French Love

1323468604 I was musing about great loves which reminded me of a story particularly poignant that took place in 1795.

The Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, was thrown into the worst jail in Austria (Olmutz) during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror (1789-1799).

It’s what the French today celebrate on July 14, known as Bastille Day, something that always eludes me since the violence remains legendary.

Gouverneur Morris, our diplomat to France during this time, wrote to Thomas Jefferson as he stood on his balcony telling him heads stuck on pikes were going by. Jefferson, who felt the French too deserved their revolution more or less said, it’s the cost of doing business.

Lafayette, as the commander-in-chief of the National Guard whose job was to protect the King and Queen (Louis XVI and Marie Antionette) famously executed, was one of the main reasons for his arrest.

His wife Adrienne after her entire family was killed for being of noble blood, was also put in prison though not one as grim as Olmutz.

James and Dolly Madison (4th U.S. president), in France at the time, tried every possible way to get Adrienne released.

Dolly, the Hillary Clinton of her day, refusing to give up, visited Adrienne in jail daily leaving their much recognized coach parked in front embarrassing the French so much, they finally let her out.

One would think, quit while you’re ahead, but Adrienne had other ideas.

She went to the authorities asking permission to join her husband. You can imagine their reaction, and almost hear them…are you insane? Go home and be with your children.

But she persisted, and in 1795 along with their kids, went to be with her husband whose life she probably saved.

He was in such ill health, tortured, depressed after already spending three years in captivity…the mere presence of his family restored him.

After two years, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte, the entire Lafayette family returned home.

Sadly for Adrienne, the experience left her much weakened dying in 1807.

The Marquis lived till 1834 buried beside her in Paris’s Picpus Cemetery for all eternity.

How’s that for a love story?


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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26 Responses to French Love

  1. Elle Knowles says:

    Much more romance back in the day wasn’t it? I know its still around but maybe we just don’t hear about it unless it goes down in the history books!


    • That’s a plausible theory. Do you think women still sacrifice themselves for their men? I’ll bet it’s still true, and you’re right, we just don’t hear about it.


      • Elle Knowles says:

        Yep, because if any woman let that be known they would for sure never hear the end of it from their “friends”! Too many disposable relationships and marriages. It’s what they call ‘old school’.


      • I’m old school, it’s in my blood. Any relationship I had the man was first, even if I wasn’t so nuts about him. I actually enjoy it on some level…being needed I guess.

        My mother loathed my father yet she took such great care of him that when they finally split up, he was helpless to look after himself. I remember he’d wear plaid shirts with striped golf pants. He looked like a test pattern.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elle Knowles says:

        Test pattern! hahaha Yes, I Make The Coffee – He Makes The Bed! But…I believe men put more into relationships these days than they used to. My girls have husbands that do all the cooking! yes – and help with childcare. I wasn’t so lucky but we’re working on it! 😉 We may be getting a little off the subject of your post here, but good conversation. 😉


      • It’s just a post…and I think it applies. You never know what words will evoke.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. micklively says:

    I like the love story.
    I’m tempted to ask what love the pre-revolution French aristocracy showed for their starving populace. There’s nothing so violent as economics. Bastille Day celebrates liberation, not the reign of terror. But maybe this isn’t the correct forum.


    • I know that’s what they celebrate, but you can’t help thinking about it. Most people aren’t versed in it…I’ve read so much that I know too much about it.
      And what you say is true about the aristocracy, but my heart still opens Rob. Must have been a terrible time for these people.


  3. That would really touch me if my family came to stay with me in prison, although I don’t think I’d want them to for their own safety. Thanks for sharing it. I like learning more about history.


    • It’s a great story. The interesting part about them…it was an arranged marriage that turned into such a loving one. They adored each other despite his many long absences. He was such a part of America’s freedom from England. It was he who along with Ben Franklin, our diplomat at the time, who convinced France to help us. If they hadn’t stepped in, we never would have won.


      • Interestingly enough, I now live in Fayette, Iowa, which was named after him. I’ve seen a lot of towns and counties named after him too. I wonder what he’d think if he knew that.


      • In New York as well. We have a great statue of him in Union Square Park right down the path of Washington his mentor. He loved his American brothers and had many. He may have been one of the first with dual citizenship even if it was just in theory.


  4. katecrimmins says:

    I can never get over how cruel people are to each other. Sometimes in the name of freedom, sometimes in the name of religion, and sometimes just for money.


  5. Great love story, and as I read above, there are too many disposable romances today and that saddens me as the tenacity of love can’t grow. Other thoughts, if it does exist today then there must be twitters, and posts of facebook about the great sacrifices made. Love goes viral!! For me, hubby and I have known each other for 44 years, been married almost 40 of those years and yes, there are times where I would have gone to prison to care for him and times when I would want him to be away and times where I could have gone to prison if I followed through on how angry I was with him. But, I wouldn’t change a thing about him because my life would then be so very dull and colorless. Great post, great thoughts and as always, love your writing.


  6. skinnyuz2b says:

    I’ve always joked that if I went back in time I’d end up being one of the peons, unless it was during the French Revolution, then I’d get to briefly be a noblewoman.


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