The French Sibyl

Sibyls in ancient culture are wandering prophetesses or soothsayers, who foresaw the future and mainly warned about disasters.

Marie Lenormand was one of them. Regardless of personalities and conditions she only said the truth, as she believed that was her calling.

People are prone to rush events. Therefore, instead of drawing a lesson from the past and enjoying the present, they by all means want to know what the future has in store.

Marie’s unique abilities manifested themselves when she was still a child. She could read people’s minds and knew beforehand what the person was going to say, she could see in darkness, was able to find a lost thing, and only with the lapse of time did she understand that other people saw and heard differently. Marie was only 18 when she opened her cartomantic salon. Many famous and powerful persons sought advice of Miss Lenormand. She foretold death on a guillotine to Queen Marie-Antoinette at the time when nothing even presignified the revolution.

Revolutionary leaders Marat, Robespierre and Saint-Just also asked her about their future. She foretold all the three of them violent death, and namely, she said Marat would die first and he would be stabbed; as for Robespierre and Saint-Just, she said they would end their lives on the guillotine. 

Lenormand gained her greatest popularity after she met Josephine, the widow of general Beauharnais. The prophetess prognosticated she would marry an officer, who would become a king and make her a queen, but later jilt her and end his life in exile. To the unknown in those times artillery officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, she predicted he would have a fast career growth, military valour, crowning and… a disgraceful end. Marie pointed to the common fate of these two people when they didn’t even know each other. During all her life Josephine patronized the fortuneteller, even at the times when she tried to talk Napoleon out of the campaign against Russia and was forecasting him defeat. The embittered emperor expelled the seer from the country.

In 1814 the Russian troops occupied Paris. Emperor Alexander I heard about Miss Lenormand in a conversation with Josephine and decided to learn his fate himself. The French Sibyl advised him to abdicate otherwise he would die. Seven years later Alexander I died of typhoid fever in Taganrog. There is a legend, though, that it wasn’t the tsar who died, but his lookalike. As for the tsar, having abdicated, he became a hermit in Siberia.

The salon was also visited by the splendorous Russian officers Pavel Pestel and Sergey Muravyov-Apostol. 'You will be hanged’, Marie said. 'But in Russia they don’t hang the nobility”, objected Muravyov-Apostol. ‘Then they will make an exception for you’, announced the fortuneteller. After eleven years these very officers were among the five leaders of the riot of the Decembrists who were sentenced to death through hanging.

All the prophecies of the French Sibyl came true. There were lots of trials in her life, the main of which was knowing the future.