An Interesting Historical Story
There is an interesting historical story about giving a diamond necklace as a gift that occurred in France in the late 1700's. King Louis XV became intrigued with a woman named Madame du Barry. It was for this woman that he had a famous jeweler, Boehmer and Bassenge, in Paris design and make a fabulously expensive diamond necklace. The work on the necklace was going to take several years.
The King Died
Unfortunately, the King contracted smallpox and died before the necklace was completed and Madame du Barry was removed from the King's court by the next King before she received her gift. With King Louis XV dead and Madam du Barry disposed, the jewelers were in possession of the diamond necklace and they were needing their money for the expensive necklace. The new King, Louis XVI, offered to buy it for his wife, Marie Antoinette, the new Queen of France. Marie Antoinette, however, refused the beautiful necklace supposedly because she was not interested in wearing a necklace made for another woman.
A Con Artist Named Jeanne
The interesting part of the story began when a con artist by the name of Jeanne de la Motte created a plan to secure the necklace as part of a strategy to attain wealth and maybe even power. This woman was married to a cavalryman and she was living on a sparse income. She became the mistress to a French cardinal named Cardinal de Rohan. The Queen, Marie Antoinette, and Cardinal de Rohan were at odds because of some previous disagreements regarding the Queen's treatment of her mother, Maria Theresa. This situation led to the Cardinal wanting to improve his standing with Queen Marie Antoinette.
The Deception of the Cardinal
Jeanne told the Cardinal that she had the Queen's attention and she would work for a resolution of their problems. A correspondence ensued between the Queen and Rohan. Unfortunately, the letters were fake but they were written as though the Queen had become infatuated Rohan. Soon Rohan was requesting a secret rendezvous with the Queen in a beautiful garden at the Palace of Versailles. The rendezvous was arranged but the Queen was actually an imposter who was a prostitute named Nicole Lequay d'Oliva. She looked very much like the Queen and totally fooled Cardinal de Rohan and she told him all was forgiven between them.
After this meeting Jeanne de la Motte began borrowing large sums of money from Rohan saying they were for the Queen's charity work when actually it was for Jeanne's personal use.
A Lie Unfolds
The jewelers who had made the large diamond necklace decided to have Jeanne sell it for them and Jeanne told Rohan that the Queen wanted to buy the necklace secretly and asked if he would be the intermediary. A fraudulent letter was produced as being from the Queen with her signature and it was acceptable to the jewelers. At this point the necklace was given Rohan and he met with the Queen's valet who actually was the husband of Jeanne. The husband took the necklace to London and broke it down to sell the diamonds separately.
The story gets more interesting when it was time to pay the jewelers. Notes from Rohan were used but they were insufficient to cover the large cost. One of the jewelers, Boehmer, made a complaint to the Queen, who, as would be expected, said she was totally unaware of an order for the necklace and she had never received it. Rohan produced the Queen's letters that were then determined to be fake. The King threw Cardinal de Rohan into the Bastille but he was later acquitted at trial. Jeanne de la Motte was sentenced to life in prison; however, she escaped a year later by dressing as a young boy.
She escaped to London where she published her memoirs in 1789 that indicated the Queen was guilty of conspiring in this plot. Unfortunately, many French people believed her and this was one of the events that contributed to the start of the French Revolution.
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