How to Ruin a Queen, by Jonathan Beckman

In 1786, le tout Paris was transfixed by the sensational trial of Cardinal Rohan, accused not only of stealing a 2,800-carat diamond necklace but of implicating Marie Antoinette in the process. A rollicking tale of scheming mendacity, the affaire has long been considered a footnote to the last days of the ancien régime. But, according to Jonathan Beckman (echoing Napoleon who, holed up on Elba and pondering the vagaries of history, concluded that “the queen’s death must be dated from the Diamond Necklace trial”), it was a pivotal episode in the years leading up to the Revolution.

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