Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess Of Berry-Charles X
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

vanished splendor. The strong hand of the Republic should
pitilessly efface these haughty epitaphs, and demolish these
mausoleums which might recall the frightful memory of kings."

The project was voted by acclamation. The tombs were demolished
between the 6th and 8th of August, 1793, and the announcement was
made for the anniversary of the 10th of August, 1792, of "that
grand, just, and retributive destruction, required in order that
the coffins should be opened, and the remains of the tyrants be
thrown into a ditch filled with quick-time, where they may be
forever destroyed. This operation will shortly take place."

This was done in the following October. For some days there was
carried on a profanation even more sacrilegious than the
demolition of the tombs. The coffins containing the remains of
kings and queens, princes and princesses, were violated. On
Wednesday, the 16th of October, 1798, at the very hour that Marie
Antoinette mounted the scaffold,--she who had so wept for her son,
the first Dauphin, who died the 4th of June, 1789, at the
beginning of the Revolution,--the disinterrers of kings violated
the grave of this child and threw his bones on the refuse heap.
Iconoclasts, jealous of death, disputed its prey, and they
profaned among others the sepulchres of Madame Henrietta of
England, of the Princess Palatine, of the Regent, and of Louis XV.

In the midst of these devastations, some men, less insensate than
the others, sought at least to rescue from the hands of the
destroyers what might be preserved in the interest of art. Of this
number was an artist, Alexandre Lenoir, who had supervised the
demolition of the tombs of Saint-Denis. He could not keep from the
foundry, by the terms of the decree, the tombs of lead, copper,
and bronze; but he saved the others from complete destruction--
those that may be seen to-day in the church of Saint-Denis. He had
them placed first in the cemetery of the Valois, near the ditches
filled with quicklime, where had been cast the remains of the
great ones of the earth, robbed of their sepulchres. Later, a
decree of the Minister of the Interior, Benezech, dated 19
Germinal, An IV., authorizing the citizen Lenoir to have the tombs
thus saved from destruction taken to the Museum of French
Monuments, of which he was the conservator, and which had been
installed at Paris, Rue des Petits Augustins. From thence they
were destined to be returned to the Church of Saint-Denis, under
the reign of Louis XVIII.

At the height of his power, Napoleon dreamed of providing for
himself the same sepulture as that of the kings, his predecessors.
He had decided that he would be interred in the Church of Saint-
Denis, and had arranged for himself a cortege of emperors about
the site that he had chosen for the vault of his dynasty. He
directed the construction of a grand monument dedicated to
Charlemagne, which was to rise in the "imperialized" church. The
great Carlovingian emperor was to have been represented, erect,
upon a column of marble, at the back of which statues in stone of
the emperors who succeeded him were to have been placed. But at
the time of Napoleon's fall, the monument had not been finished.
There had been completed only the statues, which have taken their
rank in the crypt. They represent Charlemagne, Louis le
Debonnaire, Charles le Chauve, Louis le Begue, Charles le Gros,
and even Louis d'Outremer, who, nevertheless, was only a king.

Like the Pharaohs of whom Bossuet speaks, Napoleon was not to
enjoy his sepulture. To be interred with pomp at Saint-Denis,
while Napoleon, at Saint Helena, rested under a simple stone on
which not even his name was inscribed, was the last triumph for
Louis XVIII.,--a triumph in death. The re-entrance of Louis XVIII.
had been not only the restoration of the throne, but that of the
tombs. The 21st of January, 1815, twenty-two years, to the very
day, after the death of Louis XVI., the remains of the unhappy
King and those of his Queen, Marie Antoinette, were transferred to
the Church of Saint-Denis, where their solemn obsequies were
celebrated. Chateaubriand cried:--

"What hand has reconstructed the roof of these vaults and prepared
these empty tombs? The hand of him who was seated on the throne of
the Bourbons. O Providence! He believed that he was preparing the
sepulchres of his race, and he was but building the tomb of Louis
XVI. Injustice reigns but for a moment; it is virtue only that can
count its ancestors and leave a posterity. See, at the same
moment, the master of the earth falls, Louis XVIII. regains the
sceptre, Louis XVI. finds again the sepulture of his fathers."

At the beginning of the Second Restoration, the King determined,
by a decree of the 4th of April, 1816, that search should be made
in the cemetery of the Valois, about the Church of Saint-Denis, in
order to recover the remains of his ancestors that might have
escaped the action of the bed of quicklime, in which they had been
buried under the Terror. The same decree declared that the remains
recovered should be solemnly replaced in the Church of Saint-

Excavations were made in January, 1817, in the cemetery of the
Valois, and the bones thus discovered were transferred to the
necropolis of the kings.

"It was night," says Alexandre Lenoir, in his Histoire des Arts en
France par les Monuments. "The moon shone on the towers; the
torches borne by the attendants were reflected from the walls of
the edifice. What a spectacle! The remains of kings and queens,
princes and princesses, of the most ancient of monarchies, sought
with pious care, with sacred respect, in the ditches dug by
impious arms in the evil days. The bones of the Valois and the
Bourbons found pele-mele outside the walls of the church, and
brought again, after a long exile, to their ancient burial place."

In a little vault on the left were deposited the coffins
containing the bones of earlier date than the Bourbons, and a
marble tablet was placed upon it, with the inscription: "Here rest
the mortal remains of eighteen kings, from Dagobert to Henry III.;
ten queens, from Nantilde, wife of Dagobert, to Marguerite de
Valois, first wife of Henry IV.; twenty-four dauphins, princes,
and princesses, children and grandchildren of France; eleven
divers personages (Hugues-le-grand, four abbes of Saint-Denis,
three chamberlains, two constables, and Sedille de Sainte-Croix,
wife of the Counsellor Jean Pastourelle). Torn from their violated
sepulchres the 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 October, 1793, and
18 January, 1794; restored to their tombs the 19 January, 1817."

On the right were placed the coffins enclosing the remains of the
princes and princesses of the house of Bourbon, the list of which
is given by a second marble plaque: "Here rest the mortal remains
of seven kings, from Charles V. to Louis XV.; seven queens, from
Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of Charles V., to Marie Leczinska, wife of
Louis XV.; dauphins and dauphinesses, princes and princesses,
children and grandchildren of France, to the number of forty-
seven, from the second son of Henry IV. to the Dauphin, eldest son
of Louis XVI. Torn from their violated sepulchres the 12, 14, 15,
and 16 October, 1793; restored to their tombs the 19 January,

Besides these vaults, there is one that bears the title of the
"Royal Vault of the Bourbons," though but a small number of
princes and princesses of this family are there deposited. There
is where Louis XVIII. was to rest. In 1815, there had been placed
in this vault the coffins of Louis XVI. and of Marie Antoinette,
recovered on the site of the former cemetery of the Madeleine. On
the coffin of the King was carved: "Here is the body of the very
high, very puissant, and very excellent Prince, Louis, 16th of the
name, by the grace of God King of France and Navarre." A like
inscription on the coffin of the Queen recited her titles.

In 1817, there had been put by the side of these two coffins those
of Madame Adelaide and of Madame Victorine, daughter of Louis XV.,
who died at Trieste, one in 1799, the other in 1800, and whose
remains had just been brought from that city to Saint-Denis.
There had also been placed in the same vault a coffin containing
the body of Louis VII.--a king coming now for the first time, as
Alexandre Lenoir remarks, to take a place in the vault of these
vanished princes, whose ranks are no longer crowded, and which
crime has been more prompt to scatter than has Death been to fill
them; also the coffin of Louise de Vaudemont, wife of Henry III.,
the queen who was buried in the Church of the Capucins, Place
Vendome, and whose remains escaped profanation in 1793. In this
same vault were also two little coffins, those of a daughter and a
son of the Duke and Duchess of Berry, who died, one in 1817, the
other in 1818, immediately after birth, and the coffin of their
father, assassinated the 13th of February, 1820, on leaving the
Opera. Such were the companions in burial of Louis XVIII.



Louis XVIII. died the 16th of September, 1824, at the Chateau of
the Tuileries. His body remained there until the 23d of September,
when, to the sound of a salvo of one hundred and one guns, it was
borne to the Church of Saint-Denis. The coffin remained exposed in
this basilica within a chapelle ardente, to the 24th of October,
the eve of the day fixed for the obsequies, and during all this
time the church was filled with a crowd of the faithful, belonging
to all classes of society, who gathered from Paris and all the
surrounding communes, to render a last homage to the old King.
Sunday, 24th of October, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the body
was transferred from the chapelle ardente to the catafalque
prepared to receive it. Then the vespers and the vigils of the
dead were sung, and the Grand Almoner, clad in his pontifical
robes, officiated. The next day, Monday, the 25th of October, the
services of burial took place.

The Dauphin and Dauphiness left the Tuileries at 10:30 A.M., to be
present at the funeral ceremony. In conformity with etiquette,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: