The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A post about the eighth duc de Richelieu...wot i found...

the eighth duc
The descendant of an illustrious family, he is spending the winter here, and is related to prominent American Families. His mother, Alice Heine was born in New Orleans.
By A Veteran Diplomat
The New York TimesJanuary 15, 1911
"France has several Dukes, bearers of historic titles and of illustrious names, who are half American, through their mothers. Among them is Jean Armand Chapelle de Jumilhac de Richelieu, (8th and last)  Duc de Richelieu, Duc de Fronsac, Marquis de Jumilhac, who is now spending the winter in New York, and taking an active part in the gayeties of its season.
Alice, 7th Duchesse de Richelieu
His mother, born at New Orleans, as the daughter of Michel Heine, a leading banker there, enjoys the distinction of being the only American woman who has ever attained sovereign rank in the Old World, and who has figured at the Courts of Europe, not among the mere nobility, but among the crowned heads. She attained possession of her place on a throne through her second marriage to the reigning Prince of Monaco, and although judicially separated from him, yet she still continues to enjoy all the honors and prerogatives reserved for the Anointed of the Lord.

Among the many dignities which she acquired through this second marriage of hers is that of Duchesse de Mazarin, and it is certainly a remarkable fact that she should have thus become possessed of a Dukedom first created in the favor of Cardinal de Mazarin, the famous Minister of Louis XIV, after having, during her first marriage and ten years of widowhood, borne the Ducal title and name of his still more celebrated predecessor, the Cardinal de Richelieu, probably the most powerful statesman in all the annals of France.

The eighth Duc de Richelieu, now in New York, through his mother is related to the Miltenbergers, the Hopkins, the Pollock and the Marigny families of New Orleans, is the third of the present creation, and has been twice reported engaged, on the first occasion to Miss Irwin, sister of the Countess of Limerick and daughter of Joseph Burke Irwin of the Priory, County Limerick, and on another occasion to Mlle. Pauline de St. Sauveur. He, however, still remains a bachelor, and as he has only one sister, Odile, married five years ago to Comte Gabriel de la Rochefoucauld, will inherit a considerable share of his mother’s very large fortune.

Should he find an American girl willing to bestow upon him her hand, I would venture to recommend that she should insist on the marriage taking place, not in this country, but in France. For there the Duc, despite the various revolutions, and the abolition of the Monarchy, continues to enjoy some rather interesting privileges, among them the exclusive right of having his wedding ceremony performed in the Chapel of the Sorbonne, in which the remains of the great Cardinal to whom the Sorbonne really owes its existence, were interred. The Cardinal spent a fortune on the Sorbonne, and merely stipulated that either the City of Paris or the State should maintain the chapel in proper repair.
the cardinal duc de Richelieu
This condition was fulfilled until about fifteen years ago, when owing to the removal of the Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology from the Sorbonne, neither the State nor city saw its way to spend any more of the taxpayer’s money upon the chapel. After a considerable amount of litigation, the then (7th) Duchesse de Richelieu, now Princess of Monaco, undertook to supply the money needed each year for repairs, and has ever since devoted about $5,000 a year to its maintenance.

The tomb of the Cardinal in the Chapel of the Sorbonne is empty. For at the time of the great Revolution at the close of the eighteenth century, his body was torn from it resting place, and after having been subjected to all sorts of indignities, was hurled into the public sewer, not before, however, its head had been cut off, in order to be paraded about the city on a pike.

After the most extraordinary vicissitudes it was recovered, and is now preserved at the Sorbonne. Though its appearance is in keeping with the contemporary portraits of this most famous personification of monarchical Absolutism, there are some who contest its authenticity, and who insist that the real head of the Cardinal is in the hands of a private collector, like that of Oliver Cromwell.

Naturally the present (8th) Duc de Richelieu is unable to count the masterful (1st duc) Cardinal among his ancestors, although he has inherited his name and his nobiliary dignities. Before the Cardinal died, he obtained the authority of the Crown to bequeath his Dukedoms of Richelieu and of Fronsac to his grand-nephew, Jean de Vignerot, grandson of his sister, Françoise du Plessis, who had married René de Vignerot, Seigneur du Pont-Courlay. The Cardinal had passed over young Jean de Vignerot’s father, owing to his extravagance, and Jean (2nd duc) in the course of time because Master General of the Galleys.

His son, Louis, was the famous Marshal, (3rd) Duc de Richelieu, celebrated to this day as the most fascinating man of his time, and who is renowned quite as much for his military victories and diplomatic successes as for his intrigues with the fair sex, these latter being accountable for his frequent incarceration in the Bastille. 

He was the acknowledged favorite of three ladies of the Royal family – namely, the Duchesse De Bourgogne, Mlle. de Valois, Mlle. de Charolais, and so great was his hold upon their hearts that Mlles. de Charolais and de Valois, although bitter rivals for his affections, nevertheless went together to visit him in the Bastille, and to shed tears there over his unhappy fate as a prisoner of state.
the 3rd duc de Richelieu & Fronsac
It was for him, also, that two of the greatest ladies of the French aristocracy fought a sensational and memorable duel with one another, which has furnished the subject of many a well-known painting.

He distinguished himself at the Battle of Fontenoy as Lieutenant General, seized theIsland of Minorca, winning thereby the baton of Field Marhsal, and, curious to relate, was as popular with men as with women. In fact, it is to his popularity among the former that must be ascribed his election at the age of twenty-four to the FrenchAcademy, although he was at the time scarcely able to write, and lamentably ignorant of literature and art.

In his later years, however, he may be said to have made good his membership of the Academy by his friendship and generous support of Voltaire.

He (the 3rd duc) died at the age of ninety-two, just before the great French Revolution, his third marriage, to Mme. de Rothe, having taken place at eighty-four, in the same week as that of his grandson, (5th duc) Armand, and eventual successor.  His son (the 4th duc) Louis Antoine Sophie de Vignerot du Plessis, held the ducal title for only 4 years!

This marriage of (5th duc) Armand, the fifth duc de Richelieu,  was of an extraordinary character. He was sixteen years old at the time and bore the title of Comte de Chinon, while his bride, Alexandrine Rosalie de Rochechouart-Faudoas, was but twelve. Immediately after the wedding he was sent abroad to travel, and came to this country (the USA). He remained three or four years away, and during his absence received numerous letters from the young girl, who was his wife only in name, and also some portraits, in which she was depicted as retaining much of the childish beauty and charm which he had admired at the time of their wedding.

Summoned home to France to take up his married life, he (the 5th duc) was welcomed at the entrance of the Richelieu mansion in Paris by his grandfather, the old Marshal Duc de Richelieu (3rd duc), and by his father, the Duc de Fronsac (4th duc) – for the title of Duc de Fronsac is customarily borne by the eldest son and heir of the Duc de Richelieu. They led him to his wife, who was awaiting him at the head of the grand staircase.

Instead of the beautiful young girl whom he had expected to clasp in his arms, he found a dwarf, barely four feet in height, and hunch backed; in fact, a perfect monstrosity. So great was the shock that he stopped short, horror struck, and then fell to the ground in a dead faint. He was conveyed to his rooms, where on recovering consciousness he informed his father and grandfather that nothing on earth could induce him to ever live with the Duchesse, and ordering his carriage and horses he left the same night for Russia, where he entered the army of Empress Catherine, and fought under Field Marshal Souvaroff in his wars against the Turks.

He remained in the Russian service until the restoration of the Bourbons, after the downfall of Napoleon, and his name is honored to this day in the land of the Czars as one of its most brilliant military commanders, and as the creator and first Governor of the now great and prosperous city of Odessa, which has raised a magnificent monument to his memory.

Returning to France in 1814, the (5th) Duc was appointed by Louis XVIII, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Premier, and took advantage of the high favor in which he was held by Czar Alexander I, to secure through him a reduction of the foreign occupation of France from seven to three years, and a very notable diminution of the war indemnity to which France had been subjected. In recognition of this, the French National Legislature voted him an annuity of $10,000 a year, which he turned over to the City of Bordeaux for the foundation and endowment of a public hospital.

He left no children, and was survived by his wife. The latter, after his desertion of her in 1786, had withdrawn to the Château de Courteilles, about thirty miles fromParis, where she spent the remainder of her life, so kindly and charitable, that she was not even disturbed by the great Revolution. It speaks volumes for the Duchesse, that in spite of the affront to which she had been subjected by her husband, she kept up a friendly correspondence with him throughout his sojourn in Russia. On his return to France, he became a frequent visitor at Courteilles, and had made all the preparations to take up his residence there with the Duchesse, when overtaken by sudden death in 1822.

The Duc had two half-sisters, children of his father by his second marriage with Marie-Antoinette de Galiffet. Beautiful as children, they for some reason or other, probably from Pott’s disease, grew up to be hunchbacks, like the Duc’s wife. Or rather, they did not grow up. For their stature remained almost as stunted as that of the Duchesse, and when the Duc discovered that his ward and cousin, Mlle. d’Hautefort, afterward Baronesse de Damas, had likewise become a hunchback on attaining womanhood, he could not refrain from exclaiming that he was destined to be pursued to the end of his days by hunchbacks.

In spite of their deformity, his two half-sisters found husbands. The elder, Armandine, Louis Hippolyte de Montcalm Gozon, Marquis de Montcalm, and, affecting ill-health, may be said to have passed her entire married life on a couch, so as to conceal her affliction. She left no children.

Her sister, Simplicie Armande, had no such sensitiveness about her looks. Happily married to Antoine Pierre Joseph Chapel Jumilhac, Marquis de Jumilhac, she was devoted to society and its pleasures, and was so witty, so sunny tempered, and so full of life and entrain that people forgot her hunchback, forgot her abbreviated stature, as well as her ugliness, and found no entertainment and not fête complete without her presence. 

On her half-brothers death, and in accordance with a petition which he had some time previously addressed to King Louis XVIII, the latter issued letters patent, dated December 19, 1822, bestowing the Dukedoms of Richelieu and Fronsac, along with a hereditary seat in the Chamber of Peers, upon her eldest son, Antoine, Marquis de Jumilhac, who thus became the (6th duc de Richelieu), first Duc de Richelieu and of Fronsac of the present creation.

Inheriting his mother’s diminutive stature, he was a well-known figure in Londonsociety in the early seventies of the last century, and used to stay at Holland House, with Lady Holland, who was one of his great friends. He went in Mayfair by the nickname of ‘C’est Abominable,’ as he considered everything modern went under that category, and could see no good in anything French since the Revolution of 1830, nor in anything English since the downfall of the Stuarts in 1688.

Dying unmarried, his two Dukedoms and his Marquisate of Jumilhac went to his nephew, Armand, the only son of his younger brother, Louis. Armand, succeeding as (7th Duc de Richelieu) and second Duc of the second creation, married Alice Heine in Paris in 1875, and died five years later at Athens while traveling with his wife in Greece. The present (8th and last) Duc de Richelieu, now here, is their only son."

Thanks to the writer of the blog which is the source of this post.

1 comment:

Susan said...

That is just jaw droppingly gossipy -- fantastic stuff. I love the portrait of the 3rd Duke -- so opulent.

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