Chevalier d'Eon

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Chevalier d'Eon

Mesaj  Admin Bir Salı Haz. 22, 2010 4:48 pm

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont (5 October 1728 – 21 May 1810), usually known as the Chevalier d'Éon, was a French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason who lived the first half of his life as a man and the second half as a woman.

Chevalier d'Eon

Chevalier d'Eon Contents

Early life
D'Éon de Beaumont was born in Tonnerre, Yonne. His father, Louis d'Éon de Beaumont, was an attorney; his mother, Françoise de Chavanson, a noblewoman. Most of what is known about d'Éon's early life comes from his autobiography, the reliability of which is questionable.[citation needed] He later claimed that he had been born a girl but that he was raised as a boy because his father could inherit from his in-laws only if he had a son. He was a chevalier, 'Knight', because of the honour conferred on him by the king, that of 'chevalier des ordres du Roi'.

D'Éon excelled in school; he graduated in 1749 from Collège Mazarin, in Paris. He was a secretary to the administrator of the fiscal department and was a royal censor.

Life as a spy
In 1756 d'Éon joined the secret network of spies called Le Secret du Roi which worked for King Louis XV personally, without the knowledge of the government, and sometimes against official policies and treaties. The monarch sent him on a secret mission to Russia in order to meet Empress Elizabeth and intrigue with the pro-French faction against the Habsburg monarchy. Later tales claim that he disguised himself as a lady Lia de Beaumont to do so, and that he became a maid of honour to the Empress. D'Éon's career in Russia is the subject of one of Valentin Pikul's novels.

In 1761, d'Éon returned to France. The next year he became a captain of dragoons under the Marshal de Broglie and fought in the later stages of the Seven Years' War. He was wounded and received the Order of Saint-Louis.

In 1763, after a successful negotiation with the British government as secretary of the Duke of Nivernais, special ambassador, d'Éon became plenipotentiary minister in London - interim ambassador - and used this position also to spy for the king. He collected information for a potential invasion - an unfortunate and clumsy initiative of Louis XV, of which his ministers were unaware. He formed connections with English nobility by sending them the produce of his vineyard and abundantly enjoyed the splendour of his interim embassy.

Upon the arrival of the new ambassador, the Count of Guerchy, d'Éon was reduced to his former rank as secretary and humiliated by the count. He complained, and eventually decided to disobey orders to return to France. In his letter to the king, he claimed that the new ambassador had tried to drug him. In an effort to save his station in London, he published most of the secret diplomatic correspondence about his recall under the title Lettres, mémoires, et négociations in 1764, disavowing the Count of Guerchy (calling him unfit for his job). This breach of diplomatic secret was scandalous to the point of being unheard of, but d'Éon had not yet published everything (he kept the king's secret invasion documents and those relative to the Secret du Roi as "insurance"), and the French government became very cautious in its dealings with d'Éon, even when d'Éon sued Count Guerchy for attempted murder. With the invasion documents in hand, d'Éon held the king in check.

In 1766, Louis XV granted him a pension for his services (or as a pay-off for his silence) and gave him a 12,000-livre annuity. He continued to work as a spy, but lived in political exile in London. His possession of the king's secret letters protected him against further actions, but he could not return to France.

Life as a woman
Despite d'Éon's wearing a dragoon's uniform all the time, there were rumors that he was actually a woman, and a betting pool was started on the London Stock Exchange about his true sex. D'Eon was invited to join, but declined, saying that an examination would be dishonouring, whatever the result. After a year without progress, the wager was abandoned. In 1774, after the death of Louis XV, d'Éon tried to negotiate his return from exile. The French government's side of the negotiations was handled by the writer Pierre de Beaumarchais. The resulting twenty-page treaty permitted D'Éon to return to France and keep his ministerial pension, but required that he turn over the secret correspondence about le Secret du Roi.

D'Éon claimed to be physically not a man, but a woman, and demanded recognition by the government as such. King Louis XVI and his court complied, but demanded that she dress appropriately and wear women's clothing. D'Éon agreed, especially when the king granted her funds for a new wardrobe. In 1777 d'Éon returned to France, and afterwards lived as a woman.

When France began to help the rebels during the American War of Independence, d'Éon asked to join the French troops in America. She was jailed below the castle of Dijon for 19 days, and spent the following six years with her mother in Tonnerre.

In 1779, d'Éon published her memoirs La Vie Militaire, politique, et privée de Mademoiselle d'Eon. They were ghostwritten by a friend named La Fortelle, and are probably embellished.

D'Éon returned to England in 1785. She lost her pension after the French Revolution and had to sell her library. In 1792, she sent a letter to the French National Assembly, offering to lead a division of women soldiers against the Habsburgs; the offer was rebuffed. She participated in fencing tournaments until, in 1796, she was seriously wounded. In 1805, she signed a contract for an autobiography, but the book was never published. She spent her last years with a widow, Mrs. Cole.

The Chevalier d'Éon died in London. Doctors who examined the Chevalier's body after death discovered that the Chevalier had been anatomically male. However, it is possible that she had Kallmann syndrome, a hormonal disorder in which a person's body does not go through puberty. This is suggested by the fact that no known portraits of the Chevalier show any facial hair — even the portrait of taken from a death mask, which was cast at the time of death


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