La Vie Creative

EP 135: Paris History Avec A Hemingway (Gabrielle de Polignac)

August 09, 2021 Krystal Kenney Episode 135
La Vie Creative
EP 135: Paris History Avec A Hemingway (Gabrielle de Polignac)
Show Notes

In this week's episode of Paris History Avec a Hemingway, we continue on with another lady of Marie Antoinette. Gabrielle de Polignac was a constant source of gossip from Versaille to Paris. The fun-loving Polignac was born September 8, 1749, in Paris into the French noble family of the Nouilles. Married in 1767 to Jules de Polignac, captain of the Royal Regiment and a member of the court at Versailles. 

Through her sister-in-law who was the lady of honor to Madame Elisabeth, she was invited frequently to court. Gabrielle was very beautiful and was easily noticed and even caught the eye of Marie Antoinette. The queen walked up to her and asked who she was and why she hadn’t seen her before to which Polignac replied, “we don’t have the money to live the court life”. Marie liked her honesty and invited her back the next day. 

Polignac was free-spirited and loved the trappings of life at Versailles at a time when the queen was tired of the formality. Gabrielle encouraged her to spend more time at the Petit Trianon enjoying the casual lazy days. A welcome change from the etiquette and watchful eyes but that came with a lot of problems. 

Rumors began to spread about Polignac and the queen. Marie Antoinette was already hated by the people and Polignac became public enemy number one. They thought her influence over the queen and her excess was a direct drain on the treasury of France.There was also the rumor that they were lovers which just rallied them all up even more. 

When the Bastille was attacked, Polignac and her husband were told to leave Versailles. Fleeing with just the clothes on their back and enough bread and wine in their coach they arrived in Switzerland in three days. She stayed in touch with the queen once she was arrested and held in the Temple prison. 

On January 21, 1793, the king was killed and when the news finally reached her she could barely handle it. Falling ill to tuberculosis, her son tried to keep the news of the queen's death a secret. They were able to shield her until the end of November, a week later on December 5, 1793, the queen of the parties, Gabrielle Polignac died in Switzerland. 


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