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The Betrayal of the Duchess
Cover of The Betrayal of the Duchess
The Betrayal of the Duchess
The Scandal That Unmade the Bourbon Monarchy and Made France Modern
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Fighting to reclaim the French crown for the Bourbons, the duchesse de Berry faces betrayal at the hands of one of her closest advisors in this dramatic history of power and revolution.
The year was 1832, a cholera pandemic raged, and the French royal family was in exile, driven out by yet another revolution. From a drafty Scottish castle, the duchesse de Berry — the mother of the eleven-year-old heir to the throne — hatched a plot to restore the Bourbon dynasty. For months, she commanded a guerilla army and evaded capture by disguising herself as a man. But soon she was betrayed by her trusted advisor, Simon Deutz, the son of France's Chief Rabbi. The betrayal became a cause célèbre for Bourbon loyalists and ignited a firestorm of hate against France's Jews. By blaming an entire people for the actions of a single man, the duchess's supporters set the terms for the century of antisemitism that followed.


Brimming with intrigue and lush detail, The Betrayal of the Duchess is the riveting story of a high-spirited woman, the charming but volatile young man who double-crossed her, and the birth of one of the modern world's most deadly forms of hatred.

Fighting to reclaim the French crown for the Bourbons, the duchesse de Berry faces betrayal at the hands of one of her closest advisors in this dramatic history of power and revolution.
The year was 1832, a cholera pandemic raged, and the French royal family was in exile, driven out by yet another revolution. From a drafty Scottish castle, the duchesse de Berry — the mother of the eleven-year-old heir to the throne — hatched a plot to restore the Bourbon dynasty. For months, she commanded a guerilla army and evaded capture by disguising herself as a man. But soon she was betrayed by her trusted advisor, Simon Deutz, the son of France's Chief Rabbi. The betrayal became a cause célèbre for Bourbon loyalists and ignited a firestorm of hate against France's Jews. By blaming an entire people for the actions of a single man, the duchess's supporters set the terms for the century of antisemitism that followed.


Brimming with intrigue and lush detail, The Betrayal of the Duchess is the riveting story of a high-spirited woman, the charming but volatile young man who double-crossed her, and the birth of one of the modern world's most deadly forms of hatred.

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About the Author-
  • Maurice Samuels is the Betty Jane Anlyan professor of French at Yale University, chair of the orogram in Judaic studies, and founder and director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism. He is the author of three books, including The Spectacular Past, which won the Gaddis Smith International Book Prize, and Inventing the Israelite, which received the MLA's Scaglione Prize. Prior to teaching at Yale, he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his PhD at Harvard. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. He lives in New York and New Haven, Connecticut.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 24, 2020
    Samuels (The Right to Difference), a professor of French at Yale University, delivers a colorful history of the duchesse de Berry’s failed attempt to restore the Bourbon dynasty to the French throne in 1832. Arguing that the duchess’s betrayal by her adviser, Simon Deutz, “helped make antisemitism a key feature of right-wing ideology in France,” Samuels details her childhood among exiled royals in Sicily, her arranged marriage to the nephew of King Louis XVIII, her husband’s assassination, and the birth of her son, Henri, the only male heir to the Bourbon monarchy. When Louis-Philippe d’Orléans seized power in the Revolution of 1830, the duchess went into exile in Scotland. She later snuck back into France dressed as a peasant boy and rallied support for a “legitimist” rebellion to place her on the throne as regent until Henri came of age. Deutz, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, received 500,000 francs after revealing her location to the authorities, and the duchess was imprisoned before returning to Italy. She became a hero for “all those who saw themselves as victims of modernity,” according to Samuels, while Deutz was villified with racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic stereotypes. The wealth of historical details sometimes slows the narrative, but Samuels delivers a spirited and comprehensive account of this lesser-known drama and draws insightful parallels to anti-Semitism within modern-day reactionary movements. Armchair historians will be delighted.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2020

    Treachery, disguise, capture, and imprisonment--the scandal surrounding an ill-fated 19th-century French insurrection--is all the more captivating in this factual retelling. In 1832, the mother of a deposed heir to the French throne attempted to overthrow her brother-in-law, Louis-Philippe of France. Lacking adequate funding or local support from right-wing allies, the Duchesse de Berry's rebellion came to a disastrous end when she was betrayed by one of her own emissaries. Popular opinion, rather than condemning Marie-Caroline for the aborted coup, quickly turned against her disloyal betrayer, Simon Deutz, the son of the Chief Rabbi of France. According to Samuels (Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French, Yale Univ.) the scandal launched an anti-Semitic backlash among French aristocracy and the French press, remnants of which can be seen in the Dreyfus affair at the turn of the 20th century, and even up to the present day. Based on memoirs, contemporary newspaper reports, archival documents, and secondary sources, this tumultuous but largely forgotten period of French history is effectively reexamined. VERDICT Recommended for readers of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and 19th-century French history and literature.--Linda Frederiksen, formerly with Washington State Univ. Lib., Vancouver

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Scandal That Unmade the Bourbon Monarchy and Made France Modern
Maurice Samuels
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