I must be pretty high up there in search engines for this subject. An old post is attracting looks most days lately. This was just yesterday:
Visitors are headed to this about Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld and William Short, which I wrote in February 2014:
Falling Short In The Pursuit Of Happiness
Anyone who knows details about Thomas Jefferson’s years as an American envoy and then Minister to France from 1784-1789 has likely at least vaguely heard of their relationship. Since that 2014 post – for reasons that will become clearer soon enough – I have researched them more deeply. That post back then has a few minor (but generally unimportant) mistakes.
To update things. Who were they?
Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld (born Alexandrine Charlotte Sophie de Rohan-Chabot in France in 1763, but friends and family called her Rosalie) was then the attractive young wife of a French liberal duke – Louis-Alexandre, Duke de La Rochefoucauld. The duke was a friend of America and close to Jefferson while Jefferson was in Paris in those years just before, and at the start, of the French Revolution. Love having little to do then with marriage in their strata, the duke and the young duchess were almost certainly married for “dynastic” reasons: his mother was her grandmother, and he (born probably in 1743, the same year as Jefferson) was also twenty years older than she was.
In comparison to the duke, William (born in Virginia in 1759), Jefferson’s private secretary from 1785 until Jefferson’s departure from France, was only four years older than Rosalie.
He was probably introduced to her alongside Jefferson at a public gathering possibly in 1785, but more likely in 1787; and probably with her husband standing right there. It seems that from William’s first encounter with her that she reduced him to, well, mush. From then on, when he wasn’t working, he seemed to spend a lot of his time contriving somehow to see her.