What Ysaÿe wanted was a competition for young virtuosos with extremely broad-ranging programmes that included contemporary music, that brought out the technical and artistic maturity of the candidates and that would launch them on their careers. It was with this in mind that he thought of including an unpublished set work that would be studied in confinement without the help of anyone, least of all a candidate's teacher: the ultimate test.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
The main hall (Credits: J.L. Torsin)
The dining room (Credits: B. Dupiereux)
The "King's Room" where Louis XIV stayed. (Credits: Hans Juergen Benz)
Mesdames, Messieurs,Le 31 juillet 1950, afin de ramener la concorde dans le Pays, j'ai accepté que l'exercice des pouvoirs royaux fût confié à mon fils; ma volonté était de renoncer définitivement au Trône si le ralliement de tous les Belges se réalisait autour du prince Baudouin.Je considère que ce ralliement est acquis.C'est pourquoi, j'ai pris la décision d'abdiquer en ce jour.Je m'y suis résolu avec l'unique souci de sauvegarder l'unité du Pays et de servir l'institution monarchique que le Congrès national, en 1831, a mise à la base de notre Constitution.Je vous ai réunis parce que l'intérêt national comme la stabilité de la Dynastie exigent que ma décision de mettre fin à mon règne s'accompagne d’une manifestation solennelle de concorde.Je ne parlerai pas du passé.Mais mon devoir de Souverain m'impose, en ce dernier moment de mon règne, de rendre un vibrant hommage aux vertus militaires et civiques dont le peuple belge a fait preuve au cours des heures dramatiques et cruelles qu'il a traversées.Justice ne lui a pas toujours été rendue.J'affirme qu'en 1940, l'armée a vaillamment combattu jusqu'à l'extrême limite de la résistance et que la population, sous l'occupation ennemie, a témoigné dignement de ses vertus traditionnelles d'endurance, de courage et de patriotisme.Je salue la mémoire de ceux qui ont fait au Pays le sacrifice de leur vie.Mon cher Baudouin, c'est avec fierté que je te transmets la noble et lourde mission de porter désormais la Couronne d'une Belgique demeurée, malgré la plus terrible des guerres et les bouleversements qui l'ont suivie, territorialement et moralement intacte, libre, et fidèle à ses traditions.Cette mission, tu l'exerceras avec la volonté de servir ton Pays et de continuer l'œuvre de la Dynastie, en te conformant ainsi aux principes que je t'ai inculqués. Ces principes, je les ai, reçus moi-même de mon Père, le roi Albert; ils ont toujours inspiré mon attitude au cours des dures années d'un règne que je laisse à l'Histoire le soin de juger.La sympathie et la confiance avec lesquelles la population, tout entière t'a accueilli, me permettent de déposer définitivement les pouvoirs royaux sans appréhension pour l'avenir et avec la conscience du devoir accompli.Mesdames, Messieurs,Je suis convaincu que vous soutiendrez mon fils avec abnégation et loyauté dans l'accomplissement de sa tâche constitutionnelle.N'oublions jamais qu'elle comporte le maintien de l'indépendance nationale et de l'intégrité territoriale de la Belgique et du Congo belge.Mes chers compatriotes,Au moment où je dépose ma charge, mes pensées ne peuvent se détacher des années que j'ai vécues au milieu de vous.Le souvenir me restera toujours présent de l'émotion qui m'a étreint lorsque, l'an dernier, après une si longue séparation, j’ai remis le pied sur le sol de ma Patrie.Comme vous, j'aime mon pays.J'ai partagé vos joies comme j'ai partagé vos peines, en me tournant avec une particulière sollicitude vers les plus humbles d'entre vous.A tous ceux qui, si nombreux, n'ont cessé de me rester fidèlement attachés, j'exprime toute ma gratitude. Je conserverai précieusement dans mon cœur le souvenir de leur affection.Les dernières paroles que je prononce comme Roi des Belges sont pour vous rappeler avec force, mes chers compatriotes, que l'avenir de la Patrie dépend de votre solidarité nationale, et pour vous demander de vous grouper avec ferveur autour de mon fils, le roi Baudouin.Je vous en conjure, soyez unis.Que Dieu protège la Belgique et notre Congo !Translation:Ladies and Gentlemen:On July 31, 1950, to restore concord to the country, I agreed that the exercise of the royal powers should be entrusted to my son; my intention was to definitively renounce the throne, if all the Belgians rallied around Prince Baudouin.I consider that this has been achieved.This is why I have decided to abdicate today.I have resolved upon it with the sole concern to safeguard the unity of the country and to serve the monarchical institution which the National Congress, in 1831, placed at the basis of our Constitution.I have gathered you here because the national interest and the stability of the Dynasty alike require that my decision to put an end to my reign be accompanied by a solemn manifestation of concord.I will not speak of the past.But my duty, as a Sovereign, requires, in this last moment of my reign, that I render a fervent homage to the military and civic virtues which the Belgian people have manifested in the course of the cruel and dramatic hours through which they have passed.Justice has not always been rendered to them.I affirm that in 1940, the army fought valiantly, to the utmost limits of resistance, and that the population, under enemy occupation, worthily manifested its traditional virtues of endurance, courage and patriotism.I salute the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for the country.My dear Baudouin, it is with pride that I transmit to you the noble and heavy mission of carrying, henceforth, the Crown of a Belgium which has remained, despite the most terrible of wars and the upheavals that followed, territorially and morally intact, free, and faithful to her traditions.This mission, you will exercise, with the will to serve your country and to continue the work of the Dynasty, conforming yourself, in this way, to the principles I have inculcated in you. These principles, I myself received from my father, King Albert; they always inspired my attitude during the hard years of a reign I leave to History the care of judging.The sympathy and the confidence with which the whole population has welcomed you permit me to lay down the royal powers definitively, without fear for the future and with the consciousness of duty accomplished.Ladies, Gentlemen,I am convinced that you will support my son with abnegation and loyalty in the accomplishment of his constitutional task.Never forget that it involves the maintenance of national independence and the territorial integrity of Belgium and the Belgian Congo.My dear fellow-countrymen,At the moment I lay down my charge, my thoughts cannot detach themselves from the years I have lived among you.The memory will always remain present to me of the emotion that seized me, last year, when, after so long a separation, I set foot on the soil of my native land.Like you, I love my country.I have shared your joys and sorrows alike, turning myself with a particular concern towards the humblest among you.To all those, so numerous, who have never ceased to be faithfully attached to me, I express all my gratitude. I will preserve in my heart the precious memory of their affection.The last words I pronounce as King of the Belgians are to remind you, forcefully, my dear fellow-countrymen, that the future of our country depends on your national solidarity, and to ask you to gather yourselves, with fervor, around my son, King Baudouin.I enjoin you, be united.May God protect Belgium and our Congo!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Le temps permettra-t-il jamais de faire le vrai portrait de la femme qui disait encore, quelques semaines avant de mourir, « personne ne me connaît»? Rien de ce qui a paru sur elle jusqu'à ce jour ne rend justice à la richesse de sa personnalité, l'étendue de sa culture dans plusieurs domaines, la force de son caractère, le charme de sa présence, la délicatesse de sa bonté, que peuvent attester aussi bien sa femme de chambre Janine, qui resta 51 ans à son service, que les gendarmes qui assuraient la protection d'Argenteuil, enfin sa terrible exigence envers elle-même qui avait entraîné une incontestable exigence envers les autres: qui n'a pas les défauts de ses qualités?
Will time ever permit there to be drawn, the true portrait of the woman who was still saying, a few weeks before she died, "nobody knows me?" Nothing which has been written on her, hitherto, does justice to the richness of her personality, the breadth of her culture in many fields, the strength of her character, the charm of her presence, the delicacy of her kindness, which can be attested to by her chambermaid, Janine, who remained in her service for 51 years, as well as by the guards who provided the security at Argenteuil- finally, her terrible strictness towards herself, which led to an undeniable strictness towards others: who does not have the vices of their virtues?
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I felt very close to my father; a great affection united us and I admired him greatly. I will tell you what I loved most in him: his kindness, his moderation, his sense of honor, his respect of the human person, his freedom of thought, his tolerance; as well as his moral rigor, his simplicity, his wonderful balance, a balance which enabled him to overcome, with ease and serenity, the difficulties of life.
His simple tastes have often been mentioned. It is true that he was simplicity itself. He enjoyed neither the honors nor the ceremonies to which he was bound; he endured them as a duty of his charge. He lived simply at Laeken, and even more so, with his family at La Panne, during the First World War.
He was authentic and genuine, and all frauds irritated him. He had a horror of boasting and vanity, and detested... flatterers. True human contact was always precious to him. That is why he loved to talk with his people, and, when he went unrecognized, he was all the happier for it. It is also why he loved the guides who accompanied him on his climbs in the mountains. With them, he was an alpinist and no more. His hours in the mountains would be the happiest of his life, after those he spent with his family.
We really were a family. My father and my mother were united by a wonderful love... and this love never weakened: a love which needed no words and demonstrations, but which was the substance and the happiness of their life. It is a great privilege for children to grow up with a couple who never ceased to project the image of a perfect union...
My affection for my father was the light of my youth. He concerned himself with us, our games, our problems, our formation. How often did we walk together in the park at Laeken, which we loved so much! We used to talk of so many things. This moment, which I looked forward to so much, was one of my joys. We were close, and alone...
Despite the tragic circumstances, my father and my mother were happy during the war. It actually gave them the opportunity to give the best of themselves; my father, in the trenches with his soldiers, my mother, with the wounded.
My father was fundamentally a man of peace, who was forced into war. He was always convinced that a country must be ready to defend itself, if its cause were just. I will never forget something he said to me, and, above all, the circumstances under which he said it to me. It was in 1914, in Antwerp, when we were boarding the ship for England. He was serious, for the situation was tragic. He was thinking, no doubt, that we were parting for a long time, perhaps forever.
He said to me, then: "You will look after the army. Belgium must always have a good army." It was his last piece of advice. I was twelve years old, and I have always remembered it...
Throughout the war, he remained unshakably attached to a principle: that of sparing the blood of his soldiers. That is why he insisted on retaining the unique command of the Belgian army and why he condemned the mad and murderous offensives on certain fronts...
Events proved him right. He rendered immense services to the Allied cause, but he did it while respecting the life and honor of his soldiers, and while taking care that no futile sacrifice be permitted.
Perhaps, it is for this reason, that my father, who had become, for Belgium and the world, the "Knight-King," was able to return, so normally, to the tasks of peace. Peace was his world, restored to him. We know, with what scrupulousness, and with what tenacity, he consecrated himself to his task. He realized how great is the action of an attentive sovereign, and he saw his ministers frequently, and presided at their Council every time important decisions were at stake: he insisted on this...
He took tremendous care to keep himself informed. Early in the morning, he found the time to read journals and reviews, including the foreign press. He made notes as he read. He answered letters which, he considered, merited a personal reply. He read and spoke several languages. His readings were not limited to the press: he liked to categorize himself as a 'great reader', with many different interests, from literature to technology to the sciences. My father was also very painstaking; he insisted on accuracy and precision...
I would like to say so much more! His respect for others was so great that he hesitated to influence even his own children. Every human being must be himself: that is why he disliked servility to orders, and that is why he found it difficult to forgive those who had deceived him or who had taken advantage of him. That is also why loyalty was so important to this man, who made it the rule of his life...
Such was my father, whose memory dwells in my life: a man of deep faith, yet who hated intolerance; a man who was famous throughout the world, yet wonderfully simple; a man of duty who never, for a moment, forgot those who had been entrusted to him; very timid, yet very courageous; a man who was genuine, and who needs no legend in order to remain a fruitful memory and an admirable example, a man who was also, for me - and above all- my father.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I cannot deny it, the time has come to work to exhaustion, in order to acquire, not an ability, which is impossible, but a knowledge sufficient to exclude, at least, ridicule from the function destiny will inflict on me in the future.I believe, I hope that I will be able to put myself to work, I mean by that, no longer to have any other objective than that which relates to self-improvement. But if I could succeed, despite everything, in rendering myself useful to my country, it would be the fulfillment of a high ambition, and the recompense for many pains...
You have everything necessary to fulfill the role of Queen: heart, intelligence, tact, and grace. Do it! It is, truly, an appeal from the depths of my heart, that which I address to you, in the name of the sincere love that unites us and could find such fruitful new avenues.
Embellished by work and effort, I believe life becomes more beautiful. It is the battle of every day; one pursues an ideal, one goes toward a goal, in the end, I believe, one comes to know what one is seeking, and, I imagine, one even closes one's eyes, once and for all, having earned tranquillity and peace of conscience.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 - May 30, 1640) was a prolific seventeenth-century Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an exuberant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp which produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically-educated humanist scholar, art collector, and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, king of Spain, and Charles I, king of England.
Rubens was born in Siegen, Westphalia, to Jan Rubens and Maria Pypelincks. His father, a Calvinist, and mother fled Antwerp for Cologne in 1568, after increased religious turmoil and persecution of Protestants during the rule of the Spanish Netherlands by the Duke of Alba. Jan Rubens became the legal advisor (and lover) to Anna of Saxony, the second wife of William I of Orange, and settled at her court in Siegen in 1570. Following imprisonment for the affair, Peter Paul Rubens was born in 1577. The family returned to Cologne the next year. In 1589, two years after his father's death, Rubens moved with his mother to Antwerp, where he was raised Catholic. Religion figured prominently in much of his work and Rubens later became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting.
In Antwerp, Rubens received a humanist education, studying Latin and classical literature. By fourteen he began his artistic apprenticeship with Tobias Verhaeght. Subsequently, he studied under two of the city's leading painters of the time, the late mannerists Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen. Much of his earliest training involved copying earlier artists' works, such as woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger and Marcantonio Raimondi's engravings after Raphael. Rubens completed his education in 1598, at which time he entered the Guild of St. Luke as an independent master.
In 1600, Rubens traveled to Italy. He stopped first in Venice, where he saw paintings by Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, before settling in Mantua at the court of duke Vincenzo I of Gonzaga. The coloring and compositions of Veronese and Tintoretto had an immediate effect on Rubens's painting, and his later, mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian. With financial support from the duke, Rubens traveled to Rome by way of Florence in 1601. There, he studied classical Greek and Roman art and copied works of the Italian masters. The Hellenistic sculpture Laocoon and his Sons was especially influential on him, as was the art of Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. He was also influenced by the recent, highly naturalistic paintings by Caravaggio. He later made a copy of that artist's Entombment of Christ, recommended that his patron, the duke of Mantua, purchase The Death of the Virgin (Louvre), and was instrumental in the acquisition of The Madonna of the Rosary (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) for the Dominican church in Antwerp. During this first stay in Rome, Rubens completed his first altarpiece commission, St. Helena with the True Cross for the Roman church, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
Rubens traveled to Spain on a diplomatic mission in 1603, delivering gifts from the Gonzagas to the court of Philip III. While there, he viewed the extensive collections of Raphael and Titian that had been collected by Philip II. He also painted an equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma during his stay (Prado, Madrid) that demonstrates the influence of works like Titian's Charles V at Muhlberg (1548; Prado, Madrid). This journey marks the first of many during his career that would combine art and diplomacy.
He returned to Italy in 1604, where he remained for the next four years-first in Mantua, and then in Genoa and Rome. In Genoa, Rubens painted numerous portraits, such as the Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), in a style that would influence later paintings by Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds, and Thomas Gainsborough. He also began a book illustrating the palaces in the city. From 1606 to 1608, he was largely in Rome. During this period Rubens received his most important commission to date for the high altar of the city's most fashionable new church, Santa Maria in Vallicella (or, Chiesa Nuova). The subject was to be St. Gregory the Great and important local saints adoring an icon of the Virgin and Child. The first version, a single canvas (Musee des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble), was immediately replaced by a second version on three slate panels that permits the actual miraculous holy image of the "Santa Maria in Vallicella" to be revealed on important feast days by a removable copper cover, also painted by the artist.
The impact of Italy on Rubens was great. Besides the artistic influences, he continued to write many of his letters and correspondences in Italian for the rest of his life, signed his name as "Pietro Paolo Rubens", and spoke longingly of returning to the peninsula-a hope that never materialized.
Upon hearing of his mother's illness in 1608, Rubens planned his departure from Italy for Antwerp. However, she died before he made it home. His return coincided with a period of renewed prosperity in the city with the signing of Treaty of Antwerp in April 1609, which initiated the Twelve Years' Truce. In September of that year Rubens was appointed court painter by Albert and Isabella, the governors of the Low Countries. He received special permission to base his studio in Antwerp, instead of at their court in Brussels, and to also work for other clients. He remained close to the Archduchess Isabella until her death in 1633, and was called upon not only as a painter but also as an ambassador and diplomat. Rubens further cemented his ties to the city when, on October 3, 1609, he married Isabella Brant, the daughter of a leading Antwerp citizen and humanist Jan Brant.
In 1610, Rubens moved into a new house and studio that he designed. Now the Rubenshuis museum, the Italian-influenced villa in the center of Antwerp contained his workshop, where he and his apprentices made most of the paintings, and his personal art collection and library, both among the most extensive in Antwerp. During this time he built up a studio with numerous students and assistants. His most famous pupil was the young Anthony van Dyck, who soon became the leading Flemish portraitist and collaborated frequently with Rubens. He also frequently collaborated with the many specialists active in the city, including the animal painter Frans Snyders, who contributed to the eagle to Prometheus Bound and his good friend the flower-painter Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Altarpieces such as The Raising of the Cross (1610) and The Descent from the Cross (1611-1614) for the Cathedral of Our Lady were particularly important in establishing Rubens as Flanders' leading painter shortly after his return. The Raising of the Cross, for example, demonstrates the artist's synthesis of Tintoretto's Crucifixion for the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, Michelangelo's dynamic figures, and Rubens's own personal style. This painting has been held as a prime example of Baroque religious art.
Rubens used the production of prints and book title-pages, especially for his friend Balthasar Moretus-owner of the large Plantin-Moretus publishing house to further extend his fame throughout Europe during this part of his career. With the exception of a couple of brilliant etchings, he only produced drawings for these himself, leaving the printmaking to specialists, such as Lucas Vorsterman. He recruited a number of engravers trained by Goltzius, who he carefully schooled in the more vigorous style he wanted. He also designed the last significant woodcuts before the 19th century revival in the technique. Rubens established copyright for his prints. Most significantly in Holland, where his work was widely copied through print. In addition he established copyrights for his work in England, France and Spain.
In 1621, the queen-mother of France, Marie de' Medici, commissioned Rubens to paint two large allegorical cycles celebrating her life and the life of her late husband, Henry IV, for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. The Marie de' Medici cycle (now in the Louvre) was installed in 1625, and although he began work on the second series it was never completed. Marie was exiled from France in 1630 by her son, Louis XIII, and died in 1642 in the same house in Cologne where Rubens had lived as a child.
After the end of the Twelve Years' Truce in 1621, the Spanish Habsburg rulers entrusted Rubens with a number of diplomatic missions. Between 1627 and 1630, Rubens's diplomatic career was particularly active, and he moved between the courts of Spain and England in an attempt to bring peace between the Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces. He also made several trips to the Northern Netherlands as both an artist and a diplomat. At the courts he sometimes encountered the attitude that courtiers should not use their hands in any art or trade, but he was also received as a gentleman by many. It was during this period that Rubens was twice knighted, first by Philip IV of Spain in 1624, and then by Charles I of England in 1630. He was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Cambridge University in 1629.
Rubens was in Madrid for eight months in 1628-1629. In addition to diplomatic negotiations, he executed several important works for Philip IV and private patrons. He also began a renewed study of Titian's paintings, copying numerous works including the Madrid Fall of Man (1628-29). During this stay, he befriended the court painter Diego Velazquez. The two planned to travel to Italy together the following year. Rubens, however, returned to Antwerp and Velazquez made the journey without him.
His stay in Antwerp was brief, and he soon traveled on to London. Rubens stayed there until April, 1630. An important work from this period is the Allegory of Peace and War (1629; National Gallery, London). It illustrates the artist's strong concern for peace, and was given to Charles I as a gift.
While Rubens's international reputation with collectors and nobility abroad continued to grow during this decade, he and his workshop also continued to paint monumental paintings for local patrons in Antwerp. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1625-6) for the Cathedral of Antwerp is one prominent example.
Rubens's last decade was spent in and around Antwerp. Major works for foreign patrons still occupied him, such as the ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House at Inigo Jones's Palace of Whitehall, but he also explored more personal artistic directions.
In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, the 53-year-old painter married 16-year-old Helene Fourment. Helene inspired the voluptuous figures in many of his paintings from the 1630s, including The Feast of Venus (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), The Three Graces (Prado, Madrid) and The Judgment of Paris (Prado, Madrid). In the latter painting, which was made for the Spanish court, the artist's young wife was recognized by viewers in the figure of Venus. In an intimate portrait of her, Helene Fourment in a Fur Wrap, also known as Het Pelsken, Rubens's wife is even partially modeled after classical sculptures of the Venus Pudica, such as the Medici Venus.
In 1635, Rubens bought an estate outside of Antwerp, the Chateau de Steen (Het Steen), where he spent much of his time. Landscapes, such as his Chateau de Steen with Hunter (National Gallery, London) and Farmers Returning from the Fields (Pitti Gallery, Florence), reflect the more personal nature of many of his later works. He also drew upon the Netherlandish traditions of Pieter Bruegel the Elder for inspiration in later works like Flemish Kermis (c. 1630; Louvre, Paris). Rubens died from gout on May 30, 1640. He was interred in Saint Jacob's church, Antwerp. The artist had eight children, three with Isabella and five with Helene; his youngest child was born eight months after his death.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The village owes the first part of its name to its situation on the confines of the ancient district of Namur ( Marche, frontier limit), and the latter part refers to the foundation of the Abbey, which still attracts a number of visitors to Marche-les-Dames. An affecting tradition connects its origins with the first crusade. When in the reign of Albert III, the crusaders set off for the Holy Land, such of their wives as were unable to follow them assembled in the rustic and lonely valley...they raised a modest chapel, in which, praying for the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre, they waited for the return of their husbands. But out of the many warriors who had been to seek for glory on the burning plains of Palestine, very few, indeed, regained the green hills of their native land. When the crusaders who had escaped death returned to the banks of the Meuse, desolation reigned in the Valley of Notre Dame du Vivier, as it was then called. Most of those wives learned they were widows, and resolved to end their days in the retreat which they had chosen, and young girls, made fatherless, joined them. An abbey was founded there, which, in three centuries afterward, adopted the rule of St. Bernard...
Monday, June 15, 2009
At 21, Baudouin declared he would always be a traditionalist, that strength lay in tradition alone. He declared himself neither revolutionary, nor liberal, nor modern...It took courage to say this, in our democratic Belgium!
Baudouin was a born leader. From childhood, he held all three of us by the hand. How well he would have been complemented by his brother, Albert, if the two had been able to serve their country together! Albert, the younger one, has always preferred to take second place, and to serve a leader rather than to be one himself...Albert has a heart of gold, but, from his earliest childhood, he was irascible, and extremely sensitive, whereas in Baudouin, we were never able to find a single fault, apart from his excessive modesty.
Albert, like Baudouin, has this instinct for finding things out: to see them for himself so as not to be duped and so as to be equipped to govern...Both brothers spoke Flemish and Walloon, which neither the Count of Flanders nor King Leopold II knew, and enjoyed expressing themselves in Marollian and other dialects.
"Ah! If Baudouin had survived, how different our life would have been, how much happier! What strength to be two instead of one! He would have done everything better than I."
How could they launch, after his death, these tragic and painful lies! It is incomprehensible. It is true that people cannot recognize the virtue of princes, and that they so easily believe evil! He was the strongest of us all, yet he succumbed in two days! The mistake was not to announce that he had been taken to bed with a high fever. People invented stories of brawls, even of murder...over a woman. They made comparisons with the drama of Mayerling, although Baudouin became aggressive and violent whenever he spoke of Rudolf. He had experienced an impression of disgust at what he saw in Vienna during the Archduke's funeral...
Sunday, June 14, 2009
A l'occasion de son décès et toute sa vie durant, beaucoup de choses ont été écrites sur elle qui l'ont réduite au rang d'épouse de mon père. Ce qu'elle était effectivement puisqu'elle considérait qu'il était la passion de sa vie. Ma mère était une passionnée de manière générale, mais elle a fait énormément de choses dans la discretion. Une foule de gens en témoignent maintenant. Mon frère et moi ne cessons de découvrir qu'elle a aidé beaucoup de monde. Elle n'en parlait jamais. Il y avait en elle un besoin de générosité et de vouloir bien faire parfois mal perçu. Elle a été violemment critiquée, souvent par des gens qui ne l'avaient jamais rencontrée. Il arrivait que ce soit si excessif qu'elle préférait en rire plutôt de s'en montrer blessée. Seules les attaques contre mon père la mettaient très en colère. Fière et obstinée, elle était pourtant reservée. Elle savait l'issue de la maladie qui l'a emportée. Jamais elle ne s'est plainte, n'a manifesté la moindre peur ou faiblesse.On the occasion of her death, and throughout her life, many things were written about her which reduced her simply to my father's wife. That is, in fact, what she was, as she considered him the passion of her life. My mother was a passionate woman in general, but she did a tremendous amount discreetly. Many people are testifying to it now. My brother and I are constantly discovering that she aided many people. She never spoke of it. There was, in her, a need to be generous, to do good, which was sometimes taken ill. She was violently criticized, often by people who had never met her. Sometimes it became so extreme that she preferred to laugh about it rather than to appear wounded. It was only the attacks on my father that enraged her. Proud and obstinate, she was, nonetheless, reserved. She foresaw the outcome of the illness that carried her off. Yet she never complained, never exhibited the slightest fear or weakness.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Between Albert of Belgium and Elisabeth in Bavaria, a deep love formed a bond of an exceptional quality, a bond which only grew stronger, equally so in the years that were happy and peaceful as in those which would be tragic and painful. I do not consider that I am committing an indiscretion by publishing extracts from (their) correspondence. I think, on the contrary, that they will contribute to illustrating the depth and purity of their love.
...May you be as happy as I wish. You will always be able to count on my infinite love, and my absolute loyalty. After leaving you...everything seemed so empty to me that even the crowded streets of Paris seemed to me to be a desert...
It is 11:45 in the evening, and I feel so lonely and so sad without you! In the few days I have been with you, I have come to love you with all my heart! Truly, I love you so much! In a way that I never would have believed I could love someone. You are so good and kind to me that it touches me and makes me happy. You know that I cannot express sufficiently what I feel for you, but I think you understand me...
During this visit to Possenhofen, so pleasant, but all too brief, I have come to know you even better, and, above all, if I may confess it to you, I have been able to appreciate all the qualities of heart, intelligence, and kindness, with which my dear Lisa is filled, and which had conquered me from the first day I had seen her. You know that I, myself, do not have many qualities, but I can promise you, in all sincerity, to have one: that of trying to please you always, and also of trying to deserve to have a wife such as you...
When will the time come when there will be no more of these terrible separations? I was so happy to have been with you. Every hour we pass together, is, for me, that greatest pleasure that exists...Every time I see you again, I love you even more. How happy I will be the day I no longer have to leave you.
Husband and wife must find the greatest happiness in being together. It must be the best company that is sought out, and equally so for the one and for the other...In life, there are many difficulties, always, everywhere, and for everyone, but if one is firmly united in a family by a strong mutual love, one does not fear them and one is sure to find, at home, the true happiness of this earth...