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I challenge you, Monsieur, to a duel in the sky.

It's a theme as old as time.  A man, hopelessly besotted by a perfidious young beauty, becomes incensed when he learns she has been less than scrupulous in the distribution of her affections.

Jealousy

It has been the motivation for some of the most titillating stories ever told.  The tale I am about to share with you might seem familiar.  It is about two men rivaling for the affections of one woman.  But this love triangle has a shocking, titillating, most unexpected outcome.


Read on...


On an otherwise ordinary day in May 1808, two men of rather obscure backgrounds took part in an event that went down in history as one of the more bizarre tales of jealousy ever recorded.

The two Frenchmen, Monsieur de Grandpre and Monsieur de Pique, quarreled over one Mademoiselle Tirevit, as dancer at the Imperial Opera.

It seems Mademoiselle Tirevit was the mistress of one and the lover of the other (titillating, non?). 

One of the fellows decided he did not wish to share Mademoiselle Tirevit's affections with the other strange bedfellow and so he challenged his rival to a duel.

Here's where it gets outre.
 
Apparently, these two gentlemen considered themselves of "elevated intellectual powers" and therefore believed their duel should be more spectacular than the everyday, run-of-the-mill pistols at dawn sort of clash.

One of them came up came up with the (absolutely brilliant) idea of dueling in hot air balloons. 

And so on the morning of May 3, 1808, a crowd gathered near the Tuileries to watch Monsieur de Grandpre and Monsieur de Pique conduct the first ever aerial dogfight.

They checked their weapons, climbed inside their baskets, waved to the crowd, and were off.

When they reached about 2,000 feet, Monsiuer de Pique fired his blunderbuss (a muzzle-loading firearm with a short barrel).  Sadly, (at least for de Pique and his unfortunate second), de Pique missed.


Monsiuer De Grandpre then took aim and fired.  His bullet ripped through the fragile skin of de Pique's balloon, causing it to collapse.  The basket tipped and de Pique and his second fell headfirst to their deaths.

And de Granpre and his second?  

They floated happily away, landing safely several miles from Paris.

4 comments:

  1. I must say, that was a brilliant idea...Which one came up with the idea, I wonder...I am guessing it was monsieur de Grandpre, since he was clever enough to aim for the ballon, wouldn't you think???

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  2. I follow your blog and am continually amazed by the interesting stories you share and your unique perspective. You have one of the best history blogs on the internet.

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  3. Fanny ~ One would presume so. Either way, a fairly ridiculous notion.

    Jennifer K ~ Merci beaucoup. I am heartened to learn my ramblings interest someone out there. If you have a Twitter account, you should know that I post daily tidbits under @18thCFrance Thanks again!

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  4. A blunderbuss is a poor choice of weapons, thus the term was coined, "never bring a blunderbuss to a baloon duel." Truer words were never spoken.

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