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Du Barry's Backstabber 


Monday, June 26, 2006

Remember this picture by Gautier Dagoty?



Notice the little dude in the lefthand corner?

That's Zamor.

Zamor was a Bengal servant in Madame du Barry's service, received from the king. Joan Haslip's Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty describes his life at Barry's home of Louveciennes (pages 90-91):
The countess adored him, stuffing him with sweetmeats, dressing him in the most extravagant of costumes in velvet and in satin with plumed caps and jewelled earrings. She even went to the lengths of having him christened, with her as godmother and a Prince of the Blood, the Comte de la Marche, standing in as godfather. People spoke of the orgies at Louveciennes, of little blonde peasant girls brought in to frolic and make love to Zamor for the pleasure of the old King, who to amuse his mistress gave her blackamoor a pension and appointed him as governor of Louveciennes, calling in the solemn-faced chancellor to affix his seal on the documents.
By the time Madame du Barry returned from exile at the Pont aux Dames convent (sent there by orders of the dying Louis XV), Zamor had grown into an annoying brat. Despite advice from her steward and lawyers to fire him, du Barry was too soft-hearted.

Zamor filled the next few years by hanging out in Paris' Palais Royal cafes and later the Republican Club in Louveciennes itself, making friends with spies and bad sorts. When du Barry's famous jewellry was stolen on the night of January 11, 1791, historian Haslip suspects Zamor as the insider on the job with his new friends. Sadly, too, it was at the Republican Club was Zamor met Englishman George Grieve, who was later to rape du Barry while arresting her.

Grieve had taken an interest in Zamor, encouraged him to read Rousseau and received from Zamor purloined letters from du Barry's desk. By the time du Barry finally fired Zamor during the Reign of Terror - talk about bad timing - he was completely on Grieve's side, supplying him with proof of du Barry's guilt for having 'aristocratic leanings.'

In Haslip's book, Zamor appears one more time, on December 6, 1793, at the trial in the Great Hall of Liberty, formerly the Paris parlement, to provide damning proof that du Barry hosted aristocrats. He added that he tried to warn her but, bull-headed, she wouldn't change her evil ways.

Du Barry was guillotined the next day, after she won a few hours reprieve by giving away the locations of her buried treasures to the Committee of Public Safety in a bid to win her life.

We pick up his story again online. Zamor himself was not immune from suspicion and faced prison time. After his release, he disappeared until 1815 when he was a bitter old man living in Paris. The site on which we find this information ridiculously exonerates Zamor of all wrong-doing.

Personally, I think Zamor was a bastard.

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