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 Madame Du Barry's Execution 
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Post Madame Du Barry's Execution
I'm a few days late, but I thought we should remark on the passing of another anniversary of Madame du Barry's execution (December 8, 1793).

Her lawyer described her charges as consisting of:
Quote:
Conspiring against the French Republic and having favored the success of the arms of the enemies in its territory by procuring for them exorbitant sums in her journeys to England, where she herself emigrated.

Wearing, in London, mourning for the late King.

Living habitually with Pitt, whose effigy she wore on a silver medal.

Having caused to be buried at Louveciennes the letters of nobility of an emigre and also the busts of the former court.

And finally, having wasted the treasures of the State by the unbridled extravagance in which she had indulged before the Revolution, during her commerce with Louis XV.


Historian Norman Hampson briefly weighed the merit of some of the charges:

Quote:
The case against du Barry may well conceal further British intervention. The whole business of her jewels being stolen by thieves who tried to dispose them in England seems somewhat far-fetched. The thieves were caught and Madame Dubarry was entertained, when she came to claim her property, by her old friend Forth - who had been employed by a Britishh agent in France during the War of American Independence. The French Embassy in London had suggested to the Foreign Ministry in July 1789 that if Forth was in Paris this might explain disorders in the capital. When she was in London, Madame Dubarry met Pitt. She was known to be a generous woman, but even so it seems rather extravagant of her to have lent the cardianal de la Rochefoucauld 200,000 livres. The Committee of General Security certainly thought her activities enough to justify having her followed by two agents, one in England and one in France. At the trail of the ‘Dantonists’ the newspaper, le Batave, reported that Chabot was accused of having protected her.


Whatever the case, she was convicted and sentenced to death, where she reportedly pleaded with the executioner for more time, before finally begging, “You are going to hurt me! Oh, please don’t hurt me!”

The woman loved life and did not desire to leave it. R.I.P.

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:29 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
I had not seen your post.

I read a biography of Madame du Barry one year ago. Yes she did have royalist connections and made a trip to England just before she got arrested. Obviously this is unfortunate she made the decision to go back to France.

With regards to her behaviour while in prison, she is often blamed for turning her back on Duc de Brissac, her lover at the time -who really did love her a lot- in a letter she wrote while in jail. Yes, and on the road to the scaffold she kept whining, weeping and struggling. When she was about to be beheaded, she shrieked so loudly that it cast a chill on the usually enthusiastic mob. It is also said, though not substantiated that she exclaimed "One moment please, just one little moment !". Obviously, her behaviour should get anybody to wonder about how he/she would behave in such circumstances.

I have to admit I do like Du Barry a lot. Although a prostitute, she remained a keen Catholic and was notoriously kind-hearted and generous to the poors, even when she was eking out a living. She had failings : she was capricious and I do believe somewhat vulgar, as her taste for the notorious necklace proved it. But her behaviour during Louis XV's agony indicates that she was not devoid of courage. After all she did risk her life and beauty (her beauty being the only way for her to make a living) for that selfish old man, who could not care less.

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Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:31 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Ludy wrote:
I have to admit I do like Du Barry a lot. Although a prostitute, she remained a keen Catholic and was notoriously kind-hearted and generous to the poors, even when she was eking out a living. She had failings : she was capricious and I do believe somewhat vulgar, as her taste for the notorious necklace proved it. But her behaviour during Louis XV's agony indicates that she was not devoid of courage. After all she did risk her life and beauty (her beauty being the only way for her to make a living) for that selfish old man, who could not care less.


I've always been rather fond of her as well! A lot of the ill-feelings towards her never seemed to stand on their own merit; it is almost as though certain individuals feel obligated to dislike her because of her quarrel with Antoinette. Some, of course, act as pseudo-puritanicals and deride her for her dalliance with men without a ring on her finger but ignoring how dated that ideology is, in the context of du Barry's time there were few other options if she wanted to live so comfortable a life. She wasn't born into Versailles; she was one of the few who (and I use this word tentatively) worked her way in there. There was only one route and people deride her for taking it!

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Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:55 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
I also like Madame DuBarry. I've got two bio's on her, one by Joan Haslip and the other by Stanley Loomis. I find her quite an interesting woman and though she may have come across to some as "dumb" ....hence that dreadful portrayal in Sofia Coppola's movie.....I actually think she was pretty smart. She used her beauty to her maximum advantage, which of course caused the envy and jealousy of other women. So what if she was of low birth and if she had taken part in prostitution, she attracted the love of the King....and a lifestyle we'd all love to have lived. She was basically a very nice person and very charitable. I don't fault her at all for her behavior at her execution, she was desperate. It struck some emotion in the bloodthirsty crowd that witnessed it.


Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:26 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Oh gosh, the portrayal of du Barry in Coppola's film ... ... was, to put it kindly, ridiculous. Do any of you believe that she smuggled her jewels out of the country under the pretense that they were stolen? I personally believe that they were stolen, but I know a lot of peoples opinions differ on this. I personally like du Barry alot, and I don't think she was actually dumb at all, I definitely don't think she belched at the dinner table with the King and his guests as Coppola would have us believe.

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Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:25 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
I would agree she was not dumb. I think that, even if it is obvious that Louis was attracted to her for sexual reasons, he would not have gone so far as to introducing her as a favourite had she been blatantly stupid. He had already proven that he had a taste for educated women.

Although her background was relatively underprivileged, she was well brought up in a convent and had manners. And contrary to Marie-Antoinette as well, she was well-read and strove to hone her intellect by frequenting the intelligentsia of her time. She notably met Voltaire at least one one occasion. With respect to intelligence, I do think the Pompadour was still head and shoulders above her, but the Du Barry was pretty cultivated nontheless.

Yes and she was very popular in Louveciennes where she settled down because of her kind-heartedness.

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Last edited by Ludy on Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:41 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Lilly wrote:
I don't fault her at all for her behavior at her execution, she was desperate. It struck some emotion in the bloodthirsty crowd that witnessed it.


Well yes, but it is very unfortunate she stooped to writing that letter about Brissac...

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Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:42 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Ludy - I don't remember this letter......she did write something in her appeal about her relationship with Brissac being forced but that's all I can remember....
Who did she write to and what did she say?


Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:09 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Lilly wrote:
Ludy - I don't remember this letter......she did write something in her appeal about her relationship with Brissac being forced but that's all I can remember....
Who did she write to and what did she say?


Well actually you pretty much summed it up... :oops:

I was surprised though, because in her young age she showed courage enough in face of the very real risk of being disfigured by the smallpox. How could she stooped to writing to the revolutionnary tribunal such a mortifying letter, in spite of the fact that it was pretty obvious it would not change the outcome in anyway ? She was in her fifties, at that time, given the low life expectency, most people would be contemplating death anyway...

I guess De Gaulle was right, for some people, old age really is a shipwreck.

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Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:45 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
I think she just panicked, I mean Brissac was already dead and maybe she felt that he would have wanted her to renounce their relationship if it meant she could save her own life? I don't know, and I guess we never will now, but I think that du Barry just loved life. Truly loved it you know? She wasn't a proud martyr like Marie Antoinette was, she didn't want to die (ofcourse neither did Marie but she accepted her fate and faced it with courage). Mme du Barry was willing to do anything to prevent her death, she got a little hysterical and according to Joan Haslip's biography, she really did think that the letter+her identification of the places she had hidden her wealth would buy her survival.

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Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:06 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
jjeannebecu wrote:
I think she just panicked, I mean Brissac was already dead and maybe she felt that he would have wanted her to renounce their relationship if it meant she could save her own life? I don't know, and I guess we never will now, but I think that du Barry just loved life. Truly loved it you know? She wasn't a proud martyr like Marie Antoinette was, she didn't want to die (ofcourse neither did Marie but she accepted her fate and faced it with courage). Mme du Barry was willing to do anything to prevent her death, she got a little hysterical and according to Joan Haslip's biography, she really did think that the letter+her identification of the places she had hidden her wealth would buy her survival.


Yes you are right.

But there was something that was pointed out on the French forum : she did risk her life once, when Louis XV was dying. She accepted to stay in his bedroom, although she had never got the smallpox (unlike Marie-Antoinette by the way, who was not yearning to sit by the agonizing King's side nevertheless) nor had she been inoculated. At that point she could have lost everything, her life or her career had she been disfigured.
I remember reading that the King even stroked her breast. Bleargh...

Anyway, what would I have done on the scaffold ? I am not sure I would have been a Marie-Antoinette.

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Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:17 am
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Yes indeed, her behavior towards the King at his deathbed was very admirable, I think she did it because although I don't personally believe she ever was in love with the King (atleast not like she loved Brissac) she did love him very much. He had made her, she owed everything she had to him, and he made her feel like a Queen. She was a very loving and romantic soul, and she most likely didn't want the man who had given her everything and made her so happy to die alone and in pain. She wasn't as shallow as everyone would like to think!

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Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:27 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Ludy wrote:
Lilly wrote:
Ludy - I don't remember this letter......she did write something in her appeal about her relationship with Brissac being forced but that's all I can remember....
Who did she write to and what did she say?


Well actually you pretty much summed it up... :oops:

I was surprised though, because in her young age she showed courage enough in face of the very real risk of being disfigured by the smallpox. How could she stooped to writing to the revolutionnary tribunal such a mortifying letter, in spite of the fact that it was pretty obvious it would not change the outcome in anyway ? She was in her fifties, at that time, given the low life expectency, most people would be contemplating death anyway...

I guess De Gaulle was right, for some people, old age really is a shipwreck.


I'll need to look into it a little closer, but I think that Stanley Loomis explained somewhat that when Madme DuBarry used the word "forced" ....it was mistakenly used. She initially thought that she could save herself. She was cooperative and revealed anything she thought would save her. It was very cruel that the Revolutionaries played this little game with her. After her revelations, they hauled her straight to the waiting tumbril....whereas she became hysterical at the realization of what was about to happen. She was guillotined first upon arrival at the Place de la Revolution because she was hysterical. The psychopath George Grieve was there every step of the way to witness his prey's behavior. He bragged later that he had never laughed so hard in his life as he did to see Madame DuBarry executed. Chilling.


Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:46 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Memoirs of the Courts of Europe - Madame DuBarry
Pages 263-64

Madame BuBarry’s letter to Fouquier-Tinville

“Citizen Public Prosecutor, - I hope that thou, in the impartial examination of this unhappy affair that Grieve and his confederates have bought against me, wilt see that I am the victim of a plot to ruin me.
I never emigrated and I never intended to.
The use that I made of two hundred thousand livres that dE’scourre placed for me with the Citizen Rohan should prove this to the most prejudiced eyes. I never furnished money to the émigrés, and I never carried on any criminal correspondence with them; and if circumstances compelled me to see, either in London or in France, courtiers or persons who were not in sympathy with the Revolution, I hope Citizen Public Prosecutor, that thou wilt, in the justice and equity of thine heart, take into consideration the circumstances in which I found myself, and my known and forced liaison with the Citizen Brissac, whose correspondence is before thine eyes.
I rely on thy justice: thou canst rely on the eternal gratitude of thy consitoyenne.”

According to this book, Fouquier-Tinville “threw her appeal unread into a portfolio in which he kept the letters and papers he did not wish to attend to………and hurried on the trial.”

Also, it was a footnote here that I was remembering……”It is not clear what Madame DuBarry meant by her forced liaison with Brissac, and M. Vatel is of the opinion that, in her hurry and agitation, she must have omitted several words.”


Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:55 pm
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Post Re: Madame Du Barry's Execution
Lilly wrote:
Ludy wrote:
Lilly wrote:
Ludy - I don't remember this letter......she did write something in her appeal about her relationship with Brissac being forced but that's all I can remember....
Who did she write to and what did she say?


Well actually you pretty much summed it up... :oops:

I was surprised though, because in her young age she showed courage enough in face of the very real risk of being disfigured by the smallpox. How could she stooped to writing to the revolutionnary tribunal such a mortifying letter, in spite of the fact that it was pretty obvious it would not change the outcome in anyway ? She was in her fifties, at that time, given the low life expectency, most people would be contemplating death anyway...

I guess De Gaulle was right, for some people, old age really is a shipwreck.


The psychopath George Grieve was there every step of the way to witness his prey's behavior. He bragged later that he had never laughed so hard in his life as he did to see Madame DuBarry executed. Chilling.


I didn't know that. He truly was a psychopath... It gave me gooseflesh to read about him.

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Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:05 pm
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