'A hell of a tale and Jonathan Beckman gives it all the verve and swagger it deserves ...I read it with fascination, delight and frequent snorts of incredulity' The Spectator On 5 September 1785, a trial began in Paris that would divide the country, captivate Europe and send the French monarchy tumbling down the slope towards the Revolution. Cardinal Louis de Rohan, scion of one of the most ancient and distinguished families in France, stood accused of forging Marie Antoinette's signature to fraudulently obtain the most expensive piece of jewellery in Europe - a 2,400-carat necklace worth 1.6 million francs. Where were the diamonds now? Was Rohan entirely innocent? Was, for that matter, the queen? What was the role of the charismatic magus, the comte de Cagliostro, who was rumoured to be two-thousand-years old and capable of transforming metal into gold?
This book takes the once famous but now largely forgotten ‘Affair of the Diamond Necklace’, almost the sole topic of gossip among Parisians in 1786, and brings it back centre stage. In September 1785, a trial began in Paris that would kick-start the process whereby the French monarchy hurtled disastrously towards the Revolution. The plot concerned the Queen, Marie Antoinette, and Cardinal Rohan, who was accused of forging her signature to obtain the most expensive piece of jewellery in Europe, a necklace worth 1.6 million francs. The author argues that this case was a ‘defining’ moment for the French people because it allowed them to judge their betters and opened the door wide for the ensuing revolution.
'Glittering and gloriously goofy ... This is a terrific tale, told with assurance and gusto' Guardian
'Jonathan Beckman has an eye for a good story. His account of the affair is full of human drama, including illicit sex, assassination attempts and prison escapes ... a superb piece of research that separates myth from reality' Sunday Business Post
'A really fascinating history' Dan Stevens
'Stranger than fiction and told with a verve that suggests the author relishes his dodgy tale' Country Life
Publication date: 23/04/2015
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division
|Publication date:||23rd April 2015|
|Publisher:||John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, History,|
|Categories:||European history, Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900,|
Jonathan Beckman is senior editor of Literary Review. He has degrees in English from the University of Cambridge and Intellectual and Cultural History from Queen Mary, University of London. In 2010, he won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction.More About Jonathan Beckman