Geneviève d'Ossun

Geneviève d'Ossun née de Gramont (Paris, 1751 - 26 July 1794, Paris) was a French courtier. She served as dame d'atour to the queen of France, Marie Antoinette, from 1781 until 1791, and as Première dame d'honneur from 1791 until 1792.

Life

She was the daughter of count Antoine-Adrien-Charles de Gramont, the niece of Étienne François de Choiseul, and through her brother Antoine de Gramont sister-in-law to Aglaé de Polignac, the daughter of Yolande de Polastron. She married marquis Charles d'Ossun in 1766, and was introduced at court after her wedding.

Court service

On 26 May 1781, she was appointed dame d'atour to the queen in succession to Marie-Jeanne de Talleyrand-Perigord, duchesse de Mailly, who retired for health reasons. As dame d'atour she was the supervisor of the wardrobe and dressing ceremony of the queen. Reportedly, she attempted to subdue the enormous costs of the queen's wardrobe at that time, both by opposing the habit of the fashionable merchants to overcharge the queen, but also by suggesting to Marie Antoinette herself to cutting down on her expenses. This was not well received, but she eventually managed to win the queen's confidence.

According to Pierre de Nolhac, it took some time for Geneviève d'Ossun to win the confidence of Marie Antoinette, as she lacked the beauty and wit of Yolande de Polastron and was in fact somewhat of a contrast to the seductiveness of the queen's favorite, but she had a solid character and lacked to far reaching ambitions and eventually managed to convince Marie Antoinette to cut down somewhat on her everyday expenses.[1] She was not rich but supported herself on her salary, but is not known to have asked for favors for herself or others, and were reportedly pleased with being in service of the queen.[2] In 1785, Count de la Mark observed in a letter to marquis de Mirabeau that Marie Antoinette often attended intimate suppers with concert in the presence of only four or five people in the apartment of Geneviève d'Ossun, and that she was apparently more at ease there than with Yolande de Polastron.[3]

Revolution

After the Women's March on Versailles, Geneviève d'Ossun attended court in the Tuileries Palace from her palace in Rue de Grenelle in Paris. When Laure-Auguste de Fitz-James, Princess de Chimay emigrated in early 1791, she was promoted to succeed her as Première dame d'honneur, [4] and thus formally made second in command of the queen's female courtiers. On 21 June, she was alerted about the Flight to Varennes by the queen, and left Paris for her estate in the countryside. She was questioned suspected for being implicated in the flight, but was acquitted and returned to her court service.

Geneviève d'Ossun lost her post by the abolition of the monarchy and thereby the royal court and household after the 10 August (French Revolution) 1792, and returned to private life. During the Terror of Robespierre, d'Ossun was arrested and imprisoned at Oiseaux. She was charged with conspiracy to hide the crimes of which Marie Antoinette had been sentenced guilty, and neglect to report them. She was called before the court on 25 July and judged guilty as charged and sentenced to execution by guillotine the following day in accordance with the Law of 22 Prairial. According to a co-prisoner who was not sentenced to death, she behaved with courage during her trial.

The protocol stated: "Age 44, born and resident of Paris, the widow d'Osson, a former noblewoman and Marechale, previously the lady-in-waiting of the widow Capet, was sentenced to death on the 8 Thermidor the Year II in Paris by the Revolutionary Court as conspirator."[5]

References

  1. Nolhac P. de. La Reine Marie-Antoinette, p. 198
  2. Nolhac P. de. La Reine Marie-Antoinette, p. 199
  3. Nolhac P. de. La Reine Marie-Antoinette, p. 199
  4. Hardy, B. C. (Blanche Christabel), The Princesse de Lamballe; a biography, 1908, Project Gutenberg
  5. Liste des guillotinés. Patronymes commençants par G. — GRAMONT (de) Geneviève
  • La Faye J. de. Amitiés de Reine. P.: Emile-Paul frères, 1910

Court offices
Preceded by
Marie-Jeanne de Mailly
Dame d'atour
1781–1791
Succeeded by
Émilie de Beauharnais
Preceded by
Laure-Auguste de Chimay
Première dame d'honneur
1791–1792
Succeeded by
Adélaïde de La Rochefoucauld
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