Just a quick reblog today, as I’m gearing up for a “Bad Book Covers Post” on Monday. I found this story on Futility Closet’s blog here.
“In 1808, a French gentleman bought 2,700 acres in Georgetown, N.Y., and erected a chateau on the highest hill. Evidently he was massively wealthy, landscaping the grounds extensively and ordering a hamlet built on the estate, after the fashion of the great French nobles. And he seemed fearful for his safety, securing the house against gunfire and clearing the woods around it.”
“He roved the estate on horseback, attended by armed servants, and was described as erect, agile, and commanding. When asked to muster for the local militia he responded with outrage, saying he had led a division and participated in making three treaties, but he gave no other clues to his identity. He followed closely the progress of the War of 1812 and of Napoleon, whose ascendancy he evidently feared; when the Corsican met disaster in Russia he returned abruptly to France.
“Who was this man? He gave his name as Louis Anathe Muller, but he guarded his true identity closely. Was he a French duke? A son of Charles X? The future king himself? With only circumstantial evidence, there’s no way to be certain. After Waterloo he sold the estate for a fraction of its value, and he never returned to New York.”
According to an article in the Cortland Standard here, he married an American woman, had three children with her, and then abandoned his family when he returned to France. Also according to this article, many people believe that he actually was the Comte d’Artois, the Bourbon who became King Charles X. (Fun fact: when you look up “Charles X” on Google, the first hits are for X-Men). However, many historians have determined that he couldn’t possibly be Charles X, but was rather a high-ranking German or French aristocrat.
“[R]esearchers believe Muller could not have been Charles X because the timelines and other historical aspects do not match. Colgate University history professor Jill Harsin agrees, saying the man who became king lived in Italy, Germany, England and then Scotland, and was highly visible when he was not trying to elude creditors.
“‘The Bourbons had a lot of money but no access to it after the French Revolution,’ Harsin said. ‘The man who became King Charles had a small allowance from the British, who saw long-term possibilities in supporting him. He certainly was not wealthy.'”
While the house itself burned down in 1905, there are a number of legends about it, as well, including the rumor that it had walls more than a foot thick, that it had a secret tunnel, and that it had an escape hatch on the roof. Much like Muller’s real identity, we’ll never know for sure.