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 Conduct At the Scaffold 
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Post Conduct At the Scaffold
My question is rather ghoulish and, for that, I apologize. I've held on to these questions for a long time and I remember them being discussed in class but forget if they were stated as facts or as examples of gossip/rumors. The first one concerns Louis XVI's execution. It has been said that poor Louis required multiple droppings of the blade before the dreadful task was completed. It seems that the blade was not regularly cleaned and became frequently dull because of the large volume of the condemned.

Next we have Madame duBarry who, if the story is true, gave a memorable performance at the scaffold. It was said that Mme. duBarry arrrived at the guillotine screaming with terror and begging the crowd to spare her. Her screaming continued as she waited by the scaffold steps and got louder as her gown was splattered with the blood of the current victim. She now required several men to hold her in place. If there was anyone that the crowd hated more than the royal family it was this milliner who 'played' at being royal and had a role in the nation's financial crisis. Several in the crowd enjoyed duBarry's terror and took her out of line and made her watch the executions that initially were after hers. It was said that her screaming continued until the blade dropped.

Is anyone aware of any descriptions by eyewitnesses of how various individuals approached their demise? It never ceases to amaze me, on Court TV for example, people who are found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison no chance of parole have no reaction; it's like the judge announced that it was lunch time. If it were me, I'd make duBarry's behavior look like a chapter of Gloia Vanderbilt's 'Etiquette'.


Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:01 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Louis XVi's execution happened quite normally. There was no second take.

As for Mme du Barry she was pretty panicked and even begged her executioner to let her live a little longer. However as for the crowd's reaction it was quite the opposite. Many were moved by her panic and the executioners sped up things for fear of the crowd's reaction becoming too sympathetic. Where do you read these things?!

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:00 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
As I said in my post, I'm not sure where I heard them; that's why I wanted them verified for accuracy. Thanks for the clarification; I'd love to learn the truth about other rumors about behavior at the scaffold. May I ask the source(s) of your clarification? I'd love to buy copies for my collection.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:35 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
They are rumors or not, I think, it's worth to read them. Sometimes, it shows how many different ways history can be translated.

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:30 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Artois wrote:

May I ask the source(s) of your clarification? I'd love to buy copies for my collection.

The biography of Mme du Barry by the Duc de Castries. :)

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:15 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Anouk wrote:

Sometimes, it shows how many different ways history can be translated.

Translated or distorted...

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:16 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Baron--thank you so much for the information about Mme duBarry at the scaffold. I found a copy of the duBarry biography by the Duc de Castries at my usual source but, alas, it's in French. I speak and read French rather well; it takes me a long time however.

I appreciate your telling me about the Duc de Castries. What a prolific biographer he was. I found his biographies of La Pompadour, Mirabeau, The Kings and Queens of France and others.

Thank you.


Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:25 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Baron:

I went through my collection of books and found the description of duBarry at the scaffold. From “Madame duBarry: The Wages of Beauty” by Joan Haslip. From page 200:

“…….the woman who had once been the beautiful duBarry finally collapsed into a pathetic, whimpering creature dead to all sense of dignity and shame.

The gendarmes carried her struggling into the tumbrel where the Vandenyvers were already waiting, the father and two sons who, through her folly and impudence, were to share her fate. They must have felt nothing but contempt for the woman who lay struggling and moaning at the back of the cart. Now and then letting out a cry of pain as the tumbrel lurched and the horses stumbled on the cobbled stones of the Rue St. Honore..

Today there was none of the animation, the raucous laughter or coarse jokes, for here was no proud, disdainful beauty to be mocked at and reviled but a pathetic broken creature more like a trapped animal than a human being. Sensing the reaction of the crowd the executioner hurried her first up the stairs of the guillotine. She was still struggling and had to be carried by force all the time screaming, “You are going to hurt me.” and, “Please don’t hurt me.”. When the knife crashed down there was one terrible, piercing cry. The executioner cried, “Vive la revolution” and the lovely head of the last of the royal favorites fell into a basket.”

It appears that we each had a portion of the story.


Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:44 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Which portion did I miss then?

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Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:56 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
I didn't say that you missed anything, mon cher baron. What I said was that we each had portions of what we assume to be the accurate ending for la duBarry. Of course you were more correct than I.

Thanks again for the information on the Duc de Castries.


Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:52 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
You're most welcome. :)

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Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:22 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Hmm....I read in multiple places that Louis' blade feel many times, at least two. I did not however know that duBerry paniced so. It shows how much more grace Antoinette had than her what with MA's peaceful stride to the scaffold.

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Sat May 09, 2009 3:21 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
Barbara Levy's history of the Sanson family, "Legacy of Death" (Prentice-Hall, 1973), says nothing about any complications at Louis' execution. (114-115) She quotes two different accounts of Dubarry's terror, the second by the painter Vigee-Lebrun, which includes the following (146-147):

Quote:
She screamed, she begged mercy of the horrible crowd that stood around the scaffold, she aroused them to such a point that the executioner grew anxious and hastened to complete his task. This convinced me that if the victims of these terrible times had not been so proud, had not met death with such courage, the terror would have ended much earlier.


By the way, had there not been two accounts, I would be skeptical, especially of an aristocratic account of Dubarry, who had literally been a whore and was despised by the aristocracy. The latter tend to paint her in lurid colors.

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Sat May 09, 2009 4:48 am
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
I think that Madame du Barry's execution was exaggerated although it is recorded that she did weep and say "One moment more!" Who can blame her? Here is an article about it from Tea at Trianon:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/1 ... barry.html

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Sat May 09, 2009 12:38 pm
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Post Re: Conduct At the Scaffold
I think the royal family had so much more class though. I mean, none of the royals begged at all. Even the quiet Elisabeth was graceful as she walked to her death and because of this the crowd begged for her to live! Thats influence.

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Wed May 13, 2009 6:41 pm
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