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France during the years of Napoléon Bonaparte seemed to have lost the dazzle and glory of its former self, argued Eugene Louis du Vallon, marquis de la Coss and baron de Cougny. Gabrielle would look from their temporary home in Coblence, Germany onto the river Rhine and could not understand why they were here, a country which had no resemblance to her homeland. She was just a young woman who did not understand that the Ancien Régime of France was but a bitter dream. France was no longer the place her father would call home. He hated the usurper Napoléon who had not only claimed his lands, castles and wealth but also his only son, Mathieu, and divided his family.

Typically of young nobleman of the Ancien Régime, Mathieu was enlisted at age seventeen in the army. Mathieu's family disinherited him for supporting the revolution. He volunteered when war erupted and was assigned to the 50th infantry regiment of the Army of the Rhine as a captain. He never spoke to his father again but secretly he would communicate with his younger sister who was engaged to be married to his former friend, Raoul François Andrault de Langéron, son of Louis, comte de Langéron who joined the Russian service shortly after the Revolution.

Gabrielle's own father served in the Army of Condé but they could do nothing to overthrow Napoléon. After her marriage to Raoul, Gabrielle and her new husband planned to leave Coblence for St. Petersburg where Raoul's father had rebuilt his former glory but Napoléon's invasion of Russia soon put a stop to their plans. Her husband and father saw yet another opportunity to oppose Napoléon and left to fight along side her father-in-law in Russia. Months later she received news that her father fell in battle and that her husband was missing but presumed dead. Her mother, Jeanne Marie de Saint-Lary, whose health was already weakened by the relocation to Germany died soon after receiving the news of her husbands death, leaving Gabrielle virtually alone.

Having himself heard the news Mathieu sent for Gabrielle and ensured her safe passage to Paris. Gabrielle was overjoyed to see her brother but found him much different than she expected. Having attained the rank of general in Napoléon's army and accumulated both wealth and prestige, he had become disillusioned when Napoléon declared himself Emperor. Gabrielle's pleas to dissuade her brother from fighting the new regime failed. Her brother was arrested and imprisoned after protesting Napoléon's policies. After participating in a failed republican coup d'état against Napoléon led by Claude François de Malet he was executed by a firing squad on October 29, 1812.



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