The Man Who Died Twice

To die twice is not a commonplace occurrence. Yet this is what happened to a hero of the boudoir, who was in the revolutionary France at the height of his popularity, and figured in the dreams of all the fine ladies of Marie Antoinette’s Court. His name was Jean François Autié, his alias Leonard, and he was a barber by profession.

He was nicknamed “le Marquis Leonard” to distinguish him from his brother, “le Chevalier”, whose office was confined to the cutting of hair. In 1791, his gigantic headdresses, two feet in height, adorned with a collection of accessories and supported by a framework of steel wire, were very much “en vogue’. Leonard gave them ridiculous names, like “valgalas” or “toquets en lubie”, which the ladies thought enchanting.
“If Leonard was not a perfect imbecile, with neither refinement nor taste,” the historian G. Lenotre wrote in his book The Flight of Marie Antoinette, “he must certainly have been a profound philosopher, and have spent hours of exquisite enjoyment in observing the measureless folly of those brainless grandes dames, whom he treated with the rudeness of a slave-trader, being repaid by them with all the more idolatry and admiration.”

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emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
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7 hours 25 min

This would make a wonderful movie in the right hands.