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Favras, Thomas De Mahy

FAVRAS, THOMAS DE MAHY, Marquis de (1744-1790), French royalist, was born on the 26th of March 1744, at Blois. He belonged to a poor family whose nobility dated from the 12th century. At seventeen he was a captain of dragoons, and saw some service in the closing campaign of the Seven Years' War. In 1772 he became first lieutenant of the Swiss guards of the count of Provence (afterwards Louis XVIII.). Unable to meet the expenses of his rank, which was equivalent to the grade of colonel in the army, he retired in 1775. He married in 1776 Victoria Hedwig Caroline, princess of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg, whose mother, deserted by her husband Prince Carl Ludwig in 1749, had found refuge with her daughter in the house of Marshal Soubise. After his marriage he went to Vienna to press the restitution of his wife's rights, and spent some time in Warsaw. In 1787 he was authorized to raise a patriotic legion to help the Dutch against the stadtholder William IV. and his Prussian allies. Returning to Paris at the outbreak of the Revolution, he became implicated in schemes for the escape of Louis XVI. from Paris and the dominance of the National Assembly. He was commissioned by the count of Provence through one of his gentlemen, the comte de la Châtre, to negotiate a loan of two million francs from the bankers Schaumel and Sartorius. Favras took into his confidence certain officers by whom he was betrayed; and, with his wife, he was arrested on Christmas Eve 1789 and imprisoned in the Abbaye. A fortnight later they were separated, Favras being removed to the Châtelet. It was stated in a leaflet circulated throughout Paris that Favras had organized a plot of which the count of Provence was the moving spirit. A force of 30,000 was to be raised, La Fayette and Bailly, the mayor of Paris, were to be assassinated, and Paris was to be starved into submission by cutting off supplies. The count hastened publicly to disavow Favras in a speech delivered before the commune of Paris and in a letter to the National Assembly, although there is no reasonable doubt of his complicity in the plot that did exist. In the course of a trial of nearly two months' duration the witnesses disagreed, and even the editor of the Révolutions de Paris (No. 30) admitted that the evidence was insufficient but an armed attempt of the Royalists on the Châtelet on the 26th of January, which was defeated by La Fayette, roused the suspicious temper of the Parisians to fury, and on the 18th of February 1790, in spite of the courageous defence of his counsel, Favras was condemned to be hanged. He refused to give any information of the alleged plot, and the sentence was carried out on the Place de Grève the next day, to the delight of the populace, since it was the first instance when no distinction in the mode of execution was allowed between noble and commoner. Favras was generally regarded as a martyr to his refusal to implicate the count of Provence, and Madame de Favras was pensioned by Louis XVI. She left France, and her son Charles de Favras served in the Austrian and the Russian armies. He received an allowance from Louis XVIII. Her daughter Caroline married Rüdiger, Freiherr von Stillfried Ratènic, in 1805.

The official dossier of Favras's trial for high treason against the nation disappeared from the Châtelet, but its substance is preserved in the papers of a clerk.

Bibliography. - For particulars see A. Tuetey, Répertoire général des sources manuscrites de l'histoire de Paris pendant la Révolution Française (vol. i., 1890, pp. 175-177); M. Tourneux, Bibl. de l'histoire de Paris pendant la Révolution Française (vol. i. pp. 196-198, 1890). His brother, M. Mahy de Cormère, published a Mémoire justificatif in 1790 and a Justification in 1791. See also a memoir by Eduard, Freiherr v. Stillfried Ratènic (Vienna, 1881), and an article by Alexis de Valon in the Revue des deux mondes (15th June 1851).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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