A. Kuznetsov: This story began even before Marie Antoinette became queen. Jewelers Bemer and Bassange for their favorite, Countess Du Barry, Louis XV ordered a magnificent necklace. Making jewelry took a lot of time, and by the time it was ready, the king died of smallpox.
After the death of Louis XV, Countess Du Barry lost her wealth, and it was not easy to find a new buyer for such an expensive item (jewelers estimated their creation at 1 million 600 thousand livres).
S. Buntman: And here came a certain Jeanne de Valois, Countess de la Motte.
A. Kuznetsov: Let's just say, a very specific lady. She was born in a poor family, but in her youth was incredibly good-looking. This, combined with rumors of her high birth, helped her to marry successfully. The Countess de la Motte was introduced into high society, became the lover of Cardinal Louis de Rogan and was considered a close friend of Queen Marie-Antoinette.
Knowing that the disgraced de Rogan wants to please the queen and return to Versailles, Jeanne offered him to help Marie-Antoinette in one “little thing” - to act as an intermediary and guarantor when she buys an expensive necklace by Her Majesty.
The jewelers were informed that the queen, who in the society already thinks to be an incredible squander, does not want to betray this thing to wide publicity. That is, everything should be done quietly and through Cardinal de Rogan.
S. Buntman: Perhaps, running ahead, but Louis XVI had the idea to give Marie Antoinette this beautiful necklace when the first dauphin was born, but she flatly refused.
A. Kuznetsov: Absolutely. And this puts more fog into this whole story. Marie Antoinette, even before her own execution, will assure that she has never been acquainted with Jeanne de la Motte in her life.
Countess de la Motte
So let's continue. In order to convince de Rogan that he really fulfills the secret will of Her Majesty, the adventurer de la Motte promised him that she would persuade the queen to meet him in the garden. Apparently, the role of Marie Antoinette was played by a certain Nicole Leguet, a modest woman, unusually similar to the august person by her face and figure.
S. Buntman: Thus, the deal between jewelers and de Rogan took place.
A. Kuznetsov: Yes. Having received a necklace from Bemer and Bassange, the cardinal paid part of the money in cash, and issued the rest of the loan letters for various periods.
When the first payment date came, the money, of course, was not paid. In addition, it turned out that the signature of the Queen on the terms of buying a necklace, to put it mildly, is doubtful. Naturally, completely furious jewelers turned directly to Louis XVI. And here, in fact, this time bomb exploded. Such a scandal Versailles did not know.
The necklace case was transferred to the Paris Parliament.
S. Buntman: So this whole story, despite the initial “mystery”, has received wide publicity?
A. Kuznetsov: Of course. Is that so hide? In August 1785, Cardinal de Rogan, then Madame de la Motte and several of her other minions, including the notorious adventurer Alessandro Cagliostro (or Count Cagliostro, as he himself preferred to be certified), were arrested on charges of fraud and misappropriation of necklaces imaginary buying it for the queen.
A few words about Alessandro Cagliostro, who was actually called Giuseppe Balsamo. He was born (presumably) on June 2, 1743 in the family of a small merchant cloth. Since childhood, was prone to adventures.
Looking ahead, we note that he did not play a big role in this story (perhaps, for the promised fee, he acted as a consultant to Jeanne de la Motte, no more), so he was eventually acquitted. He was simply deported from France, as was Cardinal de Rogans, from whom the court also removed all the blame.
Cardinal Louis de Rogan
The Paris Parliament dealt with this matter for several months. At the end of May 1786, the sentence was pronounced. As a result, the court found that all this scam was turned over by Jeanne de la Motte, that all the other people who were involved in the case, obviously, did not know anything about the real plan of the adventuress.
Thus, Jeanne de Valois, Countess de la Motte was sentenced to corporal punishment, stigma and imprisonment for prostitutes Salpetriere.
S. BuntmanA: In general, 100 percent fraud.
A. Kuznetsov: Yes. But large-scale.
S. Buntman: The thing is expensive, and people are involved, let's say directly, high-ranking.
A. Kuznetsov: By the way, the public reaction to the sentence is interesting. Justification of de Rogan, who had the aura of “sacrifice” of royal wiles, was received by the people very positively. A jubilant crowd literally carried the cardinal in her arms. But Marie-Antoinette considered herself disgraced. Under the pressure of Versailles, her role in this matter, and indeed the situation in the royal house, were silenced.
On June 21, 1786, Jeanne de la Motte on Greve Square was whipped, and then the executioner denounced her shoulder with the letter “V” - voleuse (“thief”). Convicted to life imprisonment, she still managed to escape from prison and follow her husband to London. According to the official version, even before the trial, Zhanna handed the necklace to her husband, who began selling it in parts. The decoration consisted of more than 500 stones of different weights, of different sizes and values. And so, in slices, in slices ...
S. Buntman: Sell it entirely, of course, was not possible.
A. Kuznetsov: He was officially hard to sell.
Marie Antoinette with a rose. Elizabeth Vige-Lebrun, 1783
In London, Jeanne de la Motte will publish scandalous and exposing memoirs about the Queen, in which second-hand facts and fiction will prevail, but many revolutionaries will treat them with confidence.
S. Buntman: What happened next?
A. Kuznetsov: And then the main characters of this story leave the stage. In 1803, de Rohan dies. A little earlier, Countess de la Motte would not be. According to the official version, in 1791 in London, she was in a fit of insanity (she took the husband’s creditor knocking on the door as an agent of the French government) and threw herself out of the window and died a few days later.
But there is another version. The book “The Seven Mistakes, Including the Author’s Mistake” by Nikolai Samvelyan states that insanity and the suicide that followed it by Jeanne de la Motte is nothing more than another re-enactment of this very talented and inventive adventurous. According to the author, the countess did not die. After the death of her husband, she married again, becoming (already in emigration) Countess de Gaucher.
And then, literally several months before Napoleon’s invasion in 1812, she appears in Russia, where she is given Russian citizenship for intelligence-diplomatic services. In St. Petersburg, the newly-minted Countess de Gachet is a member of the mystic circle, whose members were Prince Golitsyn, the Minister of Public Education, Baroness von Krudener, and other prominent figures who at different times had a definite influence on Alexander I. In 1824, together with Baroness von Krudener and the Countess Golitsyna Jeanne de la Motte falls into disfavor. Her (again, according to the author) is sent to exile in the Old Crimea, where she soon died.
S. Buntman: And what finally became of the necklace?
A. Kuznetsov: Here, too, is not so simple. The fact is that in the XIX century, in the notorious 1871, the Tuilerian treasure appeared.
In 1789, Louis XVI, forced to leave Versailles in connection with the revolution, moved his residence to the Tuileries Palace. Having taken Tuileries on August 10, 1792, the insurgent population of Paris overthrew the monarchy. May 24, 1871 most of the Tuileries burned down during the battles of the Paris Communards with Versailles. After the suppression of the Commune on the territory of the palace, the debris was cleared. There are reports that at the same time one of the workers found an iron chest, the lid of which was decorated with three Bourbon lilies.
The find was taken to the French Ministry of the Interior, where it was solemnly opened in the presence of the head of the government of Thiers, the ministers and the police prefect of Paris. A number of jewels were found in the chest, including a luxurious necklace, which was identified as the famous “Queen's necklace”. The treasure was not transferred to the treasury, but to representatives of the Bourbon dynasty.
If the jewel discovered in 1871 was indeed a queen's necklace, then this is contrary to the generally accepted version.