Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Paris after Waterloo



Because I wanted the British Embassy to appear in my novel, I had to do some research. I looked at the website, but also made contact with one of the secretaries there, Diane who was exceedingly helpful and mailed me a beautiful book showing the house.

Ambassadors to France since 1814
The Duke of Wellington 1814-1815
Sir Charles Stuart 1815-1824

The British ambassador's Residence in the rue du Faubourg St Honoré was bought by Duke of Wellington bought the building on behalf of George III in 1814. In 1803 the widow of the 5th Duke of Charost (guillotined) sold it to the beautiful Pauline Leclerc, Napoleon Bonaparte's favourite sister, then aged 22.



This Embassy is bang smack in the middle of Paris and just look at that garden. This is the opposite to those picture from Wednesday. This was French nobility — and of both kinds. The aristocracy and the revolutionary.

What was going on in Paris at the time?

I talked a bit about the army of occupation, but this was also a time of regrouping. I think one of the figures who fascinated me most was Talleyrand



Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord was a unique individual. Possessed of extreme self-confidence that some called arrogance, he became one of the most important diplomats in Europe during the late 18th and early 19th century. He was a Bishop who gave up the Church in favor of the Revolution. Talleyrand, through skill, cunning and plain luck, managed to survive the reign of Louis XVI, the revolution and reign of
terror, the Directory, the rule of Napoleon, and the reigns of both Louis XVIII and Louis Philippe. He was incredibly skilled on France's behalf at the Congress of Vienna.

Even though Napoleon was gone, banished to St Helena, the French people still took opposite political sides calling themselves Bonapartists and Royalists. One example of this was a fight over a play called Germanicus in 1817 written by ex Bonapartist. Half-pay Bonapartist officers, and royalist gardes du corps and officers of the Garde Royale seized the opportunity. They identified each other - royalists wore black waistcoats and white ties, Bonapartists white waistcoats and black ties. Both sides carried long sticks weighted with lead at one end and engage in a battle at the theater. Duc de Berri, the King’s nephew, Richelieu, Decazes and Wellington were present at the melee. Marshal Victor, Duc de Bellune took command his soldiers from his box, and restored order.

The next day gardes du corps and officers of Garde Royale, with large white ribbons in their button holes and half-pay Napoleonic officers wearing bunches of violets and the cross of the Legion d’Honneur in theirs, walked round the Tuileries garden and the Palais Royal exchanging threats and insults in some cases snatching each other’s flowers or issuing challenges to duels. After that, guns and sticks were banned from the theatre.

I looked for some pictures that might be of interest for this last tidbit, to no avail. But I hope you enjoyed the story.

Happy Rambles.