Secret Love Affairs of the Bourbons
A 1789 pamphlet, Les Amours de Charlot et Toinette, recounted in pornographic detail a torrid, entirely invented love affair between Marie-Antoinette—‘Toinette’—and Louis XVI’s youngest brother, the comte d’Artois—‘Charlot’. Forty years later, in 1830, when Charlot—now Charles X—went into exile following yet another revolution, many similar works surfaced; not a single one of Charles’s imaginary sexual sins was left undisclosed. This would not be the last time sex played a role in the downfall of a political figure. But end of the Bourbon monarchy also witnessed the last flourishing of this emblematically Ancien Régime genre: libelles, in which pure sexual fiction had as much clout as truth, would not reappear after 1830. July 1830 was not, then, merely the demise of the old order; it was also the demise of an older form of popular opposition—not to mention of an older attitude to sex.
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