Les chasseurs luttent contre la Bête du Gévaudan

Jean-François-Charles de La Molette

Count of Morangies

Born on 22 february 1728, in the castle of Boy, parish of Lanuejols, he was baptised on March 3 of the same year in the chapel of this castle.

As a lot of gentlemen, he joined the army, very young, at 14 years old, as musketeer of the king. During the War of Succession of Austria (1741-1748), he took part to most of the battles and laid siege to the Netherlands. In 1764 he joined the gendarmes of the King's Guard.

At the beginning of the seven years’ war (1756), he was in command  - as Colonel - of an infantry regiment called Languedoc, he was in barracks on the Isle of Ré with his 1st battalion in 1756, then he moved to Aubagne and Marseille. He arrived in Menorca on January 22, 1759. He stay there until 1762, being promoted to the grades of corporal in 1761 then marechal de camp in 1762. Back in France, and suffering, he was forced to leave the army. The cost of his regiment is only reimbursed to him by half.

In 1753, he married Marie-Paule Therese de Beauvilliers de Saint-Aignan, daughter of a duke and peer. He thus entered into a family relationship with the powerful Choiseul family and became the cousin by marriage of the Bishop of Mende, Monsignor Gabriel Florent de Choiseul-Beaupré. On holidays because of his marriage, he was described as such by the Inspecteur-General Cremilles: « it is a good subject, wise and hardworking, not very literate but attached to his duties and he could make a good officer ».  He was invited to the court in 1756. His wife unfortunately died in 1756, leaving two sons, François-Paul and Paul-Hyppolite-Charles.

The expenses incurred to maintain his status of « colonel », owner of his regiment, soon undermined seriously the significant inheritance of the family, outraging his older brothers.

He obtained from his father by contract before notary, a set of advantages, equivalent to a premature inheritance. Of all the properties of the family, there was only the island of Saint-Alban left, besides hypothecated, in 1770, his total debt is 700 000 pounds for a capital (from land, difficult to mobilize) of 2 million pounds. We know that during the Beast era, he spent his time between Saint-Alban – where he actively chased the animal – Versailles and Paris where he would have lived in a very questionable manner.

But here comes the clap of thunder: he is imprisoned for debts, on 11th February 1773, at the Conciergerie of Paris where he rejoins one of his creditor and accuser, he had indeed subscribed an acknowledgement of debt to two crooked business men that he could not honour. The gentlemen of Gevaudan presented a petition to the King in his favour while « the king Voltaire » wrote a satirical tract to proclaim the innocence of the Count of Morangiès. At the end of the second trial before the parliament, it was proven that, having really borrowed 20 to 25 000 pounds, the unfortunate, far removed like all those of his caste from financial and legal questions, was debtor of more than a million pound. He was acquitted and released; his unfair creditors were put behind the bars.

On the outs with his brothers he squandered the inheritance, he and his two older brothers seeked the king to obtain an annual pension and the promise of a government for his father.

However, after the death of his father in April 1774, considering he was dishonoured by his trial, he left Paris for the Netherlands then Frankfort and finally Metz where he settled down with his older son. He fell in love with an adventuress, supplied with a lawful and indulgent husband, and a daughter; he ends up in marrying her, recognizing the child…that he will bring into disgrace…In desperate, he comes back to Paris, takes over his unfair wife and goes back to prison.

Both end up settling in the castle of Saint-Alban, only remains of a huge fortune. During a dispute, Jean-François-Charles de La Molette de Morangiès is knocked out with a shovel by his shrew and dies of his wounds (1801).

We will not say a lot about the three last generations. His sad older son, François-Paul, captain in the regiment of Languedoc, married in 1786, emigrated in 1793, father of Paul-Hyppolite, married in 1804. The last representative, Christophe-Théodore, died in 1888 without a male line of descent. He sold the castle of Saint-Alban in 1821

Corrections & illustration, Patrick Berthelot

Jean-François-Charles de La Molette, comte de Morangiès - © PPL. Berthelot
Jean-François-Charles de La Molette, comte de Morangiès - © PPL. Berthelot

Coat of arms of the Count of Morangiès

Back Characters