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Opulent Facts About Gabrielle De Polastron, The Queen’s Favorite

Opulent Facts About Gabrielle De Polastron, The Queen’s Favorite


Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchess of Polignac, was Marie Antoinette’s favourite courtier and greatest pal. She may additionally have been the explanation that the ill-fated Queen of France misplaced her head. From humble beginnings, the beautiful magnificence climbed the social ladder proper to the highest. However there have been grave penalties for her ambitions.


1. She Was A Diplomat’s Daughter

Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polastron—her pals simply referred to as her Gabrielle—was born in September 1749 in Paris, France. Her father was at one level the French ambassador to Switzerland. Little did she know then that she would ultimately should flee to Switzerland to avoid wasting her life. However there was quite a lot of drama earlier than that.

2. She Got here From Royalty

Gabrielle was born into France’s excessive society, and her household had one of many longest and most illustrious strains of the Ancien Régime, France’s brutal feudal system. Regardless of her excessive pedigree, nonetheless, she wasn’t precisely dwelling it up, royal type. Actually, earlier than she moved to Versailles and shocked the nation, her way of life would have shocked the queen.

3. Her Dad and mom Had been Poor

By the point that Gabrielle got here round, her household’s identify was about all that she had going for her. To say that her household had fallen on exhausting instances can be a fairly drastic understatement. The Polastron household was decidedly poor and severely indebted. It’s honest to say they have been dwelling the lifetime of paupers. It led them to a drastic resolution. 

4. She Lived In A Hovel

Earlier than Gabrielle was even capable of stroll, her household’s place grew to become so determined that they couldn’t afford life within the more and more costly metropolis of Paris. So, they needed to transfer. They left Paris and went to their ancestral residence in Noueilles within the south of France. However their “chateau” was extra like a glorified mud hut. But when Gabrielle thought that was dangerous, she hadn’t seen something but.

5. Her Mom Left Her Excessive And Dry

Gabrielle was already dwelling in lowered circumstances. Then all of the sudden, it received a lot worse. Tragically and unexpectedly, her mom handed when she was simply three years previous. Very like Gabrielle’s personal demise within the years to come back, the reason for her mom’s passing is one thing of a thriller. One factor is for positive, although: Along with her mom gone, Gabrielle’s life received turned inside out.

6. She Was Going To Turn out to be A Nun

With no mom to maintain her, an aunt took Gabrielle in and did what she may for the down-on-her-luck little lady. In any case, there wasn’t a lot in the way in which of alternatives for poor noble ladies like Gabrielle. All the identical, Gabrielle’s aunt managed to rearrange for her to obtain an schooling at a convent, which was nearly the perfect that she may have hoped for. However there was a plot twist coming.

7. She Regarded Like An Angel

By the point that Gabrielle grew into her personal, her look was jaw-dropping. With brunette hair and violet-gray eyes, the lifetime of a commoner was definitely beneath her breathtaking seems and her well-bred pedigree. There was completely no probability that she was going to cover away at a convent someplace. She knew she was destined for luxurious, and he or she went out to get it.

8. She Was Supposed To Marry A Prince Charming

On the age of 16, Gabrielle’s father organized an opportune match for his lovely child lady. He betrothed his solely daughter to Jules François Armand, Depend de Polignac and the Marquis de Mancini, a noble of equally good breeding. It appeared like the right match to revive Gabrielle to her rightful place. Lastly, issues have been trying up. And that wasn’t all.

9. She Was A Social Climber

Armand was himself descended from one of the illustrious and “well-bred” households in all of Europe. As a Mancini, he may hint his noble lineage all the way in which again to previous Roman nobles. Actually, Gabrielle was marrying above her class. However he was removed from the prince charming that Gabrielle had hoped for. There was one large factor flawed. 

10. Her Betrothed Was Flat Broke

If Gabrielle and her father had hoped that Armand can be their golden goose, they have been sorely mistaken. Very like together with her family, the one factor wealthy in regards to the Marquis de Mancini was his bloodline. Armand didn’t have a lot to his identify apart from, effectively, his identify. They have been simply a few penniless nobles, slumming it with the frequent folks. Not that this stopped them…

11. She Was A Teenage Bride

Even though they have been of the noblest lineages, Gabrielle and Armand lived humble lives. However, Gabrielle knew that she didn’t have a lot hope of marrying wealthy, so she married Armand shortly after her 18th birthday. One imagines that the marriage ceremony was fairly understated. Solely, Gabrielle’s quiet life was nearing an finish.

12. She Led A Humble Life

Gabrielle and Armand appeared to be fairly glad dwelling on his meager wage and their hand-me-down the Aristocracy. Inside only a few years of their marriage, Gabrielle and Armand had a daughter, Aglaé de Polignac, and a son, Armand de Polignac. Two extra youngsters would comply with. However by then, Gabrielle’s fortunes had modified in an enormous manner.

13. Her Life Is A Thriller

The information of Gabrielle’s whereabouts between 1767 and 1775 are scarce and considerably conflicting. By some accounts, she had already put in herself in court docket life on the Chateau de Versailles. By different accounts, she was dwelling very quietly together with her husband. However we do know that in 1775, she landed in Versailles with a splash.

14. She Regarded Good Sufficient To Eat

Gabrielle’s magnificence hadn’t pale in any respect in her relative obscurity in southern France. Actually, the hotter climate may even have “ripened” her attractiveness. After viewing one in all her portraits, a historian remarked that Gabrielle appeared “like some harvested and luscious fruit”. So when she walked into the middle of the French court docket, the entire of France was about to take a chew.

15. She Was Straight Out Of A Portray

Gabrielle’s superb seems grew to become a speaking level amongst the aristocracy from the second they noticed her. She reportedly had a “freshness of look”, a lot in order that many likened her to one in all Raphael’s Madonnas. Her seems have been so uncommon, so regal, that she may beguile anybody. Actually, there was one very necessary determine at court docket who couldn’t look away.

16. She Dazzled The Queen

When Gabrielle’s sister-in-law, Diane de Polignac, offered her to court docket, it couldn’t have been extra dramatic. She launched the pastoral—if poverty-stricken—magnificence to Queen Marie Antoinette herself in Versailles’ well-known Corridor of Mirrors. Along with her magnificence mirrored from all angles, it was simply the chance that Gabrielle wanted…and the queen responded spectacularly.

17. She Was Invited To The Inside Circle

Gabrielle so enraptured Marie Antoinette together with her timeless magnificence that the Queen of France threw protocol out the window. Regardless of her low station, Marie Antoinette invited Gabrielle to relocate completely to the Chateau de Versailles. Whereas Gabrielle felt flattered by her queen’s supply, she didn’t react the way in which you may anticipate.

18. She Hit A Snag

Gabrielle thought that life at court docket in Versailles was precisely befitting somebody of her magnificence and pedigree. However there was one challenge she couldn’t recover from. Maintaining appearances at Versailles meant shelling out main money for clothes, playing, and all method of balls and occasions—money Gabrielle and her husband merely didn’t have.

Because of this, she humbly expressed to Marie Antoinette that, although she appreciated the invitation, she couldn’t afford it. Because it turned out, this was really the right transfer.

19. She Pulled Off A Main Coup

Along with her confession over, Gabrielle was on the point of return to her commoner life. However her seems had really solid a spell over Marie Antoinette, and as an alternative of letting Gabrielle return to her easy life, the Queen of France agreed to repay all of her money owed. Moreover, she gave Gabrielle’s husband an enormous, comfortable job with an enormous, comfortable wage. And that was simply her first favor.

20. She Was “Shut” To The Queen

Gabrielle packed up her issues—no matter few issues she had—and moved into the palace. It began escalating immediately. Marie Antoinette was so obsessive about Gabrielle that she wished to make sure she was by no means out of earshot, and Gabrielle took up residence close to the queen’s personal flats inside the palace. As we’ll see, nonetheless, this wasn’t a great factor.

21. She Charmed The Royals

Gabrielle’s charms labored on all members of the royal household, not simply the queen. Along with waltzing her manner into Marie Antoinette’s good graces, she caught the eye of different nobles near her. For one, she grew to become shut pals with the Depend d’Artois, the brother of the king. After which she actually cinched the deal.

22. She Calmed The Queen Down

It wasn’t simply Marie Antoinette and the Depend d’Artois who have been consuming out of Gabrielle’s palm. King Louis XVI himself fairly favored the unprecedented magnificence. He notably favored her calming affect on Marie Antoinette, and was supportive of their burgeoning friendship…at the very least at first. Nonetheless, Gabrielle made her fair proportion of enemies, too. Highly effective ones.

23. She Made Austrian Enemies

Gabrielle’s charms didn’t work on everybody, and her sudden favor and recognition with all the royal household made different courtiers at Versailles extraordinarily jealous and cautious. Specifically, the Austrian ambassador, who represented the pursuits of Marie Antoinette’s mom, didn’t like the brand new lady power Gabrielle delivered to the court docket. In response, he got here up with a nasty revenge. 

24. Somebody Tattled On Her

The Austrian ambassador was so piqued by Gabrielle’s rising affect at court docket and her closeness with Marie Antoinette that he determined to take issues into his personal palms. In a letter to Marie Antoinette’s mom Maria Theresa, he wrote, “It’s nearly unexampled that in so brief a time, the royal favour ought to have introduced such overwhelming benefits to a household”.

In different phrases: The ambassador smelled a gold digger. And effectively, Gabrielle’s conduct didn’t assist issues.

25. She Ran The Roost

Gabrielle had turned her attractiveness into success, and he or she wasn’t stopping now. She used her magnificence and charisma to shortly develop into the chief of Marie Antoinette’s magisterial imply ladies. Actually, nobody even entered the Queen’s inside circle with out her specific approval. But by some means, Gabrielle managed to drag off an unlimited feat whereas gatekeeping.

26. She Was Elegant

Gabrielle wasn’t your common imply lady. Actually, apart from her few detractors at court docket at this level—in addition to the poor commoners of Paris—nobody had something dangerous to say about her. Her pals and acquaintances thought-about her to be “elegant, refined, charming, and entertaining”. Gabrielle knew simply the best way to flip this to her benefit.

27. She Obtained Costly Items

Now that she was within the good graces of Marie Antoinette—and King Louis XVI and his brother—Gabrielle indulged herself. She and her household obtained many beneficiant items from the Queen and lived an expensive way of life within the palace. Gone have been the times of pockets full of lint. Nevertheless this was a double-edge sword, and Gabrielle would quickly pay the final word value.

28. She Flaunted Her Riches

Whereas Gabrielle’s fortunes had modified for the higher, the folks of France have been struggling. Gabrielle reacted the precise flawed manner. She brazenly flaunted her notably lavish and unique way of life, making her wildly unpopular with the rising French revolutionaries. Even the extra liberal-minded aristocrats discovered her to be too ostentatious…however Gabrielle was on a observe she couldn’t get off of.

29. She Upped Her Sport

Whereas everybody round her grumbled, Gabrielle continued growing her place with Marie Antoinette. She wasn’t simply glad with fancy flats and an enormous wage for her husband. She additionally obtained items that restored her household’s popularity. In 1780, Marie Antoinette even made Gabrielle’s husband the Duke de Polignac—making her a full-blown Duchess.

Immediately, many within the court docket started to get up from the spell Gabrielle solid…simply in time to witness a scandal.

30. She Crossed The Line

In 1782, Gabrielle and Marie Antoinette crossed a line. One which the French working class and aristocracy alike couldn’t forgive. That 12 months, the Governess to the Kids of France resigned her put up, and—in a surprising break with protocol—the queen appointed Gabrielle to the historically hereditary and really prestigious function. It was the start of the top.

31. She Bought Her Mansion

Gabrielle’s new place as Governess to the Kids of France got here with some perks—too many perks. Historically, the put up got here with a five-bedroom house inside the palace, however Gabrielle made off with a whopping 13 rooms in her little abode. It was one other shock to the aristocracy and the folks of Paris alike, who have been struggling to search out affordable housing.

And Gabrielle’s charms have been carrying off in different methods, too.

32. She Was Self-Indulgent

Gabrielle’s character and rising affect rubbed many individuals the flawed manner. The place some thought that she had correct manners, others have been now starting to imagine she was chilly and unapproachable. The place some thought that she was noble, others now discovered her to be self-centred and self-indulgent. The tide was turning, and it was coming in quick.

33. She Didn’t Do Low-Key

Gabrielle added to her outrageous compensation because the Governess to the Kids of France with one more unprecedented reward. Along with her penthouse suites inside the Chateau de Versailles, she obtained a cottage. The quiet, pastoral retreat was inside the grounds of Marie Antoinette’s favourite getaway, the Petit Trianon. However behind the scenes, it was removed from idyllic. 

34. She Sparked A Salacious Rumor

Gabrielle’s marriage to her husband Armand was meant to raise her place, nevertheless it was her friendship with Marie Antoinette that in the end gave her what she wished. Actually, there may not have been a lot, if any, love in between Gabrielle and her husband. Not less than, not if one believed the salacious court docket rumors swirling round Gabrielle’s bedchamber…

35. She May Have Had An Affair

Allegedly, Gabrielle was in love with the rakish Joseph de Rigaud, Depend de Vaudreuil, and had gone as far as to hold on a passionate affair with him. The allegations have been so intense that some speculated that Gabrielle’s youngest son was Vaudreuil’s and never her husband Armand’s. But Vaudreuil was no knight in shining armor.

36. She Saved Harmful Firm

Because it occurred, Gabrielle’s love curiosity had a darkish previous. Vaudreuil was a controversial character, and even Marie Antoinette couldn’t get on board together with her BFF’s crush. In any case, he was a very uncouth social climber and had a horrible mood—he as soon as broke Marie Antoinette’s ivory billiard cue in a match of rage.

The queen wasn’t going to face for that, and he or she let Gabrielle realize it in a brutal trend.

37. The Queen Gave Her An Ultimatum

In what certainly wasn’t a coincidence, Gabrielle’s energy over Marie Antoinette plummeted throughout her most intense interval with Vaudreuil, with the Queen of France pulling away from her favourite in addition to her different women within the royal entourage. Nicely, what was a social climber like Gabrielle speculated to do? The reply is: betray her lover.

38. She Had Assist From The King

As soon as Gabrielle realized how a lot the queen disliked Vaudreuil, she dropped him sooner than you’ll be able to say “non, merci“. And she or he didn’t cease there. Moreover, King Louis XVI made a degree of visiting with Gabrielle’s youngest son to quash the rumors that he was in any manner illegitimate. It didn’t cease the whispers…however there have been extra damaging ones on the way in which.

39. She Was The Queen’s “Favourite”

Someday within the late 1780s, Gabrielle’s recognition with the folks of Paris, wealthy and poor alike, hit an all-time low. And with the hit on her picture, harmful accusations got here out. Hundreds of racy pamphlets began circulating, depicting Marie Antoinette and her “favourite” in, let’s say, very compromising positions.

Given the proximity of their flats, it’s not unattainable to think about. However that doesn’t imply there aren’t different interpretations of Gabrielle’s popularity.

40. She Was A Penny-Pincher

The horrific rumors towards Gabrielle may all have been propaganda, drummed up by pro-revolutionary forces. Historians have famous that in her 14-year stint at Versailles, Gabrielle spent much less cash than a few of the earlier royal mistresses had in a single 12 months. Notably, they cite Madame de Pompadour. Even so, the harm was completed…and Gabrielle was about to really feel it.

41. She Brought about The Queen Dissatisfaction

Following all of those scandals, Marie Antoinette felt that she was going through an excessive amount of backlash over her friendship with Gabrielle. With revolution on everybody’s lips and jealousy of their hearts, the Queen dedicated a deep betrayal. First, she confided to one in all her courtiers that she was “struggling acute dissatisfaction” due to her relationship with Gabrielle.

With the ranks closing in, Gabrielle felt she solely had one possibility open to her.

42. She Raised Rebels

Gabrielle, fearing the worst, knew that it was time to chop and run from her lavish life at Versailles. With a purpose to quell the flaring tempers, the rumors, and the rumbles of revolution, she traveled far-off to England, staying together with her pal Georgiana, the notorious Duchess of Devonshire. But no quantity of distance made her protected from the following assault.

43. She Was Set On Hearth

Though she had stepped again from public life in France, the folks nonetheless despised Gabrielle for her extravagant way of life. In 1788, pro-revolution forces even burned effigies of the beautiful Gabrielle. Marie Antoinette and the King responded with a strict, ultra-monarchist crackdown. However, as historical past proved, their plan backfired brutally.

44. She Went Into Exile

Hatred for the monarchy and royal courtiers like Gabrielle reached a tipping level with the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. After the notorious riot that sparked the French Revolution, Gabrielle, alongside together with her entire Polignac clan, went into exile in Switzerland. Up to now faraway from her greatest pal, she may solely watch because the horror unfolded.

45. She Went On A Grand Tour

In exile, Gabrielle stored up correspondence with Marie Antoinette because the revolutionary winds picked up. She traveled to locations like Vienna, Turin, Venice, and Rome. And lest you suppose she was settling down right into a quieter life, she made an extravagant splash at court docket in Austria as one of the elaborately dressed and delightful attendees. What occurred subsequent, nonetheless, was downright ugly. 

46. Her Greatest Pal Misplaced Her Head

Ultimately, all of those events and balls have been a distraction from the chilly, exhausting reality: There was no manner for Gabrielle to cease what was taking place in France to her pal Marie Antoinette. She needed to watch from the sidelines in October of 1793 when the Queen of France misplaced her head alongside her husband, King Louis XVI.

Gabrielle was naturally devastated on the loss. Little did she know, her personal tragedy was coming.

47. She Was Sickening

For a few years by now, Gabrielle had suffered from extraordinarily ailing well being; whereas spending time in England, she even earned the nickname “Little Po” for her apparently adorably fragile structure. All through the French Revolution, Gabrielle didn’t appear to heed her physique’s warnings, and in December of 1793, solely months after Marie Antoinette’s beheading, Gabrielle met her personal premature demise on the age of 44.

48. She Suffered A Damaged Coronary heart

When folks heard about Gabrielle’s passing, they’d a wrenching clarification for her demise. In keeping with individuals who knew and cherished her, the courtier had died of a damaged coronary heart, mourning her queen. Even in her closing days, accordingly, all of the information present that she retained her attractiveness. The reality, nonetheless, is way completely different.

49. Her Physique Betrayed Her

Gabrielle’s family and friends cherished to current her as some sort of angel taken too quickly after the ravages of revolution. But the indicators of her tragic and premature finish had been there for therefore lengthy that historians doubt this reasoning. As a substitute, it’s far likelier she succumbed to a protracted battle with both some type of most cancers or, maybe, tuberculosis.

50. She Was Highly effective

Gabrielle exerted extra affect over 18th-century Paris than most give her credit score for. Her biographer wrote, “Those that weren’t themselves swept into the whirlpool, stood on the marge considering it with astonishment … [as] the Queen’s hand was invisibly guided by the violet-eyed, the stunning, the light Polignac”.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Initially Printed by – Brendan Da Costa

Unique Supply – www.factinate.com

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Written by Harry Rosen

Harry Rosen is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author.

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