Marie Antoinette More Or Less Kidnapped Her Adopted Son
The process of adopting a child is usually a huge, but positive, emotional experience for both the child and the new parents involved. It’s the beginning of a new life for a child that may have suffered some misfortune, and the welcoming of a new family member into the parents’ lives. If you see a video or article on the internet that contains the word “adopt” or “adoption”, there’s a very good chance that tears of joy will be contained somewhere within. Whatever it is, it’ll likely end with a loving and deep, prolonged hug between some combination of children and parents. Unless we’re talking some sort of fairy tale where it is a witch doing the adopting and the child will spend their life scrubbing a hut floor, it’s usually a beautiful thing.
However, for it to go smoothly, there are a few definite details that need to be in place. First of all, usually, the adopted child should not already be living, by all accounts happily, with his genetic family. Luckily, this works itself out in 99.9 percent of all cases, because what would be the reason to adopt a child that already has existing and functional parent figures? Taking that child away, against their will, and raising them in a different family is a little less “adoption” and a whole lot more “kidnapping.” Possibly with a false imprisonment charge thrown in.
This strange situation is the exact, unlucky life lived by a boy known as Armand Gagne. If you google Armand Gagne, you will find him referenced as the adopted son of famously guillotined royalty Marie Antoinette. As you might imagine, given all the discussion above, this is a very generous description of that relationship. Armand Gagne, born with the name Jacques, lived the first few years of his life with his grandmother and brothers and sister, up until the very moment that Marie Antoinette saw him, fell head-over-heels in motherly love, and just… took him. I don’t think there was even any paperwork involved, because if you’re Marie Antoinette, who the hell is asking you any questions?
The tale of little Armand’s unwilling joining of the Royal Family is written in the book Memoirs Of The Court Of Marie Antoinette, written by her first lady in waiting, Madame Campan. First, know that the want for a male son was a problem that eluded Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI for many years. They famously didn’t even consummate their marriage for years, and unfortunately, Viagra was centuries away. Marie would eventually give birth to a male heir, but that would be years down the line. All this to say that during a certain day’s carriage ride, Marie almost definitely had all this on her mind.
So it might have seemed like a strange, fateful gift, in the way that the rich tend to view almost anything happening to them that they can take advantage of, when a little boy of 4 or 5 almost got run over by her carriage. Thankfully for most everybody involved, the accident did not end with the boy being turned to child jelly by horse hooves, but his life was about to get a whole lot weirder. His grandmother ran outside to check on her grandson, probably, at that point, assuming he would still be her grandson by the end of the day. This was not the case.
Instead, she was greeted by Marie Antoinette exiting her carriage and informing her and anyone else within earshot that it was actually HER child now, on account of destiny having delivered him to her. She did at least do the small favor of negotiating a parting gift for the grandmother in question, offering to pay her to adopt the child as her own. The grandmother agreed, though it’s hard to say if that was from the power of cold, hard cash combined with a cold, hard heart, or if it was just because, you know, when the Queen has decided your child is hers, there’s not really a playbook for that. You kinda just have to be like “What a blessing upon my house, that you kidnap my child! Praise be!” She did, however, seem to be just about over Jacques, who apparently constantly did annoying things like almost getting hit by a carriage, enough for her to say “Jacques is a bad boy, I hope he will stay with you!” Still, kicking a kid out of the family is a pretty harsh punishment for generally being a little stinker.
I can tell you one person who absolutely was not a fan of the terms of this exchange, and that was little Jacques. He demonstrated this by reportedly kicking the Queen and everyone else in the carriage so much that they had to cut the trip short. Just an absolute, sharp-legged little menace going full Marshall Law on the ladies in waiting. Shockingly, Jacques, who the Queen would rename Armand Gagne, was still very much uncool with what had gone down after they got back to the palace. He screamed constantly that he missed his grandmother and his brothers and sisters, which makes sense, what with them being his family and all.
The Queen, I guess, was happier having a constantly furious and sad son than no son at all, and just dressed her angry little man up in fancy clothes. He is referred to as “spoiled” but I think if you literally get yanked off the street and away from your biological family, that’s enough misfortune to outweigh any number of little cakes and pies and trinkets. As far as I can tell, too, he stayed mad literally the entire time he was living with the Queen. From day one to day last, he was pissed off. There’s no better proof of this than is found in his death, at the age of 20… fighting for the Revolutionary Army. There’s definitely some kids that have a bad relationship for their mom, but there aren’t many that actively fight for their imprisonment and beheading. To be honest, though, can you blame him?