Palace of Versailles, Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles
Henriette Jenny Savalette de Lange (1786 – May 6, 1858) aaparently was born out of wedlock in 1786, the daughter of Charles-Pierre-Paul Savalette de Langes (1745-1797) who did not recognize her. Another thesis is that she was his sister or half-sister. She forged a birth, an unhappy childhood and a network of complacent friends to join the Court of France where she is pensioned by Louis XVIII and Charles X. The children in her neighborhood, intrigued by her mustache primer, call her "Aunt Barbe".
When Henriette Jenny Savalette de Lange died at Versailles, her body was quietly handed over to two old women, the niece and one of her neighbors, to prepare it for burial, and they discovered that Mlle. Savalette de Lange was, in fact, a man who had lived as a woman his whole life. During his lifetime he had managed to get a substitute birth certificate designating himself female, became engaged to marry a cavalry officer, but managed to avoid actually marrying, and she had a number of other suitors, all of whom she rejected, and she never married.
One of her discarded lovers had some unkind words to say of her: "[She was] tall, thin and lop-sided, and she leaned on an umbrella. Her features were hard; her look stern and her voice shrill and cracked. She took snuff frequently and had such a masculine appearance that people who passed in the street used to say how much she resembles a man."
Jenny obviously had some influence in high places because Napoleon granted her a thousand francs a year pension in 1812 and even a free apartment in the Chateau of Versailles. Although this pension ceased with the fall of the Empire in 1822 she was paid the salary of a postmistresses, even though she never actually took up a position in the mail service.
Her pension and the Versailles chambers were returned to her in 1825, but in 1853 she lost her rooms at Versailles when the palace was turned into a museum. Five years later Jenny died in a little apartment in Paris, and upon examination her body was found to be that of a male, but no-one knew her original name nor identity.
All this led to speculation that Mlle. Savalette de Lange could actually be Louis XVII, the son of the beheaded King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (dozens of people had claimed to be Louis XVII over the years), but a DNA test excluded that possibility. "Editions Dilecta" have published Herail's historical book on Jenny Savalette de Lange : Sur l'homme-femme connu sous le nom de mademoiselle Savalette de Lange
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