Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day!

What a funny holiday! Well, not funny but peculiar. It is more symbolic of the start of the French Revolution than the actual storming of the Bastille which resulted in freeing mostly old men and pedophiles. Vive le France! My sick sense of humor aside, the storming was a frightening event. An event that Georgiana just narrowly missed being a part of.

The Devonshire clan had been visiting in Paris but on July 8, 1789 the Duke of Devonshire had tired of the city and decided they should move on. Before they left, Georgiana paid a visit to Versailles to say goodbye to two of her dearest friends, the Duchesse de Polignac and Marie Antoinette. Tensions were high in France but none of the women expected that these could be their final goodbyes to each other.

The party was in Brussels on July 14th when they received word of the storming of the Bastille and the horrors of the riots. Georgiana recorded that the Duke weeped in fear that his daughter Charlotte (from his mistress Charlotte Spencer) who was living in Paris would be harmed in the frightening events. Charlotte wasn't the only bastard of his he feared for in Paris, his daughter with Bess, Caroline St. Jules was also there. By July 18th, Georgiana's friend James Hare had written that Charlotte was safe and gave her a full account of the horrors he was seeing in Paris.

Although the Whig party was supportive of the French Revolution, being so close to it frightened Georgiana even as an "Englishwoman." Her premonition proved accurate when the mob soon turned on anything British due to Marie Antoinette's anglophilic tendencies. The British embassy was one of these victims. Georgiana was safe but she feared for her French friends, especially Marie Antoinette, who insisted her friends escape while she stayed behind to face her people.

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