Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Who was Gabrielle
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Author:  Aurora [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Who was Gabrielle

The more I learn from your posts and elsewhere about Mme Gabrielle de Polignac, the more I get confused. Who she really was, opinions? It seems that always some pieces are lost in the puzzle. Some things written about her, her character, behaviour etc. just don't match together. Am I the only one who thinks like this? Was she a completely beautiful tender angel or a blackmailing terrible opportunist with an ugly lover in the front of her husband's nose or an inhibited lesbian, with a rigid catholic upbringing or something else. Almost everything has been suggested when writing about her. What do you say Mesdames et Messieurs?

Author:  Vivienne [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:28 pm ]
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I agree I feel confused about her as well.
I do love her portraits .......


Author:  Pimprenelle [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:28 pm ]
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Dear Aurora... Since the beginning of her favour, Gabrielle de Polignac was hated and calomniated. It's quite a job to try and find her character behind all this dirtiness...

Some conemporaries had a bad opinion (Bombelles), others said she was sweet (Campan, Besenval). Historians could have made the balance... actually, they did not, and portray madame de Polignac an awful intrigant.

I read the most I can about her, so that I came to the conclusion that, indeed, balance would not be fair. Madame de Polignac simply was as sweet as you can feel from the queen's letters. That's my opinion.

I am in contact with French admirers of our queen, who also believe that madame de Polignac was calomniated by contemporaries and, later, by history. "My mind tranquillity shall only be full when they will recognize the purity of your heart", Marie-Antoinette wrote to her dear friend.

In this whole matter, the only person I listen to is Marie-Antoinette.

Author:  Aurora [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:49 pm ]
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Thank you for answering,Vivienne and Pimprenelle. Is there a good biography about Gabrielle and have you read that? There are so many texts around Fersen, but it is hard to find collected facts and conclusions of Gabrielle's life. Even one other controversial woman Madame de Genlis has a very good biography par Gabriel de Broglie about her and she was a good or bad depending the point of view also and perhaps less known (well, actually de Genlis was well known behind the scenes, but that is a different story..).

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:21 pm ]
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There is no real biography of Gabrielle. Only short ones, included in bigger books. Erlanger "Aventuriers et favorites", for instance. Or in history magazines... Diane de Polignac's memoirs are partly available on Gallica (French national library).

Author:  Aurora [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:44 pm ]
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That is what I was afraid biographies.
Anyway, I really want that you, Pimprenelle chérie, write your biography or collection of essays about Gabrielle. You know so much! Please consider it. Thank you for the translations in another thread, very good and big job!
By the way Les adieux à la Reine par Chantal Thomas was very good, just finished.

Author:  Therese [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:50 pm ]
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Be careful of anything Madame de Genlis says about Gabrielle - - it will have an Orleanist flavor, but Aurora, you would know all about that.

I think Gabrielle has been as unjustly maligned as the queen. I do not think the queen would have been stupidly devoted to an evil, cold opportunist. I see her as being very relaxed and uninhibited, in a good way, very natural and unaffected, which Antoinette admired, since she was surrounded by phony, pretentious people. I think she had a simplicity of manner which being in the convent may have enhanced, as well as her preference for simple costume. Her elegant, understated taste influenced the queen's own way of dressing. I think she was good with children, her own and Antoinette's, in a loving but laidback sort of way. I think she tended to be conservative and family-oriented, which both Louis and Antoinette admired very much. She was a discreet person, who could be trusted with the queen's deep confidences.

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:11 pm ]
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Thank you so much for your sweet words, dear Aurora... I am touched...

Author:  Aurora [ Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:23 pm ]
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You deserve thanks, Pimprenelle for your true dedication!
I imagine you being like a intelligent and elegant hostess of a wonderful Salon of the 18th century!

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:09 pm ]
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Shall I be honoured enough to welcome you, my dear ? And to offer you some refreshments... cold water with orange flower... ? Then, maybe, you would accept to delight us with the aerial sound of you harp...

Author:  Aurora [ Wed Jul 26, 2006 4:58 pm ]
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You are all too kind for me, chère Madame!
I am only delighted to offer my humble part for your succesful evening with the sound of my harp. Perhaps a Sonata op.7 by Jean-Baptiste Cardon, dedicated to our beloved Reine, would please you and your charming companions.

Author:  Therese [ Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:13 pm ]
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Yes, Pim needs to write a book on Gabrielle! :wink: The main thing to remember about Gabrielle is that she was hand-picked by Louis XVI to be a friend for his queen. A careful decision maker, he chose Gabrielle for a good reason.

Author:  Aurora [ Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:49 pm ]
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Thank you Therese, about your descriptions of Gabrielle and information. I wonder, when Gabrielle was hand-picked by the king of France, how could the courtiers be so openly against her. Were they not afraid or something (at least of their own postions)? Or has the king lost already so much of his power that it did not matter anymore?

Author:  Therese [ Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:54 pm ]
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Merci, Aurora! The king still had all of his power when he encouraged the friendship of his wife and Gabrielle. I think people were jealous of the royal favor, and perhaps because Gabrielle kept Antoinette from the Orleanist clique that Lamballe associated with because of her marriage to Chartres' ( Egalite's) brother-in-law.

Author:  Aurora [ Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:08 pm ]
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Yes, the sweet little duchesse de Chartres(Orléans)who was also very kind and timid, and what kind of husband she was suffering from!
And all those jalous courtiers behind the back of the royal couple, no wonder La Reine wanted her escape in Trianon world.

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