Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Execution of the Comtesse d'Ossun

Geneviève de Gramont, Comtesse d'Ossun served as Marie Antoinette's dame d'amours since 1781. During her service to the queen she was often included in the inner circle of the royal family; for instance she was one of the few ladies permitted to be present at the birth of the second Dauphin.

During the queen's imprisonment she sent a note to the Comtesse on 20 June 1791; the note allegedly mentioned the planned escape of the royal family. Following this exchange Geneviève leaves Paris in favour of her château.
Marie Antoinette had also expressed a keen wish to see her friend again. It is quite likely that this is what caused the Comtesse to return to Paris.

Geneviève was arrested due to her connection with the royal family and particularly with the queen.  Her final days of freedom had been very fearful for the loyal Comtesse. She had been surrounded by spies and could trust very few people. Finally, she was taken from her house on the Rue de la Varenne as a conspirator against the revolution.
The crimes of which she was accused were very vague. The main accusation was that she had failed to report on the queen's "illegal" activities. The note of 1791 was produced as key evidence during the trial. It would eventually prove lethal. During her imprisonment she was kept at the Hôtel de La Force. 

The final appeal for her life was heard on 25 July. The usher who came to collect the prisoners did not seem to know exactly who it was he was collecting. According to another prisoner, M. d'Hornoy, he called for a "Gramont d'Orsan". Unperturbed, the Comtesse stood up and said: "It can only be me". The hearing did not spare her a death on the scaffold; she was sentenced to die the next day. 

The Comtesse was executed on 26 July 1794 - the same evening that Robespierre fell from power. Little is known for sure about the execution itself but Geneviève is said to have conducted herself with the courage and dignity "of a martyr".

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