Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fact or Fiction? The French Revolution

Donating jewelry for the cause.
While researching the French Revolution for my historical romance, Hostage to Fortune, I discovered something interesting that you may have come across. It might be more myth than fact, but nevertheless fascinating. In 1793, the Dauphin Louis-Charles became king in the eyes of the Royalists. After he was locked up in the Tower, did he survive? Lady Atkyns, a Drury Lane actress and a close friend of Marie Antoinette tried first to rescue the queen, but when that lady refused to leave her children, she made a promise to save the dauphin, which she tried desperately to keep. Her attempt to abduct Louis-Charles from the Tower seems to have failed. But there is speculation that a mute boy was substitued for the young king, after he was removed and either murdered or allowed to live in obsurity with a peasant family. The mute boy was then held for the ten years he lived, hidden from the world. In 1821 a man appeared in London declaring he was the dauphin. This claim was summarily dismissed. In fact, there were forty candidates who came forward to declare themselves Louis-Charles, under the Restoration. The most important of these pretenders were Karl Wilhelm Naundorff and the comte de Richemont. Naundorff's story rested on a series of complicated intrigues. According to him Barras determined to save the dauphin in order to please Josephine Beauharnais, the future empress, having conceived the idea of using the dauphin's existence as a means of dominating the comte de Provence in the event of a restoration. In this version, the dauphin was concealed in the fourth storey of the Tower, a wooden figure being substituted for him. Great fodder for a novel, and of course, I've used it.
For those interested, here's a link:


Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating insight, Maggie. These 'pretenders' are always intriguing.

Maggi Andersen said...

I love a good mystery! Thanks Lindsay.

Curling up by the Fire said...

I have read these about these 'myths' before and find them absolutely fascinating. Who knows if there's some truth to the rumours or not but it does make for some interesting literature.

Renbaudus said...

This has ever been a mystery in French History, what really happened to the Dauphin ?

There is no irrefutable proof of his death while in prison, so it opened a lot of doors for novels. :)

Along the same line, there is a great saga from French writer Maurice Druon "Les rois maudits" (The Accursed Kings) where the heir of the throne is substituted with a peasant infant. If you are interested, here is the link on wikipedia :

Maggi Andersen said...

Yes, I've used this in my current wip, fascinating! Thanks for the post. Maggi