ONffroy de Verez, An Historical Account


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Revolution and Exile

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Revolution and Exile

On Sept. 24, 1824, King Louis XVIII, died. Charles X, his younger brother, returned from London, his home during exile, and acceded to the throne of France. Charles X was not a popular ruler. He took steps to compensate nobles who had their estates confiscated during the Revolution among other sins and was often at odds with the chambers. Finally on July 6, 1830, he decided to suspend the constitution, a move that backfired, on August 2, after almost six years as ruler, King Charles X was forced to abdicate. Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, was elected to be King of France.

Louis Philippe ILouis Philippe I, Duke of Orleans

Louis Philippe, who took the name Louis Philippe I, was the son of Louis Philippe II, also renamed.

Louis Philippe II, the father, played a seminal role in the revolution of 1789. When he was a teenager, Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, was an influential member of the Jacobin club which started meeting informally in a Dominican convent on the Rue St. Jacques (in Latin Jacobus). The club was originally a moderate club made up of well-off men who espoused the new ideals of Liberté, Égalité Fraternité. Louis Philippe II, a cousin to King Louis the XVI, used his wealth and family connections to open the Palais-Royal, his residence in Paris, to the Jacobins to meet and promote their new ideals where they were safe from the royal censors. He became known as Philippe Egalité.

The Jacobin club grew greatly eventually claiming as many as 420,000 members throughout France. The Jacobin club became highly radicalized in promoting the Republican agenda and Robespierre became its leading member. Robespierre used the club as his base to implement his designs, a time period that came to be known as the Reign of Terror. Louis Philippe II, in spite of his role in realizing the Revolution, was later sent to the guillotine.

His son, Louis Philippe, the future King, fled France and spent 21 years in exile, much of that time spent in the United States. Louis Philippe was proclaimed King in 1830, and took the name Louis Philippe I, Duke of Orleans. Charles the X was exiled to Gorizia, Austria.

Comgte de ChambordHenry, Count de Chambord

After Charles X was deposed and exiled, the supporters of the “legitimate royalty” threw their support to another candidate for King. He was the child, Henry, the posthumous son of Charles Ferdinand d’Artois, the Duke de Berry, the nephew of Charles X. His mother was Marie Caroline, daughter of Francis I, King of the Two Sicilies, who had agreed to the arranged marriage. Henry was considered by the Royalists to be the “legitimate” heir to the throne.

Henry’s father, the Duke de Berry, was assassinated before Henry’s birth at the Paris Opera on Feb. 14, 1820, putting the Bourbon dynasty in jeopardy. French Parliament had debated salic law, which excluded females from succession, however, Marie Caroline of Naples and Sicily, the Duchess de Berry, was found to be pregnant and gave birth to a son, Henry,, on Sept. 29, 1820, seven months after his father’s assassination. His birth was hailed by many as “god given” and the people of France purchased the Chateau de Chambord for him in gratitude. He then assumed the title "Comte de Chambord" which is how he preferred to be known.

His detractors opposed his right to succeed to the throne because of his Royalist heritage. His right to the throne was discounted by his enemies because he was born seven months after the death of his father, the Duke de Berry, and the birth was not officially witnessed.

 Caroline, the Duchess du BerryAnne Marthe Rolland Onffroy breaks his sword

With the accession of Louis Philippe I in 1830, Anne Marthe Rolland Onffroy broke his sword and departed the French military returning to his home, the Chateau de Plessis Bardoult. To Anne Marthe Rolland Onffroy , the accession of Louis Philippe I to the throne of France represented a detestable event for France. Louis Philippe’s father had been instrumental in the Revolution of 1789 and therefore a primal force in the horrors that occurred afterwards. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been guillotined, countless French noblemen including some of his family had been slaughtered. The three-year brutal pogrom in the Vendée and Bretagne that started in 1793 and the genocide that followed killed countless of his friends, colleagues and acquaintances as well as causing him and his family to flee France.

In 1832, Anne Marthe Rolland received a summons from Marie Caroline, the Duchess de Berry who had returned to France from exile. Her proposal - to overthrow the new King, Louis Philippe I, and replace him with Henry, her son. She asked Anne Marthe Rolland Onffroy to be Commander in Chief of the Armies of the West in a last-ditch plan to save the “legitimate royalty”. She was calling the Vendée and Bretagne into revolt again.

Anne Marthe Rolland called his four eldest sons to his side: Louis Armand, Henri Jules, Pierre Roland, and Francois Emile. When they had finally gathered at his home, the Chateau de Plessis Bardoult, he addressed them in these simple words, “ My children, in an hour, we mount our horses. Madame is in France and needs us. It is probably death, surely ruin, but honor commands us. Let’s go!!

They left without a single illusion about their fate. Arriving at the bottom of the great avenue of oaks which lined the drive, he turned, took off his hat and said, “Adieu, my lovely Plessis, I will never see you again.” He never returned and the Chateau de Plessis Bardoult was confiscated by the Republic. He took up the sword as did his sons and they passed into judgement. Count Anne Marthe Rolland Onffroy and his sons were first condemned to death. The sentence was commuted and they were exiled from France.

Comte AM Roland OnffroyIn 1834, Anne Marthe Rolland Onffroy had an audience with the exiled King Charles X in Prague. He was received with exceptional grace and benevolence. As the King greeted him, he grasped Anne Marthe Roland firmly by the arm and said to him with great warmth and kindness, “ Monsieur Onffroy, you are a very brave gentleman and a worthy officer”. These words from the exiled King made a profound impression on the heart of his loyal subject. Among his children and remembering the event a few days later, he told them, “ I suffered greatly in the very heart of my career with such a cruel shake up. I was in my second emigration. Fortune and future, I sacrificed it all for the love of my princes, but these words of my old master and king consoled me for all my hardships and made me forget all my disasters”. ( from La France, July 15, 1839, obituary of the Comte Onffroy by the Comte de Bruges).

Comte Anne Marthe Rolland Onffroy de Vérez died in exile in Mayence (Mainz, Germany), May 31, 1839, at the age of 61.

His sons, Louis Armand, Jules Henry, and Pierre Roland were sentenced to death and imprisoned in Rennes, Laval and Vitré. The young prisoners were the object of magnificent ovations on the part of the principle families of France. They were acquitted and forced to leave France.