A real duchess rebukes a counterfeit Emperor

March 18, 2013

an opera ball in 1715 by François Courboin

The duchess of Chevreuse was vehemently opposed to Napoleon’s fake Imperial Court and refused to attend, so Napoleon arranged for the prince of Talleyrand to bend her will. She eventually agreed to be lady-in-waiting to Empress [Archduchess] Marie Louise. In her new role she attended a Court party, dressed in white, and wearing numerous jewels. When greeting her, Napoleon gushed over her jewels:

“Oh! Oh! What beautiful stones! Are they all authentic?”

The duchess replied indifferently:

“I had no time to check Sir, but since I was coming here either kind would work.”



Jules Bertaut, Le Faubourg Saint-Germain (Paris: Tallandier, 1949). (Nobility.org translation.)

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 265



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