Forging The Queen’s Signature

Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, “Comtesse de la Motte”, wasn’t the only one to forge Marie Antoinette’s signature. Mme. Cahouet did so too. Although the kind Queen graciously forgave her, others didn’t and she was sent to the Bastille, where her health deteriorated:

Victoire Wallard, wife of Pierre-Louis-Rene Cahouet de Villers, General Treasurer of the Kino’s Household, was twenty-eight years old. A notorious friend of Mme. Du Barry, she was “a gay and giddy woman,” who twice imitated the handwriting and signature of the Queen at Mile. Bertin’s expense. The first time “Mme. Cahouet wrote a note to which she placed the signature ‘Marie- Antoinette.’ In this note she asked for a supply of things for her toilette. Mile. Bertin was deceived by it. The Queen was informed of the use which had been made of her name: the Lady Cahouet got off with a reprimand and a pardon. The Queen would not allow the guilty party to suffer any other vengeance.”

Marie-Antoinette, naturally, in forgiving the unfortunate woman who had used her name, could only indemnify the milliner, who actually lost nothing. The imprudent forger, with true audacity, did not stop there: ‘She wrote a second note to Mile. Bertin. The writing and the signature of the Queen were again copied. This new crime was not allowed to remain secret, but they did not tell the Queen, who would perhaps have forgiven her. M. de Maurepas, who was informed, sent the lady to the Bastille. She was lodged in the Comte Tower.” Her incarceration took place March 13, 1777, as well as that of her husband, who was released August 21; the inquiry showed that he had nothing to do with his wife’s swindling.

But the young woman, born for pleasure, was not long in falling into a state of languor and decline. Her husband refused to help her. For a long time he would not allow anyone to speak to him of a woman who had compromised him and exposed him to the danger of losing his position. After twenty months, her health getting worse and worse, they sent her from the Bastille to a convent in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. This was the Convent of the Cross. She entered it under the name of Mme. de Noyan. She went from there to the Community of the Daughters of St. Thomas, and died soon after. “That Bastille,” she often said, “has killed me.”

It also became known that, by means of a letter in which she imitated the signature of Marie-Antoinette, she had cheated the treasurer of the Due d’ Orleans out of 100,000 crowns that was the principal reason of her arrest.

Further reading:
Rose Bertin, the creator of fashion at the court of Marie-Antoinette by Émile Langlade

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