The Diamond Necklace Affair

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The Cardinal de Rohan wished to improve his social status at Versailles, and a woman calling herself the Comtesse de La Motte offered to help him. Unfortunately for the cardinal, Jeanne de La Motte was not really a comtesse. She was a con artist. She hired a woman to dress like Marie Antoinette and meet the cardinal in the gardens of Versailles at night. The false queen gave the cardinal a rose and hurried away, leaving the cardinal under the illusion that he had met Marie Antoinette.

Next Mme La Motte told the cardinal that the queen wanted him to purchase a very expensive diamond necklace on her behalf. Obediently the cardinal obtained the necklace and gave it to Mme La Motte, expecting the queen to pay for it. Of course, Marie Antoinette never saw the necklace; Mme La Motte gave the diamonds to her husband, who took them to London and sold them. When the jewelers demanded payment, the Diamond Necklace Affair became public. The cardinal and Mme La Motte were arrested. The cardinal was tried and acquitted. Mme La Motte was imprisoned, publicly flogged, and branded. Eventually she escaped to London, where she spread malicious rumors about Marie Antoinette.

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