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Le Despotisme dévoilé, ou Mémoires de Henri Masers de Latude, détenu pendant trente-cinq ans dans diverses prisons d'Etat, rédigés sur les pieces originales par M. Thiéry


Henri Masers de Latude
Luc-Vincent Thiéry
Henri Masers de Latude
Louis-Laurent-Edme Le Jay

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La vittima del dispotismo ossia il prigioniero salvato dalla generosità femminilie. Memorie di Enrico Masers de la Tude. Tenuto per 35 anni in varie prigioni ne' Stati della Francia. Tradotte dal Francese. Precedute dal quadro degli intrighi politici e galanti della corte di Versaglies sotto i giorni di Madama Pompadour Favorita di Luigi XV. translation has paratext
has translation
Despotism unveiled, or the Memoirs of Latude, detained for thirty-five years in the various prisons of the state translation

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This version of Latude's biography claims to provide the true story of his imprisonment, and dismisses the earlier 1787 work published under his name as false. It was reprinted in 1793 by veuve Lejay for Latude, Desenne and Denné. Another version of his life was published by Gueffier jeune in 1789 as, 'Mémoire de M. Delatude, Ingénieur'.

"Latude’s biography, published by his lawyer Thiéry in 1790, was a Revolutionary bestseller, with more than twenty editions, despite its 500 pages. Copies were even sent out by Palloy with his stones. The work is carefully crafted with Latude concealing his meagre schooling and early years in the army as an assistant surgeon by inventing for himself a refined education as an engineer.

He also glossed over the discreditable circumstances of his imprisonment by inferring a genuine plot against [the king's mistress] Madame de Pompadour. He dwelled in suitably Gothic prose on the horrible conditions of his imprisonment and his cruel persecution by La Pompadour, and the lieutenants Sartine and Le Noir. For thirty-five years he had “vainly belaboured these infernal vaults with my sighs and my despair”, weighed down by chains, gnawed by vermin, breathing only putrid air...

Latude appeared before the National Assembly twice, in May 1790 and January 1792, to petition for a state pension. On the first occasion his request was denied due to the ambiguity of his crime but on the second he was received with applause by the members of the Legislative Assembly. The deputy Lasource emotionally recalled the passage from the memoirs in which he recounted how he had continued to write with his own blood on cloth rags when deprived of paper and ink by the governor of the Bastille. On 10th August when the statue of Louis XV on the Place de la Révolution was torn down, he was presented at his own request with the King's bronze right hand. In addition to the pension in 1793, he also finally received damages to the considerable sum of sixty thousand livres from the heirs of the Marquise de Pompadour. He lived on until 1805, continuing to play the role of martyred hero to the last."

Taken from 'Rodama: a blog of 18th century & Revolutionary France', http://rodama1789.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-bastille-legendary-excape-of-latude.html.

For more on the history of this text, see Hans-Jurgen Lüsebrink and Rolf Reichardt, 'The Bastille. A history of a symbol of despotism and freedom' (1997), pp.111-15.