Eagles, red kites and an Elizabethan wedding: a round-about way to come up with an idea for a scene

Eagles, red kites and an Elizabethan wedding: a round-about way to come up with an idea for a scene

Yesterday I began searching for my next raptor to paint and I was captured by this lady, named, appropriately, “Imperious.”

I wanted to find out the breed of this bird and to know if it might be one my character in The Next Novel might have had experience with. In other words, what was this bird, and was it common to Elizabethan England?

http://raphaelhistoricfalconry.com/img/Team-Raphael-Falconry.jpgI’d discovered Imperious on the website of Raphael Historical Falconry, and so I wrote to them. This morning, I had a long email from Emma Raphael, giving me a full and very interesting explanation. (People are so very generous with their knowledge!) Imperious is a Golden Eagle hybrid, and Eagles were rarely seen in Elizabethan England. In fact, there was only one recorded, in the ruins of an old castle near Chester, and was persecuted by farmers who feared for their young cattle.

The beauty of the Red Kite

The wild raptor most associated with Elizabethan England, Emma went on to explain, is the Red Kite.

Free photo: Red Kite, Bird Of Prey, Milan - Free Image on ...

(The red kite might be a scavenger raptor, but it is so beautiful! I believe I may have found my next painting subject.)

Emma went on to explain about red kites in Elizabethan England:

They were at their highest population levels ever at this time because of the spread of human settlements and all the open rubbish pits found in towns and villages in which they scavenged. They flocked in their hundreds and could be seen wheeling around the skies like crows whistling and calling.

She suggested I look at the painting “The Wedding at Bermondsey” — a painting of a wedding in Elizabethan London. From a detail of the painting, red kites can be seen in the sky.

Emma goes on to explain that …

The royals throughout the period hunted kites with Gyr Falcons because they were so numerous and there are lots of accounts of “kite hawking” in Londonshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingtonshire.

Cambridgeshire is the initial location of The Next Novel, and so here, with a simple inquiry about Imperious, I have a wealth of scene possibilities.

The charm of men in bloomers

Additionally, ” Wedding at Bermondsey” is a painting I could get absorbed in for some time. The details are delicious. The 16th century is new to me, and I confess that men in bloomers are charmingly captivating.

Wedding at Bermondsey, Joris Hoefnagel, 1569-71 | Historic ...

Why Do Only Women Have to Dress Well?

 

Belgium artist Joris Hoefnagel painted “Wedding at Bermondsey” some time after his visit to the UK in 1569.

Molière’s wife Armande: a story that begs to be told

Molière’s wife Armande: a story that begs to be told

In preparing for a video presentation of The Shadow Queen  to book clubs here in San Miguel de AllendeI’ve been revisiting the world of that novel — especially the magical world of 17th century theatre in Paris. Rereading this blog post, written long ago, I was captured once again by the story of Molière and his much younger wife Armande. Theirs was a story I was planning to write before I got spirited away into the world of The Game of Hope.

And so here, to share, is my post from 2009, spruced up with wonderful visuals. (Thank you, Internet!)


I’m doing a great deal of research right now into the theater world of 17th century France. My focus is on Claude de Vin des Oeillets, the daughter of actors, but along the way I’ve been encountering many wonderful characters. So many stories!

Molière’s wife Armande, 23 years his junior

One, in particular, is that of the actress Armande Béjart, Molière‘s wife. He was 40 when they married, she only 17. She had known him all her life, and must have regarded him as something of a father and teacher. Indeed, he had taken charge of her education as a child.

They were a miserable couple. It is said that Armande was heartless and vain. She was considered a frivolous, giddy flirt, and was quite likely unfaithful (possibly to Lauzun, and possibly to the comte de Guiche); certainly Molière was consumed by jealousy. After the birth of a son, and then a daughter, they lived apart, yet they continued to work together closely on the stage. Molière could simply not stop doting on her . . . and neither could the public. She was a brilliant actress, and Molière was inspired to write many roles specifically for her.

Molière

A mutual friend eventually persuaded Armande to reconcile with her increasingly consumptive and love-sick husband. She did, putting him on a strict meat diet, yet he continued to decline. On the day of the 4th performance of “The Imaginary Invalid,” in which he starred, Armande begged him not to play. He refused, knowing how many depended on the performance for their livelihood.

At the end of play, Molière (ironically playing the part of a hypochondriac) had a convulsion, which he tried to disguise with a harsh laugh. The curtain was hastily lowered and he was carried to his house. Always a comedian, he said on his deathbed: “I have set a detestable example. From now on, no playwright will be content until he has killed an actor.”

After her husband’s death, Armande proved to be anything but giddy and frivolous, fighting passionately for her husband’s right to be respectfully buried by the church (a fight she sadly lost), and then running Molière’s theatrical company with astonishing confidence and aplomb, making a number of difficult decisions that proved to be very successful. He would have been pleased.

I love her saucy attitude, but most of all I love how talented she was, and how capable she proved to be as a widow. Someday I hope to write about her.

[Note: This post was originally published on Hoydens and Firebrands, a website of women who write about the 17th century.]

World Falconry Day celebrates women falconers

World Falconry Day celebrates women falconers

Today, November 16, is World Falconry Day. This year the theme is specifically on female falconers, historically and currently. This is significant because traditionally falconry has been a male realm.

I’m in the research stage of writing a Young Adult novel about a young woman falconer in Elizabethan England, so naturally this caught my eye.

If you haven’t watched the award-winning documentary The Eagle Huntress, do! It’s amazing.

This video, too, is also about women practicing falconry with eagles:

The women talk about how hard it was at first. I’d like to know: Hard in what ways?

On the evolution of The Game of Hope

On the evolution of The Game of Hope

On November 2, 2011 (the day before my birthday), my agent, Jackie Kaiser, called to tell me that I’d been made a very tempting offer by Penguin to write two YA novels. One was to be about Josephine’s daughter Hortense, and the second was to be of my choosing.

My husband and I were in Mexico at the time, and two nights before I’d told him that I would never again contract to write a book “in advance.” I simply found it too stressful.

So the timing was a bit ironic. After Jackie’s call, I told my husband, “I’ve just been made an offer I can’t refuse.” Jackie had emailed me a photo of the box the offer had arrived in. Inside were the contract details and chocolates. How charming was that?

Even so, I thought about it carefully for two months. It takes me years (and years!) to write a novel, and I have to feel passionate about it. I have to fall in love with it. So I reread books about Hortense and covered our dining room table with plot points on index cards, considering. I needed to see if there was a story there, an enchanting story about Hortense’s teen years.

And there was. And it was one I very much wanted to write. By February 9, 2012, I had made up my mind. I would accept the offer. I would write a Young Adult novel about Hortense …

… although not immediately. I was on draft 6.1 of what I was then calling This Bright Darkness, soon to become The Shadow QueenPlus, as I noted in that blog post of Feb. 9:

Somehow, I feel that I can do all of this all at once: finish This Bright Darkness, begin another adult novel set in the 17th century, write two YAs and a short novel for GoodReads, as well as launch my own e-book imprint.

(Reality has never been my strong suit.)

The Shadow Queen was published and my e-book imprint launched, but the “other adult novel set in the 17th century” had to be put on the back burner and the short novel for GoodReads was regretfully abandoned. Writing a novel requires full attention.

Soon I was carting research books on Hortense back and forth from Mexico to Canada.

I organized my plot cards, shuffled and re-shuffled them.

I researched like crazy.

I bought a deck of The Game of Hope and began exploring. (Fun!)

On November 2, 2013, a full two years after receiving the offer from Penguin, I began the first draft.

This is draft 1.7 — that is, the 7th draft of the 1st draft.

Over the next four years, I made two research trips to France.

Here I am at the gates to Mortefontaine, the country estate of Napoleon’s brother Joseph.

This is a statue of Hortense at her home of exile in Arenenberg, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Constance, now a delightful museum devoted to her memory.

This is a photo of what remains of Madame Campan’s wonderful school in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Over time, I had the requisite stack of nine drafts it takes me to write a book.

During the four years it took to write The Game of Hope, it went from being a novel told in the present tense to (at a fairly late stage) a novel told in the past tense. The title changed many, many times, and settled, finally, and happily, on The Game of Hope. The cover changed many times as well.

The Game of Hope, Hortense’s story, is now a book. For real. I’ve yet to hold it in my hands, but I will soon, in Toronto on May 1, the official Canadian publication day.

The amazement I feel about this long and magical process never grows old.

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The Game of Hope: a bibliography

The Game of Hope: a bibliography

This bibliography is the list of books and magazine articles I consulted in writing The Game of Hope. Some of them I consumed, others I simply scanned, looking for one particular fact. There are a number I’ve not listed — the annotated works of Jane Austen, for example, a number of which I consumed. Also, please note that I am not an academic, and have not used correct bibliographic style. Should you wish any further information about any of these references, please contact me.

  • —. De la naissance à la glorie: Louis XIV a Saint-Germain, 1638-1682. Musée des Antiquités Nationales; Saint-Germain-en-Laye; 1988.
  • — . A Guide to the Wrightman Galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art; NY; 1979.
  • — . Decorum; A Practical Treatise on Etiquette & Dress of the Best American Society 1879. Westvaco; 1979.
  • — . Eugène de Beauharnais; honneur & fidélité.
  • — . The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness. Hesperus Press Ltd.; London; 2014 (but first published in 1860).
  • — . The reign of terror: a collection of authentic narratives of the horrors committed by the revolutionary government of France under Marat and Robespierre, Volume 1. W. Simpkin and R. Marshall; place; January 1, 1826.
  • —. Joséphine et Napoléon; L’Hôtel de la Rue de la Victoire. Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau; Paris; 2013.
  • —. La Reine Hortense; Une femme artiste. Malmaison; Paris?; May 27 – September 27 1993. —. Lucien Bonaparte et Ses Mémoires, 1775-1840. G. Charpentier; Paris; 1882.
  • —. Madame Campan (1752 – 1822). Château de Malmaison; Rueil-Malmaison; 1972. Catalog of an exhibition.
  • Abbott, John S. C. Hortense.
  • Al-Jabarti. Napoleon in Egypt. Translated by Shmuel Moreh. Markue Wiener Publishing; Princeton & NY; 1993.Alméras, Henri d’. La Vie parisienne sous le Consulat et l’Empire.  Cercle du Bibliophile. Albin Michel; Paris.
  • Anderson, James M. Daily Life during the French Revolution. Greenwood Press; Westport; 2007.
  • Atteridge, A. Hilliard. Joachim Murat, marshal of France and king of Naples. Brentanos; NY; 1911.
  • Aulard, A. Paris pendant la Réaction Thermidorienne et sous le Directoire. Tome V (July 21 ’98 to Nov. 10 ’99) Maison Quantin; Paris;1902.
  • Aulard, A. Paris sous le consulat. Vol. I. Maison Quantin, Paris; 1903.
  • Baldassarre, Antonio. Music, Painting, and Domestic Life: Hortense de Beauharnais in Arenenberg. An article published in Music in Art XXIII/1-2 (1998).
  • Bear, Joan. Caroline Murat. Collins; London; 1972.
  • Bergh, Anne de, and Joyce Briand. 100 Recipes from the Time of Louis XIV. Trans. by Regan Kramer. Archives & Culture; Paris; 2007.
  • Bertaud, Jean-Paul. Historie du Consulat et de l’Empire; Chronologie commentée 1799-1815. Perrin; Paris; 1992.
  • Bouissounouse, Janine. Julie: the life of Mlle de Lespinasse. Appleton-Century-Crofts; NY; 1962.
  • Branda, Pierre. Joséphine; Le paradoxe du cygne. Perrin; Paris; 2016.
  • Bretonne, Restif de la. Monsieur Nicolas; or The Human Heart Laid Bare. Translated, edited etc. by Robert Baldick. Barrie and Rockliff; London; 1966.
  • —. Sara. John Rodker, for subscribers; London; 1927.
  • Bruce, Evangeline. Napoleon and Josephine; The Improbable Marriage. A Lisa Drew Book. Scribner; New York; 1995.
  • Buchon, Jean Alexandre. Correspondance Inédite De Mme Campan Avec La Reine Hortense, Tome 1. (Replica.) Book Renaissance; 1835.
  • Burney, Fanny, edited by Joyce Hemlow. Fanny Burney; Selected Letters and Journals. Oxford Univ. Press; Oxford; 1987.
  • Burton, June K. Napoleon and the Woman Question; Discourses of the Other Sex in French Education, Medicine, and Medical Law 1799 – 1815. Texas Tech University Press; Texas; 2007.
  • Campan, Madame. Edited by M. Maigne. The Private Journal of Madame Campan, comprising original anecdotes of the French court; selections from the correspondence, thoughts on education, etc. etc. Nabu Public Domain Reprints of the book published by Abraham Small; Philadelphia; 1825.
  • Capellanus, Andreas. The Art of Courtly Love. Columbia Univ. Press; NY; 1960.
  • Carlton, W.N.C. Pauline, Favorite Sister of Napoleon.
  • Catinat, Maurice. Hortense chez Madame Campan (1795 – 1801), d’après des lettres inédites. Souvenir napoléonien; Paris; 1993.
  • —. Madame Campan ou l’éducation des nouvelles élites. An article in Napoléon 1er, #17. Napoléon 1er; France; Nov/Dec 2002.
  • Chevallier, Bernard. Malmaison en dates et en chiffres.
  • —. Vues du château et du parc de Malmaison. Perrin; Paris.
  • Clark, Anna. Desire; A History of European Sexuality. Routledge; NY & London; 2008.
  • Connelly, Owen. The Gentle Bonaparte.
  • Decker, Ronald; Depaulis, Thierry; Dummett, Michael. A Wicked Pack of Cards; The Origins of the Occult Tarot. Duckworth; London; 2002.
  • Delage, Irène, and Chantal Prevot. Atlas de Paris au Temps de Napoleon. Parigramme; Paris; 2014.
  • Desan, Suzanne. The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France. Univ. of Calif. Press; Berkeley; 2006.
  • Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. A Reader’s Companion; Annotated Edition, With 780 Notes. Preface, Annotations, & Appendices by Susanne Alleyn. Spyderwort Press; Albany, NY; 2014.
  • Ducrest, C. Mémoires sur L’Impératrice Joséphine; La Cour de Navarre & La Malmaison. Modern-Collection; Paris.
  • Duthuron, Gaston. La Révolution 1789-1799. Librairie Arthème Fayard; Paris; 1954.
  • Dwyer, Philip. Citizen Emperor; Napoleon in Power 1799-1815. Bloomsbury; London; 2013.
  • Eveleigh, David J. Privies and Water Closets. Shire Publications; UK; 2011.
  • Fain, Baron. Napoleon: How He Did It. Foreword by Jean Tulard. Proctor Jones Publishing Co.; SF, USA; 1998.
  • Feydeau, Elisabeth de. A Scented Palace; the Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer. Translated by Jane Lizop. I.B. Tauris; London; 2006.
  • Fierro, Alfred. Dictionnaire du Paris disparu. Parigramme; 1998; Paris.
  • Flandrin, Jean-Louis. Translated by Julie E. Johnson. Arranging the Meal; A History of Table Service in France. Univ. of Calif. Press; Berkeley; 2007.
  • Fullerton, Susannah. A Dance with Jane Austen; How a Novelist and Her Characters Went to a Ball. Frances Lincoln Ltd; London; 2012.
  • Garros, Louis and Jean Tulard. Itinérire de Napoléon au jour le jour 1769-1821. Librairie Jules Tallandier; France; 1992.
  • Germann, Jennifer. Tracing Marie-Eléonore Godefroid; Women’s Artistic Networks in Early Nineteenth-Century Paris. The Johns Hopkins University Press; place; 2012.
  • Gershoy, Leo. The French Revolution and Napoleon. Appleton-Century-Crofts; New York; 1964.
  • Giovanangeli, Bernard. (Éditeur) Hortense de Beauharnais. Bernard Giovanangeli Éditeur; Paris; 2009.
  • Girardin, Stanislas de. Mémoires. Paris; 1834.
  • Goodman, Dena. Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters. Cornell University Press; Ithaca and London; 2009.
  • Gueniffey, Patrice. Bonaparte, 1769 – 1802. Trans. by Steven Rendall. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass. & London; 2015.
  • Guerrini, Maurice. Napoleon and Paris; Thirty Years of History. Trans., abridged and edited by Margery Weiner. Walker and Company; New York; 1967.
  • Haig, Diana Reid. The Letters of Napoleon to Josephine. Ravenhall Books; UK; 2004.
  • Hibbert, Christopher. Napoleon: His Wives and Women. (On Google books.)
  • Hickman, Peggy. A Jane Austen Household Book. David & Charles; London etc.; 1977.
  • Hopkins, Tighe. The Women Napoleon Loved. Kessinger Pub Co; place; 2004.
  • Hortense. The Memoirs of Queen Hortense. Edited by Jean Hanoteau. Trans. by Arthur K. Griggs. Vol I & II.
  • Hubert, Gérard and Nicole Hubert. Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois Préau. Ministère de la Culture; Paris; 1986.
  • Hubert, Gérard. Malmaison. Trans. by C. de Chabannes. Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris 1989.
  • Huggett, Jane, and Ninya Mikhaila. The Tudor Child; Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625. Fat Goose Press; UK; 2013.
  • Jacobs, Diane. Her Own Woman; The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Simon & Schuster; NY; 2001.
  • Joannis, Claudette. Josephine Imperatrice de la Mode; L’élégance sous l’Empire.
  • Johnson, R. Brimley. Fanny Burney and the Burneys. Stanley Pau & Co. Ltd.; London; 1926.
  • Katz, Marcus, and Tali Goodwin. Learning Lenormand; Traditional Fortune Telling for Modern Life. Llewellyn Publications; Woodbury, Minnesota; 2013.
  • Knapton, Ernest John. Empress Josephine. Cabridge, Massachusetts, 1963. Harvard University Press.
  • Le Normand, Mlle. M. A. The Historical and Secret Memoirs of the Empress Josephine. Jacob M. Howard, translator. H. S. Nichols. London. 1895. Vol. I and II. Originally published in France 1820.
  • Lefébure, Amaury, and Bernard Chavallier. National Museum of the Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau. Museum; Montgeron; 2013.
  • Lofts, Norah. A Rose for Virtue. (A novel.) Doubleday; NY; 1971.
  • Mali, Millicent S. Madame Campan: Educator of Women, Confidante of Queens. Univ. Press of America; Washington DC; 1979.
  • Mangan, J.J. The King’s favour; Three eighteenth-century monarchs and the favourites who ruled them. St. Martin’s Press; NY; 1991.
  • Mansel, Philip. The Eagle in Splendour; Napoleon I and His Court. George Philip; London; 1987
  • Marchand, Louis-Joseph. In Napoleon’s Shadow. (Marchand’s memoirs.) Preface by Jean Tulard. Proctor Jones; SF, Calif.; 1998.
  • Marsangy, L. Bonneville de. Mme Campan À Écouen. Champion; 1879.
  • Martineau, Gilbert. Caroline Bonaparte; Princess Murat, Reine de Naples. Éditions France-Empire; Paris; 1991.
  • Masson, Fredéric. Joséphine, impératrice et reine. Jean Boussod, Manzi, Joyant & C.; Paris; 1899. On Gallica.
  • Masson, Frédéric. La Société sous le consulat. Flammarion.
  • —. Mme Bonaparte (1796-1804). Deuxième Edition. Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1920.
  • —.Napoléon et sa famille. Vol. I (1769-1802) Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1897.
  • —. Napoléon et sa famille. Vol. VIII (1812-1813) Librairie Paul Ollendorff; Paris; 1907.
  • Mayeur, Françoise. L’´education des filles en France au XIXiem siècle. Perrin; place; 2008.
  • McCutcheon, Marc. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s. Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1993.
  • McKee, Eric. Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz. Indiana Univ. Press; Bloomington & Indianapolis; 2012.
  • McPhee. Living the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Palgrave Macmillan; NY; 2009.
  • Millot, Michel. The school of Venus, or the ladies delight, Reduced into rules of Practice; Being the Translation of the French L’Escoles des filles ; in 2 Dialogues. 1680.
  • Mills, Joshua W. Imitatio Techniques from Classical Rhetorical Pedagogy. (A thesis) Johns Hopkins University; Baltimore; May 2010.
  • Montagu, Violette M. Eugène de Beauharnais; The Adopted Son of Napoleon. John Long, Limited; London; MCMXIII.
  • —. The Celebrated Madame Campan. Bibliolife, but originally published by Eveleigh Nash; 1914; London.
  • Montjouvent, Philippe de. Joséphine; Une impératrice de légendes. Timée Éditions; France; 2010.
  • Oman, Carola. Napoleon’s Viceroy; Eugène de Beauharnais. Hodder and Stoughton; London; 1966.
  • Osmond, Marion W. Jean Baptiste Isabey; The Fortunate Painter.
  • Pannelier, Alexandrine. Hortense et Eugène de Beauharnais à Saint-Germain. from her souvenirs. Bulletin 1981, Société des Amis de Malmaison.
  • Parkes, Mrs. William. Domestic Duties; or Instructions to Young Married Ladies on the management of their households, and the regulation of their conduct in the various relations and duties of Married Life. Pub; New York; 1829.
  • Pawl, Ronals. Napoleon’s Mounted Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard.
  • Pellapra, Emilie de, Comtesse de Brigode, Princess de Chimay. A Daughter of Napoleon; Memoirs of Emile de Pellapra, Comtesse de Brigode, Princess of Chimay. Introduction by Princess Bibesco. Preface by Frederic Masson. Translated by Katherine Miller. Charles Scribner’s Sons; New York; 1922.
  • Pitt, Leonard. Promenades dans le Paris Disparu. Parigramme; place; 2002.
  • Prod’homme, J.—G., and Frederick H. Martens. Napoleon, Music and Musicians. The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp 579-605, Oct. 1921.
  • Reichardt, J. -F. Un Hiver a Paris sous le Consulat. (1802-1803). Librairie Plox E. Plon; Paris; 1896.
  • Reval, Gabrielle. Madame Campan, Assistante de Napoléon. Albin Michel; Paris.
  • Richardson, Samuel. Letters written to and for particular friends, on the most important occasions. Directing not only the requisite style and forms to be observed in writing familiar letters; but how to think and act justly and prudently. (reprint by Gale ECCO Print Editions); originally London; originally 1741.
  • Robiquet, Jean. Daily Life in France Under Napoleon.
  • —. Daily Life in the French Revolution. James Kirkup, trans. The Macmillan Co. New York, 1965.
  • Rogers, Rebecca. From the Salon to the Schoolroom, Educating Bourgeois Girls in Nineteenth-Century France. Penn State Univ. Press; Univ. Park, Penn.; 2005.
  • Saint-Amand, Imbert de. The Wife of the First Consul. Trans. by T. S. Perry. Scribner’s; NY; 1890.
  • Sand, George. Lettres d’un Voyageur. Penguin; Englan; 1987 (from original 1837).
  • Savine, Albert. Les Jours de la Malmaison. Louis-Michaud; Paris; 1909.
  • Schama, Simon. Citizens, A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York, 1989. Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Schlogel, Gilbert. Émilie de Lavalette; Une légende blessée. France Loisirs; Paris; 1999.
  • Seward, Desmond. Napoleon’s Family. Viking; New York; 1986.
  • Shields, Carol. Jane Austen. A Penguin Life. A Lipper/Viking Book; NY; 2001.
  • Steinbach, Sylvie. The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle. Self-published; na; 2007.
  • Stuart, Andrea. The Rose of Martinique; a life of Napoleon’s Josephine.
  • Sullivan, Margaret C. The Jane Austen Handbook. Quirk books; Philadephia; 2007.
  • Tour, Jean de la. Duroc (1772-1813). Nouveau Monde Editions; Paris; 2004.
  • Turquan, Joseph. The Sisters of Napoleon; Elisa, Pauline and Caroline Bonaparte After The Testimony of Their Contemporaries. Isha Books; India; 1908 (2013).
  • Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Jane Austen. Longman Group Ltd.; 1964; 1970.
  • Weiner, Margery. The Parvenu Princesses. William Morrow & Co; NY; 1964.
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  • Whitcomb, Edward A. Napoleon’s Diplomatic Service. Duke University Press; Durham, N.C.; 1979.
  • Williams, Kate. Josephine; Desire, Ambition, Napoleon. Hutchinson; London; 2013.
  • Winegarten, Renee. Germaine de Staël & Benjamin Constant; A Dual Biography. York University Press; New Haven and London;2008.
  • Wright, Constance. Daughter to Napoleon; a biography of Hortense, Queen of Holland. Holt, Rinehart and Winston; NY; 1961.

{Photo above by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash.}

Where Hortense’s father Alexandre de Beauharnais was guillotined and buried

Where Hortense’s father Alexandre de Beauharnais was guillotined and buried

Tracking down facts can be a time-crunching task … but a very enjoyable one when the goal is in sight.

I began with a simple question: Where was Hortense’s father executed and buried? I think these were things she might have wanted to know.

images

Portrait of Josephine and her two children, Hortense and Eugène, visiting their father in prison.

False leads

In the process, I found many wrong answers … which reinforces the common knowledge that the Net can’t be trusted. However, I knew enough to know when the answer was wrong, and kept looking.

In the process I ended up making a correction to a Wikipedia page … which rather thrilled me. Alexandre was defined, simply, as the lover of Princess Amalie of Salm-Kyrburg, a friend of Josephine’s who secretly acquired the land after the Revolution because her brother is buried there. Not only was it curious that Josephine and their children were not mentioned, but I very much doubt that Alexandre was Amalie’s lover. Other women, certainly, but not Amalie.

guillotined

Place du Trône-Renversé—now Place de la Nation—where Hortense’s father was guillotined.

Alexandre was guillotined not in the Place de la Révolution (Place de la Concorde now) or Place de Grève (in front of the l’Hôtel-de-Ville), as if often claimed, but in Place du Trône-Renversé (now Place de la Nation), on the western edge of Paris. Apparently the other execution sites had become so bloody they had to find a new spot.

Mass executions at the height of the Terror

In a matter of about 6 weeks (from June 13 to July 27, 1794) 1306 men and women were guillotined, as many as 55 people a day. I imagine that it was hard work keeping the blade sufficiently sharp.

How to dispose of all the bodies?

It was also hard work disposing of the bodies. What is now the Picpus Cemetery was then land seized from a convent during the Revolution, conveniently close to Place du Trône-Renversé. A pit was dug at the end of the garden, and when that filled up, a second was dug. The bodies of all 1306 of the men and women executed in Place du Trône-Renversé were thrown into the common pits including 108 nobles, 136 monastics, and 579 commoners … .

18

The mass graves are simply marked.

 

names of those guillotined

One of two wall listing the names and ages of the dead.

 

012

Le Cimetière de Picpus today.

Of those executed, 197 were women, including 16 Carmelite nuns, who went to the scaffold singing hymns.

Nuns to be guillotined

4623442469_ce905dc3c0 257_Carmelites

In all the research I’ve done in Paris over the decades, I’ve yet to go to either the Place du Trône-Renversé (Place de la Nation) or the Picpus Cemetery. I believe I’m due.