The Affair of the Diamond Necklace was an incident from 1784 through 1785 at the court of King Louis XVI of France involving his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette. The reputation of the Queen, already tarnished by gossip, was ruined by the implication that she participated in a crime to defraud the crown jewelers of the cost of a very expensive diamond necklace. The Affair is historically significant as one of the events that led to the French populace's disillusionment with the monarchy, which, among other causes, eventually precipitated the French Revolution.
In 1772, Louis XV of France decided to make Madame du Barry, with whom he was infatuated, a special gift at the estimated cost of 2,000,000 livres (approximately $14 million in 2015 USD). He requested that Parisian jewelers Charles Auguste Boehmer and Paul Bassange create a diamond necklace that would surpass all others in grandeur.
It would take the jewelers several years and a great deal of money to amass an appropriate set of diamonds. In the meantime, Louis XV died of smallpox, and his grandson and successor banished du Barry from court.
It was described as “a row of seventeen glorious diamonds, as large almost as filberts…a three-wreathed festoon, and pendants enough (simple pear shaped, multiple star-shaped, or clustering amorphous…” and a “Queen of Diamonds.” The jewelers hoped it would be a product that the new Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, would buy and indeed in 1778 the new king, Louis XVI, offered it to his wife as a present, but she refused. The queen initially turned it down stating, "We have more need of Seventy-Fours [ships] than of necklaces."  Some said that Marie Antoinette refused the necklace because she did not want to wear any jewel that had been designed for another woman, especially if that woman was a courtesan she disliked. According to others, Louis XVI himself changed his mind.
After having vainly tried to place the necklace outside France, the jewelers again attempted to sell it to Marie Antoinette after the birth of Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France, in 1781. The Queen again refused.
A confidence trickster who called herself Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, also known as Jeanne de la Motte, conceived a plan to use the necklace to gain wealth and possibly power and royal patronage. A descendant of an illegitimate son of Henry II of France, Jeanne had married an officer of the gendarmes, Nicholas de la Motte, the soi-disant "comte de la Motte", and was living on a small pension granted to her by the King.
In March 1785, Jeanne became the mistress of the Cardinal de Rohan, a former French ambassador to the court of Vienna. The Cardinal was regarded with displeasure by Queen Marie Antoinette for having spread rumors about the Queen's behavior to her formidable mother, the Austrian empress Maria Theresa. The Queen had also learned of a letter in which the Cardinal spoke of Maria Theresa in a way that the Queen found offensive.
At this time, the Cardinal was trying to regain the Queen's favour to become one of the King's ministers. Jeanne de la Motte, having entered court by means of a lover named Rétaux de Villette, persuaded Rohan that she had been received by the Queen and enjoyed her favour. On hearing of this, Rohan resolved to use Jeanne to regain the Queen's goodwill. Jeanne assured the Cardinal that she was making efforts on his behalf.
Thus began an alleged correspondence between Rohan and the Queen. Jeanne de la Motte returned the replies to Rohan's notes, which she affirmed came from the Queen. The tone of the letters became very warm, and the Cardinal, convinced that Marie Antoinette was in love with him, became enamoured of her. He begged Jeanne to arrange a secret night-time interview with the Queen on his behalf, and the supposed meeting took place in August 1784. In the garden of the Palace of Versailles, the Cardinal met with a woman he believed to be the Queen. In fact, the woman was a prostitute, Nicole Le Guay d'Oliva, whom Jeanne had hired because of her resemblance to the Queen. Rohan offered Leguay a rose, and, in her role as the Queen, she promised him that she would forget their past disagreements.
Jeanne de la Motte took advantage of the Cardinal's belief in her by borrowing large sums of money from him, telling him that they were for the Queen's charity work. With this money, Jeanne was able to make her way into respectable society. Because she openly boasted about her relationship with the Queen, many assumed the relationship was genuine.
The jewelers Böehmer and Bassenge resolved to use her to sell their necklace. She at first refused a commission, but then changed her mind and accepted it.
According to Madame Campan, Jeanne, pretending to be the Queen, sent several letters to the cardinal, including an order to buy the necklace. They were signed "Marie Antoinette de France"; the Cardinal either did not know or did not remember that French queens signed with their given names only.
On 21 January 1785, Jeanne told the Cardinal that Marie Antoinette wanted to buy the necklace; but, not wishing to purchase such an expensive item publicly during a time of need, the Queen wanted the Cardinal to act as a secret intermediary. A little while later, Rohan negotiated the purchase of the necklace for 2,000,000 livres, to be paid in installments. He claimed to have the Queen's authorization for the purchase and showed the jewelers the conditions of the bargain in the Queen's handwriting. Rohan took the necklace to Jeanne's house, where a man, whom Rohan believed to be a valet of the Queen, came to fetch it. The diamond necklace “was promptly picked apart, and the gems sold on the black markets of Paris and London” by Mme de La Motte.
When time came to pay, Jeanne de la Motte presented the Cardinal's notes, but these were insufficient. Böehmer complained to the Queen, who told him that she had neither ordered nor received the necklace. She had the story of the negotiations repeated for her. Then followed a coup de théâtre.
The controversy of the event stems from the arrest of the Cardinal in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and the trial that declared him innocent and Mme de La Motte and her accomplices guilty.
On 15 August 1785, the Assumption of Mary, while the court was awaiting the King and Queen to go to the chapel, the Cardinal de Rohan, who was to officiate, was taken before the King, the Queen, the Minister of the Court Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil and the Keeper of the Seals Armand Thomas Hue de Miromesnil to explain himself. Rohan produced a letter signed "Marie Antoinette de France". Royalty only signed with baptismal names yet this fact was missed by Rohan and brought up during his trial and “prejudiced the King against Rohan” as he “breath[ed] royal etiquette since birth…and could not understand how a courtier, and above all a Rohan, a member of a family so keen on the details of status, could make such a mistake.”
Rohan was arrested and taken to the Bastille; on the way, he sent home a note ordering the destruction of his correspondence. Jeanne was not arrested until three days later, giving her a chance to destroy her papers.
The police arrested the prostitute Nicole Le Guay and Rétaux de Villette, who confessed that he had written the letters given to Rohan in the queen's name, and had imitated her signature. The noted Freemason and occultist Alessandro Cagliostro was also arrested, although it is doubtful whether he had any part in the affair.
The Cardinal de Rohan accepted the Parlement de Paris as judges. Pope Pius VI was incensed, since he believed that the cardinal should be tried by his natural judge (i.e., himself). However, his notes remained unanswered. A sensational trial resulted in the acquittal of the Cardinal, Leguay, and Cagliostro on 31 May 1786. “Rohan’s choice of the Parliament, whatever the verdict, both prolonged matters and took them into the political arena.”  While “Jeanne de La Motte was condemned to whipping, branding with a V (for voleuse, "thief") on each shoulder, and sent to life imprisonment in the prostitutes' prison at the Salpêtrière. In June of the following year, she escaped from prison disguised as a boy. Meanwhile, her husband was tried in absentia and condemned to be a galley slave. The forger Villette was banished. This made the event into a matter of public interest rather than handled quietly and privately.
Public opinion was much excited by this trial. Marie Antoinette was blameless in the matter, Rohan was an innocent dupe, and that the La Mottes deceived both for their own ends. This was also broadly the finding of the Paris Parlement, although they did not comment on the actions of the Queen.
Despite findings to the contrary, many people in France persisted in the belief that the Queen used the La Mottes as an instrument to satisfy her hatred of the Cardinal de Rohan. Various circumstances fortified this belief. There was the Queen's disappointment at Rohan's acquittal, and the fact that the Cardinal was afterwards deprived by the King of his charges and exiled to the Abbey of la Chaise-Dieu. In addition, the people assumed that the Parlement de Paris's acquittal of Rohan implied that Marie Antoinette was somehow in the wrong. All these factors led to a huge decline in the Queen's popularity and encouraged an image of her among the masses as a manipulative spendthrift, more interested in vanity than in the welfare of France and the French.
Jeanne de la Motte took refuge in London and in 1789 she published her Mémoires Justificatifs, in which she once again accused the Queen.
The affair of the diamond necklace was important in discrediting the Bourbon monarchy in the eyes of the French people, four years before the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette became even more unpopular, and malicious gossip about her made her a greater liability to her husband.
After the affair broke out to the general public there was an increase in literature defaming the queen. Her “unpopularity was so great after the Diamond Necklace Affair that it could no longer be ignored by either the queen or the government. Her appearances in public all but ceased.” As she was associated with the scandal and already considered by some an enemy of the French people, "her reputation was tarnished."
Marie Antoinette's image never recovered from this incident. Due to her history of excessive spending, Marie's public image was already blemished, but the Diamond Necklace Affair catapulted public opinion of her into near hatred as it appeared she was plotting to misuse more of the country's depleting money for personal trinkets.
The Diamond Necklace Affair heightened the French general public’s hatred and disdain for the Marie Antoinette as it was “designed to leave the queen in a state of scandal,with the impossibility of claiming any truth for herself." This public relations nightmare led to an increase in salacious and degrading pamphlets that would serve as kindling for the oncoming French Revolution. It could be said that “she symbolized, among other things, the lavishness and corruption of a dying regime” and served as “the perfect scapegoat of the morality play that the revolution in part became” which made her a target for the hatred of the French republic and groups like the Jacobins and Sans-Culottes.
She was never able to shake off the idea in the public imagination that she had perpetrated an extravagant fraud for her own frivolous ends. Nonetheless, the affair prompted Louis XVI to become closer to his wife, and may have inclined him to be more defensive of and more responsive to her leading up to and during the Revolution.
Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (US: , Italian: [alesˈsandro kaʎˈʎɔstro]; 2 June 1743 – 26 August 1795) was the alias of the occultist Giuseppe Balsamo (pronounced [dʒuˈzɛppe ˈbalsamo]; in French usually referred to as Joseph Balsamo).
Cagliostro was an Italian adventurer and self-styled magician. He became a glamorous figure associated with the royal courts of Europe where he pursued various occult arts, including psychic healing, alchemy and scrying. His reputation lingered for many decades after his death, but continued to deteriorate, as he came to be regarded as a charlatan and impostor, this view fortified by the savage attack of Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) in 1833, who pronounced him the "Quack of Quacks". Later works—such as that of W.R.H. Trowbridge (1866-1938) in his Cagliostro: the Splendour and Misery of a Master of Magic (1910)—attempted a rehabilitation.Black Magic (1949 film)
Black Magic is a 1949 film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's novel Joseph Balsamo. It was directed by the Russian-born Gregory Ratoff. Set in the 18th century, the film stars Orson Welles in the lead role as Joseph Balsamo, a hypnotist, magician, and charlatan who also goes by the alias Count Cagliostro, and Nancy Guild as Lorenza/Marie Antoinette. Akim Tamiroff has a featured role.Cagliostro (1929 film)
Cagliostro is a 1929 French-German silent drama film directed by Richard Oswald and starring Hans Stüwe, Renée Héribel and Alfred Abel. It depicts the life of the eighteenth century Italian occultist Alessandro Cagliostro, portraying him more sympathetically than in most other works. It was based on a novel by Johannes von Guenther. The film survives but is incomplete.Cardinal de Rohan
Louis René Édouard de Rohan known as Cardinal de Rohan (25 September 1734 – 16 February 1803), prince de Rohan-Guéméné, was a French bishop of Strasbourg, politician, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, and cadet of the Rohan family (which traced its origin to the kings of Brittany). His parents were Hercule Mériadec, Prince of Guéméné and Louise Gabrielle Julie de Rohan. He was born in Paris.
Members of the Rohan family had filled the office of Bishop of Strasbourg since 1704, which made them princes of the Holy Roman Empire and the compeers rather of the German prince-bishops than of the French ecclesiastics. Louis de Rohan was destined for this high office from birth. Soon after taking orders, in 1760, he was nominated coadjutor to his uncle, Louis Constantin de Rohan-Rochefort, who then held the bishopric, and he was also appointed titular bishop of Canopus, Egypt. But he preferred the elegant life and the gaiety of Paris to his clerical duties, and had also an ambition to make a figure in politics. In 1761 he was elected to seat 36 of the Académie française.
Louis de Rohan was a member of the palace cabal opposed to the Austrian alliance. This party was headed by the Duc d'Aiguillon who, in 1771, sent Rohan on a special embassy to find out what was being done in Vienna with regard to the partition of Poland. Rohan arrived at Vienna in January 1772, and made a great spectacle of himself with his lavish entertainments. Empress Maria Theresa was hostile to his intrigues; not only did he attempt to thwart her alliance with France, but as a vicar of the Church, he made little secret of his venal lifestyle.On the death of Louis XV in 1774, Rohan was recalled from Vienna, and coldly received in Paris; but his family's influence was too great for him to be neglected; in 1777 he was made Grand Almoner of France, and in 1778, abbot of St. Vaast. In 1778, he was made a cardinal on the nomination of Stanislaus Poniatowski (the king of Poland). In 1779, Louis de Rohan succeeded his uncle, Constantine de Rohan-Rochefort, as bishop of Strasbourg, though he spent much of his career working in Paris, as he preferred a fashionable life to his clerical duties; also in 1779, he became abbot of Noirmoutiers and Chaise-Dieu. Despite his enhanced status, the Cardinal was poorly received at court, having made himself an enemy of Queen Marie Antoinette, the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa, whose disapproval he had earned in Vienna.
Wishing to redeem himself in the eyes of the Queen, he fell into the hands of a gang of thieves, the comtesse de Lamotte, and others, perhaps including the notorious Cagliostro, whose actions form part of the "affair of the diamond necklace". Rohan was led to believe that his attentions to the Queen were welcomed, and that she approved his arrangements for her to purchase the infamous necklace. When the swindle was discovered, the Cardinal was arrested and implicated in the theft, though he was later found to have been an innocent dupe. At the trial in 1786 before the parlement of Paris his acquittal was received with popular enthusiasm, and regarded as a victory over the royal court at Versailles and, in particular, the Queen. He was deprived of his office as grand almoner and exiled to his abbey of Chaise-Dieu, where he was accompanied by his secretary, Louis Ramond de Carbonnières. The following year, he traveled to the thermal spas of the Pyrenees, spending the summer and the autumn in Barèges, where Ramond began his geological investigations.
Rohan was soon allowed to return to Strasbourg, and his popularity was shown by his election in 1789 to the Estates-General by the clergy of the bailliages of Haguenau and Wissembourg. He, at first, declined to sit, but when the Estates-General became the National Assembly, it insisted on validating his election. However, in January 1791, as a prince of the church, he refused to take the oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and went to Ettenheim, in the German part of his diocese. In exile, his character improved and he spent what wealth remained to him in providing for the poor clergy of his diocese who had been obliged to leave France. On 29 November 1801, he resigned his nominal office as Bishop of Strasbourg and went back to Ettenheim, where he died on 17 February 1803.Diamond Necklace
Diamond Necklace may refer to:
The Diamond Necklace (film), a 1921 British silent film directed by Denison Clift
The Affair of the Diamond Necklace, a mysterious incident in the 1780s at the court of Louis XVI of France involving his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette
The Affair of the Necklace (2001 film), a film based on above incident
Diamond Necklace (film), a 2012 Indian film directed by Lal JoseGui-Jean-Baptiste Target
Gui-Jean-Baptiste Target (17 December 1733 – 9 September 1806) was a French lawyer and politician.Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy
Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, soi-disant "Comtesse de la Motte" (22 July 1756 – 23 August 1791) was a notorious French adventuress and thief; she was married to Nicholas de la Motte whose family's claim to nobility is dubious. She herself was an impoverished descendant of the Valois royal family through an illegitimate son of King Henry II. She is known for her prominent role in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, one of many scandals that led to the French Revolution and helped to destroy the monarchy of France.Mathieu Tillet
Mathieu Tillet (10 November 1714 Bordeaux - 13 December 1791) was a French botanist, agronomist, metallurgist and administrator.Mémoires secrets
The Mémoires secrets pour servir à l'histoire de la République des Lettres en France depuis 1762 jusqu'à nos jours ("Secret Memoirs Serving as a History of the Republic of Letters in France from 1762 until Our Days") is an anonymous chronicle of events that occurred between 1762 and 1787. Historian, Dena Goodman thinks it started as a manuscript newsletter emanating from Paris. It was first published in London as a multi-volume set from 1783 to 1789. Thus, although the entries bear exact dates, they were not published until long after the events they describe.
The Mémoires secrets offer an abundance of details about literary life in the 18th century: "At the center of the most brilliant debates for a quarter of a century, whether concerning the battle against the Jesuits, the opposition [between the Parlement of Paris and the French King], well-known affairs such as the affair of the diamond necklace, or the emergence of new aesthetics such as the bourgeois drama, Gluckist opera, Shakespeare's works, they gave an account, almost from day to day, in manners sometimes engaged and sometimes distanced, indignant, or sarcastic, of ephemeral or profound movements of public opinion in the course of constituting itself."Nicholas de la Motte
Nicholas de la Motte (Bar-sur-Aube 29 July 1755 – Paris 6 November 1831), born Marc Antoine-Nicolas de la Motte, was an 18th-century French adventurer known for his part as a swindler in the affair of the diamond necklace. He was also the husband of Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Remy, whom he married on 6 June 1780.
He claimed to be a nobleman and gave himself the title of Comte (Count). However, his claim to nobility was dubious. At the time of his marriage, he was known only as an officer of the gendarmes. Through his wife's influence on her paramour, the Cardinal de Rohan, he later obtained a commission as the Comte d' Artois's bodyguard.Rétaux de Villette
Armand Gabriel Rétaux de Villette (1759-1797),) was a French procurer, forger, blackmailer and prostitute. He was one of the participators in the famous Affair of the diamond necklace.The Affair of the Necklace
The Affair of the Necklace is a 2001 American historical drama film directed by Charles Shyer. The screenplay by John Sweet is based on what became known as the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, an incident that helped fuel the French populace's disillusionment with the monarchy and, among other causes, eventually led to the French Revolution. The film received negative reviews from critics, but the sets, music and costume design were widely praised.The Affair of the Necklace (disambiguation)
The Affair of the Necklace is a 2001 film starring Hilary Swank.
The Affair of the Necklace may also refer to:
Affair of the Diamond Necklace, a scandal in France in the 1780s
The Necklace Affair (L'Affaire du Collier), a 1967 Blake and Mortimer comic book
L'affaire du collier de la reine, a 1946 French film directed by Marcel L'Herbier
controversy over the loss of a necklace by the favorite wife of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad by Aisha (circa 623-632 CE).The Necklace Affair
The Necklace Affair (English for "L'Affaire du Collier") by the Belgian artist Edgar P. Jacobs was the tenth comic book in the Blake and Mortimer series.The Queen's Necklace
The Queen's Necklace is a novel by Alexandre Dumas that was published in 1849 and 1850 (immediately following the French Revolution of 1848). It is loosely based on the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, an episode involving fraud and royal scandal that made headlines at the court of Louis XVI in the 1780s.The Queen's Necklace (1929 film)
The Queen's Necklace (French: Le collier de la reine) is a 1929 French historical drama film directed by Tony Lekain and Gaston Ravel and starring Marcelle Chantal, Georges Lannes and Diana Karenne. The film is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's novel The Queen's Necklace which portrays the Affair of the Diamond Necklace which occurred before the French Revolution. The film's art direction was by Lucien Carré. The film was made and distributed by Gaumont. In Germany it was released by the major studio UFA.
It was shot as a silent film, with a music soundtrack then added later.The Queen's Necklace (1946 film)
The Queen's Necklace (French:L'affaire du collier de la reine) is a 1946 French historical drama film directed by Marcel L'Herbier and starring Viviane Romance, Maurice Escande and Jacques Dacqmine. The film portrays the Affair of the Diamond Necklace which damaged the reputation of the French queen Marie Antionette during the 1780s.The Rose of Versailles
The Rose of Versailles (ベルサイユのばら, Berusaiyu no Bara), also known as Lady Oscar or La Rose de Versailles, is one of the best-known titles in shōjo manga and a media franchise created by Riyoko Ikeda. It has been adapted into several Takarazuka Revue musicals, as well an anime television series, produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and broadcast by the anime television network Animax and Nippon Television. The show remains incredibly popular in Italy.
The Rose of Versailles focuses on Oscar François de Jarjayes, a girl raised as a man to become her father's successor as leader of the Palace Guards. A brilliant combatant with a strong sense of justice, Oscar is proud of the life she leads, but becomes torn between class loyalty and her desire to help the impoverished as revolution brews among the oppressed lower class. Also important to the story are her conflicting desires to live life as both a militant and a regular woman as well as her relationships with Marie Antoinette, Count Axel von Fersen, and servant and best friend André Grandier.
It features elements of the yuri genre embodied in the relationship between Oscar and her protégée Rosalie Lamorlière, the secret daughter of the scheming Madame de Polignac. Rosalie refers to Oscar as her first love. Many of the court ladies also greatly adore Oscar, openly admiring her at parties and become very jealous when she brings female companions to them.Œdipe à Colone
Œdipe à Colone is an operatic 'tragédie lyrique' by Antonio Sacchini first performed at Versailles on January 4, 1786 in the presence of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The libretto, by Nicolas-François Guillard, is based on the play Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles. The premiere, intended to inaugurate the new theatre at Versailles, was not a success, possibly due to the quality of the performances, the staging or the acoustics. Marie Antoinette promised Sacchini a better production at Fontainebleau in the autumn, but the Affair of the Diamond Necklace meant she was unable to have her wish. The news that the production was cancelled is said to have hastened the death of the already seriously ill composer on October 9, 1786. Œdipe was given a posthumous performance by the Paris Opera at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin on February 1, 1787. This time the audience was warmly appreciative and the opera became one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire for several decades, reaching a total of almost 600 performances by 1844.