Category Archives: French Revolution

Beauty and the Beast pic

Learning You Can Change: My Experience Watching A Tale As Old As Time

Bravo! Magnifique!

You could hear a pin drop when the movie ended. Even the baby by me stopped crying. The brief silence was then followed with the theatre bursting in applause.

But let’ back up. Let me restart the song, “Evermore,” on YouTube. Here goes.

Hours before…

It was past three and I knew I should get going. I was home alone and a little nervous. Yep. I went by myself but had the little butterflies you get before a date. (Let’s just channel Gaston to make me feel better–of course anyone would get giddy if they went on a date with me!)

But I wasn’t necessarily alone. My parents were already watching Beauty and the Beast in California. My sister and sister-in-law and perhaps my brother, were going to see it later in Texas. So we were all seeing Beauty and the Beast at least a half hour together.

So, maybe twenty minutes in, I got this text from my Mom:
“Hope you are enjoying the show! It is so fun! Love, Mom.”

(Don’t worry. I silenced my phone and would reply after.)

So my mom was so there. I could so feel her presence. When a new sort-of-favorite character was pointed out by Gaston, I gasped and imagined myself turning to her and my sister. We would be saying things like. “It’s her.” “Yes! Yes!” “It’s the—” Then there would be a “Shhh!”

Wait, have to restart “Evermore.” (Sorry Josh Groban; I’m listening to Dan Stevens. I just want stay close to the movie. =)

I know the exact moments I would have interacted with them. Then further in the movie, I got a text from my Dad. I saw it had a picture on it. After the movie, I opened the text that was forward to me and my sisters and saw that it was a picture of my parents dressed in their green shirts holding hands in front of The Beauty and the Beast movie poster.

Then I had the thought.

This is what the movie’s about.

Just pure love and true kindness.

One of my favorite moments was when the um, beggar woman, took care of Maurice. The whole movie was super, but amidst the special effects and extravagance, the tender moments like those stood out to me.

So now let’s go back to the moment the movie was over. Well, it wasn’t really over; the credits were beautiful. The elderly gentleman next to me told his wife, “Boy they have a lot of people working on these movies.”

This couple, maybe six other people, and myself stayed for the entire credits. But I felt like I was almost (almost) with my parents who also most likely stayed through the credits too.( Oh, yeah, at the very beginning of the movie, the man was closing his eyes, and his wife was smiling at the screen, wide-eyed, I thought, This is so like my family.)

So, of course I recommend it! Even the Texas crew loved it. I agree with my sister-in-law that it was better than expected. Absolutely loved it!

The whole experience was refreshing. Learning you were wrong definitely applies to me here.

Okay, one more time listening to “Evermore.”

Or maybe one hundred.

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Princess Lamballe: Dealing With Moral and Political Clashes

Early morning on  inauguration day. I  was browsing Facebook and came across some fantastic links about peace and coming together. Other people posted how they hate, hate everything about the new leadership. I think it’s understandable. It’s hard to know exactly what to do. How do we support our government without compromising our own beliefs?

Then a name came to mind.

Lamballe.

Princess Marie Louise of Savoy, also known as the “princess de Lamballe”, was a cousin-in-law and good friend to Marie-Antoinette. (For this post I will refer to princesse de Lamballe as Princess Lamballe.)

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Princess Lamballe was an intellectual, open to new ideas, but was opinionated and a staunch Bourbon royal family supporter. She even went to England in hopes of gathering supporters for the French royal family. She went back to France and was in the Queen’s service till she was separated from the royal family.

Princess Lamballe was brought to trial September 3, 1792 where she was asked to make a promise to liberty and denounce the King, Queen, and Monarchy.

This is a what-would-you-do moment. What could you do—would you disown yourself, people you love, your own belief system or give in to something you don’t believe in? What would keep peace?

I suspect Princess Lamballe had a feeling a moment like this would come.

She agreed to make an oath to Liberty and Equality but would not denounce the King, Queen, and monarchy. Her trial ended with the words, “emmenez madame,” which means, “take madame away.” She was then taken out to the street where she was tortured and murdered. When I found out about this particular murder in history, I was of course horrified. Just replace some nouns dropped in her trial, and you see how relevant her trial is to today.

I hope there won’t be violence no matter how much we disagree. I pray for peace and that I can act peacefully. I’ll still fight for what I believe in. I admit I’m still unsure how. That’s why I see Princess Lamballe, who lived in the eighteenth century, as a new kind of hero. I’m beginning to recognize these kinds of heroes more. They have such diverse beliefs than the new leadership yet show respect to the government and try to be unified. It’s fortunate we have such great examples living in these times because it’s tough. It’s easier said than done.

Sources and Further Readings:
“Elders Oaks, Holland counsel young adults regarding political divisions and life’s changes.” Deseret News. Accessed January 21, 2017
“The Death of the Princesse de Lamballe”  MadameGuillotine.org. Accessed January 21, 2017.
“Princess Marie Louise of Savoy”  Wikipedia. org. Accessed January 21, 2016

Images:
Portrait of the Princess of Lamballe by Anton Hickel, 1788.
Portrait of Madame de Lamballe by Louis-Edouard Rioult .

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The Princess, the King, and the Tyrant

It’s strange to start out with the moral at the beginning of the story, but that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you. No, Maximilien Robespierre will tell you:

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Maximilien Robespierre was a well-spoken leader who led with terror.

 

“Citizens, take warning; you are being fooled by false notions.”

Those words are taken from an address to justify the execution of Louis XVI.

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King Louis XVI of France wanted peace.

It also sums up what others would feel toward Robespierre as time went on. Basically, it leads to the question: What is truth?

Maximilien Robespierre had pushed for Louis XVI’s execution but wasn’t for Princess Elisabeth’s, the King’s sister.

44Elisabeth Viigee Le Brun-Madame_Elisabeth

Princess Elisabeth of France. The King’s youngest sibling.

Yet, she was executed May 10, 1794. And a couple months later, Robespierre would be executed.

The lives of the Princess, the King, and the Tyrant were connected way before the French Revolution.

Losses

An important place to start is the year of 1764. It was important to both the Robespierre and the Bourbon families.

In May, Maximilien Robespierre turned six, and the royal Bourbons welcomed a baby princess.

In July, Robespierre’s mother gave birth—to a stillborn son. She died soon after. Robespierre’s sister recalled in her memoirs this death changed him. He lost his childhood. In addition to that, his father left the family. The man who was supposed to be one of the most important  role models in a young boy’s life distanced himself from his children. I consider this to be Robespierre’s first major rejection.

The Bourbon children lost their parents to death within three years of Princess Elisabeth’s birth.

Successes

Despite losing parents young, Louis, Elisabeth, and Robespierre were all very intelligent and accomplished individuals. Just to mention some examples: Louis excelled in languages; Elisabeth in mathematics; Robespierre in rhetoric. All three wanted to be models of virtue. The Bourbon children took a religious approach while Robespierre leaned on secular philosophies.

Elisabeth carried a certain charm from her earliest days. Despite being a wild child, Elisabeth grew up to be lovely and known for her piety and wit. There were three proposed marriages, but in the end, she and her brother, now King, agreed that she would stay with the family.

Sometime early in Louis’ reign, he and his wife stopped by the school Robespierre attended. In fact, Robespierre was handpicked to give a speech in Latin at the special ceremony for the King and Queen. It turned out to be a dismal day. It was rainy, the monarchs were running late, and when they did arrive, they stayed in their carriage for the speech and ceremony. They left promptly after the ceremony. Robespierre had just been rejected by high society.

Life’s not fair! Right, Robespierre?

But Robespierre was a bright student and would eventually move up his way into politics after completing school. He started on a small scale during the king’s early reign. Louis and Marie-Antoinette had more of a positive image then.

To someone like Robespierre, it probably seemed as if the King had everything. Besides not agreeing with the King’s politics, I think there were other things that Robespierre  would find bothersome about the King. Louis XVI had obtained power through family deaths. He had a beautiful family, and he had a live sibling born in 1764. The King got a free pass while Robespierre slaved away to get to the top.

Annoying Sister

Elisabeth annoyed her sister-in-law at times. She could surprise her brother. But there was never any doubt that these individuals cared for one another, and that the King and Queen would be eternally grateful to Elisabeth for staying with the family to the very end.

Elisabeth felt she was following God’s plan for her. She was heaven sent in the eyes of Louis and his family.

She was certainly a type of nuisance for Robespierre. If only she had escaped like some of her other family members, he wouldn’t have been caught in a desperate situation.  He fought for her at her trial. But he lost. He just wanted her to be exiled, not guillotined.

People marveled at her poise during her trial and execution.

She had just turned thirty the week before she was executed in May 1794.

Fooled by False Notions

More and more people considered themselves “fooled by false notions.” The new government had stressed equality and virtue— so why were so many being punished and put to death?

Robespierre and his comrades became distrustful of one another. They too felt they had been fooled. They weren’t as loyal as they professed they would be. He had helped to reform this new society, and now he and former allies were betraying each other. This was  Robespierre’s third and final rejection.

Robespierre was executed in July 1794. Had his stillborn brother lived, he would have turned thirty a few weeks before—the same age as Elisabeth, who had met her death in her birthday month of May for being loyal to family. An eerie coincidence.

While I don’t accept that Robespierre is scapegoat of history, I do feel sorry for him. He had all these ambitions and felt that to fulfill them, he needed to take away life. In the end, the curse he set on so many rebounded on him.

 

Sources:

Maxwell-Scott Mary Moniac. Madame Elizabeth de France, 1764-1794.

Robespierre, Charlotte. Charlotte Robespierre’s Memoirs: Part 1.By   http://revolution-fr.livejournal.com/2370.html  accessed August 16, 2016.

Ten Brink, Jan. Robespierre and the Red Terror. 1899.

Trail and Execution (French): de Beauchesne, Alicide-Hyacint

Images:
Princess Elisabeth of France by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (Public domain in U.S.) 1782

Portrait of Louis XVI by Antoine-Francois Callet. 1788 (Public Domain in U.S.)

Portrait of Maximilien Robespierre. 1790 (Public Domain in U.S.)

 

 

 

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Review of Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy by Elena Maria Vidal left me a lot to think about. 

Elena Maria Vidal is a fantastic writer and researcher. She paints a realistic portrait of Marie-Antoinette with facts to back all of it up. It’s very exciting. This book is spiritual, adventurous, and sweet.

I was especially surprised to learn about two specific pieces of unique artwork. It was fun to find out that Louis XVI kept a certain, flirty picture of Marie-Antoinette on his desk in which she’s dressed like a goddess holding a vase with his profile on it. The other one was a tearjerker sketch of Marie-Antoinette entering heaven to her welcoming husband and her two children who died before her.

One of the most memorable scenes comes from a memoir of a servant who witnessed Louis XVI coming into Marie-Antoinette’s room. While he’s being comforted by his wife, she commands the servant to leave.

From other examples, it’s obvious he suffered from depression, but with all the exterior events and past memories, who could blame him? And shouldn’t Marie-Antoinette get the most dedicated wife award? She stuck with him despite the multiple times he wanted her and their children to go to safety.

The spouses gave each other strength and were concerned parents. After their deaths, their daughter was provided for thanks to Louis’ emergency fund and Marie-Antoinette’s diamonds that had been sneaked out of France.

Thank you, Ms. Vidal, for providing so much information that makes me want to learn more!

 

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Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI: A Fairly Odd or Fairly Normal Couple?

Thank heavens Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI married!

The marriage of Louis and Marie-Antoinette would affect brought light to future generations.

The marriage of Louis and Marie-Antoinette would bring hope to future generations.

Unfortunately, Louis inherited the last king’s heavy debts. His grandpa and great-grandpa also left the royal court in a disgusting state. It was embarrassing. Fortunately, he had a good companion by him. He was fifteen when he married fourteen-year-old Marie-Antoinette. It was good for the people and for them.

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For The People

American Power Couple

Marie-Antoinette and Louis were not Americans, but let’s face it–none of Americans’ founders were technically born United States citizens.

Louis provided supplies and military forces for the needy Americans and Marie-Antoinette was supportive and involved. I include the power couple among the founders of the United States. When I look at the list of American founders, I am embarrassed with the loose morals of some of them. I’m proud that Louis and Marie-Antoinette held on to their high standards. In a way, they remind me of Abigail and John Adams in the fact that they were  also a power couple that helped America become great.

I believe the marriage of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI was literally a match made in heaven. I’m very serious, and we should sincerely thank heaven for their marriage. Americans would not be enjoying freedom–or perhaps not be Americans at all–if it had not been for Marie-Antoinette and Louis.

The People’s Champions

You can say that the Queen and King were interested in freedom in general. He played tug-a-war with nobility. He wanted them to pay higher taxes to benefit the poor. Some of Marie-Antoinette’s stand out projects included a safe haven for unwed mothers and educating the less fortunate children with her own. The King and Queen were generous with their own personal funds.  Marie-Antoinette and Louis were very aware of France’s needs. They were true Christians who practiced what they preached.

rose-243630_960_720For Them

In the Beginning

They had a beautiful relationship. At first there was none–they were strangers. Plus, like many other in the French royal court, Louis was leery about an Austrian becoming queen of France someday. But gradually over time, they established a friendship, and eventually it went beyond that.

It’s mystified the past and present why Marie-Antoinette and Louis didn’t consummate the marriage right away. Some have thought of legit reasons and some are downright disrespectful and crude.

Whatever it was, here’s a simple fact:
Marie-Antoinette was fourteen and Louis was fifteen years old when they got married.

My conclusion:
Come on! They were much too young!

Forget royal expectations of starting a family right away. Whether or not they were attracted to another, both were still getting to know their own bodies.  I think it’s very probable that it wouldn’t have felt natural for these two individuals at this age. It would have been premature. Meanwhile they were developing a friendship.

Dauphin Louis Auguste in 1769. A year later, he would marry "the Austrian." He would associate that stigma with her the first part of their marriage.

Aw…Dauphin Louis Auguste in 1769. A year later, he would marry Marie-Antoinette. Some negatively used “the Austrian” to describe her.

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King Louis XVI at age 21 around 1776. Tall and well-built, he surely  knew by now that Austria wasn’t that bad.

I think the timing of the intervention by the Emperor of Austria, Marie-Antoinette’s brother, was perfect.

By now–seven years after their wedding– the couple was more ready for his frank talk. The couple soon acted like newlyweds and started a family the next year.

Marie-Antoinette was twenty-three and Louis was twenty-four years old when their first child was born. Much more natural.

In short and in order they were strangers, then friends, and then lovers.

Marie-Antoinette took an interest in hunting, one of her husband's favorite activities. Here she is looking adorable in hunting clothes at 16.

Marie-Antoinette took an interest in hunting, one of her husband’s favorite activities. Here she is looking adorable in hunting clothes at 16.

 

Here Marie-Antoinette is painted in her 1778 hunting garb. She's be a mother by the end of the year.

Here Marie-Antoinette is painted in her 1778 hunting garb. She would be a mother by the end of the year.

Throughout the Marriage

I believe they were faithful to another. Believe it or not, sensational storytellers, couples don’t have to be mushy to love each other. In the royal couple’s jobs and in child-rearing, they showed support one toward another.

I’m amazed the couple stuck by each other despite terrible and bogus rumors constantly surrounding them. Their love was shown through respect. That example of loyalty extended to their children and Louis’ sister. It reminds me of what Jeffrey R. Holland said, “The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.” That’s what Marie-Antoinette and Louis’ union and legacy are actually about.

Families Are Forever

The Bourbons’  writings in prison are touching and revealing of their deepest beliefs. Marie-Antoinette’s last letter is written to her sister-in-law, Elisabeth, and it is heart wrenching, but also full of hope. In regards to her late husband, she writes:

“I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments.”

There’s tremendous comfort in Marie-Antoinette’s belief of being reunited with loved ones and family. She continues, “Where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one’s own family?”

Marie-Antoinette and Louis’ daughter, Marie-Therese, wrote her thoughts on the walls of the Temple prison, and you can feel her emotion and know she believes that she’s being watched over. The following tells how she feels about the afterlife, her parents’, and God:

“Live, my good mother! whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings. O my father! watch over me from heaven above, O my God, forgive those who made my parents suffer!”

Marie-Antoinette and Louis believed and also instructed their children to forgive. One could argue the couple wasn’t always on the same page but they were always in the same book in the sense they shared the same faith and spiritual beliefs as well as doing all they could to better children and country.

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Fitting In

It’s hard to categorize the couple into one group. They weren’t your typical American patriots and they didn’t agree with all the royals’ lifestyles either. In that way they are odd. But you chip away their positions, though, and you’ll find they’re not so weird.

It’s time accept Marie-Antoinette and Louis were a good fit for each other, and they were a a very normal couple.

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Sources:

Holland, Jeffrey R. “The First Great Commandment.” Www.lds.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Aug. 2016. <https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-first-great-commandment?lang=eng>.

“Louis XVI of France” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 7 Aug 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

 

“Marie Antoinette.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

“Marie-Therese” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 12 July 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

Vidal, Elena Maria. “Last Letter of Marie-Antoinette.” Tea at Trianon. N.p., 26 May 2007. Web. 9 Aug. 2016. <http%3A%2F%2Fteaattrianon.blogspot.com%2F2007%2F05%2Flast-letter-of-marie-antoinette.html>.

 

 

Images:
Featured image: Coronations commemorative medallions  of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Pd-Old.

Engraving of the wedding of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette. {{PD-1923}}

Portrait of Louis XVI of France by Joseph Duplessis. 1776.{{PD-1923}}

Picture of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette talking to her brother  by Joseph Hauzinger.

Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, the later Queen Marie Antoinette of France, at the age of 16 years by Joseph Kreutzinger, 1771.  {{PD-1923}}

Queen Marie Antoinette of France, 1778 either by Antoine Vestier or Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty.  {{PD-1923}}

 

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What Changed My Mind About Marie Antoinette

I haven’t always liked Marie Antoinette. I still don’t. I admire her.
If you asked me eight years ago how I felt about the queen, I would say she’s horrible. I read a book about it. Yet also in the library was a book about the summer she and Louis fell in love and also how sickening rumors tore down her image. I had mixed feelings about Marie Antoinette. Information about her is so contradictory and confusing.
Mothers Day two years ago I was asked to give a talk in church. I was asked to include mothers–or mother type figures–in the talk. That was easy. Princess Elisabeth, the sister of Louis XVI. She had no children but helped her niece, Marie-Thérèse, become a survivor during the French Revolution. I had the Bourbon family fresh on my mind because I just read Susan Nagel’s book, Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter.
The book left me plenty to think about. I was shocked by Marie Antoinette. Just how good of a mother, wife, and sister-in-law she was. I was touched when I read about a scene where Marie Antoinette counsels her daughter on how to present herself to the king with reverence and respect.
But it was the summer of 2014–my “Soul Searching Summer”–is when I officially knew I loved Marie Antoinette and that she’s a good role model.
I read a lot  on Elena Maria Vidal’s website Tea at Trianon –a site that presents straight facts that prove Marie Antoinette is a totally different from media portrayals and sensational biographies. My heart was softened when I read about other people’s memories of her and laughed at her interactions with Princess Elisabeth.
I came to love Marie Antoinette by learning about how she interacted with people. I’ve prayed and pondered about it. Marie Antoinette was truly good.
Image:
Queen Marie Antoinette of France and two of her Children Walking in The Park of Trianon  by Adolph-Ulrich Wertmüller
Marie-Antoinette with her children by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

Marie-Antoinette: The Maligned Queen

I wrote how impressed I was with how Philippa Langley headed the operation to find Richard III’s grave.

Richard III. A very complex man. Shakespeare brought us the image of a murderous hunchback with a withered arm which caused the king to be maligned.

Is there a “maligned queen” in history?

Hollywood and sensational biographers keep bringing an image of an irresponsible  Marie-Antoinette only caring about looks, the most expensive luxuries in life, and her dashing lovers. And we keep falling for it.

Even I resisted the idea to give her her own post. Everyone knows who Marie-Antoinette is, so why bother? But as I researched her sister-in-law and daughter I was led to a different side of the queen who NEVER said “Let them eat cake.” Very few actually know the real Marie-Antoinette.

One of my favorite websites about strong woman is Elena Maria Vidal’s website Tea at Trianon.  Anyone truly interested in Marie- Antoinette needs to go there. Good layout, pictures, and FACTS about Marie-Antoinette. Vidal backs up her articles with credible sources and gives references where we can learn more. I like how she discusses when certain myths appeared, who made them popular, and their motives. Her article  “Marie Antoinette: A Reputation in Shreds” is a must-read for every student who studies the French Revolution era and every history teacher—including college professors.

Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family Varennes, 1791

Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family Varennes, 1791

Before I post about the three wise women of Christmas, I knew I had to post about Marie-Antoinette. She kept coming to my mind because she was a person who understood the true meaning of Christmas. I thought how she encouraged her children to give away their Christmas presents. How she didn’t leave her husband, and how she strived to keep the family together to the point of her hair actually turning white in prison.

Marie-Antoinette is one of the women I respect most in history.

Marie-Antoinette in the Temple

Marie-Antoinette in the Temple

 

Paintings:
Marie-Antoinette with Her Children by Élisabeth Vigée-LebrunVarennes, 21st June 1791, XIX sec. painting
Marie Antoinette in The Temple, XIX sec. painting

Charlotte Corday

Jael vs. Charlotte Corday: History’s Heroines or Villainesses?

The Bible’s Jael and French Revolution’s Charlotte Corday committing murder has to gone down with some of the most controversial moves in history.  It’s hard to say if they did the right thing . To understand why they did what they did, we need to look at the overall picture.

Jael

"Jael" by Spillberg

“Jael” by Spillberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barak wanted Deborah to go with him and his troops to face Canaanite army led by Sisera. Deborah agreed and told him, “The Lord shall sell Sisera in the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).

When Jael saw Siseria approaching, she acted as a friendly hostess. She welcomed him in her tent, gave him milk and blanket, and made sure he’s not disturbed. Then she “took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died” (Judges 4:21).

Tissot_Jael_Smote_Sisera,_and_Slew_Him

“Jael Smote Sisera and Slew Him” by Tissot

"Jael Shows to Barak Sisera Lying Dead" by Tissot

“Jael Shows to Barak Sisera Lying Dead” by Tissot

She went out to meet Barak who was no doubt graetful. Thanks to Jael, Israel gained momentum in fighting Canaan.  “God subdued on that day Jabin king of Canaan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan” (Judges 4:23-24).

What a wonderful and victorious ending. She killed a key captain making way for Israel to eventually kill the king.

Deborah praised Jael: “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent” (Judges 5:2)

"Deborah Praises Jael" by Gustave Dores

“Deborah Praises Jael” by Gustave Dores

 

Charlotte Corday

Charlotte Corday

“Charlotte Corday” From Evert A. Duykinck’s “A Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America, with Biographies.”

 

During the French Revolution, a twenty-four-year old gave herself a mission. She planned to kill Jean-Paul Marat.

Charlotte Corday lived in in Normandy. She sympathized with the Girondists, a political group moderates—who were not for an absolute monarchy but didn’t like where the revolution was going. She, like other Girondists, were disgusted with the politics of the Jacobins, members of a radical political club, who used terror and violence to wipe out their opponents in the Reign of Terror such as the nobles and Girondists. Jean-Paul Marat, propaganda journalist and one of the Jacobin leaders, played a big role in that and most notably in the mass killings in Paris in 1792 which became known as the September Massacres. That event and the threat of civil war motivated Charlotte to take action and take out such a threat.

Going for the Most Venerable Leader

Without telling her plans to anyone, Charlotte traveled from Normandy to Paris with the intent to kill Marat. As mentioned before, Marat was a leader of the Jacobins, but he wasn’t the head leader.  Maximillian de Robespierre led the Reign of Terror. It’s been argued if she had to kill someone, it should have been Robespierre. That would have been like going for a king which actually would have made her mission impossible. Like Jael, Charlotte was going to wipe out a captain-figure not a type of king.

You could say both Charlotte and Jael used unorthodox weapons that usually served for every day use. Jael used a hammer and stake, and Charlotte used a six-inch blade kitchen knife she bought when she got to Paris .

Charlotte planned to kill Marat in front of the National Convention.  Due to illnesses, he was unable to make public appearances. He had developed a skin disorder probably from hiding in sewers. Charlotte found out he was staying with his wife Simone.  The first two times Charlotte went to the apartment, Simone turned her away. Charlotte claimed to have a list of Girondists that were plotting an uprising. On her third attempt, Marat wanted to speak with her.

Charlotte Corday et Marat by Jules Aviat 1880

Charlotte Corday et Marat by Jules Aviat 1880

L'Assassinat de Marat by Jean-Joseph Weerts

L’Assassinat de Marat by Jean-Joseph Weerts

Marat’s skin condition was so serious he did his work from the bathtub. As he wrote down the names, he was unaware that he was in such a vulnerable state. Charlotte stabbed him in the chest. He yelled to Simonne, and then he died. This was followed by a huge uproar and the arrest of Charlotte Corday on July 13, 1793.

Triumph?

Charlotte didn’t meet the same triumph as Jael. When Charlotte was tried, she was asked why she killed Marat.  She said she did it to save thousands. This answer had reflected Robespierre’s reaction to executing Louis XVI. Four days after killing Marat, Charlotte’s head went on the scaffold.

Did Charlotte Corday fail in her mission? It’s hard to say. She didn’t get the immediate praise Jael got for killing, but she made an immediate impact. One witness at her execution named Pierre Notelet said, “Her beautiful face was so calm, that one would have said she was a statue. Behind her, young girls held each other’s hands as they danced. For eight days I was in love with Charlotte Corday.”

"Charlotte Corday" by Jean-Jacques Hauer. This portrait was done in prison at her request.

“Charlotte Corday” by Jean-Jacques Hauer. This portrait was done in prison at her request.

Adam Lux, another witness, was so impressed with Charlotte Corday, he published pamphlets that deemed Charlotte’s actions justified and for freedom. He was also executed. I believe this shows that people got thinking who the actual enemy of was. It wasn’t pro-monarchs or true republicans. Those in power during the Reign of Terror didn’t have the French citizens’ best interests in mind. They were dictators who used sources, like the press, to deceive and threaten the people. There were those like Charlotte Corday who called them out.  A year after Charlotte’s death, those who corrupted the government also had a date with Madame Guillotine, including Robespierre.

Charlotte Corday went on to influence others with her patriotic zeal. Writer Alphonse de Lamartine nicknamed her the “angel of assassination” in his 1847 book Histoire des Girondins.

In 1860, France was on the road to a republic that Charlotte had desired. The Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 painting portraying Marat as a martyr that the Jacobins used as propaganda was literally painted at a different angle. In Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudr’s 1860 painting, Corday is portrayed as the heroine.

640px-Death_of_Marat_by_Jacques-Louis David

“Death of Marat” 1793by Jaques-Louis David. Here Marat is portrayed as martyr.

 

640px-Charlotte_Corday by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry (2)

“Charlotte Codray” 1860 by Paul-Jaques-Aime Badry. Now, Charlotte is seen as the hero.

 

The Verdict

Did Jael do the right thing? Was Charlotte’s act justifiable?
I have studied the biblical text more and the Reign of Terror closer in order to come to a verdict. I’ve also considered the circumstances of war in their cases. I will not be a judge in the final judgement, but I’ve made my personal conclusions,
Jael: By killing the captain of the opposing army, Israel was able to win the battle and the war. She protected a nation by weakening the enemy. Verdict: Not guilty. Heroine.
Charlotte: Murdering a journalist responsible for massacres. It looked like she lost the battle, but her sacrifice was a necessary loss to win the war in finding freedom. She identified France’s true enemies. Verdict: Not guilty. Heroine.

Do you agree with my verdicts?  The situations are in gray areas. I see these two women acting for their great good their country. One lived to see victorious results, and the other died before she could witness the enemies’ downfalls.

Helpful information from
The Bible
wikipedia.com
alstewart.com 

 Images from
http://madameguillotine.org.uk
http://commons.wikimedia.org/

477px-Heinrich_Friedrich_Füger_003 (2)

Poet Profile: Princess Marie-Therese of France

Marie-Therese did not like to think of the time she spent in the cell and would not like to be remembered for being a prisoner in it for so long. Hopefully, she wouldn’t mind being regarded as an example on how to deal with loneliness and painful circumstances.

In an earlier article, I wrote about her aunt Elisabeth helping her find ways to cope and what to do when she was completely alone. Her aunt advised her to keep quiet around guards, When Marie-Therese was alone and needed to voice her frustrations, she turned to writing. Writing was a means of survival. She called herself “the most unhappy creature in the world.” No matter how depressing her writings, writing kept her from going totally insane.

Reading Treasures: A Retreat for Everything Marie Antoinette  included a translation of some of Marie-Therese’s poetry in their post called  “I was your king’s daughter:the poetry of Marie Therese Charlotte in captivity” Her poem “I Was Your King’s Daughter” was found in a book kept by  family of Madeleine Bocquet-Chanterenne. The translation in English reads:

I was your king’s daughter
separated from all my family.
I languish in this sad jail
Alas! I say with good reason
Even though I am alone and sad
My jail would appear happy to me
If I was in this place with my brother.
To my mother, to the Conciergerie
I asked to be reunited
But as an answer, my jailers
Say: this has nothing to do with us.
Spread your blessings on her,
God! Open promptly your jail.
A short time ago, at night
I was sleeping peacefully in my bed.
I got suddenly woken up
By the enraged noise of my locks.
They were coming to my door, they were knocking.
I replied immediately: who is there?
I was asked to open up, I replied:
I am getting up and leaving my bed.
I was hoping that I would get out,
I was expecting to leave the tower.
I go to the door, I finally open it!
They come in with my jailer
I look at them, hoping they would ask me
to follow them and come.
But alas! They stare at me
And suddenly without saying a word, they go out with my jailer.
This poem makes me want to go back in time and say to the teenager that she’ll make it out alive. It was a horrible ordeal but she kept fighting.
This poem also shows it’s important for schools to let their students write poetry. I taught a little English class after school. There was so much material that needed to be covered, I didn’t think about poetry that much. After the last day (when the students actually wrote a poem), I regretted that I hadn’t incorporated  more poetry into the lessons.  Writing poetry wasn’t an academic requirement but I think it would have helped the children more with problems outside of school.
Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France (1778-1851) by Heinrich Fuger 
Elisabeth_Philippine_Marie_Helene_de_Bourbon_Labille-Guiard_1788

The Aunt Who Saved Her Niece : Princess Elisabeth of France

French Revolution. What comes to mind?
Madam Guillotine,  Marie Antoinette, and sink me–The Scarlet Pimpernal. The 1982 film adaption of the book made me laugh so hard. I was also in awe. Did such heroes exist?

There were those who smuggled nobles into other countries. The films shows that Marie-Antoinette and Louis’s son survived and was taken from their prison to a safer place.

Wrong.

The sole survivor was the king and queen’s daughter, Marie-Therese. who clung on to some hope that maybe her brother and mother who were taken away had survived.

I can’t believed I went on for years not knowing about her–or her aunt Elisabeth, the king’s sister.  Elisabeth made sacrifice after sacrifice for the royal family–refusing to marry or take other available routes that would take her out of the country. She endured violent attacks with them and even posed as the queen to buy her sister-in-law more time during one ambush. It’s little wonder that Marie-Antoinette and Louis counseled their children to listen to their aunt.

All too soon the royal family was taken to the Temple Tower. They endured unfair trials and living conditions grew worse.  the king was executed and little Louis was taken to a separate cell. Marie-Antoinette was taken away and also executed, but Elisabeth and Marie-Therese only knew the king’s fate. However, I believe Elisabeth knew her sister-in-law was dead and had a strong feeling her nephew was slowly dying. Marie-Therese had the best chance of surviving.

The Heroic Aunt

The heroic aunt. Elisabeth de France by Vigee-Lebrun.

 
When it was just Elisabeth and Marie-Therese in the cell, Elisabeth comforted her niece. She was an example of piety and
Marie-Therese later said much of her survival was due to prayer. Elisabeth showed and advised her niece on how to groom herself, keep the cell as clean as possible, and how to handle the guards. It was just a matter of time before Elisabeth was taken away and was prepared to die a martyr. Marie-Therese would not find out what happened to her aunt, mother, and brother till much later. The information that her aunt watched around twenty-five nobles executed before her and was purposely saved for last would be withheld.

Marie-Therese was eventually freed and taken to Vienna in 1795 for safety.

The sole survivor. Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France by Heinrich Furger.

The sole survivor. Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France by Heinrich Furger.

She would go on to help royal refugees and raise troops against Napoleon dubbed her the “only man in the family.” She worked hard to preserve the memory of her family. The following comment about her aunt needs to be remembered.”I feel I have her nature . . . [she] considered me and cared for me as her daughter, and I, I honored her as a second mother.”
I hope I have some of Princess Elisabeth in me. Her story sticks out to me. In times of tough decisions, I have thought of my growing niece and my desire to be a good example. The thought points me in the right direction. I love my nieces and nephew. I’m honored when my brothers and their wives let me watch over their kids. Princess Elisabeth is a wonderful role model.  Her story is inspiring because it can make us think of ways we can be more loving toward our families.