The Story of the Tragic Hours of the Children of Louis XVI’s Nanny. Eurelian Chronicles #50

Professor, historian, and writer Alan Deniset discovers local tales or stories that are often a reflection of national history. (© Laurent Rebours)

Search Actu Chartres, every Sunday, for the European record of history and stories proposed by Alain Denizet. Professor, historian, and writer from Eure-et-Loir, he’s been collecting all his records on his site for years.

Between Revolution and Empire: Abundan CastleThe Tragic Hours of Madame de Torzel, governess to the children of Louis XVI.

Madame de Torzel, nanny to Louis XVI’s children during the Revolution, lived for years at the Château d’Abondant, near Dreux. intimate Royal familyShe was at the forefront of events that would change the course of French history.

broken marriage

Madame de Torzel
Madame de Torzel (© DR)

Boy Louise Elizabeth de Croy de Havremarried in 1764 to Louis-François de Bouches de Sorches, the Marquis de Torzel and President of the Republic to the King of France [1] His father had worked on transforming the castle between 1747 and 1750 under Jean Mansart de Guy, grandson Jules Hardwin MansartLouis XIV, the first engineer.

The spouses divide their time between the court and its property, strains In the Sarth And the plentiful in Eure-et-Loir.

Louise-Élisabeth de Tourzel’s life changed when she changed July 11, 1786Her husband died after falling from a horse during Royal pursuit of Fontainebleau. The young widow, whose austerity collided with the court, devoted herself to the education of her five children.

The Dauphin and Madame Royal’s Reign of “Virtue”

In Petit Trianon, 1785, Marie Antoinette, Madame Royal and Dauphin.  Painting by Adolf Wertmüller, Swedish painter National Museum (Sweden)
In Petit Trianon, 1785, Marie Antoinette, Madame Royal and Dauphin. Painting by Adolf Wertmüller, Swedish painter National Museum (Sweden) (© DR)

Three years later, the revolution precipitated his fate. The Duchess of Polignac, the King’s nanny and a good friend of the Queen [2]into exile two days after taking pastel.

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Marie Antoinette then turned to Madame de Torzel to assign her this prestigious position, but it became too revealing, and she did not disavow it: “The spectacle of desertion where many around her have already left the royal family,” wrote his daughter Pauline [3].

The Queen would have said, “Madam, you have entrusted the friendship of my children.” I entrust them now to virtue.” The Dauphin called her “Madame Sever.”

“To dedicate my life to fulfilling the trust of their Majesties”

The royal family was arrested in Varennes.  From left to right, Madame de Torzel, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the two children, Madame Elizabeth, the King's sister, in tears.  Painting by Thomas Falcone Marshall, 1854.
The royal family was arrested in Varennes. From left to right, Madame de Torzel, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the two children, Madame Elizabeth, the King’s sister, in tears. Painting by Thomas Falcone Marshall, 1854. (© DR)

Virtue is combined with a sense of duty up to sacrifice: from the end of July 1789 until August 19, 1792, the prince – the future Louis XVII – and his sister did not leave for a day, nor for one night, sharing with them the most tragic moments.

On June 20-21, 1791, she was with the royal family in the sedan whose journey to Austria pathetically stopped at Farines [4].

She knows with the two children the pain of prison in Temple Tower After the capture of the Tuileries on August 10, 1792. The miracle of the September massacres [5] [1792]She finds a haven of peace with her daughter Pauline in her castle in Ubondan.

Escape the revolutionary upheavals at the Château d’Abondant

Dolphin in the temple.  He was a victim of abuse.  Gustave Wabers, 1850, Museum of Fine Arts, Belgium.
Dolphin in the temple. He was a victim of abuse. Gustave Wabers, 1850, Museum of Fine Arts, Belgium. (© DR)

In December we went to establish ourselves in Abondant, a league and a half from the small town of Dreux. We were only nineteen leagues from Paris, and it only took six hours to get back there. We didn’t want to stray too far from our ongoing care topics.[6].

Madame de Torzel

I learned in Abondant The cruel end of our good miserable king who, according to her chaplain’s sister, praised her shortly before her death: “She sacrificed everything for me, and I would be very consoled if I let her know how much I appreciated her attachment.” [7]. »

Wanting to be closer to the Queen and her children, she returned to Paris where she was arrested again in March 1794.

She owes her salvation this time to the end of the horror and says, ‘To enter ‘heaven’ [qui] He saved us as if by a miracle from the dangers we ran into the various prisons where we were led [8].

He was appointed to reside in Abondan by the Revolution and Napoleon I

Part of the large salon furniture is in the Louvre.  This is where Madame de Torzel lived.  Pictures of the Louvre Museum, neighbourhood.  RMN-Grand Palais / Olivier Ouadah DR.  https://art.rmngp.fr/
Part of the large salon furniture is in the Louvre. This is where Madame de Torzel lived. Pictures of the Louvre Museum, neighbourhood. RMN-Grand Palais / Olivier Ouadah DR. https://art.rmngp.fr/ (© DR)

A figure of the Ancien Régime hated by the revolutionary authorities, placed under house arrest in Abondant, and required every week to report to the municipality they drank [9].

If we follow his descendants, “the people of a small town have learned to respect his deepest pains; they have come to honor her which charity alone can wring out of her mournful thoughts.”

To the point of defending his property. “One day, when the revolutionary orgies were not over, a group of criminals wanted to cut down beautiful forests in a park that they considered incompatible with egalitarian principles. [10] As one man, the locals had chased them away.

It was always under the watch of the Imperial Police – at least until 1811 – it remained in its castle until restoration.

Living in the memory of a bygone world

Madame de Torzel.  Portrait of Jules Borough, Carnavale Museum.
Madame de Torzel. Portrait of Jules Borough, Carnavale Museum. (© DR)

There, immersed in her memories, she found significance for her memories [11] Where the dolphin occupies a special place: “Tears were constantly falling in my eyes as I looked at the picture of this dear little prince, which I always carried with me from the moment we parted. [12] “.

So, every day after Mass, she would go on a pilgrimage to the funeral monument that she had erected in her memory under the shade of her beautiful centuries-old park.[ 13].

She was buried in Abondan among her family

Ms. de Torzel's death certificate.  Archives of Evelyn Departments, 4 AH 1879.
Ms. de Torzel’s death certificate. Archives of Evelyn Departments, 4 AH 1879. (© DR.)

The Duchess of Torzel was made hereditary by Louis XVIII In 1816, she died at the age of 82 in 1832 at the Château de Grossy in Montfort Lamore It was at his request, Buried in the Basilica of Saint-Pierre d’Abondan Among its “dear residents”.

Before 1903, the Duc des Cars, a distant descendant, indignant at selling the castle to the general public—the industrialist Singer—disregarded his last wishes. Madame de Tourzel made one last trip from Abondant to the Château de Sourches, the family’s cradle.

Château d'Abondant, in the early 2000s, has since been restored and divided into 54 apartments.
Château d’Abondant, in the early 2000s, has since been restored and divided into 54 apartments. (© DR.)

[1] This sword officer, whose jurisdiction extends to the Louvre as well as the entire King’s Council, the judges in civil cases of first instance (appeal to the Grand Council) and in criminal and police cases affecting the last resort court.

[2] The Duchess of Polignac has held this position since 1782, which shocked part of the court because she was of low noble origin. Two days after the storming of the Bastille, at the request of the kings, the Polignac couple and their children left Versailles for Switzerland, and then for Italy.

[3] Daughter Pauline, Countess of Byrne in ’40 Years Memories’

[4] The fugitives bore pseudonyms. The deception was organized around Madame de Torzel, better known as the Baroness de Courve, whose children were from the Dauphin and her sister, Marie-Therese. Louis XVI was m. Durand, Observer Baron de Courve; The Queen Madame Rocher, nanny to the children of Madame de Courve and finally Madame Elizabeth, sister of Louis XVI) has emerged as the Baroness-in-waiting.

[5] Unlike the Queen’s friend de Lambal, who was imprisoned with her with her severed head at the end of a spear.

[6] Memoirs of Madame Duchess Turzel, Volume II, Paris, 1884, Chapter Twenty-four, p. 304.

[7] Memoirs of Madame Duchess Turzel, Volume Two, Paris, 1884, Chapter Twenty-four, p. 308

[8] Memoirs of Madame Duchess Turzel, Volume II, Paris, 1884, Chapter Twenty-four, p. 310.

[9] Evelyn Archives, J 3211/3. The Obondan Study in 1900. p. 5..

[10] Memoirs of Madame la Duchesse de Tourzel, Volume I, Paris, 1884, Introduction by Duc des Cars, p. eighteen.

[11] Madame de Torzel left her diary “in a retreat that both circumstances and her perpetual pain advised her to take,” Duc de Cars wrote. Introduction, p. v.

[12] Memoirs of Madame Duchess Torzel, Volume Two, Paris, 1884, Chapter Twenty-four

[13] Some authors have argued that the funerary monument was erected after a visit by a certain Hervagant who presented himself as Louis XVII. He looked a lot like a ‘Temple Kid’ and gave so troubling indications that the Duchess would eventually believe him. Her diaries show that she was convinced of the dolphin’s death from the testimonies of the doctors who performed the autopsies and whom she interviewed. »

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