An anxious moment for Marie Antoinette in the Temple prison

May 30, 2013

The Royal Family in the Prison of the Temple in 1792. Painting by Edward Matthew Ward

The Royal Family in the Prison of the Temple in 1792. Painting by Edward Matthew Ward

While the royal family was imprisoned and closely guarded in the Temple, the revolutionaries discovered an iron coffer in one of the rooms, a fact they considered highly suspect, giving rise to endless rumors and inquiries.

One day, while the prisoners were dining under their guards’ watchful eyes, the Dauphin saw a biscuit on the table, became interested in it and said to his mother:

—“Here is a wonderful biscuit. Mother, if you permit me, I know of a coffer where I can lock it up securely.”

Portrait of the Dauphin by Alexander Kucharsky

Portrait of the Dauphin by Alexander Kucharsky

Apprehensive because of the reference to a coffer—which the guards could consider damning—the Queen looked around the room, searching for a coffer, while the revolutionaries attentively watched her every movement, fearing some sort of plot. The Queen finally said:

—“My son, I don’t see the coffer you’re talking about.”

Pointing to his own mouth, the Dauphin said: “Here is the access to it.”

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Edmond Guérard, Dictionnaire encyclopédique d’anécdotes (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1872), 1:412.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 286

 

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