The Ruin of a Princess

The Ruin of a Princess - Katharine Prescott Wormeley This book, a collection of letters, memoirs and other accounts of the Revolution and the imprisonment of Louis XVI and his family is almost a palimpsest. For instance, in Marie-Thérèse's account of her family's history, we have her original words which were then corrected by her uncle Louis XVIII, then in turn edited for publication in French, and finally translated and annotated by Wormeley. The latter two are also very sympathetic to the senior Boubon line, to the point that the French editor declaimed that the Orléans' branch are "not the monarchy". In addition to Marie-Thérèse's account, there is a collection of letters from Madame Elizabeth, Louis XVI's sister, written from 1786 to August 1792 when the family was cut off from the outside world. There are also excerpts from the Moniteur of her trial and execution -- giving the reader an example of just how illogical some of these trials were. Cléry, originally one of Louis-Charles attendants, became in the Temple the valet-de-chambre to the family. His account of the imprisonment was published with Marie-Thérèse's approval. When Louis XVI was executed, Clery tried to stay to attend to the then eight-year-old Louis-Charles. One wonders if he had been allowed to stay if the Dauphin's fate might have been very different. Worth the price of admission was the brief mention by Marie-Thérèse that she "happily" fell sick shortly after her father's death; the need to care for her daughter roused Marie-Antoinette from despair. This illness nearly killed Marie-Thérèse, which later encouraged rumours that there had been a switch. The more I read about this girl and the woman she became, the more I'm fascinated by her.