Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Fencing Match of Saint-Georges & D'Éon Reenacted

An E-mail from Catherine Pizon, Director of the Saint-Georges Commemoration by junior high school students on May 10 & 11, 2007 was posted here on Aug. 2, 2007. Madame Pizon has written again, and has illustrated her point with photos of the event, including this one in which students reenact the fencing match which took place at Carlton House, London, on April 9, 1787 between La Chevalière d'Éon (Brigitte Tillier) on the left and Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Joseph Blanc) on the right.

The Prince of Wales arranged a friendly fencing demonstration in London between Saint-Georges, who was 42, and a 59-year-old French woman, La chevalière d'Éon. Saint-Georges had broken an Achilles tendon at age 40, and was not as nimble as before. He could still parry and counterattack effectively.

It is known that one touché was scored against Saint-Georges, but the final result is not clear. We do know the chevalière was actually Charles d'Éon de Beaumont, a male diplomat who dressed as a woman for many years to help him spy on foreign countries for the King of France. D'Éon was a multitalented man of letters, law, diplomacy and the military but had fallen out of favor with the royal court. He practiced fencing daily, in fear of his life.

Dear Sir,

I am proud to read my letter on your beautiful blog; I let it be known, as well as your site, to many people, in France and in Africa (more particularly in Gabon where acquaintances are translating in several vernacular langages the nice book of Jean-Claude Halley "le chevalier de Saint-Georges" told to children.)

I send you some photos of our show in order to illustrate what I said in my letter. It was so exceptional - and also so natural - to work with these children from Guadeloupe. Isn't Saint-Georges universal?

As a musician (amateur!) myself - but a passionate lover of music - I congratulate you again for your wonderful work!

Musicalement vôtre !

Catherine Pizon

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