The Betrayal of the Duchess

The Scandal That Unmade the Bourbon Monarchy and Made France Modern


By Maurice Samuels

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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.



Map of the Vendée


The Duchess


The Volcano’s Edge

NAPLES CURLS INVITINGLY around its bay, the ocher buildings of the city glittering gold against the deep blue of the water. The culmination of the grand tour in the eighteenth century, this capital of southern Italy lured visitors from colder climes with a mix of sunshine, lush natural beauty, antiquarian curiosity, and more than a hint of danger. The threat came not just from the lazzaroni, the rough urban street dwellers thought to lie in wait for unsuspecting tourists, but also from Mount Vesuvius, the giant volcano towering a thousand feet above the city and visible from every point in the dense metropolis, the streets of which were paved with its hardened lava. “Vede Napoli e poi mori” (“See Naples and die”), proclaimed the proverb that visitors interpreted literally as they watched white smoke puff from the volcano’s giant crater. The volcano was particularly active in the late eighteenth century, when seismic pressures of a political nature were also building.

Maria Carolina Luisa di Borbone, the future duchesse de Berry, was born at the royal palace of Caserta, just north of Naples, on November 5, 1798. Her great-grandfather, the first Bourbon king of Naples and Sicily, had constructed the enormous palace on a site slightly to the north of the city to shield it as much as possible from the danger of Vesuvius. Modeled on France’s palace of Versailles, Caserta spread out over more than two million square feet and contained twelve hundred rooms: a grander building could not be found in Italy. Such neoclassical splendor was meant to convey the power and prestige of the Bourbon kingdom in Italy, but by the time of Carolina’s birth, the foundations of the kingdom had begun to shake.1

The future duchess’s grandfather, King Ferdinand, was known as the Re Lazzaroni, the Lazzaroni King, because he was beloved by the urban ruffians. Interested only in hunting and fishing, he left the running of the government to his wife, Maria Carolina of Habsburg, a determined woman who, despite her various public responsibilities, bore him no fewer than eighteen children over the course of their long marriage. The first surviving male of this large brood was the future King Francis I, the duchess’s father. Another child was Maria Amalia, the duchess’s aunt, who would marry Louis-Philippe d’Orléans and become Marie-Amélie, queen of the French, after the Revolution of 1830.2

By the time of the future duchess’s birth in 1798, all European monarchies were feeling the aftershocks of the French Revolution as its leading general, Napoleon Bonaparte, spread revolutionary fervor to the lands he conquered. And nowhere was royalist fear more palpable than in the Kingdom of Naples, where the queen had lost her sister, Marie Antoinette, to the guillotine in France and where the monarchs’ absolutist policies had ignited a liberal opposition. British admiral Horatio Nelson had little trouble enlisting the Neapolitan Bourbons in the fight to beat back Napoleon’s forces in Italy.

After Napoleon conquered Rome in 1798, the queen of Naples and Sicily decided to take no chances. With the help of the British, the Bourbons began moving their treasure from the Royal Palace of Naples onto Nelson’s ships waiting in the harbor. The plan was to transport the entire court and its riches to the island of Sicily, the other capital of the twin kingdom, which the British fleet could protect more easily from French invasion. Once they had been loaded with jewels, gold, paintings, clothing, and cash, the ships moved into deeper waters, out of range of enemy fire, as they waited for the royal family to flee. The transfer of the treasure took place in secret, over the course of several nights, so as not to alert the anxious Neapolitans.3

On the evening of December 21, 1798, the king and queen attended a reception held at the Turkish Embassy. At the height of the festivities, the monarchs slipped out, making their way incognito on foot through the dark streets of the city as their carriages remained in front of the embassy to make it look like they were still at the event. Once back at their palace, they were met by the rest of the royal household. By torchlight, the party passed through tunnels that ran under the palace, directly into the port where British sailors would row them out to the waiting ships.4

During this operation, the future duchesse de Berry was a baby, not yet two months old. Her parents were double first cousins and had been married in 1790. They christened their first child, born in 1797, Maria Carolina Luisa in honor of her grandmother, the queen, and called her Carolina. She joined the other members of the royal family on the first rowboat heading toward the British ship, the Vanguard. It was a terrifying journey out into open water.5

A storm delayed their departure for Sicily for two agonizing days. When they did finally set sail, at 7 p.m. on the night of December 23, 1798, the choppy seas made for a gruesome voyage. Most of the passengers were prostrate with seasickness for the entire forty-eight hours that it took to travel to Palermo. The misery was intense. One six-year-old prince began having convulsions shortly after setting sail, and he died later that night of exhaustion. Baby Carolina, however, survived the journey.6

Palermo was the other capital of the twin kingdom, but it was not one that the royal family had often visited. They took up residence at the barren and poorly heated Colli Palace amid a snowstorm, which was unusual for Sicily, and let the other two thousand Neapolitan refugees find whatever accommodations they could. “Palermo is in full ferment and I expect grave events,” the queen wrote to a friend. “Having neither troops nor arms, lacking everything, I am ready for anything and quite desperate. Here the priests are completely corrupted, the people savage, the nobility more than uncertain and of questionable loyalty.… The dangers we run here are immense and real. You may imagine what I suffer. Before forty days [have passed], revolution will have broken out here. It will be appalling and terribly violent.” The queen also worried about her family’s health: “My daughters are all ill. As for my daughter-in-law [Carolina’s mother], she is dying of consumption.” King Ferdinand did not share his wife’s despair. Having brought his dogs along on the journey, he quickly arranged for a hunt.7

With the help of the invading French army and without the royals in residence, republicans in Naples established the Parthenopean Republic on January 21, 1799. Meanwhile, the exiled Bourbons dispatched an army to reconquer their kingdom. Led by a priest, their forces landed in Calabria and began a march toward Naples, peasants flocking to this growing “army of the faith” as it moved through the countryside. The Neapolitan republicans realized that the tide had turned against them. With Nelson blockading the port, the French withdrawing their military support, and the lazzaroni in revolt, they sought terms for surrender, hoping to obtain safe passage out of the city in exchange for agreeing to a restoration of the Bourbons.8

But Nelson was urged toward ruthlessness in letters from the vengeful queen in Palermo. The fate of her beheaded sister, Marie Antoinette, never far from her mind, Maria Carolina wrote the following on June 25, 1799: “It is… impossible for me to deal tenderly with this rebellious rabble.… We must make an example of the leading representatives.… The same applies to the women who have distinguished themselves during the revolution, and without pity.” Nelson arrested over eight hundred of the city’s republicans, executed hundreds without a trial, and hanged one of their leaders from the yardarm of his ship, refusing him confession and leaving his body to dangle in the wind. The British admiral received a hero’s welcome in Palermo from the king and queen.9

The future duchesse de Berry’s first months were thus spent in an atmosphere of counterrevolutionary fervor. To say she imbibed reactionary royalism and hatred of the French Revolution with her mother’s—or grandmother’s—milk would hardly be an exaggeration; all around her, the embittered Neapolitan Bourbons plotted revenge on their enemies and made plans to reimpose absolutist rule. The royal family would remain for another year and a half in Palermo, and when they returned to their former capital on January 25, 1801, Carolina was displayed in front of a jubilant crowd of lazzaroni from a balcony of the Neapolitan palace.10

This first restoration of the Neapolitan Bourbons did not last long. Ferdinand and Maria Carolina joined the next allied coalition against Napoleon, and in February 1806 the royal family, including young Carolina, was forced to flee to Sicily once again after France conquered Naples. The French succeeded, where the Parthenopean Republic had not, in undoing the feudal structure of the Neapolitan Bourbon regime. They imposed the Napoleonic Code in legal matters, dismantled many of the privileges of the church and nobles, opened schools for the poor, built roads, and illuminated the dangerous streets with oil lamps. Many notable French intellectuals visited Naples during the eight years of French rule, including the writer and statesman Chateaubriand, who observed from up close an eruption of Vesuvius in 1804.11

Carolina, meanwhile, grew up in Sicily surrounded by furious royalists waiting for Napoleon’s downfall in order to retake their kingdom. No one was more furious than her grandmother, who spent her days dashing off letters, taking opium, and complaining to anyone who would listen about the misfortunes that had befallen her family. Otherwise occupied, the queen did not pay much attention to the education of her precociously bright granddaughter, nor unfortunately did her parents. Carolina’s mother had died of tuberculosis in 1801, and the little girl’s father and new stepmother—a Bourbon infanta from Spain—devoted their attention to their rapidly expanding brood. Carolina was raised largely by her governess, the comtesse de la Tour-en-Voivre, a French aristocrat whose husband was an admiral in the service of the king of Naples. A cultivated woman, the countess tried without much success to impart the rudiments of French, Italian, and Spanish, as well as a bit of history, geography, and literature, to the willful girl. The unusual circumstances in which Carolina grew up meant that the future duchess enjoyed far more liberty than was usually accorded to royal princesses.12

As a young woman, Carolina was not a conventional beauty, but most people who met her found her attractive. She was what the French call a jolie laide. Small of stature, she was extremely nearsighted and used an opera glass whenever she needed to see something at a distance. Her eyes protruded, her left eye wandered, and her reddish-pink lids were often enflamed. Her teeth were uneven, and she possessed the pendulous lower lip that ran in the Habsburg family. However, what was most notable about her was her coloring: she would later tell her doctor that until the age of twenty-three she was so blonde as to seem almost albino. Her light hair and translucent skin made her a special object of curiosity for the Sicilians. A very pale girl growing up in a land of very hot sun, Carolina was out of place in Sicily, but she spoke the local dialect fluently.13

The island of Sicily lies just off the toe of Italy’s boot, like a giant rock kicked almost to the coast of Africa. It has always been a crossroads of cultures: a place where North meets South and East meets West. Early-nineteenth-century guidebooks described Sicily as a land of poverty and superstition, of burning streets, ornate fountains, and cool, dark churches smelling of must and incense. “The Sicilians are known for being extremely jealous and vindictive,” warned one French guidebook from the period, which recalled the time in 1282 when church bells announcing the start of vesper services gave the signal for people all over Sicily to slit the throats of their French overlords. In addition to mastering the dialect, Carolina would grow up to be hot tempered and bold, given to making split-second decisions and trusting her instincts. She was deeply loyal to those she trusted and vengeful to those who crossed her. Most of all, she nursed a hatred for the forces of revolution that had thrust her and her family from their home in Naples.14

Fuming at the loss of her power and the inefficacy of her husband, Carolina’s grandmother decided to return to her native Vienna. Soon after, war broke out again between the coalition of European monarchs and Napoleon, who in 1804 had crowned himself emperor, officially putting an end to the French Revolution. However, the Russian invasion of 1812 had badly damaged Napoleon’s army, and he was unprepared for the next great attack by the coalition forces. When the queen of Naples and Sicily arrived in Vienna in 1814, news of Napoleon’s defeat preceded her. She immediately began negotiating for the return of her husband’s Neapolitan throne, but she died of a stroke before the Congress of Vienna made the restoration a reality.15

Because of the political uncertainty in Naples, Carolina did not accompany her grandfather when he entered the city—triumphantly, on horseback—in June 1815 to reclaim his kingdom. Even after the situation had stabilized, an outbreak of bubonic plague on the Italian peninsula kept the seventeen-year-old princess in Palermo during the fall and winter of 1815–1816. As the newly restored Ferdinand tried to undo the liberalizing measures put in place by the French, Carolina pursued her familiar pleasures, occupying her time with music, drawing, and whatever lessons in history and French that her governess could force upon the refractory pupil. It would be her last moment to enjoy the innocent pursuits of childhood. In January 1816 she received word that the French ambassador had made a marriage proposal on behalf of the recently installed French king’s nephew, the duc de Berry. Carolina’s father let her know that the decision whether to accept him was hers to make.

Like their Neapolitan cousins, the fortunes of the French Bourbon royal family had taken a marked turn for the better after Napoleon’s defeat. Two of the younger brothers of the last French king, Louis XVI, had escaped the French Revolution with their heads intact: Louis and Charles. They had spent the twenty-five years since the French Revolution shuttling among various European capitals, urging the allied monarchies to oppose first the Revolutionary republic and then the Napoleonic Empire. After Napoleon’s exile to the island of Elba in 1814, they made their triumphant return to Paris but in the “baggage” of the allied soldiers who occupied the capital, as their critics would put it. Propped up by the other European monarchies, the older of the two remaining brothers became King Louis XVIII.16

The newly restored French Bourbons immediately set about eliminating the traces of the French Revolution. Although it proved too difficult to return all the land that had been confiscated from nobles who had been executed or forced to flee, Louis XVIII ordered an enormous government indemnification—the so-called “billion of the emigrés”—which ensured that the aristocracy would recover its dominant economic position. The Place de la Concorde, which had been called the Place de la Révolution while it housed the guillotine, was renamed Place Louis XV and then, in 1826, Place Louis XVI, after the guillotine’s most famous victim.

Yet for all the symbolic effort to scrub away the recent past, Louis XVIII was a realist. He knew he could never completely set back the clock, and he accepted a constitution, called la Charte (the Charter of 1814), which placed some limits on his power. This effort to placate the liberals and former revolutionaries angered the ultras in his entourage, so named because they were ultra-royalist—which is to say more royalist than the king himself. It was said that the Restoration ultras had “learned nothing and forgotten nothing” from the French Revolution. Among these diehards was the king’s younger brother Charles, the next in line for the throne, and the king’s niece Marie-Thérèse, the duchesse d’Angoulême, whose permanent mourning for her parents, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, helped set the Restoration’s tone of nostalgia for the Old Regime.17

No sooner had the French Bourbons settled back into the Tuileries Palace than they were forced out once again by Napoleon’s surprise return from Elba in March 1815. The escaped emperor marched on Paris, and much of the French army rallied to him. Louis XVIII and the Bourbon royal family scuttled off to exile once again as the allied powers prepared for yet another war. For a period known as the Hundred Days, Napoleon put back in place the imperial administration that the Bourbons had begun to dismantle. Then came Napoleon’s ultimate defeat at Waterloo and the second restoration of the Bourbons. This time the allies took no chances. They sent Napoleon to the distant island of Saint Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and guarded him day and night until his death in 1821. The Bourbons again returned to power thanks to the intervention of foreign powers.

Once back on his unsteady throne, Louis XVIII realized that he needed to address what was perhaps the greatest threat to his regime: the looming crisis of succession. Childless and a widower, the gout-ridden monarch was also morbidly obese; people called him the legless king, le roi sans jambes, because he was so fat he could barely walk. Knowing that the sixty-year-old ruler could not produce an heir and that he was unlikely to live a great many more years, royalists pinned their hope for the perpetuation of the monarchy on the family of his brother, Charles.

More conservative and less intelligent than Louis—he would be known as the headless king, le roi sans tête—Charles had at least managed to have children. But his older son, the duc d’Angoulême, the second in line to the throne, suffered from extreme shyness exacerbated by facial tics. He had married his first cousin Marie-Thérèse, the dour orphan of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the already fifteen-year-long union of these two pious souls had produced no offspring. All eyes turned to his younger brother, Charles Ferdinand, the duc de Berry, who at nearly forty had still not married.

If the duc de Berry did not produce a legitimate male heir, the French Bourbon bloodline would come to an end and the throne would pass to the Bourbons’ cousin, Louis-Philippe d’Orléans. Louis XVIII had allowed Louis-Philippe to recover the fortune he left behind when he fled the Revolution. This included the Palais-Royal, the vast residence situated across from the Louvre, which the commercial instincts of Louis-Philippe’s father—called Philippe Égalité (Philippe Equality) because he had supported the French Revolution—had turned into the capital’s first shopping mall and premier entertainment destination. Beneath its covered arcades clustered bookshops, cafés, theaters, and casinos, along with a good portion of the city’s prostitutes. All this was highly profitable and burnished the Orléans’ image with everyday Parisians who felt snubbed by the Bourbons’ hauteur and put off by their reactionary politics.18

Fortunately for the Bourbons, the duc de Berry had already displayed ample proof of his virility. During his long years of exile, Charles Ferdinand fought in various armies, including the Russian, against revolutionary France. In 1801 he settled in London, where, according to gossip in the large French émigré community, he accumulated “debts and scandal.” His debauchery subsided a bit after he began an affair with Amy Brown, the beautiful dark-haired daughter of a Protestant pastor. They had two daughters together, whom he would later acknowledge as his own. When Charles Ferdinand returned to Paris in 1814, he brought his English family with him, setting them up in an apartment on the rue Neuve-des-Mathurins, where he regularly visited.19

Amy Brown was not the duke’s only concubine. The Paris police, who were assigned to protect him, would report regularly to Louis XVIII about his nephew’s movements between various women’s apartments. In 1815 the duke installed a dancer from the Opera on the rue de Valois. Other liaisons, and possibly other offspring, followed. The royal family decided it was time to channel all this fecundity into more legitimate ends.20

During the Revolution, as a penniless émigré, the duke had not been such an appealing marriage prospect. His quest for a royal bride even led him to Sicily in 1799, when his future wife was a baby. Young Carolina’s mother noted in a letter how much she enjoyed meeting the “charming prince” and how “attached” the whole Neapolitan royal family grew to him. This did not stop them from denying him permission to marry Amalia, who a few years later married Louis-Philippe, also an exile. Although his father had voted for the execution of Louis XVI, Louis-Philippe had at least escaped France with some semblance of his fortune intact.21

Needless to say, the situation changed after the restoration of the Bourbons. Despite his reputation as a playboy, as third in line to the French throne the duc de Berry now became one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. The Russian Emperor Alexander tried to make a match with his sister. The duke agreed, but Louis XVIII felt that the Russian royal house was not sufficiently ancient in lineage to provide a mother to future French monarchs. According to one of the period’s most astute memoirists, the comtesse de Boigne, the duchesse d’Anouglême also feared having an independent-minded sister-in-law whom she could not control.22

Carolina of Naples was the perfect choice of bride for the duc de Berry. A distant cousin of the duke, she was also a Bourbon and thus met the king’s standards of royal pedigree. Young and poorly educated, she also fulfilled the duchesse d’Angoulême’s desire for an ignorant sister-in-law to dominate. Furthermore, the newly restored Neapolitan monarchy was an important strategic ally for France as the various powers jockeyed for primacy in post-Napoleonic Europe. Louis XVIII thus dispatched one of his most important ministers, the comte de Blacas, to Naples ostensibly as a diplomatic ambassador but really as a matrimonial one. Blacas soon learned that the Austrians were also sizing up Carolina as a marriage prospect, so he cut short his mission and proposed the marriage on his second interview with the king of Naples.23

Despite eagerness on both sides, a few obstacles remained, including the question of Carolina’s assent to the marriage. Even if rumors of the duke’s promiscuous past had not reached her, what could Carolina have felt for a man she had never met? At the same time the prospect of marrying the nephew of the king of France must have excited her ambitions. No doubt she also realized that if the duc de Berry were to outlive his father and older brother, she would become queen of France and that if she had a son, he would become king. She soon indicated her willingness to accept the proposal.

Blacas still needed to meet the princess to make sure she was presentable, but he was delayed in traveling to Sicily by the outbreak of bubonic plague on the Italian peninsula. When he eventually arrived, he deemed Carolina worthy enough to commission a portrait to send to the duke. The result was not very promising. Blacas found himself obliged to package the unflattering portrait of the wan, thin young girl with his own opinions on the princess’s charms, and he blamed whatever limitations were revealed in the portrait on the lack of artistic talent available in Palermo. “It would be difficult for a painter who is ignorant of the first principles of drawing and who is unable to render a likeness to flatter his subject,” the count wrote. He continued:

The health of the young princess is very good; her face, without being regularly pretty, is agreeable; she has talents and a taste for music; her character is very sweet and very timid, which makes her seem a bit awkward, especially since, as the prince [her father] never consented to providing her with a dancing instructor, she lacks the grace that it would be easy to give her. As for her teeth, it appears nobody has paid any attention to them, and I am assured that they will be fine once some care has been taken.

Blacas perhaps thought it wise not to call attention to Carolina’s extreme nearsightedness and wandering left eye, the features that the sharp-tongued courtiers would latch onto as soon as descriptions of the princess began to arrive in Paris. However, as Jean Lucas-Dubreton notes, a defective eye counted much less than the princess’s general health to a court obsessed with the production of a male heir. The duc de Berry, in any event, was sufficiently reassured by Blacas to proceed with the proposal.24

Pictures of the duke from the era, which Carolina studied intently, show a man with receding blond hair, coiffed in the carefully messy Romantic fashion of the day, and thick sideburns like muttonchops on each cheek. He had a small, almost pug nose; heavy eyebrows; a full, sensual mouth; and a round, slightly dimpled chin. His blue-green eyes bore a devilish glint. This was clearly someone who liked his pleasures. Most observers found him handsome.25

Once the wedding date was set, Carolina and her father returned from Palermo to Naples. All the church bells in the city rang, their chimes merging with cannon fire from the fort and from the ships in the harbor, celebrating her arrival. Crowds swarmed to catch a glimpse of the princess who would soon leave for the court of France. Carolina had not seen Naples since 1806, when she was eight years old. And knowing she would not see it again for many years to come, she set off on a sightseeing tour over the course of the next month. The comte de Blacas accompanied her, and the future duchess came to value Blacas as a precious source of information about the French court. Blacas was especially effusive in his praise of the duchesse d’Angoulême, whom all the members of the French royal family seemed to think would provide a good role model for the inexperienced girl, who would now go by Caroline.

Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry

At this early moment Caroline seemed willing to place herself under the older woman’s wing or at least felt the necessity of appearing to do so. In a letter to her future sister-in-law, expertly crafted to ingratiate herself, the young fiancée wrote, “I have the truest friendship for you, which I long to express to you in person, my very dearest sister. I hope that it will merit yours for me, which I value infinitely and will do all in my power to increase.” If the prospect of submitting to the will of the stern, pious, thirty-seven-year-old orphan of the Revolution chilled the blood in her veins just a bit, she wisely did not let it show.26


  • "The Duchess of Berry's story is enthralling, and Mr. Samuels tells it well. His epigraph is taken from the Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne: 'A new Walter Scott will have a difficult time finding a more poetic subject than the expedition of Madame la duchesse de Berry.' Absolutely."—Wall Street Journal
  • "A suspenseful, entertaining narrative that provides vivid portraits of its two subjects.... Samuels has stripped away the pious propaganda, uncovered many new details, and told the story in a gripping fashion that also brings out its absurdities and moments of dark comedy."—New York Review of Books
  • "Maurice Samuels's account of the improbable and riveting story of the duchess de Berry is both deeply researched and elegantly written. But this triumphant work provides much more than a narrative of civil war and treachery; it also interweaves dazzling insight into deeply relevant issues including the genesis of French (and European) antisemitism."—Andrew S. Curran, author of Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely
  • "The duchesse de Berry raises an army to restore the Bourbon monarchy. Her advisor, a charming Jewish convert named Simon Deutz, sells her out to the government, and her plot fails. A flood of literature follows -- from Hugo, Chateaubriand, Dumas. And then, mysteriously, the Deutz affair disappears from modern memory. It took someone with Maurice Samuels's psychological and political insights, his astonishing research, and his gift for story telling, to bring to life the true origin story of modern anti-Semitism, sixty years before the Dreyfus affair. A thriller, a non-fiction novel of palace intrigue, full of outrageous characters and theatrical scenes, Samuels's The Betrayal of the Duchess speaks of passions and prejudices uncannily suited to our own times."—Alice Kaplan, author of Looking for The Stranger and Dreaming in French and the John M. Musser Professor of French, Yale University
  • "This timely history -- impeccably researched and engagingly told -- relates the failed royalist coup of the Bourbon princess Caroline, duchesse de Berry. Highlighting the involvement of her Jewish-turned-Catholic co-conspirator, Simon Deutz, Maurice Samuels shows how this episode crystallized an ideology of antisemitism that has pervaded French society, with disastrous results, ever since."—Caroline Weber, author of Proust's Duchess and Queen of Fashion
  • "With a knack for narration and deep knowledge of the times, Maurice Samuels excavates a scandal of lost causes and the new hatreds that grow in their place. It is at once a gripping account of individuals, a portrait of an age, and a history that speaks to us, hauntingly, in our own troubled present."—Darrin M. McMahon, author Divine Fury and Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor of History, Dartmouth College
  • "A colorful history of the duchesse de Berry's failed attempt to restore the Bourbon dynasty to the French throne... 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."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Treachery, disguise, capture, and imprisonment-the scandal surrounding an ill-fated 19th-century French insurrection-is all the more captivating in this factual retelling... Recommended for readers of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and 19th-century French history and literature."—Library Journal
  • "The Betrayal of the Duchess is excellent in every respect... [Samuels] is a talented storyteller, one who eschews the too-often heavy prose of academics writing for and to themselves...Samuels has also brushed off the dust on his two principal characters and made them memorable."—Antisemitism Studies

On Sale
Apr 14, 2020
Page Count
416 pages
Basic Books

Maurice Samuels

About the Author

Maurice Samuels is the Betty Jane Anlyan professor of French at Yale University, chair of the program 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.

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