Marguerite and Julien were two of eleven siblings born to the landed Ravalet family at the end of the Renaissance. The time period was a chaotic one, the culmination of religious and political conflict between the Catholics and Calvinists of France, who fought bloody battles and attempted assassinations all during the Ravalets' lives.
Marguerite and Julien grew up on the Ravalet estate in Tourlaville, northern France, and from a very early age they were extremely close. As they grew up and became even closer, their parents decided that it was a problem. They separated them by sending Julien off to boarding school. He didn't return until years later.
|The Ravalet chateau|
Julien seems to have given his father the impressions that he would go and find Marguerite to bring her back. Instead, when he found her they absconded to Paris. When he found out, Jean Lefebvre (Marguerite's husband) went to the royal authorities and demanded that the two be charged with adultery and incest. They were arrested in Paris and thrown in prison. During their trial they were found guilty on both counts, and sentenced to death.
Over the course of this ordeal, word got around about the de Ravalet siblings and they became famous. Many people were sympathetic toward them, and their father personally begged King Henri IV to pardon them. King Henri explained that because Marguerite was married and had committed adultery, he couldn't publicly justify pardoning them. The only concession he could give was to allow for Marguerite and Julien to have a proper Christian burial, and not be thrown into the public mass graves.
Marguerite gave birth to her baby in prison, and gave the baby to her parents, to care for it in her absence. Shortly after, she and Julien were publicly decapitated. Their tombstone read:
Ci gisent le frère et la sœur. Passant ne t'informe pas de la cause de leur mort, mais passe et prie Dieu pour leur âmes.
[Here lie the brother and the sister. Passerby, search not the cause of their death, but pass and pray to God for their souls.]After their death, the siblings became symbols in France of brave and tragic love. Paintings were made depicting them, and plays were written about them. Recently a modern retelling has come out which has reignited interest in their story: Marguerite & Julien.