Friday, 13 March 2020

The tomb of the Baron de Richemont

It is still possible to visit the baron de Richemont's last refuge, the Château de Vaurenard, which is in Gleizé, a commune in the department of the Rhône, about 40 minutes north of Lyon.  The room where he lived is still shown, though naturally it is the Beaujolais from the estate  - cuvée Baron de Richemont -  which is the main attraction.

The château has belonged to the Corteille family since the 17th century.  In 1800 the châtelaine was Catherine Corteille, comtesse d'Apchier, a widow living alone.  The comtesse had once been in the service of the duchesse d'Angoulême.  In 1833 she was informed that the son of Louis XVI was alive and living in Paris;  when they met, she recognised him immediately.   He confided in her. He even had a birth certificate stating that he had been born on 27th March 1785,  the son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. From 1833 to 1853 he lived at Vaurenard at the comtesse's expense.

The registers of the Mairie in Gleizé record the death at the château de Vaurenard on 10th August 1853 of a certain Louis-Charles de France, "natif de Versailles, rentier, demeurant à Paris rue de Condé, âgé de 68 ans, célibataire".

Richemont was interred in the local cemetery, his grave furnished with an inscription proclaiming him to be Louis-Charles de France, son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.  However, in 1858 the authorities in Villefranche, fearing unrest, asked the comtesse to erase the inscription and, as a result, the stone was turned to the wall.  A quote from Richemont's works was substituted on the exposed face:  "Nul ne dira sur ma tombe, Pauvre Louis, que tu fus à plaindre, 1785-1853".  The death certificate was also altered.

Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon / P0741 FIGRPT2915 09
On 10th August 1990 there was much excitment when the then proprietor of the château, Louis Falcon de Longevialle, presided over a  investigation of the grave stone; a crowd gathered to see the stone detached from the wall and turned. Revealed was the intact inscription:

 "Ci-gît Louis Charles de France, Fils de Louis XVI et de Marie-Antoinette. Né à Versailles le 17 mars 1785. Mort à Gleizé le 10 août 1853"

Louis Falcon de Longevialle  Château de Vaurenard


Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, "Tombe supposée de Louis XVII au cimetière de Gleizé"  (Lyon Figaro) Photographs.[0]=isubjectgeographic:%22Gleiz%C3%A9%20(Rh%C3%B4ne)%22&hitStart=3&hitPageSize=16&hitTotal=10

Souvenirs inédits de la comtesse d'Apchier (1912)

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