Prelude to an Auction Thursday, Dec 8 2011 

There is no doubt Elizabeth Taylor’s aura was enhanced by her famous, mouth-dropping accessories, especially her jewelry. Ms. Taylor’s collection was said to be worth $150 million. Among her favorites is a 16th century pear-shaped pearl, the centerpiece of a ruby and diamond necklace designed by Cartier and Taylor herself.  “This is such a rare piece. I compare it to the Hope diamond!”

But The Hope Diamond is not the only comparison worthy of mention. Elizabeth Taylor has been a model for many Hollywood actresses who desired icon status. She championed the fine line between star and celebrity that many actors struggle with today.

In the novella, ‘Parson’s Academons’ by Mark Sysson, one of the drama students attending America’s oldest prep school must deal with this very challenge.  The following excerpt reveals such a provocative persona…

“Indeed, Crystal Perigord’s mother was Hollywood’s gem. The gossip rags reported she disappeared from public view. Judith Perigord’s popularity skyrocketed. She was the nation’s number one celebrity enigma. A source close to the actress set off a rumor she was battling cancer. Her two mega-hit television shows sent Brava’s numbers through the roof. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that she inked a deal with Brava’s exec, Melvin Bellingham, to create a serialized weekly half hour tele-mag geared for teens, giving her the green light for one special episode to be aired at a high school of her choice, anywhere in the United States. It was no coincidence that Judith planned to shoot it at Parson Academy. Was there any doubt her daughter would star in the live show in Thurber Hall Auditorium?”

Next week, Ms. Taylor’s crown jewels are being auctioned at Christies. The proceeds from this auction will go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS foundation, establishing that when all is said and done it will be Taylor’s philanthropy that will have the longest lasting effect, a legacy truly worthy of the tabloids.

Crystal’s legacy reveals the mystery behind The Hope Diamond. You can read her blog “The Stone That Started the War of 1812‘ as a prelude to ‘Parson’s Academons’. It is a seductive story worth reading. Elizabeth Taylor would have thought so.



How would you feel if your search for ancestry revealed that your ancestor’s claim to fame was being publically bullied by the most famous emperor in history? Does my last name give anything away?

Bullying is not restricted to school children. It has its place in the global playground of international détente. I am part of this little known story that caused the War of 1812.

His name was Charles Maurice Talleyrand de Perigord. He was France’s Foreign Minister who served Emperor Napoleon. Perhaps you know of Napoleon’s famous declaration meant to completely humiliate Talleyrand before the world… “You are nothing but dung in a silk stocking?” That line was delivered in 1809 at the time Napoleon disavowed his marriage to Josephine and turned his sights on Maria Louise of Austria. Napoleon would marry into the House of Habsburg. Napoleon learned of Talleyrand’s backroom détente but it was his secret loyalty to the exiled King of France, Louis the Eighteenth. Enraged is too kind a word to describe Napoleon’s reaction when he learned Talleyrand was instrumental in arranging Louis’ refuge in the palace of Britain’s Prince Regent.

Yes, and even earlier than that, there was a deep rooted sense of retribution and revenge that raged between the two world leaders. Napoleon was envious of Talleyrand’s independent, single-mindedness. But, Napoleon could not ignore the importance of his Foreign Minister’s global influence that spanned continents and oceans. Talleyrand’s tentacles brought Napoleon’s Empire to Italy, Egypt, Spain, North America, Austria, and Russia. All that remained was Napoleon’s most daunting task… crush the British Empire, not only in Colonial India, but the British Isles themselves.

But you need to know what exactly Talleyrand was upset about! Bullying has a big sister that Talleyrand knew all too well… ‘Bizutage’ or ‘Hazing’. Yes, hazing was a common practice in all Paris Lycees. As a result, his son was badly scalded by boiling water. Upon hearing that, Talleyrand immediately whisked his son to Austria. Napoleon decreed that all children would be educated in his highly touted academies in France, but Talleyrand would have no part of it. This slap in Napoleon’s face started the private row between the two leaders.

Napoleon’s bullying of Talleyrand never ceased, yet this unhealthy symbiotic relationship remained intact, disjointed though it was. Napoleon’s desire to invade and infiltrate Britain plagued him and his Foreign Minister remained his secret weapon. Indeed, Talleyrand concocted his most famous dialectic formula to take the most advantage of Britain’s internal Luddite Rebellion. The rest is history. But you probably don’t know how the famous Hope Diamond played into Talleyrand’s détente. Read my blog, ‘The Stone That Started the War of 1812’.

Lessons learned that bullying may be an inherent character trait that is passed down from generation to generation. All of us here at Parson Academy are too familiar with it. Our stories are played out in ‘Parson’s Academons’. Naturally we applaud any effort to eliminate the innate sense of jealousy that seems to pervade Western culture.

Introduction Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

Read Crystal’s story on Kindle

The Stone That Started the War of 1812 Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 

Intrigue and death have always been associated with the Hope Diamond. For me, there’s nothing sexier than a perfectly cut gem the size of my fist that is shrouded in mystery. Do you know who possessed the stone over its centuries? Perhaps you already know of the famed ‘Curse of Hope diamond’. Yes? Well, the curse started long before 1839, the year Henry Philip Hope purchased it from one of the mistresses of George IV, Britain’s most famous Prince Regent. So, if you are interested in learning the origins of the Hope Diamond or as they say in France L’Espair, follow me. I have some secrets for you.

The Mysore natives of India still tell the chilling tale of the shadowy French merchant, Tavernier, stealing the blue stone from the Siva statue in the seventeenth century. The diamond was presented to France’s King Louis the Sixteenth and the stone was set into the pendant on the Ordre de las Toison D’or, the Golden Fleece. It wasn’t long before the royal jewel Le Blue de France, belonged to Louis’ wife, Queen Marie Antoinette.

All hell broke loose during the French Revolution. The year was 1792 and it was the Reign of Terror. One ill-fated day, two carriages left the Palace of Versailles. One carries King Louis and Marie Antoinette to the Temple prison, the other carries her children and the rest of the royal family across the Rhine. As Marie Antoinette laid her head under the guillotine blade, the crown jewels disappear. I can hear the Garde-Meuble of the French Royal Treasury shouting down the cobblestone streets now, “L’ Blue de France est manquant!” The French Blue is missing!  Le Diamant de L’Espair!” The Diamond of Hope!

The revolution was the dawn of the common man. The archetypal commoner had arrived and his name was Napoleon. He stamped his import on the European landscape but he saw himself as no commoner. He desperately wanted into the royal fold. Napoleon created a court and an Empire all his own.

So, our story continues as that second carriage leaves Versailles. It ferries a prince of France, the comte de Province who would soon be known to all as Louis the Eighteenth! The entire House of Bourbon was on the run. It was the Austrian Bourbon family who harbored Louis in Coblenz in the Rhine Valley. The royal House of Habsburg was fully engaged in the circle of European gamesmanship. The Bourbons convinced Austria’s Duke of Brunswick to attack France, but Brunswick was repelled. The Directorie in Paris would have  its revenge on Austria!

So what was the fate of those fabulous Indian diamonds? They were the envy of every royal throughout Europe. Rumor had it that Le Blue de France had equally lustrous blue sisters. It was no coincidence they where all birthed by the same mother.

Across the English Channel, Britain’s King George III immediately decrees that the British East India Co. must find the source of India Blue. Britain must seize the Kollur diamond mine that gave birth to the fabulous blue stones. But now, the region is controlled by Tipu Sultan, the Mysore King.         The British East India Company amasses an army against Tipu. The British Royal family, especially the Prince Regent, was relentless. The British army takes Tipu Sultan’s sons hostage. The Mysore King is forced to secede territories, especially the region containing the Kollur mine.

What lengths will people go to achieve their prize? Ha ha! Suppose I tell you who was responsible for the theft? Ha, ha! Yes, it is my contention that Talleyrand, France’s Agent Provocateur was the architect. As France’s new Foreign Minister, Charles-Maurice Talleyrand de Perigord was well connected with the men and women through international détente.   The crafty provocateur knew the power of women over their men, especially the wealthiest men of the most royal families of Europe. The future Kings of Europe had to satisfy their queens, or their mistresses, whether they liked it or not.

Talleyrand preferred the company of women, many women. His long list of illegitimate affairs is a testament to his pleasures, but they came with responsibilities as well. He needed money. Talleyrand possessed the goods that women wanted. His calculations and manipulations paid him handsomely.

As chief negotiator for Napoleon’s fledgling regime, Talleyrand frequently spent time in Austria. No doubt he personally carried Louis’ messages back to Paris.   Backroom parlor deals were customary. Huge bribes were paid to purchase even the hint of damaging letters. A good reputation was still a King’s best friend. Anything to keep a scandal secret! Louis was no different. His wife Queen Marie-Josephine, was known to enjoy the company of Madame de Gourbillon, a lectice de la chambre, her lesbian lover. Frequently, the promise to conceal secrets would determine political transactions or physical boundaries between nations. The royal women of Europe were well tutored in such practice and their reward usually hung obscenely around their necks. With Napoleon at the helm, the great minds of Europe now had to act fast.

Every game has a tool, as does every player. So, here it is. That simple triangle design called the Dialectic Formula containing l’these, l’antithese, and l’syntheses. I think it was Talleyrand’s favorite! It helps determine the relationships of events, the cause and effect and the final synthesis.

France’s Foreign Minister made it his business to discover every intimate detail about every friend and adversary, especially heads of state. His global influence marked a period of history that can be traced to every nation that directly or indirectly had dealings with France. The global buzz of Talleyrand’s XYZ affair on the John Adams’ presidency was a mere blip on Talleyrand’s accomplishment meter. Talleyrand’s intelligence gathering network was more from the wives and mistresses on both sides of the Atlantic than the spies of France’s secret police. Was this was the first dialectic Talleyrand employed? He knew British land forces would expend valuable resources in Southern Asia, pulling Britain’s military might away from the European continent.

Napoleon’s Italian Campaign toppled the region in 1796. The Pope is held hostage in Paris. Louis the Eighteenth would be forced to move his exiled court to the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, becomes the toast of Paris. Her extravagant parties were only topped by rumor of her secret affairs. Despite the distraction  Napoleon became obsessed with the thought of expanding the French Empire east into India.

Talleyrand’s negotiating skills were heralded through the new French regime.  His services were required in Cairo, Egypt. Was it the Ottoman Empire or the plague that stopped France’s army in the Sinai desert or was this where Talleyrand’s second cleaver dialectic? At the Suez waterway, where Napoleon’s Grand Canal was supposed to be built, Napoleon’s push eastward was stopped by a subtle act of sabotage. Talleyrand calculations and manipulations suggested Napoleon forsake Egypt and immediately return to Paris a hero in the eyes of his people.

During a historic time when the British nation faced a great financial depression, Plus having to fend off Napoleon’s military from invading its shores, Britain’s unflinching image was of utmost importance.  The British Prince Regent wallowed in opulence And sport.   The dandy college athlete had an appetite for fashion.  Accessorizing was his specialty.  But was it driven by his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, of the very Brunswicks that attacked France?  No!  It was the Prince’s mistress, the Countess of Jersey who shared his royal appetite.  She had her eye on those famous diamonds.  You could imagine her chagrin when Buckingham Palace learned The Kollur diamond mine was barren.  It was the curse of the Indian Blue stones.

Was there a secret rendezvous between Talleyrand and the British Prince Regent? Could it have been one very special diamond in exchange for the protection of one very special Bourbon? What was the synthesis? Think of the dialectic! Now think of these historical facts. The very General, who would soon be titled the Duke of Wellington, bore the scars of the battles in India.   Wellington was now in a position of influence over the British Royal Navy and the King’s Privy Council. Using the very rocket arsenal captured from Sultan Tipu in India, Wellington could fire its rocket volleys on Napoleon’s Denmark. It was 1806 when the fabled Erebus, a rocket ship named in honor of the mythical Greek God of Death, decisively turned the Baltic battles into British victories.

So here was the development of the most feared weapon in the Western hemisphere. Was there a trade of global proportion at hand here? The promise of producing India’s famous blue diamond on one hand; the unchallenged rockets of Tipu Sultan on the other. And it’s synthesis? The refuge and final restoration of the Bourbon King to France after Napoleon’s eventual departure. Could the Prince Regent have exclaimed to Talleyrand something like this: “Eradicate Napoleon? I give you carte blanche as long as you can guarantee restoring the Bourbons as France’s ruling monarchs!”

In 1808, Wellington is once again called upon to remove Napoleon from the Spanish Peninsula. Napoleon demands Spain’s Bourbon King award his brother, Joseph Napoleon with the famed collar of the Golden Fleece. Publicly, in protest, Louis the Eighteenth turns his Golden Fleece collar over to King Joseph Napoleon. Sacre bleu! Was this part of the global deal? Austria’s royal family and the French royal Bourbons take refuge in England’s Gosfield Hall just as Napoleon turned his sights on Austria and Russia.

Napoleon discovers Talleyrand’s gross duplicity. The Agent Provocateur  had become Europe’s most prominent broker, but his failure to attend France’s state functions was blatantly obvious. In a rage Napoleon plans and elaborate dinner party.  This time, the Emperor would not take no for an answer. He would confront his Agent Provocateur face to face. Napoleon summons Talleyrand to his table, stands in defiance, and famously shouts, ‘You are dung in a silk stocking!”

Publicly, Talleyrand has been stripped of his government position.  Napoleon’s magnanimous gifts were returned, including his grand Italian chalet. The European economic crisis depleted all of Talleyrand’s investments. But it isn’t long before Napoleon must rely on Talleyrand’s vast network of global connections.   It becomes evident the Empress Josephine cannot produce children.  Napoleon desires to wed into Austria’s royal Habsburg family to father an heir, the future ‘King of Rome’.  Certainly another dialectic is at hand!  The Empress Josephine for the Habsburg Princess Maria Louise.  And the synthesis?  Why Talleyrand’s return to the Emperor’s good graces, of course!  Ha, ha!

But Talleyrand’s dialectic formula doesn’t stop here.  The Provocateur is called upon to satisfy Napoleon’s economic demands. France’s economy would benefit from America as a trading partner.  Le Provocateur returns to his drawing board!   His finger moves from Europe across the Atlantic, resting on Washington, D.C.  Could this synthesis be called “Target America”?  A fragile balancing act indeed!  Britain on one hand, France on the other!   Was this Talleyrand’s Grand Rouse?  His finger slides back to England.  You could hear him think,“What’s the harm?  America could certainly benefit from a swift kick in the ass!” 

Meanwhile the statute of limitations on stolen jewels was twenty years.  It was twenty years to the month from the time the crown jewels were reported missing.  Talleyrand needed something big enough to make the open display of the most magnificent diamond in the world seem insignificant.  Another war between Britain and the Americans would do the trick!  Did Talleyrand convince Britain’s Prince Regent they possessed the ultimate symbol of might and power.  Britain now had its global weapon embodied in the Duke’s rocket ship, Erubus.

It was rumored that Talleyrand secretly arrived in Nottinghamshire, England just as the Luddite Revolution was exploding.  Two unset stones rattle loosely in his vest pocket.  The famous crowned stones of the French Treasury would never return to Paris.

With the first volleys of rocket and mortar fire Britain’s Prince Regent openly displayed the most magnificent diamond in the world.  To the unsuspecting eye, it was Not known to be cut from the legendary Tavernier Indian blue stone.  Many years later, as it was purchased privately, it was known as the Hope Diamond.  But remember the curse on the stone?  It did come with a price; especially to America.  It brought the rockets of King of Mysore to the nation’s capital.  The burning of Washington D.C. and the Duke of Wellington’s attack on Fort McHenry.  These were the rockets of Frances Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner”.   The war of 1812 was the payoff for the diamonds of royalty.

With Wellington’s projected defeat of Napoleon,Talleyrand knew the House of Bourbon could easily be reinstated by the war-weary romantics of France.  Talleyrand emerged from bankruptcy and was soon enjoying frequent jaunts to his chalets on both sides of the Rhine, not to mention his vast investment in the heavily forested region of America’s Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.  Le Provocateur saw the global dialectic create a permanent change of the new leaders of the world.  The epitome of the globe’s success story is the rise of the common man. But Talleyrand also found new respect for the women outside of the ring of royal heritage, especially those who embodied the pioneering American spirit, those like New England’s Mary Parson.

So, over the next couple of years, make sure to pay homage to that glorious gem.  You know it will certainly go down in history as the Stone that started the War of 1812.

Hello world! Thursday, Sep 30 2010