Le Dauphin [1785-1795]
A Royalist supporter’s ring, circa 1795, depicting the ill fated Louis XVII. The high carat gold shank supports a compartment containing a finely executed watercolour miniature of the boy under crystal. He is depicted wearing a French Royal blue jacket blue with lace collar and Ordre du Saint-Esprit, the senior French order under the Bourbons, on a sombre black ground. The depiction is after a painting of the Dauphin by Alexander Kucharsky. The ring is size L and 1/2 [US 5 and 7/8] and the portrait measures 1 and 1/8 inches by 3/4 of an inch.
Louis-Charles de France, ‘Louis XVII’, was born at Versailles in 1785, shortly before the outbreak of the French Revolution. He was incarcerated with the rest of the royal family in the Temple Prison in 1792, and would never be freed. Louis became Dauphin and heir to the throne in 1789, following the untimely death of his elder brother. On 21st January 1793 his father King Louis XVI was executed. The Dauphin automatically assumed the regnal title of Louis XVII, recognised by the Royalist party and European political powers. In prison the boy was entrusted to shoemaker Antoine Simon. The cobbler was responsible for the prince’s education in the Temple with one clear objective, to make him renounce his royal origins. He manipulated the young Dauphin into testifying against his own mother at her trial and based on the testimony of her son, Marie Antoinette was accused of incest and died at the guillotine. The young Louis XVII, just eight years old, remained in jail under the supervision of his tutor. Vilified as the ‘wolf cub’, the ‘son of a tyrant’ and the ‘bastard’ the newly styled Louis-Charles Capet was unrecognisable, covered in sores and malnourished. Confined in appalling conditions, he fell seriously ill and in 1795 died of tuberculosis. He was only ten years old. Poor little mite.
Portrait of the Dauphin by Alexander Kucharsky .
Capet, Lève toi ! by Émile Mascré