Monthly Archives: February 2021

Decipher the duchess. Part 2a

Here is another opportunity to work with the original manuscript and test yourself against the Duchess’ handwriting, as part of our ‘Decipher the duchess’ series.

As we saw in her letter of 16 July 1789, the duchess was in Paris for the fall of the Bastille. The new political conditions signalled by this event set off a first wave of emigration by disenchanted and apprehensive noblewomen and men, including the King’s brother the comte d’Artois. The duchess herself left Paris on 27 July, but she did not leave the country; instead, she travelled eighty miles north to her country estate at Moreuil in Picardy (now in the Somme department). She remained there until March 1791, making only one visit back to the capital early in 1790. The duchess clearly regarded Moreuil as a sanctuary from the revolutionary turmoil in Paris and elsewhere, but the letter we are going to work on describes the moment when this protective bubble was finally pierced. Here is the opening paragraph of her account (click on the image to enlarge it):

There are five lines to work through. Here are some clues to help you get started:

Line 1: Provides the letter’s location and date

Line 2: Begins: Je voûlois vous…

Line 3:

Line 4: Begins: pour les faires passer…

Line 5:

More clues will be provided next week, and a full transcription and translation will follow.

Good luck and enjoy the challenge!