[Many of the characters in the novel, were actual historical personages. An asterisk is placed against the character if an internet search of their name, followed by ‘French Revolution’ will reveal their portrait.]
Abbe Magnin (search ‘la derniere confession l’Abbe Magnin’ and he should come up as fourth image)*: controversy over whether Marie Antoinette was really given secret mass in Conciergerie. Abbe Magnin maintained silence for years to protect the lives of those who had worked with him, because of the terror. Finally wrote deposition many years later to silence the cynics. When the French monarchy was restored 20 years later, princess Marie Therese herself received Magnin in the palace and accorded the modest priest every attention he would accept. Marie Therese, who was understandably suspicious of just about everyone in her adult life, was in a position to question witnesses and ascertain the facts of the matter. She believed in Magnin and attended an exhibition of paintings in Paris, including one depicting the secret mass – surely a testament to the veracity of the event it was depicting. Indeed it is claimed that a portrait of the priest, was commissioned by Marie Therese.
Ambassador Mercy (Florimond Claude, comte de Mercy-Argenteau)*: wise and honourable Austrian ambassador at French court. Adviser to Marie Antoinette throughout her life. Removed from France in 1790 on spurious excuse, as anti-Austrian sentiment grew in France, and Mercy was threatened. Continued to advise queen from Belgium.
Barnave*: famous deputy and a leader of Constitutional Party. Escorted queen back to Paris after failed escape attempt. Later queen began correspondence with Barnave, on advice of Mercy. Queen used Barnave. He eventually realised this and told queen she would be lost if she only trusted foreign armies and didn’t put her trust in Frenchmen. Arrested after his correspondence with queen found in king’s room, and guillotined. Queen fond of him. Barnave fond of queen.
Bault: warden of Conciergerie Prison. Tried to help queen in little ways.
Billaud de Varenne*: one of deputy public prosecutors. Helped Hardi save life of Pauline de Tourzel.
Bouille (General)*: planned escape from Paris in June 1791 with Fersen. Vilified after escape failed.
Clery (Jean Baptiste Clery)*: brave valet who volunteered to serve imprisoned royal family. Wrote celebrated memoir. Accompanied Marie Therese into exile.
Comte Axel de Fersen*: queen’s great and long term love. His correspondence with queen published by relatives long after his death. Only man trusted by queen. Disastrously advised queen to remain in Paris although various others, including Lafayette, had offered to escort royal family out of Paris with detachments of troops. Queen refused to leave Paris, on Fersen’s advice and sealed her fate. Their unconsummated love affair helped destroy Marie Antoinette’s reputation.
Comte de Montmorin (Armand Marc)*: foreign minister for years. Advised queen. Friend of Mercy. Arrested and put on trial after king deposed. Found innocent, but mob insisted he return to prison, where he was massacred in September 1792. His short correspondence with Mercy published by comte de la Marck.
Danton*: prominent revolutionary, organised attack on Tuileries. Justice minister. Agreed to life of Tourzel’s daughter, Pauline, being saved.
Daujon: member of Commune, sculptor. Creation still on display in Paris, possibly. Used flattery and cunning to prevent mob from storming queen’s prison with Lamballe’s corpse.
Drouet: postmaster who recognised royal family and had them arrested.
Duchesse de Tourzel*: brave governess to Marie Antoinette’s children during Revolution. Rumour that son was not dead but had been spirited away. Amateur sleuth. Wanted to confirm death of Marie Antoinette’s son for herself. Just before Marie Therese finally released from Temple Tower, permitted to visit princess. Seized opportunity when guards were out of room for while to inspect duty book in Temple Tower. It detailed illness of Marie Antoinette’s son and visits from various doctors in child’s final days. Proof that child had died. Much later wrote memoir.
Edgeworth (Henry Essex)*: Irish born priest who ministered to king in final hours. Escorted king to guillotine. Wrote account of this.
Fouquier-Tinville*: public prosecutor when queen on trial.
Fournier: shoemaker. Risked life to help deposed royal family.
General de Jarjayes*: risked life ferrying messages for queen.
Hardi: revolutionary and member of Commune who saved lives of Pauline de Tourzel and her mother, duchesse de Tourzel.
Hebert*: wrote infamous revolutionary newspaper. Chief inspector of prisons when queen incarcerated. Presented prince’s evidence of incest at queen’s trial. Buried in same cemetery as queen, 6 months after her.
Hue: loyal valet. Survived prison. Later was one of those chosen by princess Marie Therese to accompany her into exile.
Lafayette*: elected commander of National Guard of Paris at beginning of Revolution. Hero in US because of service there in War of Independence. Cruel to queen. Threatened to separate her from king and send her to nunnery. Offered to escort family out of Paris, near end.
Lariviere: kind turnkey at Conciergerie Prison. Witnessed queen’s arrival and departure from Conciergerie.
Lepitre: friendly councillor sometimes on duty in Temple Tower.
Louis XV*: elderly king when Marie Antoinette arrived at Versailles in 1770. Grandfather to Marie Antoinette’s husband. Died in 1774.
Louis XVI*: husband of Marie Antoinette. Married in 1770 at age 15. King 4 years later. Father and mother dead.
Madame Campan*: chief maid (sort of PA) to Marie Antoinette. Wrote celebrated memoir. Younger sister committed suicide because of what she had witnessed. Set up school after Revolution to support her extended family. Respected by Napoleon.
Madame Richard: first warden of Conciergerie Prison. Arrested because of plot to help queen escape.
Malesherbes*: renowned former minister, disastrously sacked by Louis XVI on insistence of thoughtless young Marie Antoinette. Volunteered to be advocate for Louis XVI at his trial. Infuriated revolutionaries. Guillotined year or so later, having been forced to watch his grandchildren die first, followed by his daughter.
Maria Theresa*: empress of Austria. Mother of Marie Antoinette.
Marie Therese*: daughter of queen. Only survivor of royal family. Wrote memoir in married name – duchesse d’Angouleme.
Marquis de Mandat*: commander of National Guard. Assassinated.
Michonis*: prison inspector, loyal to Marie Antoinette. Died as a result.
Pauline de Tourzel*: 17 year old daughter of duchesse. Survived imprisonment. Wrote of how she escaped almost certain death.
Petion*: deputy, one of leaders of republican party in National Assembly. Escorted queen back to Paris after failed escape plot. Was mayor when king deposed. Protested against increasing violence. Arrest warrant issued. Fled Paris and committed suicide.
Princesse de Tarente*: brave courtier of Marie Antoinette.
Princesse Marie Therese Louise de Lamballe*: loyal friend of Marie Antoinette. Returned to queen’s side to support queen. Lost her life in massacres, in atrocious murder which shocked the world.
Robespierre*: infamous revolutionary. Helped orchestrate the terror. Secreted Marie Antoinette’s Will, and locket with son’s portrait, under his mattress to gloat over, at will, with trophies from other victims.
Roederer*: official who persuaded Louis to quit Tuileries Palace. Opinion divided as to whether he acted from malevolent motives or not.
Rosalie Lamorliere: queen’s last maid. Illiterate but dictated account of queen’s imprisonment.
Rougeville (Chevalier de)*: courtier who tried to help Marie Antoinette escape from Conciergerie.
Simon: uncouth guard in Temple Tower who became tutor to queen’s son when he was removed from his mother. Cruel to child.
Toulan: brave councillor, who died because of his devotion to queen
Turgy: brave kitchen attendant. Bearer of secret messages to and from queen, in prison. Chosen to accompany Marie Therese into exile.
Vergniaud*: moderate president of National Assembly when Louis XVI deposed. Had cruelly spoken out against Marie Antoinette in National Assembly before that. Blamed her for every act of Louis XVI. Later, when realised that Louis XVI not doing anything to stop approaching armies, and that he was trying to hamper France’s attempts to defend itself, also spoke out against Louis in National Assembly – not long before people deposed king. Protested against violence after September Massacres. Arrested and guillotined.