Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The last Duchess D'Avaray.

Rosalie- Francoise- Adelaide- Caroline -Eugenia-Marie of Mercy Argenteau.
Born on June 18 1862 in the Chateau of Argenteau in Belgium.
Duchess D'Avaray. The Princess Montglyon .

Chateau D'Argenteau.

The old historical chateau of Argenteau in Belgium was all a quiver with excitement with hope on the day of July 18 1862 as a new heir was expected to be born , Their joy turned to mourning as the news came that it was "only a girl". The only hope was that a boy will be born next. Unfortunately Princess Louise  had a procedure after the birth and she would never have another child..So "the girl" would be the last one of a family that covers ten centuries of illustrious writers, warriors, crusaders ,diplomats and dukes.The disappointment of her sex grew no less as time went on .If anything it intensified. To the father the sex was a cause of regret- ever present-but reasonable.For the mother is a cause of rage which developed into a smoldering resentment and a hate toward the child.


The father:-  Count  Eugene Mercy Argenteau.

The mother:- Princess Louise de Caraman-Chimay.

The only person who Rose felt any affection from was Bartlett her English nurse -or Baddy- as little Rose called her .She was the child's  refuge and little Rose  realized that she was loved and that even when she was punished it was deserved. 

Her nurse Bartlett and little Rose. 

Rose was for ever told that she was a "fright of a child " and her mother had all the mirrors in the nursery covered .Rose observed every pretty lady she saw and imitated their posture and  manner. She was a sorry-looking daughter of a beautiful mother, who never made her forget that.
After one disappointing trip to Paris when Rose was promised a visit to the circus,that never happened ,she  got back to Argenteau to find out that Bartlett was let go . Rose no longer needed a nurse but would now have a governess. Loosing the only person who showed her some affection was a great shock to Rose .When she reacted to that by becoming hysterical- her mother called for a maid and took a little golden ruler from her desk and whipped the girl soundly, and then sent her to bed.

Princess Louise.

Franz Liszt.

Emperor  Napoleon III.

Rose's mother -Princess Louise was the reigning belle of the ball .She was a great pianist and befriended musicians like Franz Liszt, who became her lover- and promote Russian composers Rimsky -Korsakoff and Borodin's music in Russia and all over Europe.  Napoleon the III visited her incognito as Monsieur Benaguet at the Hotel de la rue de Surenes- and it set the tongues wagging .Her parents were both Bonapartists and imperialists.The Princess did a lot to help Napoleon III when he was taken prisoner. .She wrote a book about her relationship  with Napoleon. "The Last Love of an Emperor".

Comtesse Louise de Mercy-Argenteau, née Princesse de Caraman-Chimay,
Rose's mother.

Rose just before her debut wearing her famous pearl earrings.

Rose was educated  by private governesses and tutors at home in the Chateau Argenteau.. For religious instructions she mixed with other children .Here she met a distant cousin who was a descendant of James 1 of England . His name was Fitz-James.He was a handsome young man and six years older than Rose They were betrothed by their families and as the custom was.They saw very little of each other and always chaperoned.  "Mon petit mari" soon left for five years militarily service in Africa.  After his return they would be married. Rose had at least three years of hard study before her, to complete her baccalaureate exams .
Life was unhappy for Rose and she could not wait for the return of Fitz- James so that they could get married and she could escape her prison of living hell .One day she was calmly  informed that the engagement was over and no reason was given. When she never heard from him again she accepted the fact that it was all over.

The Duke Fitz-James.

Her approaching debut was coming up and as her parents were Imperialist and not Royalists the problem arose where she should have her debut to society.The problem was solved when she received an invitation from Queen Isabella of Spain  to a ball at the Palais de Castille in Paris.

Queen Isabella of Spain.

For the first time in her life Rose's mother gave her some attention and told her what to wear and how to behave. She knew a new life was opening up for her and she was delirious with excitement She wore a white tulle gown with a tight fitting white satin bodice. On her head a crown of fresh 'La France" roses .When she bowed to kiss the Queens hand she turned her head and kissed her own gloved hand, as she heard rumors that the queen suffered  from a skin infection.
Her success was apparent and presentation followed presentation as the Royalist dowagers approved of her. Rose sunned herself in the rare approval - and of  masculine admiration there was no doubt. The culminating triumph came when she was invited to do the quadrille with Hubert  Comte D'Avaray at a ball hosted by Duchess de Maillé  a pillar of the Royalist clan.
After their  return to Argenteau for a few weeks her parents took her to Cowes for the Royal regatta.Here she met die Prince Edward  and Princess Alexandra  of Wales and and later in London made her bow to Queen Victoria,They remained on the Isle of Wight for a month of bliss.

The Prince and Princess of Wales.

Crown Prince William of Orange.

The Princess of Wales  (later Queen Alexandra) wanted Rose to marry in England and they found a perfect match for her- His Royal Highness William off Orange. The Crown Prince was known as Citron  and was the eldest  son of the King of Holland and Queen Sophie of Wurtenberg.
He was then 26 years old.The Price agreed to the marriage, but needed more time to sow his wild oats before he settled down. He loved Paris, and that is where he went. He wanted to reach the limit but  one night he went to far and was found  dead in a Montmart opium den.

Rose  Mercy -Argenteau.

Rose's mother preferred a first-family marriage in Paris to any country's crown, and was perfectly satisfied with whatever arrangement would take Rose out of her presence and off her hands.
Rose would always  remember the evening of December 18 1882. Her mother had received three offers of marriage and decided  a decision had to be made. They arrived in Paris and she confronted  Rose and her father with the propositions. Rose was not excited by the prospects as one young man she could not even remember, and the other two she met only once. She told her parents that she was not interested in marriage .Her furious mother threatened that she would be sent to a convent if she did not marry. Rose suggested that they write the three names on pieces of paper and the fourth should be the convent. She promised that whatever was written on the paper she would marry -or go to a convent. She drew the name Duke of D"Avaray. Her marriage was a lottery.

Edouart-Joseph-Hubert-Marie de Beziade Duke D'Avaray 15 April 1856- 23 January 1930. 
Married February 3 1883.
Rosalie -Francoise-Adélaide-Caroline -Eugénie -Marie of Mercy Argenteau.
18 July 1862- 1925

Rose with her uncle the Prince of Chimay and Hubert Duke of D'Avaray.

Rose's impression of the Duke of D'Avaray in her own words:-
"Hubert was a good looking ,well groomed, extremely self satisfied young man His naturally curly hair was carefully combed and flattened out as if ironed. In spite of his looseness of features , his puffy yellow-white skin, his lightly bulging eyes of insipid blue, the tout ensemble was not unpleasing He was tall well built but the absolute lack of athletic exercise, or any outdoor sports, made him at twenty five more like a stately major domo than a alert active young man.
A scion of the Royalist party bending a knee to ask in marriage the only daughter of an ardent Bonapartist because she happened to be a belle of the season. He agreed to my selection as he would have agreed to the purchase of a good-looking horse or a fine ornament.- with no feeling of delicacy."

Rose during the time of her marriage.

The couple met for the next month twice a week -once at each parent's home.They had nothing to say to each other-practically speaking two different languages. He was an ultra Royalist and she was from the detested Regime Imperial. After eight meetings they were  married. The first of February was the civil ceremony where Rose wore a dress of plain navy serge ,and her large peal earrings. After the ceremony her mother took they newly made countess for a drive in the Bois and then dropped her off with an old family friend Princes d' Henin.  Rose was left there on many occasions as a child while her mother would rendezvous with several of her male friends under the shelter of Rose's innocent company.

Rose and her mother Princess Louise.

The old princess wanted to know how Rose fell in love and decided  to marry Hubert. She was horrified  when Rose told her that she had no feelings for the duke but at least she would have the freedom to dye her hair bright red ,paint her lips like her mother, and wear what she likes. The old lady was very upset and said if that is so- but what about the end of the day when the duke will share her bed and demand more than a goodnight kiss? Bit by bit the Princess  tore the veil of ignorance  away until Rose was sobbing uncontrollably on her lap. When her mother returned the Princess took her aside  and spoke to her in private. She was furious with Rose and told her she is lying and she should pull herself together for the celebration at her  grandfather's mansion that evening When her mother realized how upset she was she calmed down and told her she should go to bed and she did not need to attend the wedding reception,She  told Rose  that they would discuss it the next morning with her father. The next day her father told her that it is done- she is married -and should get on with it. He would not discuss it any longer. She got dressed later to attend the wedding reception at  the Hotel D'Avaray-"the immense prion like palace shut off from the street by the  huge chiseled door".
She was secretly amused to see the unconcealed  envy in the eyes of so many dowagers with marriageable daughters. Her new husband's grandfather took delight in parading  Rose around. 
The next morning it was time to prepare for the noon ceremony at the Madeleine church.

The Madeleine Church in  Paris.

For the noon ceremony Rose wore a wedding gown made of white Venetian lace ,tightly fitted and laced at the back with a long court train. The over gown was made of a web-like cashmere and on her  head a orange blossom wreath anchored the veil that covered her from head to toe..She wore her pearls earrings, the ruby engagement ring as well as a decorative pin. They guest met afterwards in the sacristy which was much too small . The Imperial family was represented by Count Waleski. The French Royal Family's representatives where Duke de Mirepoix and the Duke of D'Aosta. The Grand Duke and  Duchess Vladimir of Russia were there ,as well as the King of the Belgians. The Duke of Edinburgh for the British and Archduke Franz Ferdinand for the Austrian Royal House.
They couple left the church arm in arm down the center aisle to the thundering organ playing Mendelssohn wedding march.As wedding gifts the bride received and ermine lined cape from the Russian Tsar and Tsarina.Queen Victoria sent a set of gold mounted toiletries and from the Belgian King a set of flawless diamond earrings. 
In their private train carriage the maid and valet brought the papers so that they could read about the description of the previous night's reception and the wedding ceremony that morning.Hubert voiced his first regret about being away for four months on this honeymoon. He was missing Paris already. 
As Paris move further and further away the groom got more restless and nervous.When he heard the stop Melun being called , he jumped up and exclaimed "My keys- I forgot  my keys! " and was off.
 There was no groom when the train arrived in Fontainebleau -neither for the first night of his honeymoon. .He arrived the next day and apologized. Later Rose learned that his father introduced him to a "good friend" who could teach him all the finer point in love. When Hubert realized that he will have to perform that night he panicked and rushed back to Paris  and spent the night with his "friend". The bride did not mind spending her first wedding night alone. 
 Rose was coming into her own and realized that she was a beautiful woman and that men admired her beauty. It gave her more confidence and the longer she was away from her mother the better she felt.The first stop in Italy was in Florence but her husband had this abnormal horror and dread of disease.They went to Venice  where he did not want to go and once there he did not want to stay. Rome and Naples was out of the question for the same reason so Rose went on her own to Rome and Naples where she also visited Pompeii.
On the train from Florence to Verona a good-looking officer share their compartment.He was openly showing his admiration for Rose without words and when her husband fell asleep he became bolder. She got up to move to Hubert's other side to get more distance between herself and the officer. When she got up he grabbed and kissed her. She slapped his face and fell onto her sleeping husband whose only concern was that she woke him up! The officer left with a wink and threw his card on the seat where he was sitting.
In a terrific gale that made her dear husband miss Paris and his beloved Jockey Club even more, they landed in Salonika .From there they went to Athens and then on to Constantinople, making the French Embassy their their headquarters. The Ambassador was the Marquis de Noailles and his Russian wife. 

The Last Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid  .

The Sultan and ruler of Turkey was a barbarous blood-thirsty savage who massacred the Armenians  to such an extend that the world rose in anger protest against him.Rose met him three times  during their stay.His yacht had a trap hole- and many a concubine ended down there being dumped into the Bosphorus river once she served her master.
The Sultan himself took Rose to visit the harem in his palace when they were for  a reception.The women of the harem were dressed in gorgeous French creations of fifteen to twenty years ago .They were adorned with stunning jewels, their hair was oiled and perfumed ,and their nails were painted. They wore very high heeled shoes .They were of all ages and invariably stout. Some of the younger Circassian and Nubian girls had beautiful figures .They wore nothing except tin veils draped around them. They were the "fratra"  or nobodies .Yet the most beautiful of the harem inmates.   
The Sultan  mentioned that Rose was a welcome guest to the harem and "may Allah be praised, if she can be induced to stay".

Rose dressed for a ball.

Their arrival in Vienna had been heralded from Paris and Constantinople Prince de Metternich was a close friend of Rose's parents .They arranged a continuous rounds of sightseeing, fêtes and balls to greet the "jeune ménage" As a matter of fact the young couple was going from bad to worse.
Rose found that she could at least think and speak as she liked ,come and go as she liked, and dress as she liked.She had nothing in common with her husband. All he could think about was his health and when "this abominable trip" will be over. Rose was indifferent to him and was founding him more distasteful as time went on. Suppressed and denied the normal gratifications of pleasure all through her life the complete freedom went to her head .She stated to flirt outrageously.Her husband refused to go anywhere .She went to a dinner given in their honor alone -all of Vienna was there. The Archduke Rudolph ( He would soon commit suicide with his mistress at Mayerling) and his wife Stephanie of Belgium was there as well as Archduke Franz Ferdinand .Rose danced and danced and drank water and brandy to keep up her spirit. 

 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
 (The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand  and wife on June 28 1914 
would start  World War 1 ) 

 Archduke Franz  Ferdinand took Rose under his wing and she enjoyed the attention. She gave herself a free hand in his ardent flirtation and the tongues of evil stated to wag. Swept off her feet by his Hussar-like lovemaking and delighted with the homage - she could not care what the Viennese where saying about her. Princess Metternich warned Rose not to resent the Archduke's attention as it would mean her social downfall. The Princess  also raved against Hubert- who has been married for three month already- but he still had not  made Rose his wife.After the Princess gave Hubert a bit of her mind he refused to attend any social gatherings or  balls , leaving Rose free to do as she pleased. He spent his nights at the Jockey Club gambling.She enjoyed seeing the Archduke and enjoyed his attention and admiration.

Hotel D'Avaray  85  Rue de Grenelle .Paris.

Returning to Paris after the four month honeymoon, their married live started .They moved in to Hubert's ancestral home the Hotel D'Avaray where he grew up.It was a large mansion  between court and garden ,bare and desolate ,as was the sensation that held Rose in its grip once the big porch-cochiere closed behind .

Matilde de Rouchchouart-Mortemart .Duchess of D'Avaray- dressed in French Couture.

On the ground floor ,with its huge high ceiling rooms, lived the old Duke D'Avaray Edouard Theophile de Beziade and his wife Duchess Matilde de Rouchchouart-Mortemart .The parents Marquis Jules Camille De Beziade and his wife Marquise Armande Sequier lived on the second floor. Hubert and Rose moved into the top floor.
 Her handsome father-in-law liked her and she was very fond of him.He was a gentle soul ,lacking decision ,completely dominated by his wife Armande''s force of character and imense fortune over which she always kept close control. She was not of equal rank as her husband .She was a thoroughly unpleasant woman with obnoxious habits. She had pretty feet and hands and snappy black eyes but her skin was greasy and yellow and rarely washed out of consideration for her health. Her lips were thin and tightly pinched.She also went to the best couturiers in Paris but  always looked unkempt. She was extremely intelligent and well versed in law and wrote with some ability.Her attitude towards Rose was complex..Rose was good tempered and understood her and humored her. but got the feeling that she was seen as an intruder. In the beginning she allied herself with Rose against her son "Will he never stop gambling ?" "Take him with you where he can't gamble!" Later on Rose was to blame for all her husband's trespasses.
Armande would now and then permit herself to trespass gleefully on the forbidden ground of romance and adventure, urging Rose to tell her stories of  her gay activities. All of a sudden wrapping herself in frigidity she would stop Rose suddenly;"Enough of this foolery. I only wanted to see how far you go.One day you will go too far! Rose learned to watch for and avoid the trap.
Soon after their return to Paris the Prince and Princess de Leon , her husbands cousins, gave a ball .Her husband asked Rose to drop him off at the Jockey Club and he would join her later, As she slowly ascended the grand staircase when she  became aware of a man looking at her .Her heart leaped when she realized it was Fitz James- her "petit mari." He came closer and without a greeting asked her "How could you marry someone else after you promised me?"She told him what her parents told her;- that he was going to marry somebody else and that he had forgotten about her.
After paying their respects to their hosts they retired to corner to catch up. He told her that while he was still in Africa his parents lost their fortune and that Rose's family, learning about it, put an end to the engagement.  

 The Duchess out on the town with a ostrich feather fan.

Her husband never arrived that evening ,and she took the carriage home at 4:00 am but could not stop thinking about Fitz -James and the time they have wasted .Her husband spent most of his time at the club gambling so she had enough time on her hands to see Fitz- James. The went riding, went  to the theater and opera, and attended balls. She fell more and more under his spell and decided they were sliding down a very dangerous slope.Their meeting attracted notice and comments. Rose did not love her husband but she was not ready to break her marriage vows. She decided that Fitz -James should get married. She had a friend Vivien who was madly in love with him She arranged for them to get married. Their social circle was baffled and Rose was the object of many curious glances at the wedding ,where she kissed both  the bride and the groom This done she went home broken hearted..

Rose decided that she should try and be seen with her husband more or else people would talk.The club was his home and gambling his life. He rose late, lunched with is parents and wife and then off to the races. Came home to dress for dinner and return late or early morning .From where she did not know -nor did she care. Rose spent her day getting up early as a dutiful daughter-in-law and joined her mother-in-law for early morning mass then had breakfast with them .After a fencing lesson and a shower she would get a good massage An hour drive in the Bois de Boulogne or a walk will fill the morning. Back to prison for a dreary lunch -with her husband looking at his watch every five minutes Visits, lectures, walks anything to fill the afternoon and at night the theater or opera and balls .Even the Chat Noir -a famous night club in Paris.

Rose hated to try on clothes and endured the fittings at Creed for tailored dresses and Douchet and Worth for gowns - even Paquin for negligees . Soon she had a mannequin of her size do all the fittings. Hats were another story and she would gladly visit Virots and order them by the dozen. She was shameless in her greed for hats!

Gown by Worth 

Hat by Virot.

One evening Rose was trying on a gown that she wore a few month before but to her surprise she could not close it around her waist.She realized that she was going to be a mother.

Mother Rose and son Antoine.

October 1 1885. After fifteen hours of labor ,Rose delivered a healthy baby boy Antoine-Hubert-Louis-Camille-Maurice Béziade - and her duty to produce a heir was accomplished. Hubert was on a hunting trip in France.Her mother-in-law chose a nurse that came armed with certificates from mayor and clergy. Rose soon realized that the baby was hungry and replace the nurse with a peasant woman Emilie Rousseau with ample milk. Her mother-in-law never forgave her and this was the beginning of their feud over the boy, 
When Hubert arrived three days later at Argenteau to see his son ,some difficulties arose between him and Rose's parents over money settlements. The marriage contract stated that each of the families would settle twenty five thousand francs a year on the couple.Her husband's family has settled their account but Rose's portion had not been paid. Her parents  proposed to turn over their house in Paris to the couple but the amount they thought it was worth was not agreeable to her or her husband .Bitter words was exchanged and after deliberating if she could stay in Argenteau with her parents or return to Paris -she decided to go with her husband to Paris.It was the lesser of two evils. 
On their return to Paris Rose hurled herself back into the social life and as the Paris season just started she had a great time. One masked ball after the other filled her evenings. Baby Antoine was left in the capable  hands of Emilie ,and Rose saw him now and then when her schedule  permitted.

Rose dressed for a masked ball in Paris .

In June 1887  they went to London for Queen Victoria's jubilee festivities, and on to Cowes where for seventeen days - not much rest was had. Every one was there -The Grand dukes from Austria, as well as members of the British Royal family. A grand time was had by all. Swimming driving lunching, tennis ,yachting, dining, bridge, dancing -one after the other all night and day.
The tent of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward V11) in the garden was the temple to which some were invited .From these dimly lit tête-a-têtes some guests  turned away smiling discreetly, others were envious of the privilege and others very much shocked.

Rose-The Duchess D'Avaray on the Royal yacht Britannia in Cowes in 1887.

The last days in England were a whirlpool and  Rose had her first good rest on the boat over the English Canal back to France. From Calais a fast train to Paris and then via Versailles to the Chateau Mareil le Gyon -that belonged to Rose's mother-in-law's family.

 Chateau Mareil le Gyon.

Chateau Mareil le Gyon: Then and now.

Painting that hung in the Chateau by Francoise-André Vincent 
The Marquise of La Galaiziere being created  Chancellor of Loraine.
This was Armande Sequier's ancestor.

Chateau D'Avaray in the Loire Valley .

Chateau D'Avaray now.

The Chateau Mareil le Gyon belonged to the Sequier family.It was situated close to Paris and a convenient  distance to travel .Armande made the  rules, so as it was her family's home .that was where the family spent their summers. The Chateau D'Avaray was in the Loire Valley and too far.The old Duke and his wife spent their summers there. It suited Hubert ,as well as Rose, just fine as they were closer to Paris if the country life got a bit too boring.
The large  room were almost  bare of furniture- but what was there where of the best quality. Big tapestries and wall hanging with priceless antiques and heavy silver. . The lonesome country life bored Hubert and he did not even spend Sunday with the family but sped back to Paris as soon  as he could. Rose when to church with her elders and attended the receptions her mother-in-law arranged.
The food was as odd as the house and its furniture. It was abundant- first soup. an entrée ,fish, roast, a cold dish ,two vegetables and to end it all cheese and dessert .It exactly tasted the same owing to the Duchess's strange fancy to a "roux" -a brown butter sauce covering every dish. Even the old Duke who who rarely summoned the spirit to criticize anything  was irritated by the constant appearance of this sauce at dinner time and would call out in despair :-"Enfin pourquoi  toujours ce roux? Pouquoi pas pour changer quelquefois une sauce blanche méme?" Why the brown sauce every day -can't we have a white sauce for  a change, The old Duchess reply was always the same - a white sauce is nice but the brown  sauce has more nutrition.
 Rose was an ardent horsewoman and rode very often along the "grand route" to Paris. The chance meetings were very pleasant and amusing and spicy enough to repeat. When only one rider appeared and turned his horse to accompany her, they could take one of the pretty side paths conductive to delightful, if prudent tête-a-têtes.Something happened soon to put a stop to this, Two of her cavaliers got into a duel . One was killed while the other was badly hurt.This put a damper on the summer fun.

The Jockey Club. Paris. The Duke's home from home.

Soon after their return to Paris a note was sent to Rose requesting a private interview.The footman showed in a rather unsavory character.He showed Rose a note, signed by her , stating that she would pay the bearer of this note eighty thousand francs.  Very indignant she returned the note and told that man that she has never seen it and that she definitely did not sign it.He took the note and told her that it would be sad if a noble man of such an old and good family ,will end up in prison because of this. She asked for the note back and told the man that he should return in four days. 
She did not know where Hubert was and she could not talk to his parents as his father had no money and his mother refused to pay his gambling debts.The only one she could think to turn to was the Prince of Wales He was a close friend of her mothers and liked Rose very much. She sent him a telegraph that she would be in the Berkeley Hotel London the next day and if he could meet her there. Sir Stanley Clark arrived at the hotel at noon and with his help Rose arranged for a lunch menu for the Prince who arrived at one with his equerry .After the lunch the two gentlemen left and Rose told the Price her tale of woe.He asked her to give him some time .Later the same day he had a gentleman deliver the money to Rose. The Prince did not care for her husband but was very fond of Rose.She had the opportunity later to return the favour. 
She rushed back to Paris and settled the debt .She confronted Hubert about making notes of obligation in her name. He assured her that he did  not sign her name but thanks anyhow for paying the debt! They had a big argument and that ended their physical relationship.
Paris has lost its charm  for Rose. She felt horror for her husband and his mother and the dreary mansion . Every time the heavy bronze door of the Hotel  D'Avaray closed behind her she shuddered.
The only light in this dark time was Fitz-James who was also very unhappy in his marriage but Rose urged him to wait for a suitable time before they made up their minds to divorce their spouses and get married. Rose's biggest hurdle was her son Antoine.
One evening Hubert joined her when she was climbing the stairs  to their apartment .He begged her to save him once again .She wanted to refuse but decided to help him- to get what she wanted. She asked Hubert to meet her in their son's nursery the next morning and she would give him an answer.
The next morning she told Hubert  the only reason she is helping him is for the sake of their son. She needs the power of attorney to sell the house that her father gave them , and that she needs a six month trail separation.He was so pleased that he agreed to all of her demands. 
She paid him the money later in the day before he left for the Jockey club. That evening she dined with the his mother- the old Duchess Armande- and told her that she was leaving for six months - traveling for the Holy Land on a pilgrimage and not all the ugly steps that lead to her decision.
Her  son would stay in the Hotel D'Avaray with his nurse Emilie and her mother-in-law. Rose kissed her hand and went upstairs. She  left Armande  mortified at what Paris society will have to say about this.Rose could not care less.
Rose promised Fitz-James to meet him at the Duchess de Doudeauville's ball that evening . She was going to tell him that she was leaving for the Holy Land for six months -alone. Her black velvet gown a diamond star in her hair and her diamond earrings made her look like a frozen iceberg with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Fitz -James was not thrilled to hear the news -but she was adamant.

 The Duchess in her velvet gown. 

She instructed her maid Clothilde to start packing that same night .The next day she spent with her little boy visiting  all the their favorite places . She went to the Notre Dame de Victoires and prayed that he will still stay a part of her life forever.

Notre Dame Des Victoires.

That night she and Clothilde left on the night train to Marseilles. When arriving they went to the harbor .The first boat leaving  was a French liner sailing  for Tunis ,and they boarded right away.
Rose was very serious about this pilgrimage and wanted guidance for her life.She wanted to go where the Lord suffered and died for mankind.She wanted to go to her Father in pertinence and receive absolution.She wanted to start again -Sweet, clean and fresh.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Chateau D'Avaray.

The Château d'Avaray .

Claude Theophile De Besiade -Duke d'Avaray.
Painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud,

File:Blason famille fr Bésiade d'Avaray.svg

Dukes of D'Avaray in chronological order :-
1799-1811 : Antoine Louis François de Bésiade (1759-1811), 
1817-1829 : Claude Antoine de Bésiade (1740-1829), 
1811-1859 : Joseph Théophile Parfait de Bésiade (1770-1859), 
1859-1887 : Ange Édouard Théophile de Bésiade (1802-1887), 
1887-1894 : Jules Victor Camille de Bésiade (1827-1894), 
1894-1930 : Édouard Joseph Hubert Marie de Bésiade (1856-1930), 
1930-1941 Marie Bernard Édouard de Bésiade  (Line Extinct)

Duc D'Avarays

D'Avaray livery brass button.

Letter from the Duke D'Avaray -in his hand writing- to Louis XVIII.
Four lines down D'Avaray on line 9 -Madame du Barry's name is mentioned.

JPEG - 155.6 ko

Deux gentilshommes tués à Gesté....

Claude Antoine de Béziade, Duc d'Avaray. 
Artist:- Jean Michele Moreau ,1741--1814

 I became very interested in the d'Avaray family when my friends ; Pieter and Susan  bought the grand apartment in the Chateau d'Avaray in the Loire Valley of France.

Pieter and Susan.

Chateau D'Avaray.

History of the Chateau D'Avaray.

To the feudal castle's 13th century foundations and towers, the west and north wings were added, The moat were built around 1620. In  1730, three dormant bridges that crossed the moat and drawbridge  was removed. The south facade, the central front building with its balcony and the triangular pediment that dominates the chateau was also added in 1730 .In 1736,  the eastern wing was built.
The Chateau  Avaray is located on the right  bank of the Loire. It is a magnificent building of the Louis XIII style, flanked at the corners by massive 13th century towers and surrounded by a large moat. The water  can be crossed  by  three stone bridges.The spillway of this moat operates a mill before driving the water  to the Loire.
 The park was designed by Le Nôtre , who also  designed the gardens of Versailles. 
The old 13th century  feudal castle  belonged to the Montgomery family. One of them, Gabriel, captain of the Scottish Guard, had the misfortune of  killing  the French King Henry II in a tournament in 1559 and had to leave the court. He became one of the most formidable Protestant  leaders and was beheaded in 1574.
The tombstone of his wife, Péronnelle de Champaigne is preserved at the chateau.
It was rebuilt by the family of Bésiade,who came to France  with Henry IV of Navarre and Béarn, who was the first Protestant King of France.
The Besiade family's  direct descendants kept the chateau  until 1922. 
In the 1940 it was sold as separate apartments .
Gabriel de Lorges comte de Montgomery 1530 1574 by Feron Eloi Firmin.jpg

  Gabriel. Comte de Montgomery Seigneur de Lorges (5 May 1530 – 26 June 1574), 
This French nobleman, was a captain of the Scots Guard of King Henry II of France. He is remembered for mortally injuring King Henry II in a jousting  accident and subsequently converting  to Protestantism ,the faith that the Scots Guard sought to suppress.He became a leader of the Huguenots, 

King Henry II of France..

Andre Le Nôtre (12 March 1613 – 15 September 1700), was a French landscape architect  and the principal gardener of King Louis XIV of France . Most notably, he was the landscape architect  who designed the park of the Palace of Versailles ,and his work represents the height of the French formal garden style.

Avaray is a French territorial title belonging to a family some of whose members have been
conspicuous in history. The Béarnaise family named Besiade moved into the province of Orléans  in the 17th century, and there acquired the estate of Avaray. The family served King Henri of Navarre.
 In 1667 Claude  Theophile De Besiade  , Marquis d'Avaray, obtained the office of grand bailiff  of Orleans, which was held by several of his descendants after him.He subsequently became a lieutenant-general in 1814, a peer of France in 1815, and Duke d'Avaray in 1818.
Antoine Louis Francoise de Besiade Count d'Avaray, distinguished himself during the Revolution by his devotion and friendship to the Count of  Provence, afterwards Louis XVIII  .He saved Louis from the guillotine and went with him into exile . The King created the estate of le-Jourdain a dukedom , under the title of Avaray, in favour of the Count  d'Avaray, whom he termed his "liberator and great friend"

Louis XVIII, the Desired.jpg

King Louis XVIII of France .

Louis XVIII 's letter to the  Duke d'Avaray-in his own handwriting.
In the fourth line one see the name Avaray.

The  Avaray family's town house in Paris was the Hotel d'Avaray at  85, rue de Grenelle.
The mansion was designed for the Duke Claude Theophile in 1723 by the architect Jean Baptist Leroux. In 1920 the Avaray family sold the town house to the Netherlands Government and it is now  the Royal Netherlands Embassy to France.

Hotel d'Avaray at  85, rue de Grenelle.

Hotel d'Avaray (Paris) - Résidence de l'Ambassadeur des Pays-Bas en France.JPG

In the next letter- dated  25th February 1819  Lady Stanhope  describes an event which electrified all France:-
The Duc D'Avaray was an intimate friend of Louis XVIII. His granddaughter Rosalba, aged seventeen, was extraordinarily beautiful  and much sought after by many aspirants for her hand. Among these latter was a young Englishman, twenty-six years of age, Charles Shakerley,  who was a great friend of the Stanhope's. Indeed, it appears extremely probable that Mrs Stanhope was responsible for his introduction to Mdlle. Rosalba  D'Avaray as she was indirectly responsible for what followed. It was owing to her invitation that Madame Contibonne, whose presence might have averted what happened, was absent from her home on the eventful evening when Charles Shakerley took  fate into his hands. .The  great event which at this moment occupies all at Versailles and all Paris, and probably will shortly occupy all the beau monde of France. This great event is Shakerley's elopement with Mlle. D'Avaray, on Sunday the 21st of February 1819.
 William saw  Charles Shakerley  either Saturday or Sunday in Paris, very disconsolate after having just been refused by the ducal family. Charles  told him he was packing up, and was just going to England for a week and then intended to depart for Petersburg,  to take unto himself some Russian Belle.
William came down  with Madame & Mlle. de Contibonne, who told him Mlle. D'Avaray was their dear  friend, and they related the history of the refusal. Mdlle. de Contibonne came here to dine with her mother, who was obliged to return, having company at Paris in the evening. One of her daughters remained at home, and dined with  Mdlle. D'Avaray . The latter was to walk home with her maid to dress for a party. Instead of going home she got into a  cabriolet with her maid, and drove to the border  where Shakerley, with two carriages, was waiting. They went off to Ostend, the lady and her maid in one carriage, the gentleman and his valet in the other. At Ostend they sent  word to the Duchess D'Avaray where they were, and in return the Duc , who had no alternative, sent a "permission de marriage".
 If Charles Shakerley  murdered three women, there could not be such an bigger outcry; Old and young, male and female, married and single, all unite in abuse of the poor lady. The French dandies are in a rage that the prettiest girl in Paris should have run off with "un Anglais". The English all are delighted!
It was certainly a bold step for a French girl, as  eloping, or as the French  call it being "enlevee", is considered  everything that is shocking! Mdlle D'Avaray married Charles Shakerley and went to England to live with him. The marriage was not happy and at a  ball in Austria -a few years later -she eloped with a charming Spaniard the Duke E'Rerra .

Auderic Countess de Moustier - nee  D"Avaray .
 Here she is photographed with her children in 1870.
She died in the Charity  Bazaar Fire in Paris on May 4 1897.
 The "Bazar de la Charité"  was an annual charity event organized by the French Catholic aristocracy in Paris from 1885 onward. It is best known for the fire at the 1897 bazaar that claimed 126 lives, many of them aristocratic women, the most eminent of whom was Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Alençon, nee Sophie Charlotte of Bavaria sister of the famous Austrian Empress Sissie .

The Chateau d'Avaray.

D'Avaray Mathilde -Duchess of D'Avaray .
Neé Rochechouart de Montemart.

January 23, 1887
"The Times- Picayune from New Orleans Louisiana USA"

 THE DUCHESS D'AVARAY, who died yesterday at the age of 85,  in Paris  was on her paternal side a Montemart. Her mother was a Montmorency ; but even that old a noble house cannot claim kinship with the Virgin Mary, or descent from the Angel Gabriel, as do the Mortem art family. 
The first of the Avaray  name who distinguished himself was a marquis, who for devotion to the absent royal family during Napoleon's reign was rewarded at the restoration with a dukedom; and when Louis XVIII bestowed this title on his faithful companion he also authorized the Dukedom  quarter the royal arms with his own and to change the family motto into "Vicit iter durum pietas." It was to him that that fat Bourbon King gave a spittoon set with diamonds, a present which greatly scandalized pretty Mme. du Cayla and other ladies of court circles. The present Duke is the son of this favorite of Louis XVIII.
 On his marriage to Mile, de Montemart in 1825 they went to live in the mansion in the Rue de Grenelle that he had inherited from his father. This street of the Faubourg St. Germain contains a great many hotels belonging to ancient noble families, some of which have, however, changed hands a good many times since they were built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  For more than half a century after her marriage the Duchess presided over one of the most aristocratic and typical salons of the "noble" faubourg. By her tact, distinguished manners and powerful family connections, she made her mansion one of the most influential centers of Parisian fashionable life. No social distinction was more highly esteemed than an invitation to one of her afternoon receptions, or evening dinners for which the most careful discrimination in the selection of guests was exercised. I cannot better give the accurate measure of her social influence than by saying that she was the "grande dame" of her day, who received the greatest number of real visits; at other houses people felt that they had paid their social debt when they had left their cards, but at the Hotel d'Avaray a personal call was felt to be necessary. It was not at all unusual for as many as eighty or a hundred visitors to pass up the monumental Louis XV stairway to the salon on the second floor in a single afternoon in order to pay their respects to the lady of the house. The Duchess and her principal guests were all staunch legitimates ; and since she closed her salon five years ago there has been nothing like it in French society.
 The Duke d'Avaray, who survives his. wife, was a cavalry officer under Charles X. On the downfall of that king the Duke accompanied, him into exile, and at his death transferred his devotion to the Count de ' Chambord, The Duchess bore him two children, the Marquis d'Avaray, who has two sons, the Counts Herbert and Elie d'Avaray, and a daughter who married the Marquis da Moustier. Besides several grandchildren there are four great grandchildren, and besides all these the death of the old Duchess throws into mourning a great many families of the Faubourg St. Germain".


Le Comte De Mercy -Argenteau.
"Diplomat and Austrian Spy During the time of Marie Antoinette"
One of Rosalie's ancestors.

Rose De Besiade d'Avaray (Duc) (born De Mercy Argenteau (Comtesse))

 The last Duchess d'Avaray -
Rosalie-(Rose) de Mercy Argenteau -Princess de Montglyon.
July 18 1862 -July 25 1925,

Read here more about her life on this blog;-

Chateau d'Argenteau 

Chateau Argenteau. Birthplace in Belgium.

Rosalie - the last Duchess D"Avaray and her son.
July 18 1862- July 25 1925.

 Rosalie-(Rose)  de Mercy Argenteau -Princess de Montglyon was born in Belgian at the Chateau Argenteau.The Princess was an intimate of kings, a masked ball butterfly for whom a ride on the Prince of Wales' yacht was a routine getaway.Her son, a pampered French marquis descended from a nobleman who saved the king of France's life, liked fast and loose cars and fast and loose friends.
Somehow private scraps of their lives ended up - covered in dust, stuffed in a crate, for sale cheap - in the Gas Plant Antique Arcade on Central Avenue .
"My dear old Nanny Goat," begins the 100-year-old letter from the Marquis D'Avaray to his mother, the Princess de Montglyon.Only the aristocracy could get away with that "Nanny Goat" without courting ridicule. The marquis' letter slams the Prince of Furstenberg (distant relation to fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg). Though rich, he cheated a musician out of a tip.
"The Prince of Furstenberg has disgusted me more than ever," the marquis huffs and puffs. ". . . he gave two francs and evidently finding it too much took back some change out of the plate."
He's apparently writing from the seaside. He tells his mother he watched a squadron of warships leave that afternoon.There are photos as well: Earlier shots show a spiffy young dandy, hand tucked into a pocket below his watch fob. Later photos show him as a man with a receding hairline of middle age. He's a soldier now. He's wearing a World War I French army uniform.
The mother strikes a different pose: plump, wrapped in black, elaborately hatted, a pedigreed pooch at her side. In one group shot she's surrounded by about 30 other swells, the men in derby s, the women in fur stoles.Among the photos and letter is the black-rimmed calling card, elegantly minimalist in the facts it conveys: Marquis D'Avaray, 85 Rue de Grenelle.
A final memento is a funerary envelope, sent in October 1917 from son to mother. Someone has died. The message ends with a reference to the war: "May God make this year a happy one for me."
The family's star ascended during the French Revolution when an earlier D'Avaray saved the future King Louis XVIII from a guillotine mob. Later in exile, the king dubbed him "my liberator."
The Princess, intimate of kings in her own right, was Rose de Mercy Argenteau, Princesse de Montglyon. In 1924, she published a memoir called "The Last of a Race."
She tells of the estrangement from her marquis son and partly explains that estrangement by saving much of the ink in the book for her pet collies.Misbehavior of the rich and famous isn't a modern invention. The princess is frank about her morphine addiction and fondness for hashish cigarettes, both of which she later conquered."So that was what I was! Just That! A helpless rag, a moribund sordid wreck, devoid of dignity, fit for the contempt of a lackey and a chambermaid!" she writes.
The Last of a Race goes silent after about 1918. You imagine an increasingly batty lady, her hair coiled under a frilly hat despite the bobbed cuts fashionable in the flapper 1920s.
She's alone. The war wiped out much of the European nobility, along with her estate, flattened by the kaiser's artillery. But there were always the dogs.
The D'Avaray's sold their lavish Parisian town house, located at 85 Rue de Grenelle. It became the embassy of the Netherlands.The marquis served in World War I, but post-war living proved more dangerous. A car crash killed him in 1921.
The aristocratic title went to his cousin. He, too, died childless, so the D'Avaray line died out in 1941. The Last of a Race was more prescient than the princess knew.
Now the family's artifacts gather dust in downtown St. Petersburg Florida USA , remnants from some long-forgotten estate sale. The pictures are pasted to scrapbook pages. The buyer was likely a 1930s version of a Princess Diana groupie.
Then the groupie died in Florida retirement and the stuff moldered in an antique dealer's crate. What are the items worth? Who knows. Everyone who knew the marquis and the princess are dead.
But for a few years in the early 1900s, the marquis was the scourge of the French Riviera. Princesses took to the spas of central Europe with Russian grand dukes. Mothers were called Nanny Goats. And no one scoffed.

"The Last Race"  Comtesse Rose de Mercy Argenteau. Duchess of d'Avaray .
In the background is the Chateau  D'Avaray  

Rosalie, Duchess of Avaray, Princess of Montglyon (1862 - 1925)

 Archive of Associated Letters, Receipts & Ephemera from "The Most Extravagant Women in Paris".
An interesting collection of just over 70 items, virtually all either letters or receipts addressed to The Duchess of Avaray, who was famously described by the San Francisco Call newspaper in 1901 as "The Most Extravagant Woman in Paris". The majority are in French, the remainder are in English. Among the many items included are:
Autograph letters to the Duchess from the author Andre Bellessort (1921 1pp als on Perrin & Cie stationery), Charles Rouillard (1903 1pp Parisian architect), Major-General (retd.) Robert Avery (1839-1912, an undated 1pp letter of introduction addressed to Tiffany & Co. regarding a scent bottle originally belonging to Marie Antoinette which the Duchess wanted to sell), the New York lawyer Paul Fuller (1917 tls), the journalist Ida Zeitlin undated 3pp als, wishing to set up a meeting to tell her side of a potential story regarding a disagreement, as well as three pages of notes in Zeitlin's hand regarding details for a possible book and film deal of the story of her life; a series of eight 1903 als to "cher Princesse" from "Mathilde", apparently from a juvenile, probably with a family connection?, 
Various letters and invoices from jewelers, dressmakers, milliners requesting payment for their services, with varying degrees of politeness. An 1887 invoice from the Parisian Jewelers Fontana requests the sum of 12,623 Francs for a number of rings etc. In addition there are a number of solicitors & lawyers letters relating to legal problems and arrangements.
A couple of items of correspondence written by the Duchess, the contents often including her financial situation or the sale of jewellery ("...I must before leaving tell you how cruelly I am miserable - it is only at 5.20 that I heard Mr Bremont tell me that  Mr B had failed to having this loan for me...Mr Baites is a very shady man and has left me here in the cruelest complication...he only wants me to be out of it and step in my place..." 
Belgian by birth, The Comtesse Rosalie de Mercy-Argenteau led something of a wild life before (and after) her dowerless marriage to the Duke d'Avaray, one of the richest nobles in France. His fortune soon diminished following her extravagant spending - it was estimated that during an eighteen month period, she spent $100,000 on underwear alone. Following her divorce and handsome settlement in 1889, her lavish spending on luxuries still continued, often leading to financial scrapes, as some of the letters attest. She applied to get custody of their son, the Marquis d'Avarary in 1901, many believed to get a larger settlement from the Duke, though to no avail. She split her time between England and France, often going under the title of the Princess of Montglyon (an hereditary Mercy-Argenteau title), living the high life, before settling in Florida in around 1905. She lived there until her death in 1925 aged 63.

Here is her grave in Florida USA .


Camille. Marquise D'Avaray -Father of the last Duke.

Duc d'Avaray , Comte de Bourbon -Busset, Ligier de Saint -Pierre, de Barberey, Prince  Stirbey.
Baron de Hautecloque.

Auction catalog  of the Duke d'Avaray estate sale  in New York City. 

 26 January 1915.
Highest price $5.000 is paid for a Beauvais tapestry panel of the XVII Century .
There was a big crowd in spite of the rain at the concluding sale of the D"Avaray Collection at the American Art Galleries yesterday afternoon, The returns for the Afternoon were $62,332.00 making a grand total for the collection $96,287.00.


 Marquis d'Avaray Killed in Accident.
June 1921.

 Antoine Marquis d'Avaray, who has just met with his death in an automobile accident in the neighborhood of Boulogne, was 35 years of' age and only son of Hubert, fourth Duke of d'Avaray. He was far richer than his father, for the latter's mother, the eccentric old Duchess d'Avaray (daughter and heiress of Baron Seguier), who died in 1916, was found to have bequeathed all her fortune not to her son, but to her grandson. Relations between father and son were not of the most cordial description, and' thus it happened that the duke, finding himself with the ancestral Chateau of d'Avaray, in the department of theLola-er-Cher, and the stately old D'Avaray family mansion, on the Rue de Grenelle, in Paris, on his hands, rented the latter on a long lease to the Dutch government for use as its legation. As such it is now occupied by Queen "Wilhelmina's envoy, Jonkheer John Loudon,.
  It is understood that the property of the old Seguier Duchess of d'Avaray will now pass to her own son, the fourth duke, as the next heir of his son who has just been killed. Having no other issue by his union with Rosalie Countess de Mercy d'Argenteau, a celebrated beauty in her day, the dukedom will pass on his demise to his nephew, Count Bernard d'Avaray, only son of that late Count Elie d'Avaray who was for so many years the vice president and the most active governor of the French Jockey club. 
Duke Hubert of d'Avaray is the chief of the historic house of De Bensaide, which was already flourishing in the Base-Pyrenees in 1314, and whose members played a most Important role in the reign of King Henry IV, winning fame for their loyalty and for their chivalrous devotion to the monarch. 
 An Antoine d'Avaray was grand master of the household of the royal Comte de Provence prior to the great revolution at the close of the eighteenth century. When the insurrection broke out, it was Antoine Count d'Avaray who organized all the means for his master's wonderful flight from the palace of Luxembourg and from France. The Comte de Provence narrowly escaped' capture and the fate of his unfortunate brother, Louis XVI, on the guillotine. The Comte de Provence assumed the title of Louis XVIII . Louis XVIII was not unmindful of what he owed to the Count d'Avaray, both in connection with his escape and with his devoted and unselfish service throughout all the long and dreary years of exile, for not only did he transform the 1667 Marquis of Avaray into a dukedom, but also caused the armorial bearings of the house to be adorned with the addition of the royal lilies of France and with the Heraldic motto, selected by the sovereign himself, of "Vicit iter durum pietas."