History of the World According to the Movies: Part 30 – The French Revolution

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A still of the imposing guillotine in the 1935 version of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities which starred Ronald Colman (known for his great sexy English voice). Still, this execution device would be seen as a symbol of the French Revolution in its later years, especially during the Reign of Terror when everyone turned on each other and everything turned to shit.

Unfortunately, at the close of the 18th century, French society during Bourbon France wasn’t doing quite as well as literature would make you think it would be. For one, a series of wars and extravagances of the wealthy nobility and royalty would put France deeply and debt. Not to mention, by 1763, France would lose a major colonial war with Great Britain and gave up its claims in North America and India. France also had a series of monarchs who ascended the throne at very young ages with Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette being very much unprepared to run a country, let alone an absolute monarchy. Furthermore, you had a rigid social system more or less akin to castes, a famine making bread too expensive for the average person to buy, bitter, crude, ranting over “the Austrian Bitch” at Versailles, and a arbitrary non-income based tax system greater with tax demand greater than some people’s incomes. No wonder why Madame De Farge was such a bitter and angry bitch in A Tale of Two Cities. Still, another factor I should mention in regarding the French Revolution was The Affair of the Diamond Necklace which was a great big con by a couple of fake nobles who hired a prostitute to pose as Marie Antoinette to buy a certain expensive necklace which duped the court and further damaged the French royalty’s reputation (which has also been made into a movie). Nevertheless, it began with the storming of the Bastille on the progressive ideas inspired by the American Revolution France helped fund. It ended up with the Reign of Terror, the guillotine, and political extremism and chaos. Nevertheless, movies set in this time period tend to get a lot of stuff wrong, which I shall list.

Note: I see a lot of articles relating to the French Revolution to Les Miserables. However Les Mis doesn’t take place during the French Revolution (though the historic events depicted were inspired by it) since it takes place in the 19th century after Napoleon. Also, if it took place during the French Revolution of 1789, all the guys would be wearing 18th century outfits and the women would have dresses without corsets, which they aren’t.

The Affair of the Diamond Necklace:

Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois and her family had a family estate. (They were poor and living in the Paris slums {though she was a descendent of Henri II through an illegitimate son but her ancestors had squandered all their money}.)

Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois confessed to stealing the famous diamond necklace after her trial. (She would’ve never admitted to this. If so, then she probably said she was dead broke and deserved the best of everything.)

Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois’ parents were murdered after speaking out against the corruption of the monarchy and their house was burned. (Her alcoholic dad died of natural causes and her household servant mother abandoned her and her siblings for another man. She and her siblings were eventually taken in by a noblewoman after being forced to beg. Also, her dad went around moaning about how he should have loads of free cash for being an illegitimate descendant of a king as did his daughter. Yet his Valois descent was legally recognized. Talk about an entitlement complex.)

Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois presented the diamond necklace to Marie Antoinette in 1786 but she declined. (She presented it in 1778 and 1781. Marie Antoinette declined both times.)

Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois used the diamonds from the necklace to buy her family estate. (She was a con-artist who tried to use the necklace to gain wealth, power, and royal patronage. Her husband Comte Nicholas la Motte was a con-artist, too, as well as after the same things {he may have had a fake noble title}. Instead, she and her husband helped bring on the scandalous royal Affair of the Diamond Necklace.)

Nicholas de la Motte sold some of the diamonds in Paris. (He sold them in London. Strangely, this guy was actually played by Adrien Brody who’d later play a more different kind of conman than what La Motte was {a bastard who let everyone else involved with the Affair of the Diamond Necklace take the fall by catching the first boat to London}.)

Cardinal Rohan harbored significant doubts about Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois. (He was too trusting of her for his own good and he fell for Jeanne’s scheme because he wanted to be in Queen Marie Antoinette’s favor again. She and her husband even hired a prostitute to play the French Queen buying the diamond necklace from him during a secret nighttime rendezvous at a Versailles garden. The Cardinal and the court fell for it.)

Nicole d’Oliva was a witness at the Diamond Necklace trial. (She was a prostitute as well as one of the accused who tried fleeing to Brussels but was captured and imprisoned in the Bastille {where she gave birth}. She was acquitted for impersonating the queen because she was a simple, uneducated woman with a baby in tow.)

The French Revolution:

Danton was a moderate liberal revolutionary killed by the revolutionary excesses by the Reign of Terror. (Danton may not have been as hot on the Reign of Terror as some of his fellow Jacobins would, but he commended huge loyalty and respect from the militant Parisian crowd who was at times more extreme than the Jacobins.)

Louis Philippe II Duke of Orleans was the primary orchestrator of the French Revolution that he cooked up to seize the throne, used forgery and impersonation to frame Marie Antoinette for fraud in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, and cast the deciding vote for the execution of Louis XVI. (Actually, he didn’t orchestrate the French Revolution, but he did support it at first only to turn against its excesses, saved several people from being executed, and was eventually guillotined himself. Still, unlike most aristocrats, Philippe did believe in the principles of Rousseau and Montesquieu as well as used his position to support liberalism and democratic reform. And yes, he did vote for the execution of Louis XVI though he was hardly a decider and some took it as an attempt by him to get rid of the king and seize the throne for himself.)

Maximilien de Robespierre sent some secret police thugs to destroy the print shop where Camille Desmoulins had printed Le Vieux Cordelier, which popularized the Dantonists attempts to turn back the Reign of Terror. (Robespierre did no such thing but he did have Desmoulins and his wife executed {not his child}.)

Fabre d’Egalantine was present at the Tennis Court Oath. (He didn’t because he wasn’t a member of the Estates General in 1789. Thus, contrary to Danton, Robespierre would have no reason to tell Jacques-Louis David to exclude him in his painting depicting it.)

Maximilien Robespierre was an icy, neurotic, ugly and inhuman man. (Yet, he was the model of the modern French intellectual who was the touchstone of orthodoxy in the French Revolution. He was a theorist turned man of action who laid out party lines and devised strategy in the interest of the masses. Nevertheless, as fanatical as he was, there were still people more bloodthirsty than him. Not to mention, he co-authored The Declaration of the Rights of Man with Thomas Paine, advocated against capital punishment, and was involved in such causes as abolishing slavery, eliminating property qualification to be represented in government, and granting rights to Protestants and Jews. Still, he was actually quite attractive as far as his portraits go. Basically his artistic depictions vary according to what people thought of him.)

Louis de Saint-Just was a young hippie of the 18th century. (Yes, he was one of the younger French Revolutionaries but he was no hippie. He’s described by his contemporaries as a fanatical egomaniac who was more daring and outspoken than Robespierre. Still, he was respected for his strong convictions despite his flaws, which were fairly moderate. Oh, and he wasn’t a warm and fuzzy kind of guy.)

Louis-Antoine St. Just had a cousin who was an actress and married an English noblemen traveling incognito to save French aristocrats. (I’m not sure about this. Probably something made up by Baroness Orczy in her Scarlet Pimpernel novels.)

Guillotines on wheels were available around 1789. (The earliest record of a guillotine was in 1792, just in time to slice King Louis XVI’s head. And there was never one on wheels or even one small enough to fit into someone’s front door. Actually a real guillotine was about 12-15 feet high and had to be disassembled for transport.)

Most of the nobles fleeing during the French Revolution were innocent people persecuted by the barbarous French republicans. (In the earliest years they were fleeing the French Revolution because they hated every single thing about it from the beginning especially being deprived of their unearned class privileges. Nevertheless, neither was better than the other. Still, with every Charles Darnay, there’s a Marquis de St. Evremonde who made Madame De Farge look like a girl scout. At least Madame De Farge’s anger is understandable, but it’s how she takes out her rage which makes her a bad person.)

Hundreds of innocent people were guillotined every day during the Reign of Terror. (The Reign of Terror lasted for 14 months in which the average people executed a day was two, and the number was much smaller in total. Among those guillotined were sleazy profiteers, troublemakers, military deserters, and petty crooks whom any court in its normal course of business would’ve hanged in a heartbeat. They also executed people who resisted them as well. Charles Dickens may exaggerate the body count of the French Revolution as well, but he’s right when he said that the British government was no less oppressive to criminals nor the poor either. Of course, his A Tale of Two Cities is much less biased about the French Revolution than other 19th century accounts in his language.)

The French Revolution’s main purpose was to kill aristocrats. (Actually it was to set a liberal and progressive system of government like that in the United States after the American Revolution. They wanted to establish a constitution, give all rights to the people and just rights. Yet, they couldn’t just abolish the monarchy and aristocracy just like that who didn’t want to lose their power. They tried a constitutional monarchy approach but it didn’t take due to aristocrat resistance, the spineless tendency of the monarchy to switch sides, loss of control, and lack of organization which led to the Reign of Terror.)

The Dauphin Louis-Charles was smuggled out of France during the French Revolution and found safe haven in Austria. (The boy died in prison at the age of ten in 1794 or 1795. Sorry, Baroness Orczy, but even the Scarlet Pimpernel couldn’t have saved him. Still, the French revolutionary government did keep his death a secret to bargain with the Austrians.)

Maximilien Robespierre was waspish, posturing, and campy. (He was always considered prim and priggish.)

Paul Chauvelin was a member and agent of the Committee of Public Safety and died at Thermidor. (He’s based on a real person named Bernard-Francois, Marquis of Chauvelin who was a notable military officer who served with Rochambeau during the American Revolution as well as assistant ambassador to England during the French Revolution. However, he was never involved with the Committee of Public Safety and survived Thermidor. He died in 1832.)

Miscellaneous:

Everyone in the Third Estate was a peasant under the Acien Regime. (Actually the Third Estate consisted of people who worked for a living and that also included France’s middle and professional class as well. In fact, most of the leaders of the French Revolution were from the middle class as well were college educated.)

Conditions at the Bastille prison were terrible at the time of Louis XVI. (The most horrid thing about the Bastille at the time was that you could end up there without any trial which gave its reputation as a symbol of despotism, oppression of liberty, censorship, royal tyranny, and torture. However, the dungeon cells of the Bastille were no longer in use during Louis XVI’s reign and most prisoners were housed in the middle layers of the building into cells 16 feet across with rudimentary furniture and often, a window. Most prisoners could bring their own possessions {the Marquis de Sade brought a vast quantity of fixtures and fittings as well as his entire library}. Dogs and cats were permitted to control the rat population while drinking, smoking, and card playing were allowed. Oh, and the Bastille governor was given a daily fixed amount for each rank of prisoner with 3 livres for the poor {more than what some Frenchmen lived on} and over five times that for higher ranking ones. So poor Dr. Manette probably didn’t have it so bad.)

French in the Acien regime was backward and stagnant as well as in need of a revolution. (Yes, there was a lot of poverty in France during the 18th century. Interest in enlightened science had never been stronger with guys like the Mongolfier brothers and the Lavosiers with their work in chemistry {both in and outside the scientific realm since they were a happily married couple [Hollywood, please make a movie with them]}. Louis XVI took on invention and innovation and the government was reforming food production, public health, and more. Philanthropy was plentiful and there were schools for the disabled. Arts also continued to evolve and develop. Not to mention, censorship had ended by the 1770s which led to an explosion of the press. Also, you had enlightenment thinkers like Montesquieu and Voltaire. The Industrial Revolution had also taken hold of France yet not to the same extent as Great Britain and 25% of the pre-Revolutionary French nobility had originated by someone buying their way to a noble title. Still, France did have money problems and every king after Henri IV had ascended the throne as minor.)

Most of the French nobility were a homogeneous group of overfed and debauched abusers. (It was a mix bunch of up and coming ennobled entrepreneurs as well as impoverished nobles from old families.)

French prisoners appeared in the courtroom during their trials. (Those facing criminal charges in France at the time didn’t have habeas corpus or Miranda rights. Most of the time they didn’t know what they were accused of or their sentence until it was carried out.)

French had tight moral standards regarding sex. (In France, it was pretty much anything goes during the Ancien Regime at least at the upper crust. Besides, at the time most people married who their parents wanted them to and as long as they did their duties, they could have as many lovers as they wanted. Also, many married couples in France at the time didn’t have anything to do with each other.)

France was racially equal in the 1780s. (Sorry, but this is just plain wrong. Also, The Declaration of the Rights of Man only applied to white men though slavery would be abolished in France during 1794 though Napoleon would reintroduce it in 1802.)

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History of the World According to the Movies: Part 29 – Bourbon France

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Whenever a movie takes place in Bourbon France, it will usually be an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers for some reason. Still, it’s kind of ironic that Charlie Sheen’s character later ends up a priest, but not a very good one. Of course, this is the 1993 Disney adaptation of the Dumas novel.

We come to an area of European history we like to know as the Cavalier years since a lot of swashbuckler movies usually take place at this time. However, this was also a period great artistic and scientific development. The 17th and 18th centuries were the times of the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, a time of great literature and music, as well as other cultural feats like baroque and classical architecture. It was also a time that men wore wigs, tights, cosmetics, and flashy clothes but were still considered specimens of masculinity nevertheless. Yet, it was a time of civil war in England and Russia, colonial empire (which we covered already), and wars over political matters or just for the hell of it. Still, at least by the time France entered the 30 Years War on the Protestant side, Europe was no longer fighting over religion. Nevertheless, this is a highly romanticized period since many swashbuckling novels written in the 1800s also take place in this period, especially in France.

The Bourbon Dynasty would start late in the 16th century with Henri of Navarre and continue until the French Revolution for the most part. Still, this is the era of the Three Musketeers, Cyrano de Bergerac, and a lot of other elements we’d associate with Cavalier France. In cultural media, it seems that Cardinal Richelieu tends to be present in more Three Musketeers adaptations than he ever was at Mass as well as appeared in many, many films. Still, it’s no wonder why many swashbuckling movies take place in this period since this was a time when France enjoyed a cultural heyday with literature, music, colonies, science, philosophy, and architecture. However, despite all the beauty associated Cavalier France, money problems and absolute monarchy started by the Sun King Louis XIV would later come to bite the country in the ass and so would a French Revolution ensue but that’s for another post. Yet, as expected, there are plenty of things movies still get wrong about Bourbon France, which I shall list accordingly.

Bourbon France:

Cardinal Richelieu:

Cardinal Richelieu was a slimy and evil politician who tried to undermine King Louis XIII and taking France for himself. (In France, he’s actually a national hero who helped turn the nation into a seventeenth century world power and saved it from being encircled and destroyed by the Hapsburgs. Also, Louis XIII relied on him a great deal for good reason.)

Cyrano de Bergerac:

Cyrano de Bergerac was shy among women because of he was insecure of his long nose and managed to woo his cousin Roxane through a good-looking man named Christian. (For one, Christian and Roxane are fictional characters. Besides, the real Cyrano didn’t concern himself about being attractive toward women because he was gay and had a boyfriend.)

Cyrano de Bergerac had a huge nose. (It wasn’t as big as they make it out to be in adaptations nor did he obsess about it.)

Louis XIII:

Louis XIII was gay. (We’re not sure what he was. Most historians say he’s bisexual and leave it at that, which is fair.)

Louis XIII was a bumbling and incompetent king. (Louis XIII was dependent on Cardinal Richelieu to govern France {as well as smart enough to let him run the country}, but he wasn’t any way incompetent since they did put down a nobility revolt, established the Academie Francaise, and oversaw overseas expansion. Still, he ascended the throne as a child.)

D’Artagnan:

D’Artagnan was a victim of assassination in 1662. (Though he’s more remembered as being a character in The Three Musketeers, he actually did exist. However, he died in battle during a siege at Maastricht more than a decade later caused by a musket ball at his throat. Nevertheless, he does have a statue in France. Also, he didn’t have an affair with Anne of Austria. However, he really was captain of the Musketeers though. Still, he didn’t become a Musketeer until 1633, which was five years after Dumas’ famous novel ended.)

Monsieur Treville:

Monsieur Treville was captain of the Musketeers in 1625. (He didn’t become captain until after Dumas novel ends, and at this time, he’s actually starting out his career as one. Dumas sort of got some of the dates wrong.)

Louis XIV:

King Louis XIV was remembered as a generous king who reigned in peace and prosperity. (He’s considered by the French public as an authoritarian and heartless king, if not a political genius. Also, he wasn’t replaced by his brother Philippe of Orleans. Not to mention, he spent a lot of his reign at war, especially in the later years. )

King Louis XIV was unmarried in 1662. (He was already hitched to the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. Not only that, he already had fathered at least two children to two different women by them.)

Louis XIV and Philippe of Orleans were twins. (Louis XIV was two years older and they weren’t born out of wedlock either. Also, neither of them looked like Leonard DiCaprio.)

Philippe of Orleans:

Philippe of Orleans was the Man in the Iron Mask. (Philippe and the Man in the Iron Mask were two totally different individuals. Heck, the Man in the Iron Mask was most likely a man named Eustache Dauger de Cavoye {as far the prison registry is concerned} who was held in various jails for 34 years. His imprisonment probably had nothing to do with some secret conspiracy. Oh, and the iron mask wasn’t really made out of iron but black velvet as well as worn voluntarily. Also, Philippe was very much in the open at the same time as a notorious homosexual who was able to marry twice and have several children.)

Louis XV:

Louis XV heard the music of Mozart’s Don Giovanni during a lavish ball. (Louis XV died in 1774 while Don Giovanni was composed in 1787. Thus, Louis XV could never have heard it.)

Louis XV was an ugly old fart. (He was known for being a very handsome man.)

Louis XVI:

Louis XVI was a tyrant. (He was more or less weak and indecisive as a ruler of France. His predecessors were though.)

Louis XVI was afraid of sex. (He wasn’t able to have sex with Marie Antoinette because he had a problem with his wee-wee, to put it in a family friendly context. However, he did have it fixed and they did have kids.)

Louis XVI was a weak man afraid of his shadow. (He was smart and socially awkward. Yet, he was too young and unprepared to be king as well as especially unprepared to contend with the responsibility of fixing France’s failing finances caused by his predecessors.)

Louis XVI grew fat during his marriage to Marie Antoinette. (He had been overweight even before he even met his wife, though he probably did pack on the pounds as he grew older, but not to the degree of his brother.)

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette shared a bedchamber. (They had separate rooms except when Louis was making one of his infrequent rounds to get Marie interested.)

Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI managed have sex a few months after their marriage. (It took them seven years to consummate it.)

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had 3 children. (They had four children but three only survived infancy.)

The marriage between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette was a disaster. (Actually this would only apply to their sex life in their first seven years. However, both partners were faithful and they certainly had a relationship of mutual love and respect {better than how many royal couples had it}. Their marriage wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t a complete failure either.)

Marie Antoinette:

Marie Antoinette’s extravagant habits of shopping, gambling, partying, and building her country house bankrupted the French treasury. She was unpopular because she screwed other men and was manipulated her husband. (Actually France’s money problems had been the fault of her husband and his family, not hers since Versailles was home to an entire culture of great extravagance among the royalty and nobility {and the royal treasury was broke long before she arrived}. Not mention, more of France’s money was spent on the American Revolution than the Queen of France. Even if Marie Antoinette had a spending problem, she wasn’t the only one nor was she the first and she probably spent a lot to have friends as well distract herself from her unsatisfactory sex life with Louis XVI. Also, she never screwed anyone but her husband and they didn’t have sex in the first years of their marriage which was his problem not hers. As for what did her in, it was the fact she was the target of rumor and criticism as well as the fact she came from Austria which made her unpopular with the court. Oh, and she didn’t say, “Let them eat cake” either {Rousseau said this when she was a child}. Thus, Marie Antoinette was a scapegoat not an instigator.)

Marie Antoinette spoke in a French accent. (She was Austrian.)

Marie Antoinette was a typical teenage girl. (Who the daughter of a powerful Austrian Empress and married to the French heir to the throne at the time during the 18th century. Sorry, Sofia Coppola, but by 18th century standards, she wasn’t a typical teenage girl.)

Marie Antoinette was unpopular in France from the get-go. (She was actually extremely popular in France when she arrived. People liked how pretty and kind she was as well as the kind of charities she pursued. In some ways, they viewed her and Louis XVI as a chance to refresh the French monarchy and give it the life that had started to seep under Louis XV. Of course, this wasn’t to be since royal spending and common libels at the time as well as the changing political situation in France {while excluding the poor voices from government} would take a toll on her popularity.)

Marie Antoinette was Louis XVI’s puppet master. (Her mother Empress Maria Theresa wished she was this but she had no influence whatsoever on her husband’s policies nor did he even consult or inform her on matters of state.)

Marie Antoinette had a strong lesbian relationship with her courtier Gabrielle de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac. (They did have a strong relationship but whether it was anything more than platonic is unclear since close female friendships weren’t uncommon in this period.)

Marie Antoinette was blond. (She was a strawberry blonde since Madame du Barry referred to as, “the little redhead.”)

Marie Antoinette’s rift between her and Cardinal Rohan was over an inappropriate joke about her mother. (Actually it had more to do with Rohan being the ambassador to Austria at a time when Poland was being torn up. He sent word to Marie Antoinette about how her mother was crying over Poland’s woes with a handkerchief in one hand and a sword in another. Unfortunately, she wasn’t on good terms with Madame du Barry who read Rohan’s letter aloud at a dinner party. Marie Antoinette’s relationship with the Cardinal went downhill ever since. )

Marie Antoinette was nasty, demanding, and confident queen. (She was just a naïve party girl who didn’t have the opportunity to develop into a ruler during her short reign but did try to live up to her role.)

Marie Antoinette was born during the spring time. (Yes, she was assuming if her birthplace was Argentina because she was born in November and was from Austria.)

Marie Antoinette was a frivolous woman. (She was a teetotaler who ate frugally as well as was notorious for modesty {but this was pre-revolutionary France}. She had high moral standards and prohibited uncouth or off-color remarks in her presence as well as exercised a special vigilance over anyone in her care. She was also a charitable woman as well as a devoted mother to her children, despite being a party girl in her youth.)

Marie wasn’t a virgin when she married Louis XVI. (She was and would remain so for seven years until she and Louis XVI managed to consummate it.)

Marquis de Sade:

Marquis de Sade was a shadowy and villainous rapist. (He was a little more than an S&M enthusiast and pervy fiction author. He was also a writer, philosopher, revolutionary, and politician. He was a proponent of extreme freedom unrestrained by morality, religion, or law. I’m not sure what he’d think of Fifty Shades of Grey though.)

The Marquis de Sade was a martyr to the oppression and censorship of church and state. (He wasn’t. Also, his initial incarceration had nothing to do with his writing but with sexual scandals involving servants, prostitutes, and his sister-in-law. The reason why he was at Charenton was because he abused the hell out of the insanity defense in order to get a cushy sentence. He was deeply unpopular with the inmates there because of his special treatment and kept under constant police surveillance for good reason.)

Marquis de Sade’s chambermaid served as his liaison to a publisher. (She was actually a woman de Sade had a sexual relationship with since her early teens until close to his death in which she was paid 3 francs for every sexual encounter she had with him. She was 17 at the time and wasn’t murdered by anyone.)

Marquis de Sade was at the height of his literary powers at Charenton as well as tall and trim. (He was past his prime as well as of middling height and perhaps morbidly obese near the end of his life with his writings rather tame but not particularly good.)

Marquis de Sade died a hideous death at middle age. (He died peacefully in his bed at 74.)

The Reign of Terror was caused by de Sade’s best writing of 120 Days of Sodom. (It was written before the French Revolution even took off at the Bastille as well as his other scandalous works that got him in prison. Oh, and Justine wasn’t one of his smuggled works at Charenton but conventional novels as well as a number of plays he worked on throughout his life in hopes they’d be performed. Yet, most of them were soundly rejected by publishers. However, he was involved in theatrical productions there but they were conventional Parisian dramas.)

The Abbe de Coulmier was a young and handsome priest when he met de Sade. (Sure he’s played by a young Joaquin Phoenix, but he was four-foot tall 60-year-old man with severe scoliosis at the time he met de Sade. In many ways, he more or less resembled Yoda than Joaquin Phoenix. Still, he was a pretty corrupt guy at Charenton who gave special privileges to de Sade while the rest of the inmates lived in squalid conditions and were treated very poorly {they were only given minor parts in plays while the major roles went to professional actors}. Coulmier actually ran the place like his own personal palace and was a committed Bonarpartist. He didn’t care about curing the patients since the terror baths and other cruel outdated techniques {like bloodletting and purges} were his ideas and he was deeply unpopular with the inmates. He received complaints from the French medical establishment, largely because he was grossly unqualified. Yet, he never cut out de Sade’s tongue {nor did anyone}.)

Dr. Royar-Collard was a Bonapartist who introduced terror baths and tried to stop plays at Charenton. (The man did neither since it was Coulmier who introduced the terror baths and it was the French authorities who closed the Charenton theater a year after de Sade died, which was before he had any influence on the place. Also, he was a monarchist as well as a reasonable authority figure whose only mistreatment of de Sade was trying to get him thrown out of Charenton because he wasn’t mentally ill and got institutionalized in order to avoid jail. Oh, and he didn’t rape and marry a teenage girl unlike in Quills.)

Life and Times at Versailles:

The Palace at Versailles was a glamorous, elegant and classy place. (It was also a place Louis XIV had built in order to create his cult of personality in order to keep French high ranking nobles in line. Royal residents had no privacy whatsoever. Also, people didn’t bathe and wigs were prone to pest infestation.)

Princess Louise of France was 13 in the year 1765. (She was 28 at the time. She would later become a famous nun. Of course, with an embarrassing dad like Louis XV who could blame her.)

The Palace of Versailles was constructed at the time of Cardinal Richelieu. (He was dead before the palace was even in the planning stages.)

Princess Victoire had a pet Pekingese in 1768. (Europeans didn’t keep these dogs until after the Second Opium War. At this time, the only person who owned a Pekingese was the Chinese Emperor.)

The Comte de Provence (future King Louis XVIII) was the father of the duc d’Angoulême. (This boy was the son of the Comte d’ Artois {future King Charles X} while the Comte de Provence never had any kids with his wife. Interestingly, the duc d’Angoulême would later be Princess Marie-Therese’s husband and pretender Louis XIX.)

Poor servants dressed the residents at the Versailles Palace. (They may have dressed lower nobility but certainly nobody at Versailles. Nobles dressed the royalty there.)

No one at the Court of Versailles was fat. (There were a number of people who were overweight there or even obese. For instance, Louis XVI was kind rotund as a socially awkward young man even when he and Marie Antoinette were married. His brother Comte de Provence {future Louis XVIII} was even fatter {to the extent he was clinically obese} and his weight might have been the reason he had difficulty consummating his marriage with his wife {explaining why they didn’t have kids}. He later ended up becoming too fat to walk and later developed gout. The Polignac set were known for being rowdy, witty, and overindulgent in too much as well as might’ve had members who were overweight.)

Madame Gabrielle de Polignac was a loud, vulgar slut. (She was raised by nuns and was a very refined lady who was an attentive mother to her kids and governess to Marie Antoinette’s children. She wasn’t a saint but she was a woman of charm and discretion who loved simplicity and country life. But Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette kind of slanders her.)

Swedish Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette met at a masked ball and had a brief affair. (They met at the opera and he was a steady presence in her life, living near Versailles while in France. He even assisted the royal family in their escape to the country. Whether they had sex was unsure {though Fersen was a Casanova in his day} but he certainly didn’t father any of her children nor would they have conducted it without using any kind of discretion. Nevertheless, Marie Antoinette remained completely dutiful to her husband and stuck with him even under the threat of death when people advised her to leave.)

Madame du Barry was banished from the French Court at Versailles in 1786. (She had been banished from Versailles since 1774, the year Louis XV died from smallpox.)

Anne of Austria was Austrian. (She was a Spanish princess. Thus, her name is a misnomer since her name should really be Anne of Spain. Still, why the hell is she called Anne of Austria if she’s from Spain?)