Cover: Marie Petit , By the Spanish artist “Carlos Marinas”
4 The Audacious First published in 2022 in Arabic as “Al-Jarī’ah” by: Al-Qasimi Publications. Author: Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi (United Arab Emirates). ------------------------------------------ Publisher: Al-Qasimi Publications, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Edition: First. Year of publication: 2022. © All rights reserved. Al-Qasimi publications. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates ------------------------------------------ Translated from the Arabic by: Ahmed Ali Edited by: Elizabeth Munn ------------------------------- ISBN: 978-9948-809-26-5 Printing Permission: Media Regulatory Office, Ministry Of Culture and Youth No. MC 01-03- 5133377, Date: 22-09-2022 Printing: AL Bony Press- Sharjah, UAE Age Classification: E The age group that matches the content of the books was classified according to the age classification issued by the National Council for Media ---------------------------------------------- Al-Qasimi Publications, Al Tarfa, Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zayed Road PO Box 64009 Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Tel: 0097165090000, Fax: 0097165520070 Email: email@example.com
5 Table of Contents Preface 7 1: The French Diplomatic Mission to Persia 9 2: Death of Ambassador Fabre 21 3: Marie Petit, Woman of the Hour 33 4: Power Conflict between Michel and Marie Petit 45 5: Marie Petit Still Pursuing Collection of Her Debt 59 References 71
7 Preface “The Audacious” is a true narrative that has been carefully researched. It began with the King of Persia desiring to establish an alliance with France in order that he might be able to conquer Muscat with the help of the French(1) as he was so concerned about the Omanis being in control of all the waters surrounding Persia. The King of France’s motive was for France to engage (1) Omani-French Relations 1715-1905, Author, BPC Wheatone Ltd, Exeter, UK, 1996.
8 in active trade with Persia, like the Dutch and the British. The arrangements were that France would send a diplomatic mission to the Persian capital, Isfahan. As fate would have it, this mission ends in failure, while Marie Petit ends up imprisoned and on trial. The Author.
9 1 The French Diplomatic Mission to Persia Jean – Baptiste Fabre came to Paris from Constantinople(1) in 1702. He had some business to conduct in the court of Louis XIV. In Constantinople, he lived in a house adjacent to the French Embassy. When he headed for Paris, he left his wife, Anne Cataro, and three children at the residence of (1) Constantinople is currently Istanbul.
10 the French ambassador to Constantinople, De Ferriol. Monsieur Fabre belonged to a business family from Marseille where he came from, and he himself was known from a young age to be a merchant. In 1675, he managed a trading post in Constantinople, and was elected as the representative of the French nation in Turkey. In Paris, Fabre stayed in a house close to the residence of Marie Claude Petit, whose mother was a laundress. Marie Petit was twenty eight years old and ran gambling house or a maison de jeu at Rue Mazarine. When they got to know each other, Marie Petit found Fabre to be a trustworthy person. Depending on his work conditions and as time allowed, Fabre used to visit,
11 at intervals, the gambling house to try his luck. The French government was seeking an individual who could speak eastern languages, and possessed certain qualities fit for a diplomat, to head their diplomatic mission to Persia. Fabre found out about this, and started to publicize his vast knowledge of the countries of the orient and their languages’ in all gatherings he attended, and at every opportunity possible, even over exaggerating. Fortunately for him, his words reached the ears of the officials in the French government. Accordingly, in January 1703, he was appointed by the King of France, Louis XIV to be France’s Ambassador to Persia in the reign of Shah Soltan Hosayn.
12 Had the French Ambassador to Constantinople, De Ferriol, been asked about Fabre’s appointment, he would have said Fabre was not fit for that position, and he would have nominated someone else. In 1703, the arrangements for the diplomatic mission had been completed. Everything the mission required was carefully thought and implemented. Ambassador Fabre was given servants and a retinue. But as a result, matters did not go well for him as he became unable to pay for his own food, nor that of his servants and retinue. In his attempt to find a way out, he approached Marie Claude Petit and confided to her about the terrible conditions he was living under. He begged and pleaded with her to help him in his
13 desperate time of need. He begged her so anxiously that she could not refuse. She also believed that a person who received the honour from the King of France to become an ambassador would have no problem paying her back. She paid Fabre what he asked her for. But, the loan amount kept growing till it became 8,000 livres Francaise.(1) Fabre had promised Marie Petit to pay her back from his salary, signing an IOU to this effect. In November 1703, Fabre received his salary of 1,500 livres Francaise! He was also to send selected gifts from King Louis XIV to Shah Soltan Hosayn. The gifts were: Thirty-three pocket watches, six wall (1) The Livre Francaise is a gold French coin used in the Kingdom of France between 781-1794 CE.
14 clocks, twenty boxes of sweet Moroccan fruits, a tapestry rug, four small cannons, a vintage rifle, two hand pistols, a magic lamp, and King Louis XIV decoration engraved in Persian. Marie Petit expected Fabre to pay the loan off before he left Paris. However, she was terribly disappointed when every time she tried to retrieve her money, she was unable to get a single livres back from him. One time, Monsieur Fabre told her to go to Lyon where he was travelling and she would receive her money there. However, as she herself was travelling to Moulins to visit her mother, she begged Fabre to pay her before travelling. She ended going to Moulins without her money. Fabre wrote to her from Lyon that he would be unable to pay the debt back.
15 She decided to leave immediately for Lyon, 190 km from Moulins, to confront him. When she arrived, she urged him to pay off his debt, but her attempts fell on deaf ears. Fabre eventually told her that his money is with some traders in Marseille, and promised her that she would get her money there. So, she travelled to Marseille and stayed at Hotel De Lyon, in Rue Rome. Fabre, however, stayed in the King’s palace, the official state residence in Marseille. When Marie Petit asked about Fabre’s whereabouts in the Royal Palace, she was informed that he had gone with the retinue to the port of Toulon, some sixty km from where she was in the east of Marseille. So, she set off in her journey to get there. At the port of Toulon, the Royal ship
16 M/S Tridan commanded by M. de Turgis was docking. On board, was Fabre and his 50-person retinue as well as the Ambassador’s companions, including his nephew, Jacques Fabre and his doctor, Louis Robin. Marie Petit got to the dock at the port and enquired about Ambassador Fabre. She was met by Fabre’s majordome, Du Hamel. She had known Du Hamel from before as she had met him in Lyon with Fabre. Du Hamel told her that Fabre was on board of the ship. She told him to ask Fabre to ful l his promise to her and pay off his debt. Du Hamel said he would ask the ambassador. A while later, he returned and reported to her that Mr Ambassador was saying that the
17 money was in Aleppo, and that he would pay her when he got there. The diplomatic mission was heading for Persia, and it was decided that it would take the route of the trade line, from Aleppo to Iraq, then to Persia. As it stood at the time, Marie Claude Petit was so far away from home. She travelled 300 km from Paris to Moulins. Then she chased her debtor for another 190 km, from Moulins to Lyon. After he promised to pay her in Marseille, she followed him there, travelling another 313 km, only to be told that he had gone to Toulon, 60 km from Marseille. In Toulon, he disappeared like a mirage, and she was told the money was in Aleppo! Fearing she was going to lose all her 8,000 Livres if she returned home without the
18 money, she decided to pursue her debtor all the way to Aleppo. On 2nd March 1705, the Tridan sailed from the port of Toulon to the Alexandretta port. It was guarded by two warships belonging to the King of France, as at the time, the Mediterranean Sea was not renowned for safe navigation. As the ship set sail, there appeared an attractive young man together with a companion, who attracted the attention of those on board. The Ambassador’s retinue wondered who he was, and then said “Maybe, he is a relative of theAmbassador”. The Ambassador’s company also thought “Perhaps, he is an officer from among the retinue”. When the Tridan got to open sea, a strong
19 wind blew and rocked the ship from side to side. The two young men fell on the deck. When the good looking one managed to stand up, he had dropped his hat. As he stood to x his clothes, his long, brunette hair fell over his shoulders. He looked around, only to nd the retinue, the sailors and the ambassador’s company staring at him with their mouths open in shock. The young man was nobody else but Marie Petit herself, disguised as a man. She looked at her companion who was also another woman in disguise. Marie Petit immediately made up a story in order to save herself from the embarrassment of her situation. She rst looked away in indignation and said to those surrounding her that she was the wife
20 of Du Hamel, and the other young lady was her maid, Manon. Majordome Du Hamel rushed immediately to Ambassador Fabre to tell him what happened. Fabre came and escorted Marie Petit and Manon to his cabin. There, he told her: “If you stop asking for your money (during the journey), I will agree that you continue on board as Mrs. Du Hamel”. Marie Petit accepted the offer, and for the duration of the journey, she was known as ‘Mrs Du Hamel’.
21 2 Death of Ambassador Fabre The journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Toulon to the Alexandretta took six weeks. The Royal vessels arrived to the port on 8th April 1705. Ambassador Fabre and his companions were received by the Agha, the Alexandretta port Governor, who provided them with the horses and mules needed for their transportation. The Agha also gave them official letters to present at the check points along the way to Aleppo
22 to facilitate the passing of the French diplomatic mission which left to Aleppo on 13th April, 1705. Satisfied that the French diplomatic mission caravan departed to Aleppo, as it passed near the port of Alexandretta, the captain of the Tridan, M. D. Turgis, instructed his accompanying warships to follow him back to France. On 17th April, 1705, the caravan arrived in Aleppo. Marie Petit, as Mrs Du Hamel, used to walk about in the street of Aleppo with her face uncovered; against the instructions of the Ottoman authorities. As she used to do that on her way to meetings with city dignitaries, she drew much attention to her from the flirtatious young men of Aleppo, who were enchanted with her beauty.
23 The Turkish Governor of Aleppo together with the Christians clerics ended intervening to prevent Mrs Du Hamel from continuing to act in this manner. To keep the pressure off her, Marie Petit sought Fabre’s support; but Monsieur Fabre utilised this opportunity to try to extract more money from her, thus asked her for another 2000 Livres. Marie Petit stated that the debt would then be 10,000 livres, which would have to be paid back in full in one instalment. Fabre, however, disagreed and stressed that the newly agreed amount would be paid to her by Monsieur Blanc, the legal advisor of the French Consulate in Aleppo, as her travel expenses. Acting upon instructions from De Ferriol, the French Ambassador in Constantinople, the French Consul in Aleppo, instigated the
24 Turkish authorities to obstruct the French diplomatic mission journey to Persia through Iraq. De Ferriol was attempting to send the French diplomatic mission under Fabre back to France. He knew Fabre very well, and was certain that he was not fit to be an ambassador, especially that De Ferriol himself was the person who made all the arrangements with the Persian authorities to send a mission from France to Persia. The First Minister of the Turkish government was against the passing of that many French into Persia through Turkish territories, thus he wrote to Versailles “The Turkish Government objects to the French diplomatic mission continuing on its way to Persia.”
25 King Louis XIV was adamant that the mission should continue to its destination, but since De Ferriol, his Ambassador to Turkey, was doing his best to sabotage the mission, he ignored the King’s wish. Defeated, Ambassador Fabre had no choice but to return with the caravan to Alexandretta accompanied by his crew and retinue, where he rented a ship to take him to Cyprus; taking with him Marie Petit, his nephew Jacques Fabre, his secretary Pierre Dubies, his servants, retinue and the gifts of the King of France to the Persian Shah. From Cyprus, they went to Rhodes to the east of the Aegean Archipelago, then to Samos, north of Rhodes. There, he instructed his nephew, secretary, all the servants and retinue to stay in Samos with the French King’s gifts, and wait for news
26 from him as he headed to Constantinople with Marie Petit and two servants. In Constantinople, Fabre stayed at the residence of the Persian Ambassador, who was about to leave to Isfahan. He stayed for thirty-five days disguised in Georgian outfits and hiding from his Constantinople debtors. Marie Petit, however, was taken to a house belonging to an Armenian friend of Fabre, called Baron Sufer, where she stayed. When she needed to go out for any reason, she, too, dressed in Georgian garment as a disguise. Initially, the Turkish Prime Minister was reluctant to grant the French diplomatic mission a permit to travel across Turkish territories as he was concerned about the gains Persia would make as a result of the new commercial relations with France.
27 Standing in the background of all this was De Ferriol himself. Eventually, owing to the insistence of Madame Anne Cataro, Fabre’s wife, the Turkish Dīwān approved the travel of Fabre, Marie Petit and the entire mission in Samos through Turkey. From Constantinople, Fabre wrote to his Secretary, Dubies (in Samos) that he was travelling in disguise to Persia together with the Persian Ambassador. This message and the permit for the French diplomatic mission to travel through the Turkish territories, were delivered by Fabre’s Armenian friend, Sufer, who sailed to Samos. Fabre also instructed the mission to travel to Izmir(1) by sea and head from there for the Persian borders. (1) Izmir was formerly known as Smyrna.
28 Fabre along with Marie Petit travelled to Persia in the company of the Persian Ambassador to Turkey, leaving behind De Ferriol and his threats to send Fabre back to France; but Fabre was already to far away from harm’s reach. In January, 1706, after seventy days of travelling, Fabre and Marie Petit arrived in Yerevan, an Armenian city occupied by the Persians. During that ConstantinopleYerevan journey, Ambassador Fabre borrowed from Marie Petit another 4,200 Livres for his travel expenses. Accordingly, Fabre’s debt to Marie Petit increased to 12,200 livres, for which he signed her another IOU. Upon the arrival of Fabre and his company including his assistant, his majordome, Marie Petit (as Mrs Du Hamel) to Yerevan,
29 he was received by the Persian governor of the city, Mohammed Khan, also known as, the Khan of Yerevan.(1) The governor immediately sent a message to the Persian government regarding the arrival of the French Ambassador, asking for further instructions in this regard. He, however, afforded them residence in a house he owned in Yerevan. The Armenian Mr Sufer arrived on the Island of Samos to transport the mission to Izmir. However, the Samos Island authorities refused that the precious gifts leave without permission from the authorities in the capital, Athens, due to the fact that Samos was a Greek territory. As a result, the French diplomatic mission (1) Khan is originally a Persian word meaning Chief, of Emir.
30 travelled with Sufer to Athens accompanied by officials from Samos. The mission arrived in the port of Rafina, 28 KM to the east of Athens. But there, Sufer’s efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore, he sent a letter to the son of Ambassador Fabre in Constantinople, Joseph Fabre, asking him for help to end the mission seizure. As Joseph’s mother, Madame Anne Cataro, was diplomatically well connected to many ambassadors, she managed to provide her son with letters from the Greek government to allow the French diplomatic mission to continue on their travels. Joseph Fabre travelled to Rafina to conclude the awkward situation. The ship sailed from Rafina to Izmir with
31 the French diplomatic mission on board accompanied by Joseph Fabre, Jacques Fabre, his cousin, Sufer, the French Ambassador’s retinue and the gifts of the king of France. In Izmir, they took the land road to Yerevan on the Persian border. In his arrogance, Fabre asked the Khan of Yerevan to pay him a daily allowance of 600 livres, ten times more than a person like him would be paid. Fabre also asked for 100 livres a day for Marie Petit in consideration of her being the French Princesses’ envoyée. The Khan of Yerevan received instructions from the Persian court in Isfahan to allow the French diplomatic mission to proceed to Isfahan.Ambassador Fabre responded that he would first wait the arrival of the gifts sent by King Louis
32 XIV to the King of Persia, Shah Soltan Hosayn. However, while there, Fabre contracted a fever and became bed-ridden. In spite of the condition of Fabre’s health, the Khan of Yerevan and Marie Petit took him out on a hunting trip outside Yerevan. By the time Fabre returned to his residence, he was gravely ill, and died on 16th August, 1706.
33 3 Marie Petit, Woman of the Hour With Ambassador Fabre dead, Marie Petit requested that the Judge of Yerevan make an inventory of all the possessions of the late Monsieur Fabre, her own, the French diplomatic mission’s as well as those of the servants of Fabre. This was conducted and the inventory list was sent to Marie Petit. All Fabre’s possessions were handed over to the Dīwān of the Khan of Yerevan. The French diplomatic mission
34 coming from Izmir arrived in Yerevan with the gifts of the King of France accompanied by Joseph Fabre, son of the late Ambassador Fabre, Fabre’s nephew, Jacques, the Armenian Sufer and the retinue. The Khan of Yerevan instructed the Dīwān’s treasurer to hand all Fabre’s belongings to his son Joseph. As the French gathered grieving over the death of Fabre, majordome Du Hamel was especially upset as it was rumoured that his so-called wife, Marie Petit, had conspired with the Khan of Yerevan to poison the late Fabre. Overtaken by his emotions, Du Hamel shouted at her saying “You are a whore.” Shocked by his words, Marie Petit
35 demanded from the Khan of Yerevan to punish Du Hamel for his insults. Du Hamel was arrested and put in custody. The Khan of Yerevan then wrote to the King of Persia to inform him of the death of Fabre. He also instructed Marie Petit and all the French personnel to go to Kanaker, a small town about 11 KM to the north of Yerevan, where they would reside in house, called “The French Residence”, belonging to the French Consulate in Yerevan. The members of the diplomatic mission did as instructed. One day, as they were sitting at a table, a woman brought them a fruit basket. Justiniani, le valet, presented the basket to Joseph Fabre, who took some fruit. Afterwards, Justiniani took the basket and put it aside far from everyone’s reach.
36 Marie Petit objected to the servant’s action and wanted the fruit basket brought back, but Justiniani rudely opposed her. She took a pomegranate and threw it at him hitting his head resulting in Justiniani piling all kinds of insults against her. He pulled out a dagger to stab her, but he was stopped by those present, then he rushed to his room and brought a gun to shoot her; yet again he was prevented from doing so. All these sudden developments caused extreme chaos in the French Residence. Soon, the news spread all over Kanaker reaching the ears of the Khan of Yerevan, who immediately ordered his son and some others to go and investigate what exactly happened and uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident. The truth was soon uncovered and the
37 son of the Khan of Yerevan together with his company reported the events to the Khan who then ordered that Marie Petit be brought to Yerevan. When she arrived, the Khan was keen to know the truth about the incident involving her. He summoned her to testify before all present. She gave a truthful account of what went on between her and the servant, Justiniani, after which the Khan then sent for Justiniani to hear his side of the story. But, Justiniani could not provide any good reason to justify his terrible behaviour and the brazen impudence he presented against Marie Petit. As a result, he was ordered to be taken to the Yerevan prison. The French present in the Kanaker, however, decided to raid the prison and free Justiniani.
38 At 9.00 PM, the French arrived at the prison led by Jacques Fabre and the Arminian Sufer, who headed the mission from Samos to Yerevan. The French used all modes of violent means to get Justiniani out of the prison, and they succeeded to take him back to the French Residence in Kanaker. The actions of the French infuriated the Khan of Yerevan, who demanded three times that the French return the prisoner to prison, but his demand was refused repeatedly. Running out of patience at their insolence, the Khan sent a force of one hundred armed men to them and ordered their Chief to seize Justiniani. The French put up resistance and gathered fully armed on a balcony wherefrom they fired their guns incessantly at will against
39 the Persian forces killing two and injuring two others. The Persians were so outraged at their casualties that they raided the French Residence, and looted it with complete lack of consideration to everyone and everything including Marie Petit, who lost personal belongings in this raid to the amount of eight hundred Livres. The Persians then arrested Justiniani and many others, including Jacques Fabre. They were all dragged to the Yerevan prison. Marie Petit rushed to the Khan of Yerevan and secured a pardon for Jacques Fabre who was released the next day. The Dīwān of the Khan of Yerevan prepared a report about the killing of the two Persian soldiers. Then an inventory
40 of the gifts and clothes brought with the French from Samos was made. Marie Petit was asked to estimate their value, and the Khan was made aware of this. The Khan also came to learn that the Jesuit Father, de Mosnier, who had arrived from Samos with the mission, had something to do with the shooting. Accordingly, the Khan ordered he be arrested and put in prison. Two days after Jacques Fabre was released, Mary Petit requested a meeting with the Khan of Yerevan hoping to be able to secure the release of the French prisoners. She also secretly paid 4,000 French Livres in bribes to those who could influence the Khan to her favour. When she met the Khan, she spoke with confidence and the Khan listened to all she said. Eventually, after a great deal of humble
41 pleadings, the Khan agreed to release all the French except for Father De Mosnier, who was sentenced to be beheaded. This was a shock to Marie Petit, who begged the Khan with all the humility and humbleness she could muster to pardon him, but her pleadings were ignored. She fell to her knees at the feet of the Khan of Yerevan begging more fervently, but her words fell on deaf ears. She rushed to bring Joseph Fabre and his cousin Jacques Fabre and they begged the Khan; but all was rejected for the third time. There was almost no hope to save De Mosnier, and it was at this moment that Marie Petit stood suddenly and said to the Khan: “I will accompany Father De Mosnier to the gallows to die by his side.”
42 The Khan of Yerevan was so touched by her latest action that he granted her request of pardon cancelling the execution of De Mosnier who was brought before the Khan, and told: “It is owing to the importance we assign Marie Petit that your execution has been cancelled. You have to understand that she is the reason for your release and should be ever grateful and indebted to her.” However, no matter how hard Marie Petit tried to secure a pardon for the two Armenians, Sufer and Cocurdoulon, who were implicated as per the testimony of the French in the official report of the Yerevan Judge, her attempts failed. The two Armenians were sentenced to death avenging the killing of the two Persian soldiers during the attack against the French Residence.
43 Their execution was carried out in front of the French Residence and their corpses were hung on posts for two days. As for Justiniani, he was sent back to prison only to be reported dead a few days later. Being the lady of the hour, who fought for the release of the French, Marie Petit requested that the debts owed to her from Monsieur Fabre be officially documented. The Yerevan court, after listening to the witnesses upheld all Marie Petit requested, and ruled that she be given priority over all other creditors in consideration of the estate of the late Monsieur Fabre.
45 4 Power Conflict between Michel and Marie Petit In response to the letter he had sent earlier, the Khan of Yerevan received a response from the King of Persia regarding how to deal with Marie Petit and Joseph Fabre. In the response, the King said he would be happy to meet the woman who brought Fabre to Persia, and that he had also received the sad news about Fabre’s death from his ambassador to the Ottoman
46 Sublime Porte. The King instructed the Khan to inform Marie Petit that he wanted her to come to the Persian court with Fabre Junior and the rest of the French. Following the King’s instructions, the Khan of Yerevan arranged for guards to accompany Marie Petit and the rest of the group during their travel. He also requested that she calculate an amount of money for her daily expenses at the towns and villages she passed by during the journey. When De Ferriol, the ambassador to France in Constantinople, learnt of Fabre’s death, he unilaterally appointed his secretary Pierre Victor Michel, head of the French diplomatic mission to Persia without approval from the French government. De Ferriol also instructed Michel to send Marie Petit back to France.
47 Michel, a young man from Marseille, was twenty-eight years of age at the time and loyal to De Ferriol. Within a week of hearing about Fabre’s death, Michel left Constantinople to Persia, armed with no other powers but the letters given to him by De Ferriol. He was accompanied by a dragoman, a military attaché and two attendants. Under Persian guards, Marie Petit travelled to Tabriz, which was twenty-four days from the capital, Isfahan. Michel, however, arrived in Tabriz in December 1706, after a thirty-eight day journey. He stayed in the same house where Marie Petit was staying as she was not there at the time. Upon her return, she requested from the Persians that they allocated a different house for her to reside which they did.
48 In Tabriz, also arrived Joseph Fabre with the rest of the French personnel carrying the gifts of the King of France to the King of Persia. They were received by Michel, whom they accepted as the new head of the diplomatic mission, therefore they handed over to him the gifts of the King of France. A few days later, Michel sent his secretary, Dubies, to Marie Petit, telling her that it would be beneficial for them all if they lived in the same residence and that her stay would be made comfortable. Not desiring to be isolated, Marie Petit agreed to move back, which she did the following day. For a few days afterwards, mutual respect and cordial behaviour were exchanged between her and Michel. However, she was soon to discover his lack of sound judgment and lustful looks at her. She rejected his
49 advances and informed him that he needed to busy his mind with other things, but other than her. Michel was not pleased with the way she reproached him, and his mood changed completely and from then onwards he showed her nothing but disdain and was bent on inflicting all harm he could upon her. He wrote a letter to the Khan of Tabriz full of lies and false claims against Marie Petit. The Khan requested to meet her. During the meeting, he informed her of what Michel had written. Returning to the residence, Marie Petit told Michel that the way he treated her was disgraceful. He was outraged, and in his fury he told her that she needed to crawl before him to beg forgiveness, and that he had the necessary powers to send her back
50 to France. Then, he immediately instructed that she departed to France as per the orders he had previously received from De Ferriol. Marie Petit replied that she had intended to return to France, and that she would always comply with the instructions of the King of France and Ambassador De Ferriol. However, it would be totally unfair if she was to leave before she received all the monies owed to her especially as he had an official judgment to that effect from the Khan of Yerevan. The next day, Michel was so furious with Marie Petit that he ordered the soldiers to arrest her locking her in her room, where she was sick and bed-ridden. When Marie Petit asked why she was in custody, Michel said he was sending her
51 back to France the following morning at 9.00 AM. The next day, Marie Petit was out of her room, and Michel entered it with a group of people and searched her clothes and belongings thinking he would find something belonging to the late Monsieur Fabre, or some of the gifts sent from the King of France to the King of Persia that Marie Petit might have concealed. He was hoping to find her guilty of something, but to his disappointment, there was nothing of the sort; only her personal effects. Inquiring where she had gone, Michel was informed she had left the house and went to stay somewhere else which infuriated him even more. He did not give up. He was hoping that she would leave so that he could completely
52 get rid of her, even if such injustice was to tarnish the reputation of France. Two days later, he decided to go to her new dwelling place with a group of servants and a sword in his hand, to kill her. However, she received a warning about his evil plan, and sent some guards to inform the Khan of Tabriz of the situation. The Khan sent a force of 200-300 men to intercept Michel, who was forced to return to his own residence. The Khan of Tabriz had been advised by the Khan of Yerevan to provide necessary protection to Marie Petit. Michel left Tabriz under the pretext that he was meeting the King of Persia. Marie Petit left four days later. After a month of travelling, she arrived at the town of Amol in the Caspian region north of Persia, where the Persian King himself was camping.
53 Following instructions from the Persian Prime Minister, Marie Petit was received by a minister, who led her to a tent especially prepared for her stay. The following day, she was served a big meal and then the minister accompanied her to the tent of the Prime Minister, where she found the King’s dragoman and many officials of the Persian court. Marie Petit requested from the Prime Minister that the King might be so kind as to grant her a permission to travel abroad in consideration of the difficulties she had been through and her journey to Amol. The Prime Minister said that might be difficult to do. During the meeting, Marie Petit presented him with the IOU document the late Fabre
54 had given her showing a debt of 8,000 livres, together with the verdict from the Yerevan court. Marie Petit was then taken to the tent of the wife of the Prime Minister where she was met by her hostess and a group of other ladies. She was received very warmly and afforded all the respect possible. She remained there till 7.00 PM when the Prime Minister returned from the Persian court. He informed her that the King granted her permission to travel and that she could return to France via Georgia as she had requested. The Prime Minister also brought her 1,800 livres from the Persian treasury. The next day, the King’s dragoman brought her the travel permit, together with an executive court order from the Khan of
55 Yerevan to collect her 8,000 livres as well as her other 4,200 livres. The order was given to the chief of protocol who accompanied her to ensure that the order was duly executed. In her tent, Marie Petit received the minister who informed her of the arrival of Michel to a village near Amol. He was coming to the court of the King of Persia. When the King learnt of this, he instructed that Michel be closely watched in order to avoid any blood shed especially that the King knew of what Michel had tried to do to Marie Petit. A force of 600 soldiers was made available to carry out the King’s orders. Realizing that the French would be completely wiped out of they were to meet the Persian task force, Marie Petit begged
56 the Prime Minister to reduce the numbers, in spite of her knowledge that Michel would not fail to tarnish her reputation and accuse her of being involved in this matter. He request was positively met and instead of 600 men going to meet Michel, only 60 were sent. They stopped him in the village he was at. But as he had no official documents to show the Prime Minister regarding his position, he was not allowed to proceed to the court of the King of Persia, and was instructed to return from where he had come. After her visit to the Persian court, Marie Petit returned to Tabriz a few days before Michel himself made it back. Owing to her poor health condition, she contacted Michel and requested that he forgave her for how she acted especially that she would be
57 leaving to France as per the instructions of the Khan of Tabriz. She also requested that Michel provided her with some guards and travel expenses. Michel assigned her two guards and sent her some European money. He also gave her a signed document to the 12,200 livres that she was owed, in order that she could cash the amount in Aleppo. He, in return, retrieved from her the possessions of the late Fabre against her debt. On 8th July, 1707, Marie Petit made her way back to France. Michel returned to Yerevan where the Khan was demanding compensations for the damages the French mission incurred the previous year. While in Yerevan, Michel received a letter from De Ferriol instructing him to return to Constantinople. But he refused to comply.
58 In early March 1708, the Khan of Yerevan received the approval of the Persian court allowing Michel to travel to Isfahan. The Khan was also instructed to provide Michel with camels and horses for his transport and that of his company. Michel made it to Isfahan in mid-May 1708, and was received by both the Chief of Protocol and the ruler of Isfahan. When he eventually met the King of Persia, the King said he intended to send a diplomatic mission to France. In his meeting with the Prime Minister, Michel discussed all the matters of mutual interest between France and Persia. He then left Isfahan in October 1708 back to Constantinople.
59 5 Marie Petit Still Pursuing Collection of Her Debt In Constantinople, Michel started to gather information about when Marie Petit would be arriving in France, as he was worried about what she would say about him to the French government authorities. On 9th February, 1709, Marie Petit arrived in Marseille. She was so exhausted and in poor health, and required admission to the city hospital for treatment and recuperation.
60 While hospitalized, Marie Petit contacted the merchants of Aleppo in Marseille and presented them with the document Michel had given her in lieu of her debt on the late Monsieur Fabre. To her disappointment, all the responses came back saying the same thing: ‘the document is worthless especially that the entity assumed to cash it in Aleppo is non-existent.’ As she now had lost both her health and wealth, Marie Petit decided to pursue the collection of her money through the Foreign Ministry in Paris; however the ministry had received critical reports from De Ferriol and Michel accusing her all kinds of false charges that negatively impacted the name of the French nation. Matters deteriorated further for Marie Petit when a group of men claiming to
61 be from the French government with instruction from King Louis XIV, raided the hospital to take her to an undisclosed location. When the hospital administration intervened and requested verification, the men presented a royal arrest warrant dated 21st march 1709 addressed to the King’s commissioner, De Montmort, that Marie Petit was to be apprehended and taken to a nunnery.. She was however taken to the Maison de Refuge in Marseille, a prison for poor women, and repenting prostitutes Marie Petit resigned to her fate, and had only one hope left; to write to the King of France. Accordingly, on 1st April 1709, she sent a letter to the king apologizing for having to directly write to him about her situation. In her letter to the King which she
62 addressed to the King’s commissioner, De Montmort, she stated that she was innocent, and that her imprisonment was because of an arrest warrant signed by de Pontchartain, the French chancellor. She requested that the King heard her story and pleas and if she was to be found guilty, she would not ask for mercy or compassionate treatment, rather be punished. In early September, 1709, Michel’s ship arrived in Toulon. From there, he headed for Marseille, where he was from. He received startling news that forced him to leave to Paris; he learnt that Marie Petit had submitted a report to the French Foreign Ministry against him stating that he deceived her by giving her a worthless fraudulent document that had cost her the loss of all her money.
63 A lawsuit was then filed against Marie Petit before the Marine Court in Marseille, resulting in Marie Petit seeking a lawyer who could take on her case. She was then hit with another surprise as Michel had contacted some officers in the Parliament to issue an order to seize her belongings in her still-sealed luggage. As a result, she was left to suffer the worst living conditions resulting from acts of thuggery, extreme deprivation and cruelty. Abusing his powers and misusing the King’s orders, Michel also prevented her fromgetting a lawyer or a general prosecutor to establish her rights and explain her reasons, thus Marie Petit became unable to defend herself against her accuser. Eventually some judges were appointed by the State to defend her.
64 On the first day of the hearing, the parties to the lawsuit were present. Marie Petit took charge and did not let the state-appointed lawyer speak for her. She argued her case and stated her claims, and demanded that Fabre’s debt of 12,200 livres owed to her be paid off. She asserted that Michel gave her a receipt in return for Fabre’s belongings, which had been in her possession. The French authorities were supposed to pay her the amounts owed, but Michel revoked the receipt. When the court judge asked Michel why he revoked the receipt which he had signed, he responded before his lawyer could answer, saying “It was a courtesy signing under compelling circumstances.”
65 Marie Petit was in shock. She was tired and she was constantly crying. Her living conditions in the refuge were dire. In the course of several hearings, there were exchanges of arguments. However, Marie Petit kept having accusations pitted against her by Michel, without her lawyer objecting or presenting any counterarguments. He sat there passively listening as would be expected from a stateappointed agent. Accusations by Michel against Marie Petit were many. He said: - Fabre considered and called her a prostitute; - She practiced prostitution with all the people of authority in the land, where she was protected for lustful reasons rather than anything else;
66 - It was improbable that [Fabre’s] night prostitute had lent him any money when Fabre had three brothers living in Marseille and could have lent him even greater amounts; - “She was not simply visiting Moulins, but rather she was following Fabre from Paris and was not leaving him alone until she decided to get rid of him,” and openly accused her of murdering him; - Michel spoke about the incident regarding the fruit basket with Justiniani, le valet, and what he considered to be the truth about the saving of the Jesuit Father De Mosnier. He said Marie Petit was dangerous when she lost her temper, had no respect for anyone and was impudently bold enough to carry arms against anyone who opposed her;
67 - He also described Marie Petit’s claims to be lies. He said “The Persians are heartless”. So, even with her claim to die by the side of Father De Mosnier, it was most absurd to think that the Khan would revoke the death sentence because of this. But no matter what the case might be, this was a proof of the kind of power she enjoyed in that land, and that it was necessary to send her back to France. - After some facts were presented by Marie Petit’s lawyer, Michel responded saying “those facts add to her condemnation as they clearly show that she led with the Khan of Yerevan the same kind of life she led with Fabre.” - Marie Petit asserted that the documents she presented were genuine and
68 acknowledged as such by the witnesses. But Michel rejected this and stressed they were fraudulent in full or in part especially that they were also undated, and could not have been the original. He said they were as fake as the person who wrote them. - According to Michel, Marie Petit rebelled against the interests of France, and her rebellion caused terrible disturbances in Persia, also claiming that she was always an enemy of France. - He said he prevented her from visiting the Persian court after she said she would become a Muslim and hang all the Christian missionaries in Persia, and reveal the ways used by the missionaries to baptize the Persian children in secret.
69 He also called her a disgrace to her own parents. - Michel’s lawyer said that “she is claiming 8,200 livres as being the amount Fabre borrowed from her, while in fact that amount was from prostituting herself in more than one country which is an illegal activity. This makes her morally unfit according to many laws.” During the trial when Marie Petit was in the Maison de Refuge, Anne Cataro, Fabre’s widow, sent a letter dated 28th March 1711, to the Ministry complaining about Ambassador De Ferriol’s and Michel’s misconduct. She also stated “as a widow who has benefitted tremendously from my late husband’s estate, I cannot be the sole heir of his possessions.”
70 Eventually, Marie Petit was released in 1713; but her case was far from nished. On 8th March, 1714, Chancellor Pontchartain wrote to Monsieur Arnoul, the legal supervisor in Marseille, stressing that Marie Petit’s case had been ruled on, but its conclusion was still uncertain. He stated “I have to tell you about Marie Petit, but you do not need to respond as you are well aware of her case. You must not continue investigating this lawsuit. The current proposition is primarily to put a de nitive end to this case with no appeal. To this effect, Marie Petit has agreed to reduce the amounts owed to her to only 8,000 livres, and she prefers that she is paid from the movable assets of the late Monsieur Fabre.” Marie Petit pursued repayment of her debt for eleven years, but collected nothing.
71 References 1. Letters from the National Archives of France and from the Archives of the Foreign Affairs. 1.1 : From the National Archives of France, Paris, See https://www.siv.archives-nationales. culture.gouv.fr/siv/rechercheconsultation/ consultation/ir/pdfUD.action?irId=FRAN_ IR_003977&udId=d_9 • AE/B/I/384 Folio 363 (14 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 370 (4 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 372 (3 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 402 (2 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 409 (10 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 414 (2 pp.)
72 • AE/B/I/384 Folio 416 (3 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 418 (3 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 420 (7 pp.) • AE/B/I/384 Folio 426 (3 pp.) • AE/B/I/385 Folio 7-8 (8 pp.) • AE/B/I/385 Folio 39 (14 pp.) 1.2 : From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives (La Courneuve). 1.2.1 : Correspondance politique CP, Perse, Volume 2 (new classification 101CP/2 - microfilm P3397). • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 22-23v. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 139v-140v. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 51. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 52. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 53-55r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 56-58r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 59. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 60-61r.
73 • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 79-80v. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 84-86r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 92. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 93-94r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol.95. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 96-97v. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 100-101r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 108-111v. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 120-123r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 124-125r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 155v-156r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 167. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 169-171r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 173-174r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 177. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 184. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 191-192v. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 193-194r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 204-205r.
74 • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 206-207r. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 208. • AE CP Perse 2, Fol. 301-307r. 1.2.2 : Correspondance politique CP, Perse, Volume 3 (new classification 101CP/3 - microfilm P3398). • AE CP Perse 3, Fol. 109. • AE CP Perse 3, Fol. 444-445r. • AE CP Perse 3, Fol. 31-34r. • AE CP Perse 3, Fol. 241v-246r. • AE CP Perse 3, Fol. 263v-266v. • AE CP Perse 3, Fol. 50v-52v. 2. Mémoire du Sieur Michel ([manuscript] Bibliothèque nationale de France, BNF Français 7200). 3. Mémoire pour servir d’instruction au procès de Michel contre Marie Petit ( [printed] AE, Correspondance politique, Perse, 2, Fol. 277 to Fol. 294. 4. [Eydoux, lawyer]Mémoire pour servir d’instruction au procès de demoiselle Marie Petit querellée en prétenduë vie licentieuse… contre … Pierre Victor Michel…, [Paris?], De l›Imprimerie de la veuve d›Henry Brebion, 1710 [Printed], AE, Correspondance politique, Perse, 2, Fol 255 to Fol. 276.
75 (Also at the Fisher Rare Book library, Toronto, classification Rare Book D-10 07485, catalogue key 216775). 5. Addition au Mémoire instructif du Sieur Pierre Victor Michel… à Marie Petit] printed]. AE, Correspondance politique, Perse, 2, Fol. 241 to Fol. 254. (Also at the BnF, Bibliothèque nationale de France, classification Département des Manuscrits, Erudits et Bibliophiles, Clairambault 993, division P.623). 6. Réponse de Demoiselle Marie Petit contre l’Addition au Mémoire instructif du Sieur Victor Michel [printed] AE, Correspondance politique, Perse, 2, Fol. 235 to Fol. 240. 7. Henriette Dussourd - La Brelandière. Une aventurière d’origine moulinoise, Moulins, Les imprimeries réunies, 1966. 8. R. de Maulde la Clavière - Les 1001 nuits d’une Ambassadrice de Louis XIV, Paris, Hachette, 3e édition. 9. Notice rédigée par Audiffret sur la vie et les ouvrages de Le Sage, Paris, 1825, pages 77-89. 10. Yvonne Grés - La belle Brelandière, Scemi, 1973.
76 11. Henri Aurenche et Louis Coquet – La Brelandière, ambassadrice du Roi Soleil, Paris, Nouvelles éditions latines, 1945. 12. Parenque, Probasco and Jowitt – Colonization, piracy and trade in early modern Europe, 2017, Part II, Chapter 7 «The Princesses’ Representative» or Renegade Entrepreneur ? Marie Petit, the Silk Trade, and Franco-Persian Diplomacy, by Junko Thérèse Takeda, pages 141-166. 13. The Cambridge History of Iran - The Timurid and Safavid Periods , Volume 6, pages 405-406, 466-467. 14. [Emile Varenbergh] – Correspondance du marquis de Ferriol, ambassadeur de Louis XIV à Constantinople, from Annales de 15. l’Académie d’archéologie de Belgique, Volume XXVI, pp. 481 à 865. 15. Anne-Marie Touzard - Le drogman Padery, émissaire de France en Perse (1719-1725), Paris, Paul Geuthner, 2005. 16. Laurence Lockhart, The Fall of The Safavi Dynasty and The Afghan Occupation of Persia, Cambridge university Press, Cambridge, UK, 1958, pp. 230-260.