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  • Patrice McDonough

What Happened to Them? The fates of some of the characters in the novel

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

Real-life characters who did not survive the Revolution:


King Louis XVI went to the guillotine in January 1793; Marie-Antoinette followed him in October 1793. Their son, the Dauphin Louis-Charles (to royalists, King Louis XVII upon the death of his father) died in prison. (Only the oldest child of the family, Marie-Therese, survived the Revolution. She died in 1851.)


Charlotte Corday murdered Jean-Paul Marat (the radical journalist and editor of The Friend of the People) in his bath on July 13, 1793. Four days later, she went to the guillotine. The radical phase of the Revolution—the “Reign of Terror” ended in July 1794 when a coup overthrew and sent to the guillotine Maximilian de Robespierre and the remaining radicals. By then, many figures of the “Second Revolution” deemed to be too moderate had already been guillotined: Georges Danton (April 1794) and Camille Desmoulins (April 1794).


Others who went to the guillotine: Olympe de Gouges (November 1793); Jean-Sylvain Bailly (November 1793); and Antoine Lavoisier (May 1794). The judge at the Abbaye prison tribunal, Stanislas Maillard was arrested during the Reign of Terror and died in prison of tuberculosis.


Real-life characters from the novel who survived:

  • Marquis de Lafayette fled to Austrian territory in August 1792 and remained a prisoner of the Austrians and then the Prussians until his release in 1797. He returned to the US in 1824 to great acclaim as the “Hero of Two Revolutions.” He died in France in 1834. At his father’s request, Lafayette’s son sprinkled soil from Bunker Hill over his grave.

  • Lucie de Gouvernet, later the Marquise de la Tour du Pin (the fictional Sophie’s real-life companion at the opening of the Estates General). She spent much of the Reign of Terror in hiding and fled France in March 1794 (living briefly on a farm outside Albany in upstate New York). Her husband survived; her father and father-in-law both went to the guillotine. She left behind a captivating memoir of her life and times (The Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin) and died in 1853 at the age of 83.

  • Francois Jourgniac De Saint-Meard (the real-life cellmate of the fictional Francois at the Abbaye Prison). He was a captain in the French army and wrote a harrowing memoir of his captivity at the Abbaye (My Thirty-Eight Hours of Agony). He died in Paris in 1827.

Fictional characters:

  • I appropriated the characters Sir Percy Blakeney and Marguerite St. Just and others who help in the rescue of Francois (Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Sir Anthony Dewhurst). What happens to them next can be discovered by reading Emma (the Baroness) Orczy’s classic novel of the French Revolution, The Scarlet Pimpernel.

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