I was perusing through a book about the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), and the page I opened to, was about his wife, Adrienne.
During France’s revolution, called the Reign of Terror (1793-1794), that didn’t do justice to the horrors that went on, after just doing his job of trying unsuccessfully to protect the King and Queen (both were executed), Lafayette was thrown in jail.
Not just any jail mind you, but Olmutz, the worst jail in Austria.
Adrienne, also arrested, but placed in another prison (La Force then College du Plessis), before Sally Monroe, wife of James who was our diplomat in France at the time, advocated for the Marquis de Lafayette, until they finally let her out a year later.
Instead of going home, Adrienne went to the Emperor of Austria to say, she wanted to be with her husband.
Go home Madam Lafayette, he told her, go be with your children. You cannot come out once you go in, but taking their two daughters, went anyway, saving her husband’s life since he was failing so…his legendary spirit all but gone.
Finally after two years, Napoleon released them, but sadly, Adrienne, at 48, the experience diminishing her, died, buried alongside her family who were executed as members of the aristocracy, thrown into a mass grave in Paris’s Picpus Cemetary where Lafayette, outliving her by 27 years, also rests.
I can’t say enough how much Adrienne’s story moves me. The selflessness, determination and sheer will to be with the man she clearly lived for.
On her death bed, her last words to him were…
Je suis toute a nous….I am all yours.
Women, when we love, we love big.
Marie Adrienne Francois de Noailles, Marquise de Lafayette (1759-1807)