Sunday, August 29, 2010

Louis Xvii, The Lost Crown Prince of France | Socyberty


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During the first decades of the 19th century stories circulated in monarchistic circles in which Louis XVII was still alive. Some argued that the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who both lost their head under the guillotine of the Revolution, had found refuge in the United States. Many of those who desired to become King pretended they were the missing "dauphin". They found willing adherents amidst the various cults that had devoted themselves to the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty.
There had been numerous attempts to smuggle Marie Antoinette and her children Louis Charles and Marie Thérèse out of the Temple prison in France. After the execution of the King, the supervision had been slightly downgraded. For instance, the courageous and persistent chevalier de Jarjayes bought two guards. The plan failed as Marie Antoinette would have had to abandon her two children.

Consequently, baron de Batz began to tackle the royal family. This reckless adventurer probably was the model for “The Scarlet Pimpernel” of Baroness d’Orczy. Robespierre described him as “a scandal”, because he succeeded, in the middle of the Terror, to save hundreds of people from the guillotine while he himself was never caught. He was so rich that he could buy out half of the Temple guards. Under false names, baron de Batz hired several country homes across France, which would be able to offer sanctuary for the royal family. It was none other than the shoemaker Simon – the guardian of Louis XVII - who heard about this plot, started an enquiry and prevented the abduction. But baron de Batz managed to escape.
Even when Marie Antoinette was confined in the Conciergerie, plans were still being concocted to free her. Alexandre Dumas wrote about one such attempt in his novel “La Dame aux Camélias”. Chevalier de Rougeville – in sharp contrast to baron de Batz – had not a single dime to spend, but nevertheless succeeded in buying a few prison guards and visit the Queen. In a little note wrapped around a flower, he informed Marie Antoinette about his plans. During his second visit, he handed to the queen the money with which she would have to bribe one of her personal guards, so that he would turn a blind eye. The conspiracy was however exposed and de Rougeville went into hiding.

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by Patrick Bernauw :

Louis Xvii, The Lost Crown Prince of France | Socyberty

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