De Cossé-Brissac

Originally posted on rosamondpress:


mer0003Virginia Hambley is also kin to the Brissac family.


Victor de Bourmont is a member of one of the great Angevin aristocratic families. He was born 1907 in Pontivy and died in March 1945 in Pomerania near Kolberg (Korlin). It descends many aristocratic families of the region and of Brittany, including the Cossé-Brissac, and Rohan. Many of her forebears were under the former Regime, presidents or advisors of the Chamber of Auditors of Brittany and Normandy.

Married in 1938, he left behind, his death four children in infants.

De Cossé-Brissac (home of Chris with the title of Duke of Brissac) is a surviving family of French nobility.

It has four marshals of France, generals, peer of France, six Knights of the Holy Spirit, two Governors of Paris, with large bodyguard of France, the great Falconer of France, three bishops, as well as a politician in the French Fifth Republic…

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La Bella Simonetta

Originally posted on rosamondpress:

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I don’t know if I studied the artist Sandro Botticelli. Even though I wrote my version of ‘The Birth of Venus’ and did a painting of my Angel coming out of the sea, I neglected this great Renaissance Artist, and his beloved Muse – until now! Since I beheld her, Belle, and compared her to Simonetta Cattaneo de Candia Vespucci, do I now behold all the clues of the petals and the thread that have brought me through the labyrinth of time, to adore her once again. And she knows me! I was buried at her feet in order to continue my long vigilance, for she was only asleep. One day she will awaken, and the City of Flowers will bask in her apparelled beauty. Belle! My Belle!

Following the Renaissance of the Miller Brothers to the top of the hill in the lost city of Fairmount, I came to…

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Of the Temple Rougemont

Originally posted on rosamondpress:

The obvious answer as to how Christine Rosamond became a world famous artist, overnight, is, that there is something in our genes. Fleeing from Europe we ended up in poverty. Our genetic material rose to the occasion. The Rosamonds came from Rougemont. Christine Rosamond Benton, and Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor may share the same great, great grandfather, James Rosamond. Dame Taylor’s art collection is touring the world. She sent her children to Le Rosey where royal children learn to become billionaires, and own all the world’s art. Consider the Getty family.

The world economy has a virus in it, and may collapse. The Rougemonts were Bankers of the World. When they play, they play at being naughty Bohemians. They design clothes for the very rich, and employ Rock Stars to entertain them and their friends. They marry one another in order to – KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY!

Jon Presco


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Tale of Two Wineries

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Betty Williams

Being born in 1963, Virginia lamented being born too late. She loved my stories of being an original hippie and compared them to the scene her older sister Caroline had out in the big barn next to the ancient salt-box house she grew up in Old Lyme Connecticut. At thirteen, Virginia is smoking pot with her sister’s hip friends, and later takes a trip on LSD. All three sisters took a trip to France when they graduated from High School and stayed at the family Chateaus. Here is Virginia’s aunt whose husband founded Brimstone Hill winery that goes well with the name Buttonwood:

“Miss Valerie de Ghaisne de Bourmont, daughter of Comte Joseph de Ghaisne de Bourmont of Chateau de Bourmont, Freigne, Maine et Loire, France, and Comtesse Mary de Ghaisne de Bourmont of 132 East 82d Street, was married here yes­terday to Richard Clement El­dridge. He is a son of Mrs. Ar­thur C. Eldridge of Baltimore and the late Mr. Eldridge.”

In 1965 I tripped at Jiyarl Zothian’s Ranch, and Betty Zorthian-Williams home in Pasadena. I was with Nancy Hamren and Barry Zothian. In 1966,  Keith and I, and his girlfriend are doing poppers on LSD as we stare into the fire at Betty’s home. We could not get enough beauty. I ended up sitting in the rose garden. Betty got up and made us breakfast. We were nineteen. We were so friggen free!

Betty had a small barn where she kept horses. Her ex had horses at his ranch, and went skinny-riding with Charlie Parker. Buttonwood Winery was first a place Betty bred horses. But, what makes Betty famous in my books, is she kept a gaggle of hippies in a commune in San Francisco called the ‘Idle Hands’. Our friend Nancy Hamren mentions this commune in her history she made at the Kesey family creamery. Nancy took care of Ken’s farm when he went to England to do a gig with the Beatles. There is a famous yogurt named after Nancy made from an old family recipe, and is liken to the wine business.

Betty bought her two daughters, Seyburn and Barry, two brand new Land Rovers for their move up north. For days Keith, Nancy, Barry, and I, went driving around looking at big homes. We settled for one out on 30th. Ave near Geary, and Betty bought it with her legacy. Her father owned William’s Shave and left her everything. We never wanted for anything. Everything was paid for by William’s Shave. The board of directors, did not have a clue.

My sister, Christine Rosamond Benton, came to live with us, and she went on a date with Nick Sands, Nancy, and Stanley Augustus Owsley. Keith and Barry became lovers, and Carol Schuerter and I shared a room as we had on Pine St. where we partied with two members of the Jefferson Airplane on a regular basis.

We are talking about The California Renaissance – and Creative Families! In my next post I will show two works of Renaissance art that depict members of Virginia and my family render by Bosch and Durer. My kindred are in Bosch’s ‘Wedding Feast at Cana’ and were members of the Swan Brethren. I married the artist, Mary Ann Tharaldsen, who was married to Thomas Pynchon and was a goof friend of Mimi Baez. The dinner scene in Inherent Vice, is like the dinner scenes at the ‘Idle Hands’ where round a goblet of wine gather the Who’s Who of Hippiedom. We were the Super Hippies that Pynchon keeps eluding to in his novels.

Seyburn became an artist like her father whose early work  was influenced by my kindred, Thomas Hart Benton. My late sister became a famous artist, and married the muralist, Garth Benton, who was a friend of Lawrence Chazen, a Getty man who owns shares in Gordon Getty’s PlumpJack Winery. Garth did the murals at the Getty Villa, and was friends with Gordon Getty, he doing a mural at his home. Chazen was a partner in Christine’s first gallery in Carmel, and is a member of the Big Sur Land Trust. Betty is the founder of the Santa Ynez Land Trust, which eventually became the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.

I remember CB going off to art school. We were up all night, tripping. We wondered at her ambition, her need to capture beautiful images. Why do all that work? We made a million paintings an hour. But then, we had to release them…………let them go.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2015

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Buttonwood Farm is a small gem set amidst the splendor of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. The farm is a shining example of the vision of our founder, Betty Williams. Betty was always ahead of her time, and in the 60’s set out to create a working farm based on good practices for people, animals and the earth. First there were horses, then organic vegetables and finally, a vineyard.Today, our 39-acre vineyard stretches across a sun-drenched mesa on the eastern portion of our 106-acre property. We started planting in 1983 and now have 33,000 vines, small in the world of wine, but huge to us. Our tasting room is surrounded by other bounty from the farm, including olives, pomegranates, peonies, herbs, summer vegetables and of course, our famous peaches! Our philosophy is beautifully summed up by our Mission Statement:In the far distant future may it be said that the owners and stewards of this land so used and protected it that it has been able to absorb the energies of the other forces, those of the infinitely small, of the winds, the birds and the animals, to once again create a balanced ecological microcosm. In this process, effort shall be made to present a financially viable operation, participating fully in the life of the times, the culture and the community. Where possible, the farm shall act as a model for small family husbandry as a source of gain, as well as a personal resource of food and beauty.
Betty Williams
Buttonwood Farm

Betty touched so many individuals in so many different ways over her 92 years that any tribute is inherently superficial, reflecting only the tip of the iceberg.

Many knew her for her involvement in land preservation and community planning. She was a founder of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and served on the Santa Ynez Valley General Plan Advisory Committee that helped shape the county’s General Plan for the Valley. Although she thought globally with the perspective of history, she was glad to work locally and live in the moment.

Betty established Buttonwood Farm as an equestrian facility, but she subsequently planted a vineyard, built a winery and created an organic farm. She not only talked sustainability, she lived it, with a modest lifestyle focused on what she could do for her family and community. She chose to occupy the small, existing ranch residence that was set into the hill, rather than build a mansion atop it.

Her Louisiana roots, formative childhood and education at Sarah Lawrence, Tulane and USC all served to create a talented and creative individual with a unique skill set and a strong sense of social responsibility. Betty was the consummate networker long before networking came into vogue.She was a patron of the arts and generous supporter of progressive causes and candidates. If she could not solve a problem herself, Betty readily enlisted the aid of others and researched possible solutions, old and new. She was more than willing to pick up the phone on behalf of a worthy cause.

A natural educator, Betty never missed an opportunity to expand the horizons – physical, mental, temporal and spiritual – of those around her. A firm believer in tradition, she was a master storyteller. Like a village elder, she brought history to life with a rich collection of personal stories she was glad to share. Betty treasured literature and art for their contribution to our humanity, and her personal collection served as old and familiar friends. She particularly enjoyed and generously shared her library. She wrote books and poetry, noted for their humor and celebration of life, whether it was enjoying good food, recognizing those around her or appreciating plants and animals.

Betty Williams

She valued both the natural and manmade landscape and was a skilled gardener and flower arranger. Betty had the vision to plant gardens, vines and trees, planning for future harvests and future generations. At Buttonwood, she nurtured the growth and development of successive generations of residents, employees and family members.

Hospitality, humor and sharing were de rigueur for Betty, and she welcomed the opportunity to host a party and celebrate a momentous occasion – the harvest, a family birthday, the solstice or just a gathering of friends.

The Valley was and will continue to be fortunate that this inspired and generous spirit abided here a while.

Making art while dealing with fear is so universal with artists that there are many books on the subject.

Artists Salon No. 11, sponsored by the Artists Guild of the Santa Ynez Valley from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at Buttonwood Farm, encourages area artists to come together to share how to resolve this common challenge in carrying out creative work.

The evening’s discussions will also examine sources of inspiration and its power for different artists, and how admiration of the work of other artists may affect one’s approach and process.

The salon will be hosted by local painter Seyburn Zorthian. An early love of the American and European abstractionists of the 1940s and ’50s and later study of abstract calligraphy in Japan led Zorthian to the development of the work she does today.

She has had an ongoing interest in the relationship of opposites and has recently explored that visually in a series of complimentary color studies. Zorthian is now  working on large-scale abstractions, integrating the expressive brush stroke with color variations and other visual elements.

Zorthian has shown in the United States, France, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. She attended Chouinard in Los Angeles and San Francisco Art Institute and received a BFA degree from the California Institute of the Arts.

She was a student of shodou master Shiryu Morita in Kyoto, Japan, in 1974. She lives in the mountains above Santa Barbara and maintains a studio at the family-owned Buttonwood Farm in Solvang.

The evening’s discussion theme was suggested by Zorthian.

“In my experience, the biggest challenge to making art is setting aside the fear of failure, as it inhibits the openness needed for the creative process,” said Zorthian. “I would assume I share this with many other artists and I would be interested in finding out the various ways people prepare to work in order to become centered and ready to be receptive to the soul’s intuitive flow. Also, I am interested in sharing a few artists whom I admire and would be interested in seeing other artists’ interests as well.”

Artists are invited to bring books or pictures or screen images of works that they admire or that provide ongoing inspiration. This is a cooperative social event and those attending are welcome to bring a finger-food appetizer to share, or a bottle of wine or favorite beverage.

Buttonwood Farm is at 1500 Alamo Pintado in Solvang. For more information, email Rebecca Gomez of the Artists Guild at

Contemporary abstract paintings by Seyburn Zorthian of the Santa Ynez Valley are on display through Aug. 12 in the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture at California Lutheran University.

“In the Rhythm” is a free exhibit of large-scale works in acrylic, oil and metal leaf on canvas. All of the paintings, which were produced over the last two years, are visual expressions of movement inspired by music.

Zorthian’s creative process is informed by her early exposure to jazz and her study of abstract calligraphy in Japan, where Shodou master Shiryu Morita trained her in traditional practices using enormous brushes with ink.

She has spent decades refining her approach to composition and her use of color and Western non-ink media within this Eastern framework. In her current series, Zorthian’s first brushstroke usually became the bones of the composition, directing the course and character of each painting.

Zorthian paints from a studio at her family’s Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, where the labels feature her works. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, Rutgers University in New Jersey, the Municipal Museum in Kyoto, Shanxi Historical Art Museum in China and Galerie Tendri in Paris.

Zorthian attended the San Francisco Art Institute and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the California Institute of the Arts.

The gallery is located in the Soiland Humanities Center at 120 Memorial Parkway on the Thousand Oaks campus. It is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information, contact curator Michael Pearce with the CLU Art Department at 805-444-7716.

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Chateau de Breze & Bourmont Wine


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“Richard Eldridge, owner and winemaker, stumbled into wine through marriage to the late Valerie de Bourmont who introduced him to wine. In a sense, the rest is history.”

I met Virginia Hambley in 1998, and wanted children with her. When I learned she could not have children, and when my sixteen year old daughter appear in my life, I told Virginia I would share Heather with her. The same went for grandson, Tyler Hunt, when he was born. Virgnia was not born when her two older sisters attended the wedding of their cousin in New York where she was born. Clark Hambley was an artist and worked at a prestigious advertising agency.

Like her sister before her,  after graduating from High School, Virginia was invited to stay with her Bourmont kindred in France. She told me they had a winery. When I showed her a photo of Breze Chateau, and asked her if this is where she stayed for nearly month, she said this was the place of the family winery.

“You didn’t tell me it was a castle!”

Jon Presco

Château de Brézé is a small, dry-moated castle located in Brézé, near Saumur in the Loire Valley, France. The château was transformed during the 16th and the 19th centuries. The current structure is Renaissance in style yet retains medieval elements including a drawbridge and a 12th-century trogloditic basement. Today, it is the residence of descendants of the ancient lords. The château is a listed ancient monument originally dating from 1060.[1] A range of wines are produced at the château which has 30 hectares of vineyards.[2];p=bertrand;n=de+ghaisne+de+bourmont


Valerie de Bourmont Married To Richard Clement Eldridge

AUG. 30, 1964

Miss Valerie de Ghaisne de Bourmont, daughter of Comte Joseph de Ghaisne de Bourmont of Chateau de Bourmont, Freigne, Maine et Loire, France, and Comtesse Mary de Ghaisne de Bourmont of 132 East 82d Street, was married here yes­terday to Richard Clement El­dridge. He is a son of Mrs. Ar­thur C. Eldridge of Baltimore and the late Mr. Eldridge.

The Rev, Jean Coutelier per­formed the ceremony in St. Vin­cent de Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. A reception was held at the home of Jean de Botton.

The bride, who was escorted by Mr. de Botton, wore a white lace gown and a tulle veil fas­tened to a diamante coronet She carried a posy of gardenias.

Miss Aghna Moore was maid of honor for the bride, who was attended also by her nieces, Heloise and Caroline Hambley, aged 5 and 4. John C. Eldridge was his brother’s best man.

The bride attended the School of the Holy Child Jesus in St. Leonards, Sussex, Eng­land, and graduated from the Institute de la Rue de Lubeck in Paris and in 1961 from Hunter College.

On her mother’s side she is a granddaughter of the late Capt. Edward Stamford Craven of Ashfordby Hall, Leicestershire, England, and a great‐grand­daughter of the late Newton Francis Whiting of New York, who was financial editor and part proprietor of The New York Evening Post. She is a

The bridegroom, an alumnus of the Gilman School in Balti­more and Harvard College, class of ‘59, served as a lieutenant (jg.) with the Navy and took graduate courses at Johns Hop­kins University. He is with Len­nen & Newell, advertising agency here.


Established 1982 MEET THE WINEMAKER

Richard Eldridge, owner and winemaker, stumbled into wine through marriage to the late Valerie de Bourmont who introduced him to wine. In a sense, the rest is history. The Eldridges became fascinated with the possibilities of growing and making very good wines here in the East. We tend to think of wine as one of the more important staples of the diet.

The winemaking process in the East, however, is much more challenging than in California. This is largely due to the Eastern climatic conditions coupled with a limited tradition of wine and viticulture. Most of the California wine grape varieties cannot handle our cold winters and short, rainy growing seasons. Further, Eastern grapes tend to be significantly higher in acidity and lower in sugar than their California counterparts. This condition can be addressed, but the process does become more complicated. The higher acidity does have a major advantage in making both sweeter wines and sparkling wines. The drier table wines tend to be on the lighter side with a certain zesty quality. At Brimstone Hill we are committed to the task of making better wines which will please our customers.

Chateau de Brézé

Both Chateau de Brézé (pronounced Brey-zey) and Domaine de St. Just are made by Arnaud Lambert from Domaine de St. Just.  He owns Domaine de St. Just and has been hired on to restore the once glorious Chateau de Brézé.  He is a deep thinker and humble for how deep his actual knowledge is.  I find that his personality reflects his wines.  They are unusually focused and clean expressions of these varieties, which is refreshing.

The legendary wines of the Chateau de Brézé, lauded in the classical literature of the 15th century by King René of Anjou, were served at all the royal courts of Europe.  In fact the wines were exchanged yearly with the great Chateau d’Yquem amongst others.  In the 1600s the white wines of Chateau de Brézé were known throughout Europe as “Chenin de Brézé.”

Here’s a story of wine politics…  When the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established in 1957 the owner of Brézé refused to be part of the appellation because he claimed that his vineyard collection was the best of the entire area and should have it’s own AOC.  His claim was probably true and if you talk with winemakers in the area, as most would tell you that the vineyards of Brézé may be the best vineyards in both Saumur and Saumur Champigny.  Unfortunately the wines were terribly made at the time of the establishment of the wine law and his request was denied for a singular AOC of Brézé.  He still refused Saumur Champigny status that he was offered so the vineyards were placed in the appellation of Saumur.  The estate has been responsible for making an entire century of relatively terrible wines on one of the best sites in the Loire.  Those days are over as of 2009 when the new owner, Le Comte de Colbert, asked Arnaud Lambert from Domaine de Saint Just to take over the complete management of the estate to restore it to it’s once glorious state.  The vineyards immediately began to be changed over to organic farming.

We are lucky to have grabbed this estate at the beginning of their renaissance that started with the 2009 vintage.  The wines are really beautiful expressions of the grape and the place.  I told Arnaud that I was shocked by the difference in quality from before he had arrived to now.  He gave a slight but confident smile and said, “Wait until we really get started now that the children are out of the way.”  Under the helm of Arnaud, it seems this estate is rising again.

The hill/commune of Brézé is a special site for Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.  They are at a higher elevation than most of the areas around it.  The vineyards sit on a hill of tuffeau, a porous, chalky limestone balanced with clay and sand.  The limestone offers good water retention as well as a high pH in the soil, which results in a low pH wine.  Brézé is not a typical Saumur at all.  It may rightly have deserved it’s own AOC, but at the very minimum it deserved the Saumur Champigny AOC status.

Based on the soil and climate of Saumur, there is a reasonably long history of successful sparkling wine.  The reason why it fits here is that the soils render the wines high in acidity with a balanced pH and the cooler temperatures keep the wines taut with acidity and fresh in flavors.  It is very similar to Champagne in regards to its chalky soils but with a slightly warmer climate.  The acidity of the Chenin Blanc in this area sometimes needs the addition of Chardonnay to soften the blow of the natural acidity of Chenin Blanc coupled with this soil type.  Because it is not Champagne, it cannot sell for the same prices as Champagne in the marketplace.  Therefore the same amount of dollars that are spent to make great Champagne are not a realistic investment in this area.  But, I would directly challenge any sparkling wine by the glass with the Cremant wines from Brézé.  They are unusually good for the price.

Cremant Blanc

  • 60% Chenin/40% chard.
  • The wine is made in the “Brut method traditionelle” for sparkling wine.
  • This wine is solid because it has the intellectual side of Chenin but the Chardonnay softens the blow making it a little more enjoyable with a creamier body and Champagne-like notes.
  • This area is historically important for Sparkling wine.  The soils can be very chalky just like Champagne.  The Brézé hill is ideal because it sits atop a hill and has more access to cooling winds, keeping it fresh.
  • Vineyards are being converted to Organic (Biologique) and then to Biodynamic (Biodynamique) farming.  Arnaud believes that this is a 5-6 year process, rather than a 3-year process, which is what it takes to become certified.

Cremant Rose

  • Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  50/50. The strength of this rosé wine is that it doesn’t taste like either of them.
  • All estate fruit.
  • The wine is made in the “Brut method traditionelle” for sparkling wine.
  • It is a strikingly complex and subtle rosé sparkling wine.


  • All estate fruit.
  • Made in all stainless steel, so this preserves the freshness.
  • This white is both bracing in acidity and pleasurable.


  • Stainless steel vinification, no oak at all.
  • Natural yeast fermentation.
  • Higher elevation site with more shallow soils so this renders the wine more fine and red fruited.
  • It is organically made but AB certification comes in 2 years.
  • Pure and clean expression of Cabernet Franc.
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French Designs on Sonoma


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On my second visit to Sonoma to see my newfound daughter, she took me to General Vallejo’s home with my newborn grandson. This was June of 2000. I brought along Laurence Gardner’s book someone had give me to give Heather and her mother an idea of what my book about my Rose Line was going to be a bout. Not only were they not impressed, they were alarmed. Meeting my daughter for the first time was not supposed to be anything about me. Heather was the designated star. How did Jesus get in the picture?

Heather showed off her town and vineyards, and told me how rich her friend’s fathers were. We did not visit a winery because I had thirteen years recovery. I told her her cousin, Drew Benton was kin to John Fremont, and thus much of California’s history is in our family tree. My daughter was not impressed. I had no job, no money, no land. In her eyes, I was a failure.

Jon Presco

Fremont remained in the background of events, not wishing to involve the United States in any altercations the Osos might be involved in; however, he and his force had already been branded “bandits” by General Castro, after an alleged horse stealing episode near Salinas during May 1846. Hence, in early June, Captain Fremont gave advice to capture the Northern Headquarters of General Mariano Vallejo at Sonoma. On June 14, the Osos took the town of Sonoma in the early dawn light without firing a shot. And with the acceptance of General Vallejo’s surrender the Osos declared California a Republic, and raised the Bear Flag over the plaza.

Captain Fremont saluted the Bear Flaggers, whose force now numbered ninety, when both the flag of the United States and California Republic were raised on July 4, 1846, in celebration of United States and California Independence.

Following the celebration, Captain Fremont proposed that a unified force be organized, under his command. A discussion was held July 5, with William Brown Ide (Grigsby-Ide emigrant party of 1845), who the Bear Flaggers had elected as their Commander-in-Chief. A compact was drawn up for all volunteers to sign, which in part read: Not to violate the chastity of Women; conduct their revolution honorably; and pledge obedience to their officers. With the signatures or marks of the men, the California Battalion was formed. Fremont appointed a Marine Corps Officer, Captain Archibald H. Gillespie, his Adjutant. Captain Gillespie had joined Fremont when the latter was at the Oregon Border. Gillespie had crossed the Mexican nation and entered California about the time hostilities broke out with the opening of the Mexican War, May 1846. Fremont requested the Battalion’s volunteers to elect their officers from the ranks. Chosen were: Richard Owens, John Grigsby, Granville P. Swift, and Henry L. Ford.

I’ll start with the facts. Eugene Duflot de Mofras was born in Toulouse, France on July 5, 1810. He was a naturalist, diplomat and explorer who held a diplomatic post in Mexico City in 1839. During this time period, countries other than Mexico had entertained notions of colonizing California, included England, the U.S. and the French. After serving in the southern capital, he began exploring what was to become California and Oregon. Duflot de Mofras, published his natural and cultural insights in “Travel on the Pacific Coast.”

Though claiming to explore northern California for French business interests, in the modern world, he might have been convicted as a spy. Many of his comments focused on the California missions and his time spent at Sutter’s fort. In 1840 he commented “…it is evident that California will belong to whatever nation chooses to send there a man-of-war and two-hundred men.”

While visiting Sutter’s Fort, Mofras also made a number of interesting statements. He noted that Sutter’s work force of about thirty men included Germans, Swiss, Canadians, Americans, English and French. These men were employed as wood-cutters, black-smiths, carpenters and trappers. He further noted that Sutter lives in a territory “barely” belonging to Mexico. Mofras also expressed the idea of having Sutter import French missionaries to assist in the civilizing of Indian tribes living in the area.

Mofras visited Sonoma in 1841. Mariano Vallejo welcomed him to Sonoma, however, did not like Mofras. Evidently, Mofras, while visiting the Alisal Rancho, made an unwelcome advance to one of the women living on the rancho. Though discounted by many, Vallejo held on to his dislike of the Frenchman. Mofras was also arrested by Jesus Pico, the administrator at San Antonio. Here, Mofras complained that he had not received the proper attention to which he was accustomed, during his visit.

Sir George Simpson, another visitor to Sonoma in early 1841, spoke of Mofras as having an arrogant air. Simpson states that “though this gentlemen professed to be collecting information for the purpose of making a book…he scarcely went ten miles from his comfortable quarters… while in conversation he was more ready to dilate on his own equestrian feats than to hear what others might be able to tell him.”

There is little doubt that Mofras was exploring more than the natural and cultural wonders of Mexican California. In his book, Mofras made note of all Frenchman residing in various pueblos and ranchos throughout Alta California. He made numerous mention of Sutter’s New Helvetia as being essentially a French settlement. Recall, he made comments encouraging French missionaries to assist Sutter in civilizing native peoples. Mofras was undoubtedly making comments that would assist the French government in making decisions regarding colonization in California.

In 1841, California saw a much stronger overland migration through the Sierra Nevada. As the Russians packed their bags and vacated Ross over on the coast, immigrants from all over the world began to trickle into California. Mariano Vallejo treated many of these newcomers with kindness, assisting them in making their residency a legal affair. Governor Alvarado made many implications, implying that Vallejo was unwise allowing foreigners to remain.

Manifest Destiny, the American belief that the U.S. was destined to expand across the continent, certainly came to fruition. Within a few short years, any designs by the English or French, to colonize California, evaporated into thin air. Much of this mind set centered on the belief that American expansion must promote and defend democracy throughout the world.

To sum it all up, I leave you once again with the words of Sir George Simpson. He offers, “Duflot de Mofras was a man of talent, but somewhat wild, bent on amusing himself, fonder of personal comforts than of study; gentlemanly in manner, but not overawed by the dignity of California officials; and somewhat too careless about the reputation he might leave in so distant a land.”

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French Activities in California

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Virginia had told me she went to visit he kindred in France who owned a winery. She stayed nearly a month and stayed with other kin. When I showed her a pic of Chateau Breze, and asked her if she slept here, she said yes.

There are ten thousand sites and authors that claim French Monarch were members of the Grail Bloodline out to rule the world. Here is an account of the French trying to rule California.

Jon Presco

The second French intervention in Mexico (Spanish: Segunda intervención francesa en México), also known as the Maximilian Affair, Mexican Adventure, the War of the French Intervention, the Franco-Mexican War or the Second Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico in late 1861 by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and Spain. It followed President Benito Juárez‘s suspension of interest payments to foreign countries on 17 July 1861, which angered these three major creditors of Mexico.

Emperor Napoleon III of France was the instigator, justifying military intervention by claiming a broad foreign policy of commitment to free trade. For him, a friendly government in Mexico would ensure European access to Latin American markets. Napoleon also wanted the silver that could be mined in Mexico to finance his empire. Napoleon built a coalition with Spain and Britain while the U.S. was deeply engaged in its civil war.

The three European powers signed the Treaty of London on 31 October 1861, to unite their efforts to receive payments from Mexico. On 8 December the Spanish fleet and troops arrived at Mexico’s main port, Veracruz. When the British and Spanish discovered that France planned to seize all of Mexico, they quickly withdrew from the coalition.

The subsequent French invasion resulted in the Second Mexican Empire.[a] In Mexico, the French-imposed empire was supported by the Roman Catholic clergy, many conservative elements of the upper class, and some indigenous communities; the presidential terms of Benito Juárez (1858–71) were interrupted by the rule of the Habsburg monarchy in Mexico (1864–67). Conservatives, and many in the Mexican nobility, tried to revive the monarchical form of government (see: First Mexican Empire) when they helped to bring to Mexico an archduke from the Royal House of Austria, Maximilian Ferdinand, or Maximilian I. France had various interests in this Mexican affair, such as seeking reconciliation with Austria, which had been defeated during the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, counterbalancing the growing American Protestant power by developing a powerful Catholic neighboring empire, and exploiting the rich mines in the north-west of the country.

After the end of the American Civil War, the US government forced France to withdraw its troops and the empire collapsed. Maximilian I was executed in 1867.

1862: Arrival of the French[edit]

The British, Spanish and French fleets arrived at Veracruz, between 8 and 17 December 1861 intending to pressure the Mexicans into settling their debts.[12] The Spanish fleet seized San Juan de Ulúa and subsequently the capital Veracruz[12] on 17 December. The European forces advanced to Orizaba, Cordoba and Tehuacán, as they had agreed in the Convention of Soledad.[12] The city of Campeche surrendered to the French fleet on 27 February, and a French army, commanded by General Lorencez, arrived on 5 March. When the Spanish and British realised the French ambition was to conquer Mexico, they withdrew their forces on 9 April, their troops leaving on 24 April. In May, the French man-of-war Bayonnaise blockaded Mazatlán for a few days.

Mexican forces commanded by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the French army in the Battle of Puebla on 5 May 1862 (commemorated in Mexico by the Cinco de Mayo holiday). The pursuing Mexican army was contained by the French at Orizaba, Veracruz, on 14 June. More British troops arrived on 21 September, and General Bazaine arrived with French reinforcements on 16 October. The French occupied the port of Tamaulipas on 23 October, and unopposed by Mexican forces took control of Xalapa, Veracruz on 12 December[citation needed].

1863: The French take the capital[edit]

General Ignacio Zaragoza of Mexico

The French bombarded Veracruz on 15 January 1863. Two months later, on 16 March, General Forey and the French Army began the siege of Puebla.

On 30 April, the French Foreign Legion earned its fame in the Battle of Camarón, when an infantry patrol unit of 62 soldiers and three officers, led by the one-handed Captain Jean Danjou, was attacked and besieged by Mexican infantry and cavalry units numbering three battalions, about 3000 men. They were forced to make a defence in Hacienda Camarón. Danjou was mortally wounded at the hacienda, and his men mounted a glorious bayonet attack, fighting to nearly the last man; only three French Legionnaires survived. To this day, ‘Camerone Day‘ is the most important day of celebration for Legionnaires.

The French army of General François Achille Bazaine defeated the Mexican army led by General Comonfort in its campaign to relieve the siege of Puebla, at San Lorenzo, to the south of Puebla. Puebla surrendered to the French shortly afterward, on 17 May. On 31 May, President Juárez fled the city with his cabinet, retreating northward to Paso del Norte and later to Chihuahua. Having taken the treasure of the state with them, the government-in-exile remained in Chihuahua until 1867.

Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico

French troops under Bazaine entered Mexico City on 7 June 1863. The main army entered the city three days later led by General Forey. General Almonte was appointed the provisional President of Mexico on 16 June, by the Superior Junta (which had been appointed by Forey). The Superior Junta with its 35 members met on 21 June, and proclaimed a Catholic Empire on 10 July. The crown was offered to Maximilian, following pressures by Napoleon. Maximilian accepted the crown on 3 October, at the hands of the Comisión Mexicana, sent by the Superior Junta.

1864: Arrival of Maximilian[edit]

On 28 and 31 March 1864, men from the French man-of-war Cordelière tried to take Mazatlán, but were initially repelled by Mexicans commanded by Colonel Gaspar Sánchez Ochoa.

The French under Bazaine occupied Guadalajara on 6 January 1864, and troops under Douay occupied Zacatecas on 6 February. Further decisive French victories continued with the fall of Acapulco on 3 June, occupation of Durango on 3 July, and the defeat of republicans in the states of Sinaloa and Jalisco in November.

Maximilian formally accepted the crown on 10 April, signing the Treaty of Miramar, and landed at Veracruz on 28 May (or possibly 29 May) 1864 in the SMS Novara. He was enthroned as Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, with his wife Charlotte of Belgium, who had taken the name Carlota. In reality, he was a puppet monarch of the Second French Empire.

Maximilian expressed progressive European political ideas, favouring the establishment of a limited monarchy sharing powers with a democratically elected congress. He inspired passage of laws to abolish child labour, limit working hours, and abolishd a system of land tenancy that virtually amounted to serfdom among the Indians. This was too liberal to please Mexico’s conservatives, and the nation’s liberals refused to accept a monarch, leaving Maximilian with few enthusiastic allies within Mexico.

On Sunday, 13 November 1864, three French men-of-war (Victoire, D’Assas and Diamante) shelled Mazatlán 13 times, and Imperial Mexican forces under Manuel Lozada entered and captured the city.

1865: Beginning of Republican victories[edit]

Benito Juárez, Republican leader and President

The French continued with victories in 1865, with Bazaine capturing Oaxaca on 9 February (defeating the city’s defenders under General Porfirio Díaz). The French fleet landed soldiers who captured Guaymas on 29 March.

But on 11 April, republicans defeated Imperial forces at Tacámbaro in Michoacán. In April and May the republicans had many forces in the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua. Most towns along the Rio Grande were also occupied by republicans. The Belgian volunteers were defeated by the republicans at the Second Battle of Tacámbaro on 11 July.

The decree known as the “Black Decree” was issued by Maximilian on 3 October, which threatened any Mexican captured in the war with immediate execution. This was later the basis for the next government to order his own execution. Several high-ranking republican officials were executed under this order on 21 October.

1859-1867: U.S. Diplomacy and Involvement[edit]

As early as 1859, U.S. and Mexican efforts to ratify the McLane-Ocampo Treaty had failed in the bitterly divided US Senate, where tensions were high between the North and the South over other issues. Such a treaty would have allowed U.S. construction in Mexico and protection from European forces in exchange for a payment of $4 million to the heavily indebted government of Benito Juarez. On December 3, 1860, President James Buchanan had delivered a speech stating his displeasure at being unable to secure Mexico from European interference:

“European governments would have been deprived of all pretext to interfere in the territorial and domestic concerns of Mexico. We should have thus been relieved from the obligation of resisting, even by force, should this become necessary, any attempt of these governments to deprive our neighboring republic of portions of her territory, a duty from which we could not shrink without abandoning the traditional and established policy of the American people.”[13]

United States policy did not change during the French occupation but it had to use its resources for the American Civil War, which lasted 1861 to 1865. President Abraham Lincoln expressed his sympathy to Latin American republics against any European attempt to establish a monarchy. Shortly after the establishment of the Maximilian Government in April 1864, United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, while maintaining U.S. neutrality, expressed U.S. discomfort at the imposition of a monarchy in Mexico: “Nor can the United States deny that their own safety and destiny to which they aspire are intimately dependent on the continuance of free republican institutions throughout America.”[14]

On April 4, 1864, Congress passed a joint resolution:

“Resolved, &c., That the Congress of the United States are unwilling, by silence, to leave the nations of the world under the impression that they are indifferent spectators of the deplorable events now transpiring in the Republic of Mexico; and they therefore think fit to declare that it does not accord with the policy of the United States to acknowledge a monarchical government, erected on the ruins of any republican government in America, under the auspices of any European power.”[15]

Near the end of the American Civil War, representatives at the 1865 Hampton Roads Conference briefly discussed saw a proposal for a North-South reconciliation by a joint action against the French in Mexico. In 1865, through the selling of Mexican bonds by Mexican agents in the United States, the Juarez Administration raised between $16-million and $18-million dollars for the purchase of American war material.[16] In 1866 General Philip Sheridan was in charge of transferring additional supplies and weapons to the Liberal army, including some 30,000 rifles directly from the Baton Rouge Arsenal in Louisiana.[16]

By 1867, Seward shifted American policy from thinly veiled sympathy to the republican government of Juarez to open threat of war to induce a French withdrawal. Seward had invoked the Monroe Doctrine which he later stated in 1868, “The Monroe Doctrine, which eight years ago was merely a theory, is now an irreversible fact.”[17]

1866: French withdrawal and Republican victories[edit]

In 1866, choosing Franco-American relations over his Mexican monarchy ambitions, Napoleon III announced the withdrawal of French forces beginning 31 May. The Republicans won a series of crippling victories taking immediate advantage of the end of French military support to the Imperial troops, occupying Chihuahua on 25 March[citation needed], taking Guadalajara on 8 July[citation needed], further capturing Matamoros, Tampico and Acapulco in July[citation needed]. Napoleon III urged Maximilian to abandon Mexico and evacuate with the French troops. The French evacuated Monterrey on 26 July[citation needed], Saltillo on 5 August[citation needed], and the whole state of Sonora in September[citation needed]. Maximilian’s French cabinet members resigned on 18 September[citation needed]. The Republicans defeated imperial troops in the Battle of Miahuatlán in Oaxaca in October, occupying the whole of Oaxaca in November, as well as parts of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato. On 6 December the Austrian and Belgian volunteers disbanded and were supposed to join the Mexican Army; however, 3500 of the 4648 volunteers did not enlist, and tried to flee the country.

On 13 November, Ramón Corona and the French agreed to terms for the withdrawal of the latter forces from Mazatlán. At noon, the European invaders boarded three men-of-war, Rhin, Marie and Talisman and departed.

1867: Republicans take the capital[edit]

Édouard Manet‘s The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian (1867) is one of five versions of his representation of the execution of the Mexican monarch

The Republicans occupied the rest of the states of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato in January. The French evacuated the capital on 5 February.

On 13 February 1867, Maximilian withdrew to Querétaro. The Republicans began a siege of the city on 9 March, and Mexico City on 12 April. An imperial sortie from Querétaro failed on 27 April.

On 11 May, Maximilian resolved to try to escape through the enemy lines. He was intercepted on 15 May. Following a court-martial, he was sentenced to death. Many of the crowned heads of Europe and other prominent figures (including liberals Victor Hugo and Giuseppe Garibaldi) sent telegrams and letters to Mexico pleading for Maximilian’s life to be spared, but Juárez refused to commute the sentence. He believed he had to send a strong message that Mexico would not tolerate any government imposed by foreign powers.

Maximilian was executed on 19 June (along with his generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía) on the Cerro de las Campanas, a hill on the outskirts of Querétaro, by the forces loyal to President Benito Juárez, who had kept the federal government functioning during the French intervention. Mexico City surrendered the day after Maximilian was executed.

The republic was restored, and President Juárez was returned to power in the national capital. He made few changes in policy, given that the progressive Maximilian had upheld most of Juárez’s liberal reforms.

After the victory, the Conservative party was so thoroughly discredited by its alliance with the invading French troops that it effectively became defunct. The Liberal party was almost unchallenged as a political force during the first years of the “restored republic”. In 1871, however, Juárez was re-elected to yet another term as president in spite of a constitutional prohibition of re-elections.

Porfirio Díaz (a Liberal general and a hero of the French war, but increasingly conservative in outlook), one of the losing candidates, launched a rebellion against the president. Supported by conservative factions within the Liberal party, the attempted revolt (the so-called Plan de la Noria) was already at the point of defeat when Juárez died in office on 19 July 1872, making it a moot point. Díaz ran against interim president Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, lost the election, and retired to his hacienda in Oaxaca. Four years later, in 1876, when Lerdo ran for re-election, Díaz launched a second, successful revolt (the Plan de Tuxtepec) and captured the presidency. He held it through eight terms until 1911, a period when he jailed many political opponents at the fort off Veracruz.


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