24. Wheel of Change for Jean-François Capot de Feuillide by Georgann Eglinski
A French Officer
Jean-François Capot de Feuillide (ca. 1750-1794) was an officer in the Queen’s Guards, the Queen being Marie-Antoinette. At the French court he met and married Eliza Hancock, Jane Austen’s first cousin, who was living in France with her mother. Aunt Philadelphia Hancock probably arranged the 1781 union of 19-year-old Eliza and the 30-year-old Count.
French court style under Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
The arrangement traded Eliza’s money for Jean-Francois’s title, a common reason for marriage in France as well as in Jane Austen’s England. But both parties were duped. Eliza hadn’t the fortune she was rumored to have and the Count was not an aristocrat.
He needed her inheritance to invest in improving land he was granted near Nérac in southern France northwest of Toulouse. The 5,000 acres were swampland, but if drained and developed could be profitable agricultural fields. He leased an impressive estate to add to the aristocratic illusion and he and Eliza retired from the court of Versailles.
Wheel of Change by Bettina Havig
Eliza returned to England to give birth to her only child, a son born in 1786. Although she visited Jean-François in France and he visited her and his son in England, they seemed to live quite contentedly with the English Channel between them.
Attacking the Bastille in 1789
Contentedness became a memory when the French Revolution began in 1789. For the next five years the Count changed locations and political opinions, hoping to keep his marshland and his head.
During the Reign of Terror under Robespierre, Eliza’s Count was accused of conspiracy and executed by guillotine in 1794.
Wheel of Change represents the horrible ups and downs of the French Revolution. It was given the name in 1935 in the Nancy Cabot column of the Chicago Tribune. The name may be a typo. Nancy Cabot might have meant to name it Wheel of Chance, which can also represent Jean-François Capot de Feuillide well. He seems to have been quite a gambler, betting badly on Eliza’s fortunes, clearing swamps and his odds of surviving the Terror.
Cutting a 12” Block
A – Cut 16 squares 3-1/4”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.
You need 32 triangles.
B – Cut 4 rectangles 2-7/8” x 5-1/4”.
C – Cut 1 square 2-7/8”.
Wheel of Change by Becky Brown
A Revolutionary Waistcoat
Read more about Eliza’s first husband here in Deirdre LeFaye’s Jane Austen: A Family Record