Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Empress of France and Their Desperate Escape

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

The Second Empire was at its height. Napoleon III had renovated Paris. “Never had the Empire seemed more assured, the court more brilliant, the fetes more gorgeous,” Jennie later wrote. Relieved of the burden of Leonard’s philandering, Clara bloomed in her own, softer way. She presented her daughters at court. The Jeromes became intimate friends of the Empress Eugenie and the rest of the Imperial family. Jennie saw Eugenie’s beauty and admired her power to move men, influence events, and change history.

Then came 1870 and the Franco-Prussian War. The Commune took over Paris. The German army surrounded the city. The French declared the Third Republic. Clara, Jennie, and her sisters made a “Gone With the Wind” style escape through the mobs to make the last train out.

Napoleon was a captive of the Germans. Eugenie was a fugitive from both them and the Republic. Everybody remembered what had happened to Marie Antoinette. From the Channel Coast they helped her flee to England.

Leonard came at once and got them into Brown’s Hotel just off Piccadilly. From Jennie’s memoirs: “A winter spent in the gloom and fogs of London did not tend to dispel the melancholy which we felt.”

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

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