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Monday, February 3, 2014

Royal substitution story

Well I don't know where to start. At times I stumble upon some really bizarre stories. 
This one involves Madame Royale swapping identities with an illegitimate half-sister because she preferred to forego public life after the revolution or because she had been raped and was pregnant.
What the?  An illegitimate half-sister? Whose illegitimate child?  
Well the story goes that Louis XVI was not sure who was at fault for no babies so he tested himself out with a serving maid who then had a daughter who was said to resemble the King.
Is this the same Louis I have read about who had trouble consummating his marriage and was deeply moral?
And the grounds for this theory are that Madame looked so different in her older portraits when compared to those when she was young and that she had been shy and affectionate before her imprisonment and was gruff and unfeeling afterwards so she must be a different person.
Really, could anyone expect that child to grow up unscathed after what she went through? 
Then we add in the clincher!
In 1807 a mysterious woman who always wore a dark veil over her face and was subsequently called 'the Dark Countess' went to live with some aristocrats in Germany.
Obviously that veil had to hide Madame Royale.
It couldn't be because the poor Countess had had some terrible disfigurement or was hiding from a nasty husband or was just very, very private?  NO obviously not.
Good grief Charlie Brown! 
Anyway this has all led to the exhumation of the remains of the 'Dark Countess' from a grave in Germany last year so that DNA testing can be done to determine if she was indeed Madame Royale or in fact Ernestine the supposed illegitimate half-sister. She has mercifully been reinterred. 
So what's the back story? 
Well it is said Madame Royal was so traumatised by her experiences during the revolution (unsurprising) that she preferred to forego public life and so swapped identities with the look-alike illegitimate half-sister who in fact married the Duc d' Angouleme. There are several variations of this story on the net, including the rape and pregnancy one.
What really happened I don't know but if Louis had an illegitimate child I feel sure historians would have found hard evidence of same.
Ernestine?  Well she was indeed the daughter of a serving maid and was adopted as were other children by Marie Antoinette because she loved children. 
Me?  I'll be waiting to see what the DNA evidence turns up. If I'm wrong and Louis had an illegitimate child I think we might as well tear up history as we know it and start again.
I'd love to hear your views on this story -  agree or disagree.

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