Anglo-French Relations The Cloak of Secrecy A personal voyage of detection

The Characters of Balzac's 'La Comédie Humaine': Fact or Fiction?

Appendix 1

Balzac’s characters for the series of ‘La Comedie Humaine’ include the following from The Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine, Complete, A-Z By Anatole Cerfberr et Jules Christophe (2003):

ESPARD (Charles-Maurice-Marie-Andoche, Comte de Nègrepelisse, Marquis d’), born about 1789; by name a Nègrepelisse, of an old Southern family which acquired by a marriage, time of Henry IV., the lands and titles of the family of Espard, of Bearn, which was allied also with the Albret house. The device of the d’Espards was: “Des partem leonis.” The Nègrepelisses were militant Catholics, ruined at the time of the Church wars, and afterwards considerably enriched by the despoiling of a family of Protestant merchants, the Jeanrenauds whose head had been hanged after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. This property, so badly acquired, became wondrously profitable to the Nègrepelisses-d’Espards. Thanks to his fortune, the grandfather of the marquis was enabled to wed a Navarreins-Lansac, an extremely wealthy heiress; her father was of the younger branch of the Grandlieus. In 1812 the Marquis d’Espard married Mlle. de Blamont-Chauvry, then sixteen years of age. He had two sons by her, but discord soon arose between the couple. Her silly extravagances forced the marquis to borrow. He left her in 1816, going with his two children to live on rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve. Here he devoted himself to the education of his boys and to the composition of a great work; “The Picturesque History of China,” the profits of which, combined with the savings resultant from an austere manner of living, allowed him to pay in twelve years’ time to the legatees of the suppliant Jeanrenauds eleven hundred thousand francs, representing the value–time of Louis XIV.–of the property confiscated from their ancestors. This book was written, so to speak, in collaboration with Abbe Crozier, and its financial results aided greatly in comforting the declining years of a ruined friend, M. de Nouvion. In 1828 Mme. d’Espard tried to have a guardian appointed for her husband by ridiculing the noble conduct of the marquis. But the defendant won his rights at court. [The Commission in Lunacy.] Lucien de Rubempre, who entertained Attorney-General Granville with an account of this suit, probably was instrumental in causing the judgment to favor M. d’Espard. Thus he drew upon himself the hatred of the marquise. [Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life.]



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