Treasures of the French crown

Treasures of the French crown

In November this year the auction house Sotheby’s will hold an auction of Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family. In total, the auction will bring together more than 100 jewels that belonged to the Royal dynasty of the Bourbons of Parma, most of which for the first time in 200 years, will appear in open access. At the head of the precious collection is a group of jewelry that belonged to Marie-Antoinette, the most famous Queen of France.


Love Marie-Antoinette to pearls and diamonds are well known: no Queen in history has been so closely connected with ornaments as she was the daughter of the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire Maria Theresa and wife of French king Louis XVI. There is a perception that high-profile criminal trial, known as the “Queen’s Necklace” and took place in the years 1785-1786, even served as one of the reasons for the outbreak of the great French revolution.

Ensemble jewelry Marie-Antoinette, which will appear at auction this fall, also has an interesting history.

In March 1791 when king Louis XVI began to prepare escape with his wife and children from France, the Queen personally wrapped all her jewelry in a soft cotton cloth and placed in a wooden chest that in the following days with the help of sister Archduchess Marie-Christine and count mercy-Argento, former Ambassador of Austria in Paris and one of the few people who have kept the trust of the Queen, to send them to Vienna, in the capable hands of the nephew of the Austrian Emperor.

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To escape the Royal family failed in 1792, king, Queen and their children were taken into custody, and on October 16, 1793 Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded. Their ten year old son Louis XVII died in prison, and the daughter of Maria Theresa French was released from custody in December 1795, and deported to Austria to see family.

Upon arrival at Vienna, the Emperor’s cousin gave her jewels to the mother. As his children, Maria Theresa was not, she bequeathed jewelry niece, Louise French, granddaughter of the king of France of Charles X, which, in turn, transferred them to the son of Robert I, the last Duke of Parma. So these treasures have survived in the vaults of the family of the Bourbons of Parma.