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Bill Thayer

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A Selection of Excerpts from

The Souvenirs of the Marquise de Créquy

[image ALT: An 18th‑century engraving of a rather bosomy young woman, not particularly pretty, but with a determined air about her. She is wearing a dress trimmed with fur to which are pinned the ribboned crosses of two orders.]

Renée-Charlotte-Victoire de Froullay de Tessé, Marquise de Créquy (1710?‑1803):
Paris: Garnier Frères, n. d. (1839?).

Mme de Créquy was a real person, although sometimes her memoirs give one pause to think she was not. And those Souvenirs, as far as anyone has been able to ascertain, a fabrication by her grandson, Maurice Cousin de Courchamps, although my own opinion is that he must have based them on papers of hers.

This remarkable woman was born to the high nobility — which she will never let you forget! — in around 1710: she writes that she herself never knew what year, exactly. Since she died in 1803, she witnessed almost a century of life at the French court, with an unpleasant blip during the Revolution (1789‑1799). At one point indeed, as a very old lady when she had just been presented to Napoleon, she comes back home in the evening and although she's very tired, writes a quick account of how the emperor kissed her hand in the same curiously sensuous way as Louis XIV had done when she was a very young girl. . . .

Her opinions are many and pronounced: sometimes quite wrong. Mostly, when she is not writing about people's family trees, she can be extremely funny, and that's what I like about her. I have no intention of putting all 3000 pages of her online but I hope you will enjoy an excerpt from time to time; if you read French, the original French text is online in its entirety; in the very first Chapter we will read why she herself has no idea what year she was born; how she came to steal a ring from the corpse of an abbess; the forced labor of poodles in a kitchen; and other stories.

Excerpts on my Site

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Site updated: 3 Feb 20