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 Who was Gabrielle 
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Post promoting Families
As several of your pointed out, one of the strongest complaints about Gabrielle was the advancing of her family. and Therese correctly points out that it was normal at the time - it was still a very clannish society, and people rose with their clan (think about the Rohans, holding so many high positions). however, the counter to that was that if a monarch showed a decided preference to one clan only, that clan was hated (and admired) in particular. for example, Richelieu under Louis XIII. or the Guises earlier. and the Pompadour was strongly criticized for promoting her favorites to all the good posts.
clever monarchs always had more than one favorite. Gabrielle's problem may have been that Louis XVI did not have his own favorites separate from the Polignac clan to compete for favors.
By the way, you referred here to her calm - didn't Bertiere mention that the king relied on Gabrielle to calm the queen down when she had a temper?


Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:31 pm
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By the way, you referred here to her calm - didn't Bertiere mention that the king relied on Gabrielle to calm the queen down when she had a temper?

Does she ? I am re-reading her bio for the moment ! :D Just arriving in Versailles ! :D

Fraser insists on this specific aspect of their friendship. Gabrielle was the only one who could calm Marie Antoinette down, she says. She used to give her oranger water with sugar, to sit down and listen...

I once read an interesting little bio of Mme de Polignac, by Hedwige de Polignac. Actually, Gabrielle was a very sensitive woman, with a not so strong health. It was not so easy for her to be the queen's best friend...

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Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:39 pm
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Yes, the king relied on gabrielle.

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Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:39 pm
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Louis XVI liked much Polignac according to Fraser, he was very friendly with her, and in his letters he showed it well. :D

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Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:53 pm
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Indeed, the king wrote to Mme de Polignac during the revolution. She also had a correspondence with Marie Caroline ! Interesting lady, indeed ! :D

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Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:54 pm
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E.M. Vidal posted on Gabrielle in her blog one time. She stated that the Polignacs were no more greedy than the other nobles at court.


Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:06 am
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No, there were not. But there were two problems. First of all, they were not as known as other families, such as the Noailles or the Rohans... Those families were very scrupulous about what they considered their prerogatives. They did not stand to see the Polignacs receive such a favour from king and queen. So, they began to spread gossips for revenge.

Then, the Polignacs were an ancient family, but poor. You don't receive the queen of France at your place that simply ! Marie Antoinette's friendship actually was extremely expensive for Mme de Polignac. To help her friend maintain her rank so that she could come to her salon, Marie Antoinette had to help the Polignacs financially too...

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:07 am
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Could you be kind as to tell me what relation is Hedwige de Polignac to Gabrielle?

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:11 am
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Sorry I only saw your replies now. I don't believe that Gabrielle's grandaugther, Aglaya, is the one in the portait. She was painted by Vigée le Brun but her portait is missed I think... She was also painted by Gueze:

«The pretty and extravagant Mme Demidov was also painted twice by Greuze, as a Bacchante and as a Penitent Magdalen, which reveals her taste for such a genre of portrait. The miniature in question shows her wearing a white turban over her loosened hair and revealing coquettishly one of her bare breasts a feature almost unthinkable among the representations of a Russian lady but characteristic of this eccentric Woman.»

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:06 pm
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Then, the Polignacs were an ancient family, but poor. You don't receive the queen of France at your place that simply ! Marie Antoinette's friendship actually was extremely expensive for Mme de Polignac. To help her friend maintain her rank so that she could come to her salon, Marie Antoinette had to help the Polignacs financially too...

Yes, Pimprenelle, I think this is why I had doubts about Gabrielle. At first, it may seem that Gabrielle was trying to advance her position some with favors from the Queen. In fact, she was poor and needed the extra financial support of the Queen in order to be her friend which is entirely acceptable, (even if it did not please the others in the court). I wonder how M.A. felt about Gabrielle's political influence as time went on? I believe this was also characteristic of Royal friendships and acceptable. So maybe this friendship was true and natural until the end. Or, was there a particular rift between them around the beginning of revolution?


Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:57 pm
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Post like Du Barry
so in fact, Gabrielle was in the same position as Du Barry. for Du Barry, it was not that she was the king's mistress, but that she was from the outside and prevented the noble ladies from sleeping with him (and getting associated favors) themselves; for Polignac, it was not that she was a favorite, but that she was an external favorite and prevented other families from reaping the benefits.
and the weapons used where the same in both cases - a campaign of libel, and attributing extreme sexual deprivation to the person involved.


Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:29 pm
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Indeed....but there is a big difference : Marie-Antoinette did not like Du Barry, but she liked very much Polignac :lol:

But..Polignac was only hated by the people (or almost) and less by courting... Du Barry was also hated by cetains courting like the Choiseuil clan :wink:

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:39 pm
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I agree with your explanation, Dorit. Except that the Polignacs were nobles. Mme du Barry came from the people. But I agree the libels methods were the same.

Chou, I think the Polignacs were hated by most people of the court too... Weren't they ? The Rohans ? The Noailles ? All those very old families that could postulate for being Governess of the Children of France... :?

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:59 pm
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All those very old families that could postulate for being Governess of the Children of France...


Ah....indeed you're right :wink:
But to my mind, it was worse for du Barry no? :D

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:14 pm
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Post factions for
Well, Du Barry had a faction for her - the Richelieu/d'Aiguillon faction. who did the Polignacs have? the king liked them, and they were related to Maurepas, but was that a supporting faction?


Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:20 pm
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