Original sin, or why I love plagarism

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The Countess di Castiglione dressed as the queen of hearts for a Paris ball, making an allusion to the fact she was Napoleon III’s mistress. Her husband was not best pleased. She was. She took this photo several years later, after she broke up with Nappy III. Apparently fame by scandal was something she enjoyed, and lacking a current scandal fame by a scandal relived was just as good.

Here’s a smattering of facts I recently came across.

The wedding day of Prince Amedeo and Donna Maria Vittoria was marred by the following tragic events:

  • The best man shot himself.
  • The palace gatekeeper slit his throat.
  • The King’s aide died after falling from his horse.
  • The bride’s wardrobe mistress hanged herself.
  • The colonel leading the wedding procession collapsed from sunstroke.
  • The stationmaster was crushed to death under the wheels of the honeymoon train.

The Wikipedia article’s author (quoted verbatim here), references Roger L. Williams, Gaslight and Shadow: The World of Napoleon III, 1851–1870 (NY: Macmillan, 1957), 156–7, as the source of the information. But, realistically, these are facts. Mr Williams probably got these facts from others’ accounts of the wedding, which he in turn probably credited in his book.

I understand Mr Williams is writing a highly academic book, and footnoting the devil out of it. Academics have their tenure and their careers to think of. I understand Wikipedia wants to be taken seriously as an encyclopedia. But, realistically, for everyone else in the world “facts is facts.”

Neil Zawaki, of the Blog of Bad, rephrased Prince Amedeo’s wedding this way . . .

To start with, the best man shot himself. This was followed by the gatekeeper slitting his own throat, and the wardrobe mistress hanging herself. Why these people chose to end their lives in such a dramatic fashion is not clear, but it appears they did not approve of the nuptials. The military official leading the procession then suffered from sunstroke, though he fared slightly better than the stationmaster, who was mangled to death after falling into the gears of the honeymoon train. Oh, and the king’s aide died after getting thrown from his horse.

Neil restates the Wikipedia material in a different way, so no one can call it plagiarism. However, he leaves out (or worse changes) many facts. And that’s my issue with “anti-plagiarism” proponents.  They push writers into creating convoluted fictions instead of stating clear facts.

  • The PALACE gatekeeper. Not the gatekeeper.
  • The BRIDE’s wardrobe mistress, not the wardrobe mistress.
  • The COLONEL, not the military official. The WEDDING procession, the not the procession. COLLAPSED, not suffered sunstroke.
  • The king’s aide FELL from his horse. He wasn’t thrown.
  • The stationmaster, was CRUSHED under the WHEELS, not mangled in the gears, of the train.

And by the way, the wardrobe mistress killed herself way before the wedding — and the bride insisted a new wedding dress be made because of it.

The colonel collapsed leading the procession to the church, thus delaying the event.

The palace gate then failed to open for the procession — and people thought gatekeeper had refused to open as a snub to the bride and a further delay of the wedding — but then they found him a pool of blood.

The best man accidentally shot himself, just after the wedding, with his ceremonial weapon. If you’re asking why a ceremonial gun carried at a wedding was loaded, it was because the groom was widely hated people and an assassination attempt was a real possibility.

The official in charge of the wedding documents had a stroke.

Then the station master was crushed to death so the King, the groom’s father, suggested the wedding party return to the castle, however, the Count di Castiglione was thrown from his horse.

He fell under the bridal carriage, which rolled over him. He might have lived had not the weight of the wagon wheels pushed a ceremonial medal through his uniform and into his chest. He died a day later — though probably not unhappily as his much younger trophy wife/royal whore had spent all his money and ruined his reputation by that time!

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