Saturday, 17 August 2013

Joseph Hyacinthe François de Paule de Riguad, Comte de Vaudreuil

Joseph Hyacinthe François de Paule de Riguad was born in 1740 but not within France itself; he was born on the island of Santo Domingo which was a French colony at the time. His father was the French governor of Santo Domingo and the Marquis de Vaudreuil, Joseph de Riguad, and his mother was Françoise Guiot de Mirande.

Joseph was nineteen when he joined the navy which meant that he came to serve during the Seven Years' War. When the war finally ended he left Santo Domingo and moved to Paris. The Comte de Vaudreuil is best known to history as the alleged lover of Yolande de Polastron, Duchesse de Polignac and he was also a close friend of the Comte d'Artois.
As a person Joseph was despised by many courtiers due to his violent temper and his dominating nature combined with a great sense of ambition. However, he was also charming and was one of the leading courtiers at Versailles. As the close "friend" of Yolande de Polastron he quickly became a part of the "Polignac set" as it was known; a group of ambitious courtiers who never stopped seeking new positions and favours.

There was one person that the Comte could not charm: Marie Antoinette. She had never liked the Comte and came to despise him over the years. The Queen is known to have often complained about the Comte to her ladies-in-waiting. The dislike of Marie Antoinette resulted in the limited success of Joseph in getting higher offices. At the height of his career at court he was a royal falconer with an annual pay of 30.000 livres. It was widely believed at court that Yolande's child born in 1780 was Vaudreuil's and not her husbands; Louis XVI thought differently and tried his best to stop the rumours.
Joseph's relationship with Yolande was coming to an end in 1785 when the Duchesse suddenly left France for London and after that she never spent time with the Comte alone.

Joseph headed for the Austrian Netherlands after the Storm of the Bastille alongside his friend the Comte d'Artois. He would remain abroad for twenty-five years during which he would spent his time planning the counter-revolution that never happened. The Comte would move to London after a while and in 1795 he married his cousin Marie-Joséphine de Riguad de Vaudreuil and had two sons by her. Joseph's time in France was not ever yet though and he returned during the reign of Louis XVIII who made the Comte Governor of the Tuileries. Joseph spent his last years in Paris where he died in 1817.

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