Tuesday 4 March 2014

Madame Etiquette... From Versailles to the Guillotine

Anne d'Arpajon (Anne Claude Louise d'Arpajon; Arpajon, France, 4th March 1729 - Paris, France, 27th June 1794)

The Lady with the Mask by Pierre Louis de Surugue, 1746
The Lady with the Mask by Pierre Louis de Surugue, 1746

Anne was born into privilege as the daughter of Louis de Sévérac, Marquis of Arpajon-sur-Cère and Anne Charlotte Le Bas de Montargis, a lady in waiting to the duchess de Berry. A noble marriage was never in doubt and at the age of 12, Anne married Philippe de Noailles, duc de Mouchy, Captain of the Hunts at Versailles, taking her place in one of the greatest and most noble families in France. The couple had six children, three of whom survived into adulthood.

A lady in waiting to Maria Leszczyńska, in 1770, Anne was charged the same position to the new Dauphine, Marie Antoinette. She was also responsible for making sure that the teenage Dauphine followed to the letter the strict etiquette of court, an element of royal life that Marie Antoinette did not quite care for. 

The two women disliked one another intensely and Marie Antoinette nicknamed her retainer Madame Etiquette, much to Anne's chagrin. In fact, almost as soon as the Dauphine became queen she flexed her administrative muscles and finally dismissed Anne, who went to Bellevue and joined the residents there. The King's aunts, known as the Mesdames Tantes, had little love for the new Queen and Anne found herself more than welcome there.

When the Revolution thundered through Paris, the Duke and Duchess of Mouchy were arrested and imprisoned. The unfortunate couple went to the guillotine on 27th June 1794 and within a month they were followed by three other members of the family, all of whom were buried at Picpus Cemetery.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

Pen and Sword
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)


Sassy Countess said...

Wow. I guess being correct doesn't always work!

Catherine Curzon said...

Can one be *too* correct?

angus smith said...

Yes one can and always it is fatal , I have found.

Catherine Curzon said...