French Aristocracy. Marquise de Lafayette. Born Anastasie Adrienne de Noailles the second of five daughters of Jean de Noailles, Duc d'Ayen. She married Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette in 1774 at the Noailles family chapel when she was 14 and he 16. She shared in the idealism of her husband. They bought two South American plantations for the purpose of liberating the slaves and distributing the land among them. Lafayette left the experiment in her hands. She immediately banned flogging and selling slaves and planned to instruct them in morality and religion to include reading, writing, and arithmetic for practical needs in the operation of a plantation. On September 10, 1792 Adrienne was arrested by the Revolutionary government at Chateau Chavaniac and was confined there for almost two years. In May 1794 Adrienne was transferred to a prison in Paris where she joined her mother, sister and grandmother. They were all condemned to death. Adrienne's great uncle and great aunt, the duc and duchess de Mouchy; her mother the duchess d'Aven; her grandmother; and her sister the Vicomtesse de Noailles all died on the guillotine. The American minister plenipotentiary to France, Gouverneur Morris, pointed out to the tribunal, however, that killing Lafayette's wife would seen in the worst light in America who were the nearest the French had to an ally, so her execution was delayed. Elizabeth Monroe traveled to the prison to visit Madame Lafayette, loudly announcing herself wife of the American Minister to France and demanded to see the prisoner; a visit that was allowed. American interest combined with the fall of Robespierre served to save her life and she was released in January 1795. In September of the same year, Adrienne requested permission from the Austrian government for her to join Lafayette in prison at Olmutz where he was being held as a revolutionary. She and her daughters were granted permission to live in prison and they remained there until their release was negotiated by the Americans almost two years later. Back in France, she managed to salvage most of the family fortune and properties seized during the revolution. Adrienne arranged the purchase of the land that had become the mass burial ground for victims of the guillotine in Paris, including her own family. There she founded a private cemetery, the Cimetière de Picpus, and organized its consecration. Years of hardships had damaged her health, however, and she died at age 48. She was buried in Picpus. Every day for the rest of his life, Lafayette slept with her miniature under his pillow, and insisted on fifteen minutes alone with it every morning.
Bio by: Iola
Jean-Louis-Paul-François de Noailles
Marquis de Lafayette
1757–1834 (m. 1774)