I have just a couple of items. The first is something I wanted to share earlier but was prevented from doing so by circumstances. I started reading Martine Braconnier's biography of Couthon this month and I came across a puzzling and disturbing fact. In this biography there is Couthon's family tree and on this tree it states that his wife, Marie Brunel, was born in 1774, which would make her only twelve or thirteen at the time of her marriage to Couthon (then 31) in 1787. This seemed rather unlikely to me. I thought, this must be a typo. So I looked around on-line and saw the same story recounted in the first footnote here, that essentially Couthon had known Marie Brunel since his youth, which would obviously not be possible if she were born in 1774.
However, perhaps the date is not a simple typo. This royet.org article, the only other source I can find that agrees with the 1774 date has this to say:
En 1787, il épousa une très jeune fille dont une tradition erronée fait une « amie d’enfance » longuement courtisée, ce qui est impossible. Agée de douze ans, Marie Brunel avait dix-neuf ans de moins que lui. Elle était la fille du lieutenant du baillage d’Orcet.
("In 1787, he married a very young girl whom an erroneous tradition claims was a childhood friend, long courted, which is impossible. At twelve years old, Marie Brunel was nineteen years younger than him. She was the daughter of the lieutenant of the bailiwick of Orcet.")
Then again, it lists Braconnier's biography as a source, so it's possible it just copied the date from there. (In any case, if the date is a typo, I think it must come from Braconnier's source-article because she does mention later that Couthon's wife would have been twenty when her husband was executed.)
I can't help but find this date implausible. My weakest reason in terms of evidence, but certainly the one that caused me to investigate this int he first place: Couthon just doesn't seem like the type to marry a 12 year-old girl. But moving on to some perhaps more convincing evidence.
First, while aristos sometimes married their daughters off at 12, it doesn't exactly fit the demographics of Couthon's milieu.
Second, Couthon and Marie Brunel had their first child the year of their marriage. Given that this is a period in which maturation happened later on average than it does now, I'm guessing most 12-13 year-olds would be physically incapable of conceiving and bearing a child.
Third, and perhaps most important, it's just inconceivable that not one of his contemporaries, not one of the Thermidorian propagandists, and no one in the historiography would have anything to say about this. Look at everything that's been written about Danton's "child bride"--if a 16 year-old is a child bride, then surely a twelve year-old must be. I know Couthon has often been ignored by the historiography, but I can't believe that such detractors has Couthon has had wouldn't have leapt on this.
Strangely, the only other source that seems to have considered this and agrees with me that I can find is Wikipedia:
Malgré sa maladie, il se marie, le 16 janvier 1787 avec Marie Brunel, fille du notaire-greffier et lieutenant du bailliage d'Orcet Antoine Brunel âgée de 22 ans,
- ↑ L'Ami de la religion, tome 118, n° 3807, 26 septembre 1843, p. 606 Lire en ligne [archive].
- ↑ Il semble que Marie Brunel soit née le 11 janvier 1765, même si certains avis la font naître le 18 avril 1774. Voir le Bulletin historique et scientifique de l'Auvergne, Académie des sciences, belles-lettres et arts de Clermont-Ferrand, n° 700-703, 1989, p. 340.
"(10) L'Ami de la religion, tome 118, n° 3807, 26 September 1843, p. 606.
"(11) It seems that Marie Brunel was born on 11 January 1765, even if some consider that she was born on 18 April 1774. See the Bulletin historique et scientifique de l'Auvergne, Académie des sciences, belles-lettres et arts de Clermont-Ferrand, n° 700-703, 1989, p. 340.")
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get a hold of this article, but it seems likely that it confirms my suspicions... And it's probably just another instance of incorrect birthdates floating around, which can happen for a number of reasons. (It's a bit like the--less potentially disturbing--case of sources that claim Éléonore was born in 1771, would would be impossible for someone with three younger sisters, the youngest of whom was born in 1773.)
In other news, I know I'm more than half a year late to complain about this, but why did this have to exist? And why did they actually have to use music I know and like? D:
And, saving the most immediately relevant for last, do have a happy 21 January. Tête de veau, anyone? XD (Oh, and: Joyeux anniversaire, Augustin ! I probably should have posted something about you. Oh well, next year. >.>)