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Authors: Louis Bayard

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The Black Tower

BOOK: The Black Tower
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The Black Tower
Louis Bayard

In memory of my dad

To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and that which he will have the most need to know.

—J
EAN
-J
ACQUES
R
OUSSEAU

Contents
 

1770

Marie-Antoinette, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa, marries the French dauphin, Louis-Auguste.

1774

Louis-Auguste, upon the death of his grandfather, becomes Louis XVI.

1778

Marie-Antoinette gives birth to her first child, Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte.

1785

Marie-Antoinette gives birth to her second son, Louis-Charles.

1789

A mob destroys the Bastille, triggering the outbreak of the French Revolution. Parisian marketwomen march on Versailles and force the royal family to live under guard in the Tuileries palace in Paris.

1790

The royal family attempts to flee France. They are stopped near the French border and returned to Paris.

1792

Revolutionaries imprison the royal family in the Temple.

1793

January
King Louis XVI is executed.

 

July
Louis-Charles is separated from his family.

 

October
Marie-Antoinette is executed.

1795

Louis-Charles’ death is announced. Body is buried in unmarked grave in cemetery of Sainte-Marguerite.

1799

Napoleon installs himself as First Consul.

1804

Napoleon crowns himself Emperor.

1815

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo culminates in his exile at St. Helena. Louis XVIII (younger brother of Louis XVI) is now permanently installed as King of France.

1821

Napoleon dies.

1824

Louis XVIII dies. His younger brother, the Comte d’Artois, becomes Charles X.

1830

July Revolution forces Charles X to abdicate. Charles’ cousin, Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, is proclaimed king.

13 T
HERMIDOR
Y
EAR
II

 

1st meeting with Prisoner: shortly after 1
A.M
. Prisoner alone in cell. Dinner had not been eaten. Nor breakfast.

 

Stench
extreme
, cd be detected thru grating. Must speak to Barras re conditions. Piles of excrement
everywhere
. Urine, sweat, mold, rotted skin. Surfeit of rats. Maggots, cockroaches, lice.

 

Prisoner discovered in cot, approx. size of cradle. (For reasons unknown, Prisoner refuses to sleep in bed.) Ankle protruding at unnatural angle. Knees & wrists
extremely
swollen, blue & yellow.

 

Prisoner wears only scraps of filthy cloth, ragged trousers. No longer bothers to dress or undress. Ribs clearly visible thru skin. Arms & legs entirely fretted w. sores, purulent. Body covered, head to toe, w. vermin. Bugs & lice to be found in every fold of sheet, blanket.

 

Prisoner started when door was opened. Turned head slightly twd us, made no other move. Eyes opened a fraction when I lowered candle to face, immediately closed again. Light acutely painful. Appears Prisoner has not been exposed to light of any kind in at least 6 mos, may be considered functionally blind.

 

No initial reply from Prisoner when I bade him gd morning. Did not respond to questions. Faint exhalation detected thru lips (coated in yeast). Lge black spider crawling up neck. Rat was found chewing Prisoner’s hair, extricated w. difficulty. This occasioned Prisoner’s first words, which were to thank me.

 

I asked Prisoner to stand. Prisoner declined. After repeated requests, he attempted to rise but wanted strength. W. assistance, he was able to take 2 steps—extrmly painful, by all appearances. Prisoner collapsed as soon as I removed my arm. (Guard, who was present thruout interview, declined to assist me in raising him up.)

 

Having returned Prisoner to cot, I promised to return next day
A.M.
to begin treatment. Upon hearing this, Prisoner, in barely audible voice, begged me not to bother. Prisoner observed it was his fondest wish to die. As soon as God would allow.

 

Must speak to Genl Barras re
cleaning cell
, obtaining more light for Prisoner. Knee most pressing medical concern. Prisoner wd benefit fm bath, exercise—contact with family, friends,
anyone
. Must speak to Must also

 

What have we done

 
BOOK: The Black Tower
5.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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