Author Topic: Books on French Royals  (Read 103457 times)

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Offline Angie_H

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2006, 04:57:04 PM »
I wonder why there are books on Louis XIV and XVI but not XV. ???  I find him just as interesting. I loved the book on his mother "Princesse of Versailles". Now there is another "What If" story! What if the Duke & Duchess of Bourgogne had lived?

Offline bell_the_cat

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2006, 01:24:15 AM »
I've been reading "Marie Antoinette" by Antonia Fraser. It's a darn good read, by the way!

She cites the following book:

Olivier Bernier: "Louis the Beloved: the Life of Louis XV" 1984

It may be out of print, but it can surely be ordered at a library.

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Offline Angie_H

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2006, 07:12:49 AM »
Thanks Bell! I'll have to look it up!

Offline Helen_Azar

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Offline Yseult

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #34 on: August 25, 2006, 05:46:22 AM »
I think that a threat dedicated to Jeanne Louise Henriette Genet, Mme Campan, is a "must". She was very close to Queen Marie Antoinette, from whom she was forcibly separated at the sacking of the Tuileries on the 10th of august 1792. Mme Campan managed so well, and she survived the dangers of the Terror. After the 9th Thermidor, she found herself penniless and with an ill husband to take care of, so she was strongwilled enough to establish a great school for young ladies at St Germain in Laye. The school of Mme Campan played a noteworthy role while the Consulate and the First Empire.

The two portraits that I have found of Mme Campan:



[img][http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e56/vanozzacatanei/MadameCampanwithapupil.jpg/img]

Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #35 on: August 25, 2006, 12:59:36 PM »
How did she manage not to get arrested and guillotined??!
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Offline Yseult

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #36 on: August 25, 2006, 03:58:32 PM »
Frankly, Eddie...I don´t know! I´m very surprised. The Terror was an absolut nightmare, and I don´t understand how Mme Campan could pass through this rough, rough times...

Offline coquelicot

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2006, 02:28:49 PM »
Madame Campan always was on the right side of politics... Furthermore, her souvenirs about Marie-Antoinette are highly suspect. For instance, she reports that Antonia was totally undressed while crossing the border. It's not true. Facts have been registered and we can see that Antonia simply changed her dress. Her narrative about the necklace affair must also be read very carefully, as well as her purpoted acts of bravery during the revolution. No doubt, this poor Henriette was nothing more than a chambermaid to the queen, and had no peculiar contatcs with her. She simply tried to emphatize on her closeness to Marie-Antoinette, exagerating her own importance. Let's add that, even while sincere, in many occasions, her memory is failing...

Sic transit gloria mundi...
qu'ils sachent du moins, que jusqu'à mon dernier moment j'ai pensé à eux.

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2006, 11:55:01 AM »
Madame Campan always was on the right side of politics... Furthermore, her souvenirs about Marie-Antoinette are highly suspect. For instance, she reports that Antonia was totally undressed while crossing the border. It's not true. Facts have been registered and we can see that Antonia simply changed her dress. Her narrative about the necklace affair must also be read very carefully, as well as her purpoted acts of bravery during the revolution. No doubt, this poor Henriette was nothing more than a chambermaid to the queen, and had no peculiar contatcs with her. She simply tried to emphatize on her closeness to Marie-Antoinette, exagerating her own importance. Let's add that, even while sincere, in many occasions, her memory is failing...

Sic transit gloria mundi...

Unlike the Vicar of Bray, Madame Campan was not always on the right side of politics.  For example, she did not go to the revolutionary government and share what she knew about the political machinations of the royal family, even though doing so might well have kept her and her family safe.  Campan was very lucky to survive the Terror.
 
After the Restoration of Louis XVIII, Campan discovered that she was in disgrace with the royal family and their court.  Her crime, if one can characterize it as such, was her decision to accept Napoleonic pupils into the school that she opened after the Terror ended.  This was not a political act: if she hadn’t accepted the rich Napoleonic pupils, she could not have afforded to keep her school open and she would have starved to death.  Another reason that the royal family disliked her was the fact that one of her nieces was married to Marshal Ney, who had promised Louis XVIII to bring Napoleon to Paris in a cage but had switched sides soon afterwards.  Ney’s volte-face was hardly Campan’s fault, but Louis XVIII would not or could not appreciate this.

It’s true that Campan made mistakes, almost always about things that she did not witness.  She also omitted, or skipped lightly over, some interesting things, such as the true nature of Axel von Fersen’s relationship with Marie Antoinette.  She also exaggerated some things, such as her efforts to help the royal family after the revolution began, but precisely how much she exaggerated is questionable.  It's certain that the royal family utilized trusted servants as agents and go-betweens during their final weeks at Versailles and while they lived in the Louvre.  Unfortunately, the activities of these agents are poorly documented at best, so precisely what Campan did and did not do for the royal family must remain uncertain.  Again, it's certain that she didn't sell them out.
 
Campan’s mistakes, omissions, and exaggerations can in part be explained by the fact that she wrote from memory, not from notes or a diary, and that she relied on gossip and hearsay to explain things that she didn’t witness.  They can also be explained if you examine the reasons why she wrote her Memoirs.  One reason was her wish to exonerate herself in the censorious eyes of the royal family by stressing her loyalty and past services.  Another reason was the fact that she’d genuinely liked Marie Antoinette and was appalled that so little had been done to rehabilitate her memory.  Her goal was to present Marie Antoinette as the antithesis of the monster that propaganda had made her out to be, and she succeeded.  On a final note, many distinguished historians consider Campan a credible source if their footnotes and bibliographies are anything to go by. 

Offline coquelicot

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #39 on: August 29, 2006, 06:51:38 AM »
Quote
On a final note, many distinguished historians consider Campan a credible source if their footnotes and bibliographies are anything to go by. 


More and more serious historians look at her memoirs with increasing suspicion. Her role in the necklace affair, for instance, must be reconsidered, as well as during the revolution. It seems the queen did not confide in her as much as she pretends.

Quote
One reason was her wish to exonerate herself in the censorious eyes of the royal family by stressing her loyalty and past services. 


I agree with that. So, having an hidden agenda when writing, madame Campan must be read very carefully. Fortunately, many historians tend to rely on her book less than before, now.

Quote
She also omitted, or skipped lightly over, some interesting things, such as the true nature of Axel von Fersen’s relationship with Marie Antoinette.


What true nature ? In this case, on the contrary, I understand why madame Campan said nothing special... for there was no doubt nothing to say ! I am afraid this romance most of all exists in mangas fans' eyes !
qu'ils sachent du moins, que jusqu'à mon dernier moment j'ai pensé à eux.

Offline Grand Duke

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #40 on: August 29, 2006, 02:12:24 PM »

Mme Campan with a pupil




Portrait posted by Yseult, I just fixed the link.  ;)


 
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Offline coquelicot

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #41 on: August 29, 2006, 02:32:15 PM »
Thank you both ! I did not know this portrait. It's an interesting painting !
qu'ils sachent du moins, que jusqu'à mon dernier moment j'ai pensé à eux.

Offline Grand Duke

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #42 on: August 29, 2006, 03:31:26 PM »

If you want to know the Works by Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan, see the:

Project Gutenberg

Good reading!
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Offline Yseult

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #43 on: August 29, 2006, 06:14:12 PM »
First: thanks a lot, Grand Duke, for fixing the link! ;)

Well, I have not a deep knowledge about Jeanne Genet Campan...I started the thread to learn more, because I think she had a complex and fascinating times! But I think that Mme. was dead aged seventy...and it´s said that she composed her Memoirs during the last years of her life...that´s true? I put the question because it´s not easy to writte about things that happened to you decades ago. If you have a lot of books fulfilled with notes, and mountains of letters that you once sended and you once received, it helps to clarify your mind. But If you have just your own memory...memory can be weak and treacherous, too! Made she mistakes? I´m sure. But the rare thing would be the opposite, from my point of wiew.

I suppose (I´m supposing, remember, because I never had read the Memoirs) that she tried to paint a good self-portrait, but I can understand it...


Offline coquelicot

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Re: Books on French Royals
« Reply #44 on: August 30, 2006, 04:50:00 AM »
Of course, Yseult, you are right on every account. Madame Campan's memory may fail, as it happens for so many memorialists (Tourzel, for instance). Also, she had a hidden agenda, she tried to rehabilitate herself during the restauration. Well, so many memorialists have hidden agendas (Tilly or Saint-Priest, or purpoted Lauzun, for instance)...

At least, as Palatine said, Henriette gives us a sympathetic view on Marie-Antoinette (compare to Bombelle !)...

The problem, in my view, is that so many people relied too exclusively on her memoirs for searching about Marie-Antoinette. Campan and Mercy, they know nothing more than these ! Well, Campan's memoirs have the failures we discussed about, and Mercy lies a lot for political reasons !

So, in my view, the best way to reach Marie-Antoinette is to read her own correspondence and her answers on trial.

But we are not talking about Antoinette, here !  ;) Madame Campan's memoirs remain a good source for knowing more about French etiquette and court life. Her day to day descriptions are quite interesting, as well as her psychological analysis (about madame de Polignac, for instance). But I think we must read anecdotes and stories more carefully, especially while her own role is concerned. If you only rely on Henriette about the necklace affair, for example, you'll get it all wrong ! That's why serious historians as Hastier or Lever also used other sources.

Regards,
coquelicot
qu'ils sachent du moins, que jusqu'à mon dernier moment j'ai pensé à eux.