01 December 2009

Trianon: A Novel of Royal France

I've just finished Elena Maria Vidal's historical novel, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Elegantly written, it is, quite simply, a heartwrenching account of the trials and martyrdom of the king and queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. One is struck by how much their sufferings mirrored the passions of Jesus and Mary--the calumny, the circus trials, the witness to the maltreatment of their son (in the Queen's case, having her 7-year-old forcibly taken from her and subjected to horrible abuses only a few doors down, his cries heard by his helpless mother), the final humiliations, the execution--and all these atrocities committed not against those of common blood, but against the very King and Queen of France. The mind boggles at the evil of the Jacobins thirsty for blood and for power, and how low the nation could sink during this time of national rebellion. The lies of the Revolution continue to this day, in modern depictions of a frivolous, uncaring, licentious Queen and her weak-willed husband. This historically accurate novel sets things right by telling of their fidelity to each other, to the people of France, whose burdens they tried to ease through law and personal sacrifice, and to the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, in whose light they lived and died. (The King, physically, mentally, emotionally resolute, would never have needed any counsel on how to be manly.) Both King and Queen, in their last letters, urged their children never to avenge their deaths, and they both died forgiving wholeheartedly their executioners.

From the Queen's last letter to her sister:
I sincerely beg pardon of God for all the faults I have committed during my life. I ask pardon of all those I know, and of you, my sister in particular, for all the distress I may, without wishing it, have caused them. I forgive all my enemies the harm they have done me. I say farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being separated for ever from them and their troubles forms one of my greatest regrets in dying...

Think of me always. I embrace you with all my heart, together with those poor, dear children. My God! What agony it is to leave them forever! Adieu! Adieu! I shall henceforth pay attention to nothing but my spiritual duties.
Trianon is a must-read. You can buy the novel (and its sequel) here.
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