September 3 – Her Only Crime Was Her Attachment To The Queen

July 20, 2017

Amidst all the terrible scenes which occurred at these awful September massacres¹, none are so shocking as the murder of the Princess de Lamballe. Her sincere attachment to Marie Antoinette was her only crime. She had played no political part in the agitations of those times, and she was known to the people only by her numerous acts of benevolence and kindness. This unfortunate princess having been spared in the massacres of the 2nd,  had laid herself down upon her bed, in the evening, worn out with grief and horror.

Princess Marie-Louise Thérèse of Savoy-Carignan; Princess of Lamballe.

Soon two guards entered her apartment and informed her that she must prepare to go to the Abbaye. The princess replied that she preferred to remain in the prison where she was then confined². One of guards then told her that she must obey, as her life depended upon it. Throwing her robe hurriedly about her, she descended with the guard into the turnkey’s room, where she found two municipal officers, wearing the tri-colored scarf, sitting in judgment upon the prisoners summoned before them.

On being brought face to face with this dreadful tribunal, surrounded by bands of assassins whose brutal countenances and disordered clothes were covered with blood, her horror was so great that she fainted several times. When she recovered sufficiently to speak, her examination began.

Princess of Lamballe on trial being held up by the French Revolutionaries.

Who are you?” she was asked.

Maria Louisa, Princess of Savoy.”

Your employment?”

Superintendent of the household of the queen.”

Had you any knowledge of the plots of the court on the 10th of August?”

I know not whether there were any plots on the 10th of August, but I know that I had no knowledge of them.”

Swear liberty, equality, hatred of the king, of the queen, and of royalty.”

I will readily swear the two former; I cannot swear the latter; it is not in my heart.”

(Here one present said to her in a whisper: “Swear! if you do not swear, you are dead.”)  The princess did not reply. The judge then said, “Let madame be set at liberty.”  But this deceitful phrase only meant rather the signal for her death. As she was led to the door, some one recommended her to cry Vive la Nation! but the sight of the piles of dead bodies in all their ghastly horror so terrified her that she cried, “I am lost!”

Assassination of the Princess of Lamballe

Scarcely had she passed the threshold of the door, when she was struck on the back of the head with a saber, from which wound the blood gushed forth. Reeling and fainting, she was held under the arms by two monsters who made her walk over the dead bodies which filled the narrow passage which leads from the street St Antoine to the prison. When she could no longer raise herself up, the assassins threw her upon a heap of corpses, and stabbed her to death with their pikes.

Her head was cut off by these hellish fiends, her body was opened, and her heart torn out, [and devoured] and her body was hacked into a dozen pieces, and borne about the streets of Paris with wild yells and coarse jests, The demons even loaded a cannon with one of her limbs; and placing her head upon a pike, the mob bore it to the Temple, where the royal family were imprisoned.


¹ September 2-3, 1792

² Princess Lamballe was in prison from August 19th to September 3rd.


A Short History of the French Revolution for Young People: Pictures of the Reign of Terror, by Lydia Hoyt Farmer. 1889, Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.  Pg 432 – 434.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 584



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