The Betrayal of the Duchess: The Scandal That Unmade the Bourbon Monarchy and Made France Modern

Basic. Apr. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781541645455. $32. HIST
Treachery, disguise, capture, and imprisonment—the scandal surrounding an ill-fated 19th-century French insurrection—is all the more captivating in this factual retelling. In 1832, the mother of a deposed heir to the French throne attempted to overthrow her brother-in-law, Louis-Philippe of France. Lacking adequate funding or local support from right-wing allies, the Duchesse de Berry’s rebellion came to a disastrous end when she was betrayed by one of her own emissaries. Popular opinion, rather than condemning Marie-Caroline for the aborted coup, quickly turned against her disloyal betrayer, Simon Deutz, the son of the Chief Rabbi of France. According to Samuels (Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French, Yale Univ.) the scandal launched an anti-Semitic backlash among French aristocracy and the French press, remnants of which can be seen in the Dreyfus affair at the turn of the 20th century, and even up to the present day. Based on memoirs, contemporary newspaper reports, archival documents, and secondary sources, this tumultuous but largely forgotten period of French history is effectively reexamined.
VERDICT Recommended for readers of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and 19th-century French history and literature.
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