’t mentioned it in the novel I’m working on; it probably would have been relatively unimportant to Nicole anyway, who spent most of her time at the Palais-Royal. In any case, the covered market was demolished in the 70’s and replaced with the underground shopping.

This link has some more info and a picture of the old Les Halles; you will need to scroll down because it’s in alphabetical order: http://www.trussel.com/maig/encyclo/me_l.htm

When you step into the Rue du Jour–and here the British way of saying “in” as opposed to “on” a street seems appropriate– you get a feeling for the place in the 18th century. Many of Paris’s street are wide, but the older ones are not. This is one of the older one and it is flanked by buildings as tall as six stories. This gives a close, intimate feeling to the street. The ground floors are now shops, mostly for children’s clothing. The upper stories appear to be the same facades as the ones that Nicole would have known, with iron balustrades and bands of masonry demarkating the different floors. There are even gaps that I’m almost sure must have been carriageways or entrances to courtyards. Halfway down the road, there are large green doors in the rusticated front of an old building; when we were there, these were open, and we peeked in to see a courtyard. This is a fire station or some such, because the sign said “firefighters” (I only realized this after I got back from my trip and translated the sign).

Two things dominate the Rue du Jour: the church of Saint-Eustache and an archway. The church looms overhead in a magnificent way, just over the tops of the buildings. For Nicole, it must have been a constant reminder of the sinfulness of her profession–that is, if she had any religious sentiments at all, and she probably did given the time and place (almost everyone was Catholic).

As for the archway, I’m at a loss. Behind it, there’s a shop, and it looks as though it was once part of a building, the archway into the courtyard perhaps. I have yet to understand it and would be forever grateful to anyone who had a clue as to its purpose, what it may have once belonged to, etc.

So, what must it have been like to live here? It would have been thrilling to live so close to Les Halles, with the Palais-Royal a short walk to the west. Churches are a familiar sight in all European cities, but Saint-Eustache really does have a real presence here. It would have been a quieter, more out of the way spot than the bustling marketplace just a few steps away–like escaping from a maelstrom. It also would have been relatively comfortable place to live; perhaps Nicole’s circumstances were more comfortable than she let on.

Nicole’s mention of the Rue du Jour came during the trial two years after she met Nicolas de La Motte. As translated by Frances Mossiker, she says, “I lived close to the Palais-Royal at the time . . . in a small apartment on the Rue du Jour.” It is a passing mention, but it meant I could get a vivid, first-hand view of the place where this young woman lived. It’s a fantastic feeling.

A Programming Note

It’s been some time since I’ve updated here, which is entirely my fault. I can’t even beg the excuse of being too busy. I can, however, say that I’ve had distractions.

April will prove to turn up a wealth of material for this site, though. I will be in Paris for 3 days and will be making stops at the Rue du Jour (Nicole d’Oliva’s home), the Rue St Gilles (where the La Mottes lived), the Palais-Royal (where Nicole, ahem, worked), the Palais de Justice (where the lot of the them were tried and Jeanne was flogged and branded), and the Grove of Venus at Versailles. I shall return with a million pictures (I almost said bajillion but thought that might sound childish) and lots of information.

On April Fool’s Day, I’ll be going to see Alison Wier talk at the Tower of London. It’s not directly related to the Affair of the Necklace, but as she is a well-known nonfiction writer and has made forays into historical fiction, I’ll write back a report here.

I also went back to the Victoria and Albert Museum and got some more pictures of 18th century textiles. Enjoy a few more photos:

Brocaded silk, 1760's, probably French

Brocaded silk, probably French.

Places of Interest

Two years ago, I spent two nights in Paris, and it was a lovely few days. At this point I wasn’t deeply enough into the Affair of the Necklace to seek out the locations where it took place. We had a very short time–basically one day and a half. We went up the Eiffel Tower and into Notre Dame de Paris. We spent the next morning at Versailles, which was wonderful despite the terrible state of my feet, which felt like they were deeply bruised after a week of intense sightseeing in Germany. In any case, I hadn’t thought to plot out all the places that were involved in the Affair of the Necklace and besides I wouldn’t have been able to get to all of them. I’m not sure my mother, who I was traveling with, would have wanted to be dragged along to random streets, anyway. So, in short, I didn’t really get to see the locations of the Affair of the Necklace. I saw Versailles, but couldn’t figure out which was the Grove of Venus (I figured it out later–turns out I was staring right at it from the steps by the orangery). I saw the Palais de Justice/Conciergerie from the outside, and stood right in front of the Cour du Mai without really realizing that it was a very important place in the tale of the Comtesse de La Motte. As I said, I hadn’t gotten as deeply into the topic at that point. I had just begun to delve in.

Now that I’m back in Europe for at least another nine months, I will go to Paris. After all, it’s a quick trip to Paris from London. Other matters will interfere until at least January (schoolwork and a trip home to the US for Christmas), but I will get there soon. And when I do, I have quite the list of places to go.

1. The Rue du Jour and the Église Saint-Eustache. This is where Nicole d’Oliva lived before she was recruited into the service of the La Motte’s scheme. As she’s the main character of my novel, I’m interested in seeing the street she lived on. I’ve seen it on Google street view, but I want to see it in person. It seems a lot of the old buildings are there, but the ground floors have largely been converted for commercial use. Still, this is where Nicole lived! Interestingly, she lived across the street from a formidable old church, Saint-Eustache. It will be an interesting church to visit in its own right. The Rue du Jour is also very near Les Halles, another place worth seeing in its own right.

2. The Rue Saint-Gilles. At the time, the street was known as the Rue Neuve Saint-Gilles, and the La Mottes lived here during the greater part of the Affair of the Necklace. This is where schemes were plotted, forgeries were made, and probably where the diamonds passed through on their way to London. The number of the house where she lived is today No. 10 (at least, it was in the 60’s when Frances Mossiker wrote her book). Google Street view shows some construction going on (but the photos aren’t super up-to-date). As with the Rue du Jour, the ground floor of most of the street is shops now, but you can still see the buildings where the great intrigue of the Diamond Necklace took place. And this is where that complex and brave, greedy and sympathetic woman, Jeanne de La Motte-Valois, actually lived.

3. The Conciergerie. This is where the accused were kept right before the trial began. It is on the Île de la Cité, right behind and attached to the Palais de Justice. I’m actually not sure how much access there is, but I would love to see the place with my own eyes where Nicole and Jeanne de La Motte-Valois were imprisoned, Nicole with her newborn baby.

4. The Palais de Justice. Here, the Parlement heard the case of a Cardinal who believed he had been told by the Queen to buy a massively expensive diamond necklace on her behalf. The prisoners gave testimony and the verdict was rendered here in the Great Hall. In the front courtyard, the Cour du Mai, Jeanne de La Motte was whipped and branded with the letter “v” on both shoulders (for the French word for thief). This was her punishment for having orchestrated a grand theft (that and life imprisonment–she escaped, though).

5. Place de la Bastille. The prisoners in the Affair of the Necklace trial were kept at the Bastille for most of the months they were imprisoned before the verdict. It was here that Nicole was dragged to from Brussels, and here that Jeanne de La Motte was brought from her home in Bar sur Aube. It was, of course, stormed on July 14, 1789 by revolutionaries and no longer stands. The revolutionary fervor wasn’t a direct result of the trial, but the trial certainly contributed to the growing (and ultimately fatal) disrespect for the monarchy. It’s an important place to visit in Paris, whether or not you care about the Affair of the Necklace.

6. Versailles. I mean the town of Versailles. It was here in the Place Dauphine that Nicole was lodged around the time of the Grove of Venus scene. She was put up here by the La Mottes, and it very well might have been their own residence. In any case, it’s a short walk from the gates of the palace, which means it was easy for the La Mottes and Nicole to walk to the gardens, where Nicole pretended to be the Queen in order to fool Cardinal Rohan.

7. The Chateau de Versailles. This is where quite a bit of trickery happened. Jeanne de La Motte orchestrated a few clever illusions–for instance, the Queen sometimes nodded to people at random. She convinced Cardinal Rohan to wait for that nod as a signal of the Queen’s favor–because the Queen couldn’t come out in public and actually say she favored the Cardinal. The Queen nodded to the crowd, and Rohan believed she was giving him a sign of her favor. Also, out in the gardens, just to the left out the back of the palace and near the orangery, there is the Queen’s Grove, which got the nickname ‘Grove of Venus. ‘ It was here that Nicole d’Oliva played the part of the Queen, handing a flower to Cardinal Rohan and saying to him, “You know what this means.”

8. Palais Royale. This is still a public place, very much in the spirit of the place in the 18th century. It mingled a sordid underworld of prostitutes and crooks with the grandest people in Paris going to see Operas or the art collection. It was owned by the Orleans family, who had some delusions of grandeur. Here, in the summer of 1784, Nicole was approached by Nicolas de La Motte. This was Nicole haunt, and La Motte found her there, noticed she resembled the Queen somewhat, and decided she was the perfect person to fool Cardinal Rohan.

The Palais Royale today

That’s the list. A lot of these places can be glimpsed through Google Street View, but there’s nothing like seeing them in person. Maybe sometime within the next two months, I’ll be able to post my own pictures of these places.

The Epilogue-Part 1

The Conciergerie prison, from which the Comtesse de La Motte escaped.

The Conciergerie prison, where the Comtesse de La Motte was briefly imprisoned.

When the verdict was given on May 31, 1786, it’s unlikely that anyone could have foreseen what was about to befall France. These were the waning years of the ancien regime, and the verdict in the Affair of the Necklace was one of the warning bells of the monarchy’s demise. That the Parlement had effectively reproved their Queen for her wanton behavior was extraordinary.

So what became of some of our main characters?

Jeanne de La Motte-Valois, having been sentenced to be whipped, branded, imprisoned for life, and stripped of all her possessions, was led out into the Cour du Mai early on a June morning in 1786. Even though it was early, there was a massive crowd. Jeanne was branded twice with a V, for voleuse (thief), though she surely thought of it as V for Valois. She struggled so hard that instead of being branded on both shoulders, one brand was on her shoulder and the other was on her breast. After this ordeal, she fainted. When she recovered, she was transferred to the Salpetrière prison. After about a year of imprisonment, she made her escape in June 1787. She makes quiet a harrowing tale out of it in her memoirs. Despite an upswelling of sympathy for her, even from a staunch friend of the Queen’s like the Princess de Lamballe, Jeanne could not stay in France, so she went to London, where she was assured a warm welcome. The English were more than willing to take in someone who had so successfully discomfitted the French king and queen. They might ot have been so pleased with her if they realized how badly she had undermined the position of the monarchy and the social order it symbolized. In London, she published a series of tell-all memoirs, which are entertaining but exaggerated in some places and simply not credible in others. Two years later, the Bastille, where Jeanne had been imprisoned briefly, was taken by a mob on July 14, 1789. This must have given her great satisfaction. But she wasn’t to live long enough to see Marie-Antoinette, whom she considered to be her enemy, beheaded. Jeanne died August 23, 1791, about two years before the death of Marie-Antoinette. There were reports that police had come to arrest Jeanne or that she was pushed by sympathisers of the French monarchs. She may have fallen, or even jumped. No one can really be sure, but conspiracy theories abound. On July 20, 1792, the revolutionary court reversed the conviction of Jeanne de La Motte.

nicolas de la motte

Nicolas de La Motte

Nicolas de La Motte threatened to publish an exposé about the Queen and Breteuil (one of her chief ministers) from London. He had gone to London as soon as his wife was arrested and clearly wasn’t about to go back and be arrested and suffer the same fate as his wife. When his wife escaped from prison and arrived in London, they found themselves at loggerheads. She was emotionally unstable, attempting to throw herself from a window at least once and attacking Monsieur de Calonne, her lover who mocked her over a game of cards. Nicolas returned to Paris from London in August 1789, one month after the Bastille fell. He became adept at extorting money for doing nothing. He played the dying monarchy off of the rising revolutionary government and was able to live very well off of the proceeds. He was paid off by the Rohan family to not publish all he knew about the Affair of the Necklace.

Nicole d’Oliva was let out of the Conciergerie prison on May 31, 1786, and was given a place to live by her lawyer, Blondel. After spending some time there, she moved in with Toussaint de Beausire, the man whom she had been arrested with in Brussels and whose child she gave birth to in the Bastille. Beausire was a very sordid character. He’d been in trouble since he was a child, but came from a respected family of architects. It isn’t clear whether he actually married Nicole (or when, if he did), but he kept her in very conditions while he lived it up. He abused her and purposefully kept her and her child in squalor. She retreated to a convent and died in 1789, at the age of only 28. Toussaint lived on, made it through the Revolution, remarried, and lived until 1818. Real life isn’t always fair.

Cardinal Rohan was nominated to the Estates-General, then took his seat at the National Assembly (the revolutionary body). He refused to be held up as a martyr to royal tyranny. He objected to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which made the French Church subordinate to the French government and eradicated the monastic roders. Rohan withdrew from the National Assembly and left France for his estates in Ettenheim, in what is now Germany. As French priests fled from the Revolution, he sheltered them. The remainder of his life was far more respectable than it had been, and he died in 1803 in his bed. His niece’s husband, the Duke d’Enghien, wrote, “Cardinal Rohan, fully conscious as he took the last sacraments, died a death so noble as to be truly edifying to all present–a fact that may astonish you as much as it did me.” [from Mossiker’s The Queen’s Necklace pg. 547]

Count Cagliostro left France and continued to wander the world. He ran afoul of the Papacy in Italy and in 1789 was imprisoned in the Castel Sant’ Angelo. Cardinal Rohan remained loyal to him, but the Cardinal’s letter of recommendation didn’t help Cagliostro. He was put on trial under the Inquisition for the crime of being a Freemason, which was punishable by death. The trail dragged on for two years, but he was naturally found guilty (this was the Inquisition). His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. His wife, too, was sentenced to life in prison, where she probably died in 1794. He was transferred to the Castel San Leo, a more secure prison, and was dead by the time French troops invaded papal lands in 1797, though a newspaper had reported him dead in 1795 (was he really dead at that time, or did he die sometime between the article and the invasion by the French?).

There are more characters to follow. Next time, I will be exploring their fates.