Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Béatrix de Choiseul-Stainville, Duchesse de Gramont

Roslin_GramontBéatrix de Choiseul-Stainville was born in 1730 as the daughter of the Marquis François-Joseph de Choiseul and Marie-Louise Bassompierre; her brother was the Minister Choiseul who would eventually essentially pave the way for Marie Antoinette's arrival at court.

Béatrix was to marry the Prince de Bauffremont - which she was sent to Paris to do - but the marriage was bad from the first since one or maybe both parties were displeased with the match. So, when that had come to a fast end Béatrix was free to marry once again. This time she wed the Duc de Gramont - who accepted the match in return for being restored to his property - thus becoming a Duchesse. From the very first Béatrix was very ambitious. When she first arrived in Paris she gave the impression of being haughty and did not want to marry anyone who was not at least a Duc. Béatrix was foremost a true bibliophile with a good deal of intelligence. During her time at court she had become a good friend of Marie Antoinette and the Duchesse was a frequent visitor at Petit Trianon where she was observed walking arm-in-arm with the Queen. It does seem as if the Duchesse's undisguised ambition might have been overstated since Marie Antoinette was infamous for avoiding the company of woman who had too much wit and intelligence.

But not everyone was too pleased with Béatrix whose character was either one you loved or hated. It was suggested that she had an incestuous relationship with her powerful brother but these rumours tend to always pop up whenever someone come into power, so there is probably nothing to it. She did have a good relationship with her brother and a popular phrase at the time was: "Choiseul rules France, the Duchesse rules Choiseul." She was indeed ambitious which is why she never managed to pose a threat to Madame de Pompadour's position as the King's mistress; Louis XV was uncomfortable with women as openly ambitious as Béatrix who did not mix it with charm like Pompadour. In that aspect she failed.
Her position at court was threatened when her brother suddenly fell out of favour with the King; it was said that Béatrix had unknowingly contributed to the King's ill-will by behaving rudely to a new-comer to court - that new-comer was Madame du Barry.

At first she followed her brother into exile but she soon returned to Paris. Since she remained a friend of Marie Antoinette she must have had some success at returning to court after the death of Louis XV though she could not succeed in restoring her brother to power. Very little is heard of her until the time of the revolution. Béatrix was arrested and taken to the Revolutionary Tribunal. Once before the jury Béatrix lost none of her fire and sharp wit and when she was asked whether she was for monarchy she gave the reply: "I would say no but my life is not worth a lie". For this she was sentenced to death and guillotined on 17 April, 1794.

No comments:

Post a comment