SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 29 - May 6, 2006

law scales THE OLD REGIME POLICE BLOTTER: Provincial Murders

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for Marie-Antoinette - Caux fowl with consommé

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
GALLICA: Causes Celebres inter text Magasin Pittoresque: No 33 - 1865


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Following some colorful murders in Paris last week, here are a few from the provinces:


Though local, this case was so famous at the time that accounts of it (without the killer's name) were printed in English. I have partially summarized one of the more well-known accounts, from the nineteenth century Abbeville historian Louandre. He probably based his account on a local manuscript which still exists but (for reasons unknown to me) cannot be reproduced. In the 1950's, some local schoolchildren also researched the case and produced a privately printed volume on the case, which I cite here as well:

In 1764, a case famous for the number and the nature of the crimes, the age and the condition of the accused, passionately occupied every mind. Charles-Francois-Joseph de Valines, squire, lord of Valines, was the sole object of his parents' love; but the cruel character of his games and pranks, the most perverse inclinations gave early signs of what he would be. He was studying at the college of Aire, when he committed a crime at the house of a friend of his father's, who was his host. This shameful offense having gotten him expelled, he returned at seventeen to the village of Valines, where his father, suddenly attacked by vomiting, expired on July 12, 1763. A few days later, Madamede Valines, prey to the same sufferings, followed him to the tomb. Nothing was rumored at first of these events; because the parricide had used every resource of hypocrisy and appeared inconsolable. Six weeks had barely passed when M. de Vieulaine, his maternal uncle, of whom he was the sole heir, invited him to dinner with several people. This was for him a new opportunity for a crime. He entered his uncle's kitchen, sent off the servant, threw arsenic in the soup, and left after refusing to dine.

The modern (privately printed) account tells how M. de Vieulaine then tasted the soup before his guests, found it strange-tasting, had his wife taste it, followed by several guests, and even a locksmith who was working downstairs. Fortunately, when they began to have stomach cramps, the cook made everybody drink milk. One old marquis refused (!) and died. Every one else survived.

"Suspicions were aroused. An investigation was opened, and although the poisoner denied everything, he was condemned to death by the Presidial." At the time, sentences of nobles were automatically appealed to the Paris Parlement, which confirmed this one.

"Valines was returned to Abbeville in a carriage drawn by six horses, and two police officers guarded him day and night." (The carriage was in fact armored, very unusual for the time.) Valines still had not confessed, but "a few minutes before the execution... (September 6, 1764), he was again put to the question, and his confession was complete." (The other account says that the mere sight of the torture implements was enough.)

Condemned to the wheel and to be burned, Valines walked to the scaffold surrounded by five executioners; one held ropes, the other a candle, the third a pot filled with fire, another an iron bar. The pyre, formed of fifty bales of hay, a hundred sticks of wood and four cords of wood, had been set up in the market. Valines knelt while a huissier on horseback read the sentence. The reading done, singing of the Salve Regina began; the parricide was attached with his face covered on the wheel [actually a St. Andrew's cross], and one of the executioners broke his limbs with the iron bar. Valines, shattered, stayed a full hour on the instrument of torment, and was still alive when they set him on the pyre. The fire was maintained all night, and although the sentence declared that his ashes were to be thrown to the wind, the porter of the Capuchins had them collected and buried in the cemetery of his convent. The people of Abbeville, who had forgotten his crime in seeing him repent, sought out his bones the next day, as in fact people had sought those of la Brinvilliers and of Desrues to serve as relics.
Francois-Cesar Louandre, HIstoire d'Abbeville, (II, 141-143)


The domestic records (books of reason, etc.) of Limousin and Marchois include references to a number of murders. (The French here is often slightly archaic and very regional.) The first (and most dramatic) is told over several pages, so I have condensed it here:

Tuesday, May 24 of the said year 1695, the Tuesday of Pentecost, the venerable Father Jean Chabelard, worthy priest, was killed in his house in Lorette, and this between vespers and eight o'clock at night, and with an ax blow to the head; after which he was thrown in his well, in the courtyard; after which murder his little nephew, son of his younger brother, and about eight years old, who lived with him to do his little errands, being then out of the house, who coming into the said chapel and finding the door of the house open, after going in, the murderers who were inside threw themselves on the innocent, took him by the throat and threw him alive, with his uncle, into the well, which is the greatest cruelty and catastrophe committed in this region, what makes it all the more cruel was that it was committed against two innocents for whom the public had such approbation [sic] that they could not be consoled.

On Thursday, June 16, 1695, an anonymous letter informed M. du Francour, the vice-senechal, and others that a stolen chalice, jewelry and other items could be found at the foot of a tree in the garden of Parinaud, called Ganou, and that the rest of the jewels could be found in the well of Jacques Crouzaud, called Marillot. Du Francois and de la Borde, the royal prosecutor, having had Marillot's well dug up, "found there in a purse wrapped in a sheet or cloth, part of the stolen jewels, and in the garden of the said Ganou, the chalice at the foot of a plum tree which was found at the second thrust of the shovel; on which proof was seized the said Crouzaud. who had hidden himself in the wheat spread about in his garden." Parinaud was then found in the neighboring Chailloux woods, and a great deal of furniture found in his house. Two or three days later du Francoius sent Pierre Michelle, "archer, his second father-in-law" to arrest Jean Mourix, from Chatrie, whom had been seen by Leonard Andrivet, the miller of Vachi[...] coming by the mill on the day of the murder. All these suspects were then questioned as well as witnesses who had come forward after 'monitors' - proclamations - were read from the pulpit.

"It is notable that the murder caused so much terror and fear throughout this town where the bravest were panicked and worried and that, for over three weeks, no one felt at all secure." Guibert, Nouveau Recueil de Registres Domestiques Limousins et Marchois (Tome II,124-125)

The other accounts are more summary, though not without drama:

Antoine Bousset and Jean Ambroise were broken on the wheel and then strangled after nine blows, Saturday, May 23, 1778, at five in the afternoon, for having committed robbery with breaking and entering and trying to commit murder at the La Roche mill, parish of Anzesme, with assembly and carrying weapons, July 22, 1776.
Recueil (II, 292)
Therese Paquet, native of St. Martin-Chateau, for having hidden her pregnancy and strangled her child with a selvedge, was hung and strangled, April 12, 1783, at four in the afternoon, the Saturday before Palm Sudnay, by the executioner [literally, "master of works"] of Moulins, that of this town being ill.
Recueil (II, 297)
Pierre Depin called Pomeret, from the village of Neuville, parish of Agen, wandering since earliest childhood as thief and murderer, was hung on January 5, 1789 at six-thirty in the evening, not in the least having wanted to confess; and tired out justice, the confessors, the company of white penitents, the marshalsey and the company of the royal regiment of Guienne-cavalry assigned to this town, ranked in battle formation on the Marchedieu plaza and in details, from at least three o'clock in the afternoon until almost seven o'clock at night, without wanting to leave the prison yard, to the point that it was necessary to bind him to a chair and that the executioner dragged him from the said yard to the foot of the scaffold without being able to make him climb the ladder, and in the middle of which he strangled him, after working hard, [the condemned man?] yelling to split stone.
Recueil (II, 297-298)


Viscount Gautier de Brecy's memoirs tend to be self-congratulatory overall. With that reservation, here is his account of a case from 1788 in the south of France:

A large handsome road had been finished for some time, joining Villeneuve to the town of Nimes, a league away from Villeneuve; on this road was a bridge with one arch, for drawing off rainwater. Evildoers and murders had the idea of using the arch of this bridge to take cover and hide from the sight of travelers, to demand their money or their life; and soon the bodies of several travelers were found beneath this bridge, from whom the evildoers had probably stolen purses and belongings. Not far from this bridge was a wood, very broad, which provided the evildoers a ready retreat to escape the surveillance of what was formerly called the marshalsey. A second attempt, a second murder increased the fears and concerns of the inhabitants of Villeneuve, and, from this day, together with M. de la Croix, traveling inspector for these territories, we had the generous idea of suggesting to willing landowners to beat the woods and search there, presumed to be a hide-out for the murderers. M. de la Croix was then traveling in Villeneuve; he joined me at the head of our troop; we went throughout the wood, some on horseback, some on foot, armed with guns; but our searches were in vain. Our gathering had been known at once, and probably the murderers heard of this and sought and found a safer refuge. The commander of the province heard of our efforts; he offered congratulations and thanks to me, as to M. de la Croix. He sent several squads of infantry to search, or at least to block the murderers' attempts. Their efforts were made with as much skill as zeal, and after fifteen days, two murderers were found and arrested, and their punishment promptly ordered and executed.
Gautier de Brecy, Memoirs Veridiques et Ingenus de la Vie Privee, Morale et Politique d'un Homme de Bien
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From CHEZ JIM Books:
and a history of the CROISSANT:

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18th CENTURY RECIPE: A meal for Marie-Antoinette - Caux fowl with consommé

All through the 18th century, chickens from Caux are mentioned as the best in France. The exact word here though is poule, meaning an old enough bird to be considered "boiling fowl". So the bird in this case was probably actually cooked in the broth. Having not found a recipe for exactly this dish, I am not sure if "consommé" is used loosely here or if, since it was (simplistically) reduced bouillon, it was reduced after being cooked with the bird and before being served.
For someone most familiar with bouillon as a salty beef or chicken broth made from a cube, it is striking how complex recipes from our period are for both bouillon and consommé. Bouillon was not only a food in itself, but a multi-purpose additive, like oil, vinegar or certain condiments. The Dons de Comus say that it is "properly speaking the soul of cooking." (I,1) Consommé, says the same work, "should be yellow as gold, smooth, creamy, & fortifying." (I, 7). A wide range of recipes appeared for both.
Here is the Dons de Comus' recipe for basic (or 'great') bouillon (which is needed for the consommé):

On Bouillon

The first bouillon or if you wish the general bouillon which is properly speaking the soul of cuisine, is made with beef, such as brisket, shoulder, charbonnee [thin cuts for grilling], sirloin, rump or tendon. One must keep it very mild and for all ingredients put in only some roots or onions. More is useless, given that this bouillon is used to add liquid for simmering, to make gravy, and even to make soup for an entire househould, by adding the vegetables, herbs, or roots one chooses. This bouillon must be well skimmed, free of grease, very clear and properly strained.
(I, 1)

The same work offers several recipes for bouillon in this section and a more complex bouillon in the soup section, which includes this note on fowl:

If putting in the pot some fowl to give it taste and to serve on the soup, flame it before cleaning it, and pluck it well. Truss the feet inside taking off only the ends of the spurs, clean the gullet and the liver, and after having blanched all this with boiling water, attach these to the wings, and put the head under the feet. Everything well-tied, and put in the pot, let it cook the time needed according to the quality of the piece. Lacking fowl one can put in the giblets of turkey and geese, all duly cleaned and blanched. These giblets can then be served separately with coarse salt or some other sauce, making a dish and a kind of hor d'oeuvres.
(I, 421-422)

One way to make the dish served to Marie-Antoinette might be to remove the fowl from the bouillon and reduce the latter as per the following recipe for consommé from Viart's Cuisinier Imperial:

Take eight or ten pounds of sliced beef, eight old boiling fowl, two casis [a rarely used cut of veal - see below], four veal shanks in; put your meat in your stewpot; fill it with great bouillon; skim off the foam; be careful to let your bouillon cool two or three times to raise the foam; after boil your consommé very slowly; garnish your pot with carrots, turnips, onions, three cloves; when your meat is cooked, strain your consommé through a fine napkin or a silk strainer, so that your consommé is very clear; do not add salt if you moisten it with great bouillon.
(I, 37-38)

The fowl could then be served in this consommé.

The more typical spelling for 'casi' is 'quasi', which Patricia Wells translates as: "standing rump (of veal)".. To put it a little differently, it is from the top of the veal's rump. For a visual, see this diagram. Readers of French can click on 8 to learn more about the cut.

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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

- GALLICA: Causes Celebres

I wrote last week that there was no French Newgate Calendar. Some might however find the "Causes Celebres" - "Famous Cases" - series similar. The cases cited here range from murder to a case challenging whether a man was too short to be a priest. Not to mention some legal arcana that would probably only interest specialists.
There were several incarnations of this collection. As near as I can make out, the first was: François Gayot de Pitaval, (1673-1743) - Causes célèbres, curieuses et intéressantes, de toutes les cours souveraines du royaume, avec les jugemens qui les ont décidées; T. 1 (1773)-t. 16 (1774) = [2e série] t. 1 (1775)-t. 179 (1789).
This multi-volume set was later summarized in: P.-F. Besdel, Abrégé des causes célèbres et intéressantes, avec les jugements, qui les ont décidées 1806.
There was a later 18th century version: Nicolas-Toussaint Des Essarts (1744-1810), Causes célèbres, curieuses et intéressantes de toutes les cours souveraines du royaume, avec les jugemens qui les ont décidées.
At least one 19th century version existed: Fouquier, Armand (1817-....), Causes célèbres de tous les peuples 1858-1867.
I would guess there were other versions as well, given that the title seemed to be something of a winner.

For those with a particular interest in maritime law, there is also a specialized version: Ferdinand de Cornot Cussy (1795-1866 ; baron de) - Phases et causes célèbres du droit maritime des nations. which includes a number of cases from our period.

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Magasin Pittoresque: No 33 - 1865

REMINDER: The Magasin Pittoresque was a nineteenth century French magazine. Issues can be found on Gallica.

Mutterings about Franglais seem to go back quite far... Nineteenth century commiseration with the status of women (in Greece)? And someone took a lot of trouble to copy a little (royal) boy's awkward sketches.?

9 - chamber music (image)
27 - Calotines et charges - images of artists, etc.
49 - the four temperaments (image)
59 - brief remark on 18th c
61 - Duguet on scruples
66 - the Niece of Uncle Benard (novel starting in 1783)
109 - history of shoemakers
185 - shop in the gallery of the Palais (image)
200 - Arlequin and the exploding pate (image)
230 - royal lottery in 1681 (image)
344 - visit to a man of letters in the 18th

1 - Vauban (image)
76 - painter, Louis Hersent
129 - studio of Daniel Chodowiecki (image)
145 - actor Grandmenil as Arpagon in the Miser (image)
161 - painter Carle Vernet (image)
211 - childhood sketches by Louis XIII
227 - images from Greuze
275 - painter Nicolas-Antoine Taunay
284 - painter Joseph Vernet and family
305 - natural historian Francois Huber the Blind
355 - Louis XIV playing billiard (image)

4 - Bina (Veena) Indian "guitar" (image)
11 - early submarines (image)
15 - complaint about English word (square) in French
38 - early relations with Algeria
79 - Arab proverbs ("A man who has been bitten by a snake fears a string")
151 - compulsory education in Prussia (brief note)
209 - Bruges (image)
363 - women's condition compared in Greece and Rome
401 - Delacroix (image)

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End quote

"It is criminals who cover Europe with Christian temples. A murder is atoned for by building a monastery; an adulterer finishes a church begun by a sodomite."

Grimm, Correspondance Litteraire, Tome 6, November 1764, p. 122

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
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(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
Please do not reproduce extended pieces (recipes, translated pieces, etc.) without prior permission.


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