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 The Lawer of Marie Antoinette 
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Post The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
I was excited to find this. It is the resting place at Monparnasse of the brave lawer Claude Francois Chauveau Lagarde who defended the Queen at her trumped up trial and also many other victimsof the revolution. It is a miracle he surivived the revolution to be an old man in 1841. At the moment I am googling right, left and centre for people who were part of the Queen's life. Isn't the internet a great way of looking for people of the plast. Much quicker than scouring old bookshops. Having said that, about 15 years ago I happened to be passing a Save the Children charity shop that sold books, and saw in the window the Memoires of Madame Roland. I was so excited but only had about 50 pence (50 cents) and asked them to take a deposit while I hurried up to the bank to get some money out. I was terrified that someone else would want it. I made it, and paid about £4 British Pounds. I still read it. My son and his girlfriend found a biography about Robespierre and bought it for my birthday many years ago. Sorry everyone, I digress, anyway here is the link of Chauvau Lagarde's tomb.

http://www.landrucimetieres.fr/spip/spip.php?article814


Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:41 pm
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Post Re: The Lawyer of Marie Antoinette
Fascinating characters they are. Robespierre had tried to make many marriages when he put himself in charge, including the possibility of Madame Royale, does your book on Robespierre talk of that?


Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:22 pm
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Maggie, I can't believe I missed this post! Thanks for the link too - he apparently also defended Madame Elisabeth and Charlotte Corday. It is amazing that he survived the Revolution!
ppill - I have read this same thing about Robespierre, but can't remember the source. Welcome to the forum, please introduce yourself.


Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:31 pm
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
It seems that Robespierre had an understanding or engagement with one of the Dupluy sisters, Elizabeth I think. When Madame Royale became 15 he wanted it to be made law that girls over 15 were to be married thus forcing the princess to be married off and I believe he toyed with the idea of marrying her himself. However my personal opinion about Robespierre was that he was impotent, I have not found any source to suggest he ever had a sexual relationship. Hitler was also probably impotent so maybe there is a pschological link between impotency and mesmerising whole nations to participate in amongst the worst excesses of cruelty in human history. I am not too well read on Ancient Rome but many of the emperors also caused human misery with their cruelty.


Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:12 pm
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Since both smallpox and syphilis can cause impotence, both these men you mention must have had one or the other. We know that at least 13 pages of mein Kampf were specified to the disease. Also the progressiveness of the disease results in a kind of madness.


Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:53 pm
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
As far as I know, that thing concerning Robespierre and MTC is sheer rumour. There are a lot of tales with regards to Robespierre's sexuality, or lack of thereof. The fact is that there was nothing abnormal about it whatsoever. He did have at least one reported mistress (a consummated relationship) and he was indeed engaged to Eleonore Duplay, whom he loved. This liaison was not consummated for obvious reasons : Robespierre lived at the Duplays, and considering the mores of the time, this would have been, to say the least, frowned upon. Obviously, and contrary to the gleeful image of the XVIII century that is conveyed by literature and art, I believe that people were not so laid back about sexuality as we are now, especially amongst the elite. It was in fact pretty difficult for a young man to have sexual intercourses with non-married ladies, that is why prostitution was so rampant. Until the beginning of XX century, it was a common place for young men to have their first time with prostitutes, because other women were out of reach. But then there were the venerian diseases -another reason to shrink from sexual intercourses. So the feeling of frustration, if there was any, was general among the well-educated relatively upper class young men, and in no way specific to Robespierre.

Those who had plenty of girlfriends were, I think, a scanty minority of men that could afford to keep them and cater for them in the first place. Although Robespierre lived comfortably enough, he never led such a flamboyant lifestyle as Mirabeau did. Money and luxury cut no ice with him anyway. He could certainly not afford to have a mistress : the blithe and brutal way he got rid of his Parisian girlfriend proves that he was not keen to have any at all, and was mostly focused on his career, political activities and reputation.


Having said that, there is little doubt that Robespierre was not interested in sex, love and rock and roll. It does not exactly mean that he was a frustrated loser. I think he was simply cold and aloof, and that his career mattered more than anything else to him. His lifestyle did not leave much room for entertainments anyway. The few letters he wrote to the very few women that had the honour to be wooed by him tend to prove, through their incredible self-centeredness, that he did not care for (and care about) women that much..To me, that is all there is to it.

For all the reasons stated above, I do not see why it is necessary to bring any kind of sexual disorder into this. I do not think Robespierre was impotent, I do not think he suffered from any kind of sexual perversion. It tends to irk me that anytime somebody appears to be uninterested in sex or love, or by and large enjoys a lifestyle that is fairly different to the mainstream, one always feel the need to come up with a scientific explanation for that, a disease of some kind ... as it was unthinkable that someone may simply not be hooked on sex, money and all the like.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:08 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
So how are you finding the windy city so far? :)

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:42 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Ludy wrote:
As far as I know, that thing concerning Robespierre and MTC is sheer rumour. There are a lot of tales with regards to Robespierre's sexuality, or lack of thereof. The fact is that there was nothing abnormal about it whatsoever. He did have at least one reported mistress (a consummated relationship) and he was indeed engaged to Eleonore Duplay, whom he loved. This liaison was not consummated for obvious reasons : Robespierre lived at the Duplays, and considering the mores of the time, this would have been, to say the least, frowned upon. Obviously, and contrary to the gleeful image of the XVIII century that is conveyed by literature and art, I believe that people were not so laid back about sexuality as we are now, especially amongst the elite. It was in fact pretty difficult for a young man to have sexual intercourses with non-married ladies, that is why prostitution was so rampant. Until the beginning of XX century, it was a common place for young men to have their first time with prostitutes, because other women were out of reach. But then there were the venerian diseases -another reason to shrink from sexual intercourses. So the feeling of frustration, if there was any, was general among the well-educated relatively upper class young men, and in no way specific to Robespierre.

Those who had plenty of girlfriends were, I think, a scanty minority of men that could afford to keep them and cater for them in the first place. Although Robespierre lived comfortably enough, he never led such a flamboyant lifestyle as Mirabeau did. Money and luxury cut no ice with him anyway. He could certainly not afford to have a mistress : the blithe and brutal way he got rid of his Parisian girlfriend proves that he was not keen to have any at all, and was mostly focused on his career, political activities and reputation.


Having said that, there is little doubt that Robespierre was not interested in sex, love and rock and roll. It does not exactly mean that he was a frustrated loser. I think he was simply cold and aloof, and that his career mattered more than anything else to him. His lifestyle did not leave much room for entertainments anyway. The few letters he wrote to the very few women that had the honour to be wooed by him tend to prove, through their incredible self-centeredness, that he did not care for (and care about) women that much..To me, that is all there is to it.

For all the reasons stated above, I do not see why it is necessary to bring any kind of sexual disorder into this. I do not think Robespierre was impotent, I do not think he suffered from any kind of sexual perversion. It tends to irk me that anytime somebody appears to be uninterested in sex or love, or by and large enjoys a lifestyle that is fairly different to the mainstream, one always feel the need to come up with a scientific explanation for that, a disease of some kind ... as it was unthinkable that someone may simply not be hooked on sex, money and all the like.

Thank you for this. You saved me a lot of time. However, I do disagree with your diagnosis that his 'wooing' letters are full of self-centeredness. I know his biographer Ruth Scurr accedes to that theory, but I don't get the same feeling when I read them. I particularly like the one he penned to the breeder of his new canaries. It's awkward and clumsy, certainly not written by Shakespeare, but it is an attempt. You say he wrote 'few' letters, but actually, there seem to be an abundance of surviving letters entailed with attempts of flirtation. And there were probably even more that didn't survive. Few women would hold onto letters received by a love struck provincial lawyer throughout their lives, and the ones who did would have a good reason to destroy them after Thermidor.

And also in regard to his lack of interest in sex, perhaps we should recall that according to his sister (whose account is admittedly biased) he had courted one Anais Deshortes for a few years, and seems to have asked her to wait for him to return from the Estates General for marriage. However, he came back to find her married to someone else (although Peter McPhee, I think, questions Charlotte's date of the marriage, so this is all speculation.) Still, heartbreak and an aloofness from women could be expected results of this, and few would begrudge a man if he decided to leave romance alone for a year or so - and just two years later, he was dead. But as Ludy pointed out, he definitely courted Eleanore Duplay, and witnesses attested that there definitely seemed to be a warmth between the pair, although the family Doctor insisted that Robespierre had not impugned the lady's honor in any way.

Regardless, I think since we are here on a Marie Antoinette forum, most of us here are acquainted with the fact that history is written by the victors. This doctrine applies to Robespierre as well as our maligned queen. But where Marie Antoinette's reputation was spared assault after her death, Robespierre's was chiefly assailed once he was in the grave...and the majority of the rumors can not just be thrown into doubt, but can be entirely disproven with primary sources. He deserves to be treated with as much fairness as any other historical figure. He was not a Hitler or a Stalin. He has traits in common with them, such as his ability to woo a crowd (although even this is hotly debated, and it is a fact that Robespierre did confess to a friend that he was actually terrified of public speaking and had to build a store of courage to mount the tribune), but he also shares traits with America's Lincoln and F.D.R. Personality wise he shares little in common with the two aforementioned dictators. He was a fanatic, narrow-minded, but he was not excessively bloodthirsty, and did make strides to curtail some of the atrocities of his colleagues in government. He was awkward, shy, consistently avoided executive power, and it is a known that on at least one occassion in the CPS he was literally bullied into acceding to at least one decree (who knows how often it happened and was not recorded). In other words, he lacked some key personality traits of the bloodthirsty dictator archetype.


The argument that he wanted to marry Madame Royale sprung up because he dared protest against the execution of Madame Elisabeth. Because he was reluctant to execute a woman for a crime that could not be proven with evidence, his enemies said that he wanted to wed one of the royal women and consolidate a royal family. This charge is just absurd. Frankly, I think it is more likely it is more likely that he chaffed at executing an innocent woman.

Are we really going to hold his reluctance to execute Madame Elisabeth against him?

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Last edited by Vive on Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:15 am, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:46 pm
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Hurrah !!! I am so glad you're back on here !


Look, you are certainly way more knowledgeable than me about Robespierre, amongst other things. Any interpretation of any letter is highly subjective indeed, and Scurr judging Robespierre self-centered is obvisouly but her personal appreciation. Scurrs made that statement precisely with regards to a 1786 letter, where he wrote at lenght about his speech dedicated to the "defense of the oppressed". Sending a copy of his speech to the lady he was wooing was, accoding to Scurr, "not everyone's idea of courting life", and an act that tells "considerably more about the sender than the recipient".

Well, all things considered, I have to come round to your point of view now. After all, the letter does state " the interest you were kind enough to take in the matter" - so there is in fact nothing untoward or weird about him sending a copy of his speech. You are correct and I do think that the appreciation of Robespierre's personality is in a way self fulfilling : biographers find inspiration in previous biographers' works, so Scurr might have already had a negative slant with regards to Robespierre's personality (cold, self-centered ...) before she even started to write about him, as it is often the case.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:44 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
To put it simply, I think it was basically the time when a young man had to make a choice between career and entertainment / sex life. It is still the case today, to a certain extent, but was especially true back then for the reasons I have stated in my previous post. When you analyse Robespierre's behaviour, it is not much different from the other young men that were in the same situation -look at Bonaparte, who had his first time with a prostitute at the Palais Royal.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:49 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Ah, I feel like I somehow offended you or gave the impression that I was trying to attack your opinion. I apologize for that. I'm not the best at articulating myself, and I'm certainly no expert on Robespierre. I don't want to give the impression that I've crowned myself the end-all-be-all of Robespierre. If I seemed combative, I apologize Ludy. :)

And thank you for mentioning that Robespierre did seem to be responding to the lady's expressed interest in the law briefs. That is a far better argument than I put forward, and it completely slipped my mind. But anyway, I do agree with you to an extent about the time being when a man would have to choose between his career and his sex life. However, other men during Robespierre's time were able to make the juggle. Mirabeau for one, Danton for another. I don't think Robespierre necessarily had to choose, but he did want to devote more time to his career, and for that matter was probably pleased with Eleanor. But I'm just splitting hairs here. I think we're more or less in agreement.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:26 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Was it combative ? I was paying you compliments and telling you how right you were all along... It's strange, it was not at all meant that way, I can assure you. With regards to you being more knowledgeable about Robespierre, I think that is quite objective. For goodness sake, why am so awkward. :banghead:

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:24 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Ludy wrote:
Was it combative ? I was paying you compliments and telling you how right you were all along... It's strange, it was not at all meant that way, I can assure you. With regards to you being more knowledgeable about Robespierre, I think that is quite objective. For goodness sake, why am so awkward. :banghead:


No no no. To use a cliche, it's not you, it's me. Misunderstandings follow me wherever I go. I'm afraid I'm just bad at communication in general, be it giving or receiving. D:

I seem to have heisted this thread and turned it into another Robespierre one. :oops: I apologize.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:02 am
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Oh, come on. I enjoy your posts very much, I was so glad you came back on here so keep on posting.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:12 pm
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Post Re: The Lawer of Marie Antoinette
Ludy wrote:
Oh, come on. I enjoy your posts very much, I was so glad you came back on here so keep on posting.


Try and stop me! :angry5:

No, no, no, really thank you very much. I'll try not to disappear too quickly again, but unfortunately I have a tendency to get distracted by shiny metallic objects. When that happens I just wander off. But I'll find my way back again, hoorah!

But to bring this topic back on point and away from my impugned Robespierre, I actually hadn't been aware that one lawyer had defended Bailly, Brissot, Madame Roland, and Marie Antoinette and all those other historical giants. Talk about your hopeless cases. I'm not questioning their wrongful execution, I'm just saying that it is nigh on impossible to get someone acquitted from a show-trial thrown by the government...as the execution of his famous clients proves.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:36 pm
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