Trivia ‘Toinette July 4th Edition: M@ & General Lafayette had a real Sam-&-Diane thing

Well, not really but M@’s opinions of LaFayette had at least three 180-turns, for lack of a better metaphor. Blew hot & cold, definitely. In your Blog Hostess’ relentless attempt to post something AND goof off on a national holiday, This is actually an email answering the inquiry a good friend postulated vis-a-vis the notorious relationship between the Queen and the Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette. What follows is unedited, so We’ve highlighted in blue. Enjoy your barbeques, kids!

Marie Antoinette presents chaplets to Lafayette & Revolutionary War Heros

“Welcoming home LaFayette & the heros from America.” Photo still from “Marie Antoinette” 2006.

I’m writing this off the top of my head from memory…forgive the vagueness and rambling!

General George Washington & the Marquis de Lafayette

General George Washington & the Marquis de Lafayette

1. Upon return from the Revolutionary War, La Fayette and other French soldiers were received as heroes at Versailles with a ball (or something very akin to a ball). I can remember Antonia Fraser’s line exactly. “She met him at the door.” Then again, Fraser (who’s the niece or daughter of a Countess and is entitled to the title ‘lady’) is a rabid monarchist and she defends every last action of M@’s as innocent, sweet, charitable or motherly. She also

axel von fersen

Axel v.Fersen

denies all possibility that Antoinette and Axel von Fersen were lovers, which I personally find completely ridiculous considering all the evidence to the contrary. Fersen is also relevant to this bullet point as he was one of the returning heroes at the ball. So even if she did give Lafayette his hero’s welcome, her delight at seeing von Fersen probably meant Lafayette didn’t receive the attention to which a general and a marquis was entitled. (That last bit is my own extrapolation.)

revolutionary war hero marquis de la fayette

Marquis de Lafayette looking extra heroic with his noble steed. (Yeah, Eddie Murphy just said that in ‘Shrek’.)

2. This part I don’t remember as vividly…after the sack of the Bastille but definitely before the royal family was taken to the Tuileries in Paris…hold on, I’m gonna yank Lever’s biography as my memory wasn’t  as good as we expected. here we go, On the Queen’s name day (August 15th) the representatives of “the great bodies of state” came to pay homage to her. This included Lafayette who was appointed head of the newly-formed  National Guard. The welcome she extended to him was very curt (and rather undeserved). She saw the National Guard as henchmen of the revolution. Her reaction to Lafayette & his “new crew” may have also been as a result of the (lack of) homage paid by Bailly, the new mayor of Paris, on the same day. The new mayor didn’t genuflect on one knee like the other heads of state, he merely bowed and M@ took this to be a huge affront to her royal rank. Either way, Lafayette & the National Guard who “had no other wish than to be charmed by her, left very annoyed.” I like the Marquise de la Tour du Pin quote on the subject. “This unfortunate princess never fully understood the importance of the circumstances she was in; she yielded to impulse without weighing the consequences.”

march on versailles, October 5, 1989

march on Versailles, October 5, 1989

3. I know that later Layfayette was frequently the royal family’s champion, opposing the National Guard’s actions. He tried to dissuade them from accompanying the crowd when they marched on Versailles on October 5, 1789 and when they did other, far more inappropriate things like firing into an unarmed crowd. He followed Louis’ orders guarding the palace the night of the 5th while the crowds were still screaming for blood but before they broke in. I can only hope that M@ showed him some gratitude then as he essentially attempt to escape to Varennes saved their lives.

He also had a hand in helping the royals when they attempted to escape Paris when they fled to Varennes. All of Lafayette’s loyalty probably contributed to his fall from grace in the eyes of the Revolution. Then again, the entire French Revolution seems to be very poorly run in my opinion. So many decisions seem to be made out of emotion rather than legal procedures and evidence…they turned on Mirabeau and others who originally fathered the cause.

October 5 1789 the sack on versailles

“the sack on Versailles.” Still from “Marie Antoinette,” 2006.

Huh, so I guess ‘point 3’ doesn’t really have much information on how Lafayette was treated by the Queen but I can’t imagine he’d be included in the Varennes plot by Fersen unless he was held in some esteem. I’d have to poke around.

I know it’s not a glamorous post but how often does Marie Antoinette tie in with a National Holiday? I know many Americans LOVE to pick on the French, especially war veterans or tourists after an altercation with a rude Parisian. (It never happened to your Blog Hostess, We let them think that We are Spanish.) But let’s remember one of the leading causes of France’s bankruptcy, the overthrow of the French royal family and their ultimate death.

marie antoinette led to execution

Marie Antoinette is to execution

Yep. It’s ‘cos they helped us. We wonder if M@ thought it was worth losing her head over. Probably not. In tribute, let’s all stop citing the last Queen of France as the idiot who said “Let them eat cake”. That was Louis XIII’s wife, a Spanish princess, who said “Let them eat the crust off my brioche,”.

About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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4 Responses to Trivia ‘Toinette July 4th Edition: M@ & General Lafayette had a real Sam-&-Diane thing

  1. pedmar10 says:

    The short answer is, the future king of France is Spanish born.


  2. Angelyn says:

    The birthplace of Lafayette was liberated from the Germans, but not after Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon. Random observation.


it's not just a love-affair with my own voice

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