Out of her head~Girl trouble in France~sometimes, boys won’t stand up for themselves and when that happens, a girl has to do~what a girl has to do~comme ca~


Girls are far, far, the more practical among us ~~and much prefer the direct approach to resolving conflicts~~

~~often throwing all risk to the winds for the benefit of what is right~~proper~~and just~~


Our girl risked all for her boy~~Murderpedia is thanked profusely here for providing the pictures and story that tell her tale~~


Murderpedia’s excellent rendition follows now~~~

            Henriette CAILLAUX


Madame             Henriette Caillaux, second wife of French politician Joseph             Caillaux, who shot dead M Calmette,             the editor of ‘Le Figaro’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Mme Caillaux, wife of the French Finance Minister Joseph Caillaux.           She stood trial for the murder           of Gaston Calmette, editor of Le Figaro, who she shot and killed for           publishing           personal letters written by Caillaux. She was acquitted.           (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

French Finance minister Joseph Caillaux (1863 – 1944) husband of           the murderess, Mme Henriette Caillaux.           (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

                        21st March 1914: Relatives of Gaston Calmette, editor of                         Le Figaro, leading his funeral procession                          through Paris. Mme Henriette Caillaux stood trial for                         his murder.                         (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)St Lazare                         prison, where Mme Henriette Caillaux was held while                         awaiting trial for murder.                         (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)The prison                         cell at St Lazare where Mme Henriette Caillaux was held                         while awaiting trial for the murder                         of the editor of Le Figaro. (Photo by Topical Press                         Agency/Getty Images)The two                         nuns in charge of Mme Henriette Caillaux, while she                         stood trial for the murder of Gaston Calmette,                         editor of Le Figaro. (Photo by Topical Press                         Agency/Getty Images)Mme                         Henriette CaillauxMonsieur Labori, cousel for the defence in the murder                         trial of Mme Henriette Caillaux,                         who shot and killed the editor of Le Figaro.

Dr Raymond gives evidence at the trial of Mme Henriette Caillaux, accused of the murder of Gaston Calmette,                         editor of Le Figaro. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty                         Images)

                                      The waxwork of Madame Caillaux, who stood                                       trial for the murder of Gaston Calmette,                                       editor of Le Figaro,                                       at Mme Tussaud’s, London. (Photo by                                       Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The victim

Gaston Calmette,             editor of Le Figaro, who was shot and killed by Mme Henriette             Caillaux.             (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)


Henriette           CAILLAUX




              Classification: Murderer
              Characteristics:                The               wife of France’s minister of finance, Joseph Caillaux
              Number of victims: 1
              Date of murder: March 16, 1914
              Date of arrest:                         Same day
              Date of birth: December 6, 1874
              Victim profile:            Gaston Calmette, 55 (editor of Le Figaro)
              Method of murder:                Shooting
              Location: Paris, France
              Status:                                                      Acquitted                                                          on July 28, 1914

photo gallery

Henriette Caillaux (1874-1943)           was a Parisian socialite and wife of the former Prime Minister of           France who is remembered as an assassin.Born Henriette Raynouard, she           was having an affair with Joseph Caillaux while he was still married           but eventually he divorced and the two married. While serving as           Minister of Finance in the government of France, Joseph Caillaux came           under bitter attack from his political foes and at a time when           newspapers took political sides, the editor of the Le Figaro           newspaper, Gaston Calmette (1858-1914) had been a severe critic.Calmette received a letter belonging to           Joseph Caillaux that journalistic etiquette at the time dictated           should not be published. The letter seemed to suggest that           improprieties had been committed by Caillaux; in it he appeared to           admit having orchestrated the rejection of a tax bill while publicly           pretending to support its passage. Calmette proceeded to publish the           letter at a time when Joseph Caillaux, in his capacity as Minister of           Finance, was trying to get an income tax bill passed by the French           Senate. The publication of his letter severely tarnished Joseph           Caillaux’s reputation and caused a great political upheaval.

Madame Caillaux believed that the only           way for her husband to defend his reputation would be to challenge           Calmette to a duel, which, one way or another, would destroy her and           her husband’s life. Madame Caillaux made the decision to protect her           beloved husband by sacrificing herself.

On March 16, 1914, the elegant and           sophisticated woman walked to the newspaper’s offices where she           confronted the editor. After a few words, she pulled out a pistol and           fired several shots point-blank into the man’s chest, killing him           instantly.

Henriette Caillaux’s trial dominated           French public life. It featured a deposition from the president of the           Republic, an unheard-of occurrence at a criminal proceeding almost           anywhere, along with the fact that many of the participants were among           the most powerful members of French society. At a time when feminism           was still beginning to impact French society, most republican and           socialist men paid no more than lip service to the feminist cause.

However, it was this male chauvinism           that actually proved Henriette Caillaux’s best friend during the           proceedings. She was defended by the prominent attorney           Fernand-Gustave-Gaston Labori (1860-1917); he convinced the jury that           her crime, which she did not deny, was not a premeditated act but that           her uncontrollable female emotions resulted in a crime of passion.           With male beliefs that women were not as strong emotionally as men, on           July 28th, 1914, Madame Caillaux was acquitted.


A 1985 made for           French television movie called “L’Affaire Caillaux” and a 1992 book           titled The Trial of Madame Caillaux by American history professor           Edward Berenson, recounts the event.



The Press and L’Affaire Caillaux

Late in the evening on March 16, 1914, six shots           rang out from the office of Gaston Calmette, the famed editor of           Le Figaro. Adrien Cirac, an office aide, was the first to rush           into the editor’s office. There he found Henriette Caillaux, the wife           of France’s minister of finance, Joseph Caillaux, standing in front of           a bookcase with her right hand still raised holding a Browning 6 mm           aimed at the slumped figure of Gaston Calmette.

Moments earlier, Adrien Cirac had led Henriette           Caillaux into the office. She was a strange and unexpected visitor to           the offices of Le Figaro, but Calmette had not hesitated to           receive her, saying, it’s a woman…I cannot refuse to receive a           woman. Calmette had reached the apex of a three month long           slanderous campaign leveled against Mme. Caillaux’s husband just three           days prior to her visit.

On March 13, Calmette had printed an embarrassingly           intimate letter Joseph Caillaux had written thirteen years earlier to           Berthe Gueydan, the mistress who later became his first wife. The           publication of the letter, nicknamed Ton Jo for the           sentimental valediction, not only publicized an affair, but also           exposed Caillaux’s suspect political dealings. Mme. Caillaux would           later claim that the personal attack and the perceived threat of the           publication of her own scandalous lettres intimes from Joseph           drove her to Calmette’s offices, where she committed the murder. As           the police arrived to take Mme. Caillaux to the Saint-Lazare Women’s           Prison, she calmly explained, since there is no more justice in           France…I resolved that I alone would be able to stop this campaign.           The campaign to which she referred was, of course, the alleged slander           published by Calmette.

After enduring a three month long pre-trial           investigation, Henriette Caillaux appeared in the cour d’assises           in Paris on July 21, 1914, just three weeks after the assassination of           Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo. In the           weeks following the assassination in Sarajevo, alliances between the           great European powers solidified, and tensions mounted. Despite these           circumstances, Henriette Caillaux’s trial consumed the dailies           circulated by Paris’s mass popular press. The trial spanned nine days           during which time Paris newspapers printed little other than news of           the unfolding drama in court.

To a degree, the trial merited this level of           attention. The case featured the accused socialite murderess Henriette           Caillaux, her famous husband Joseph, who had served as France’s prime           minister on two occasions, and was conducted by two of France’s           leading lawyers, Fernand Labori for the defense and Charles Chenu for           the prosecution, both of whom had served as counsel in the notorious           trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Drama and sensationalism dominated           the trial and provided fodder for celebrity gossip, particularly in           the testimony of Joseph’s first wife, Berthe Gueydan, who exposed           private details of the scandalous start to the Caillaux couple’s           adulterous relationship.

Throughout the nine day trial, these main actors           took center stage in a court case dominated by emotion, romance,           hot-tempers, and secret political dealings. With every dramatic turn           in the trial’s events, the Parisian press was present to carefully           report every detail. The papers related Joseph’s insulting           interjection in the middle of Berthe’s testimony that masculinized her           by stating that their natures were at the time opposed and too           similar. The press captured Berthe’s calculated moves to checkmate           M. Labori as she granted him custody of the notorious lettres           intimes, thereby forcing him to choose between betraying his           client and withholding evidence from the court. The dailies reported           Henriette’s dramatic fainting spells and described her husband as he           rushes, leaps, and ascends the railing, to take his wife in           his arms. And they faithfully recorded the violent altercation           between the Calmette-supporter Henry Bernstein, the famed playwright,           and Joseph Caillaux which resulted in the greatest uproar and           disorder and ended with the trial’s temporary suspension.

After nine days of hearings and despite the           testimony by witnesses against her, an abundance of evidence, and           Chenu’s legal skill, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty after           less than an hour of deliberation. The same day the papers announced           Henriette Caillaux’s acquittal, tensions between the great European           nations came to a head with Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on           Serbia. Surprisingly, when compared to the press’s coverage trial, the           events leading to war received very little attention. The limited           number of newspaper reports of the mounting tensions abroad was           somewhat unusual. Soon after the rise of France’s mass popular press           in the 1880s, French dailies averaged between 15 and 20 percent           coverage of foreign affairs, with one of the largest French dailies,           Le Matin, allocated on average 50 percent of its coverage to           news from abroad.

Many of the larger papers limited their foreign           affairs coverage during the week of the trial to accommodate the           commentary, elaborate images, and complete transcripts of trial           proceedings. Among the newspapers boasting the largest circulation           numbers, the trial dominated the front pages: Le Matin           devoted approximately 56 percent of its front page to the trial,           Le Petit Journal only 26 percent, and Le Petit Parisien           42 percent. In contrast, Le Figaro, with a lower circulation           but perhaps more closely aligned with the trial, devoted approximately           70 percent of its front page to the trial.7           In addition to the front page coverage, each of these papers printed           between two and three pages of the complete trial transcripts. For           L’Echo de Paris, a conservative Parisian newspaper, complete           coverage of the trial meant excluding nearly all other news coverage           from its four pages. The unprecedented trial coverage was achieved at           the expense of foreign affairs coverage, which dropped well below           average over the course of the week.

Family, Femininity, and Gender Reflected

Why did this trial dominate the Parisian press in           the final weeks of July 1914? The trial possessed all the necessary           characteristics required for an entertaining story. Murder, romance,           celebrities, and politics filled the pages of the daily papers           distributed in Paris the week of the trial. In many ways, the trial           fed national curiosity and provided a diversion to looming           international threats by entertaining readers with news that read more           like a play than journalism. There were transcripts detailing court           dialogue, columns describing wardrobe, and elaborate illustrations           depicting each witness’s stance and attitude while they gave           testimony. The papers cast Joseph Caillaux, Henriette Caillaux, and           Berthe Gueydan as “the three protagonists,” and describe dramatic           points in the trial as a “coup de théâtre.” At a time when most major           daily papers entertained as well as informed readers, Henriette           Caillaux’s trial created a unique opportunity of combining           entertainment with reality.

However, more importantly than the question of why           the press covered the trial to such an extent, is the question of what           this coverage signifies. I contend that themes of family, femininity,           and gender roles run throughout the press coverage of Henriette           Caillaux’s trial and act as a social mirror reflecting complex           mentalities French society had toward gender at the turn of the           twentieth century.

I draw predominately from six Parisian daily           newspapers that claimed varying levels of circulation in order to           gauge how the press portrayed the trial. Of these six newspapers,           Le Matin, Le Petit Parisien, and Le Petit Journal           boasted the highest circulation figures and made up three of the four           quatre grands. Together, the quatre grands printed           4.5 million copies a day and reached nearly half of all Paris. I also           include Le Figaro, the conservative newspaper whose           contributors included many prominent figures from the literary world.           Le Figaro‘s it was intimate connection to the trial           proceedings provide a unique perspective few other newspapers shared.           Lastly, I examined L’Echo de Paris, a conservative and highly           nationalistic newspaper, to represent a right leaning paper with           smaller circulation figures and The New York Herald’s           European edition printed in Paris to incorporate an outside           perspective on the events of the trial.

The Parisian press gained notoriety in the Third           Republic as unabashedly biased. The French newspapers were littered           with slanted stories and used its influence on the public to           perpetuate its own agendas. Yet, due to high literacy rates and wide           circulation, the French press was considered widely influential in           forming public opinion. Writing on the media in the Third Republic,           Keiger notes that “many politicians equated the press with public           opinion, so that, if governments had the support of the press…, they           carried public opinion.” The press’s influence extended beyond the           realm of politics to influence other areas of Parisian life. According           to Robert Nye, the “images of criminality [newspapers] presented,           their often explicit attributions of responsibility, and their           suggestions on appropriate punishments are valuable indices of levels           of anxiety” experienced within a society. In the case of Mme.           Caillaux, newspaper coverage coalesced around questions of the           importance of family and respect for traditional gender roles as           emergent social issues in Belle Epoque Paris.

To demonstrate how themes of family, femininity,           and gender roles emerged in the Parisian Press’s coverage of the           Henriette Caillaux trial, I analyze the trial through the eyes of the           press as represented by the above mentioned daily newspapers. I am           less concerned with the actual events of the trial than I am with the           trial’s representation in the press. Therefore, I do not intend to           delve into Henriette’s guilt or innocence nor do I extrapolate from           the proceedings the sincerity of the defense and motivations of the           accused. Instead, I examine the text and illustrations printed in           Parisian newspapers covering the trial to show parallels between the           press’s portrayal of the trial and trends in gender in 1914 Parisian           society.

State of the Nation

To fully comprehend these evolving trends in           Parisian society at the turn of the twentieth century and how they           emerged in the trial, it is important to situate the Caillaux Affair           within the context of the historical framework. By 1914, France           experienced a rise in nationalism and had increasingly come under the           influence of the conservative right, a group highly suspicious of           Germany and who rejected the left’s policies of détente with Germany.           To a degree, the conservatives were rightfully weary of their German           neighbor. In 1870, the French went to war with the soon to be German           nation confident of victory in what came to be known as the           Franco-Prussian War. French confidence began to wane as the war raged           on and the Prussians laid siege to Paris. Throughout the siege,           Parisians experienced massive unemployment, the tripling of mortality           rates when the sanitation system broke down, and hunger as they turned           to horses, dogs, cats, and rats for nourishment.

The dehumanizing and humiliating experience of the           siege saw no reprieve with peace. The terms of peace granted Prussia           all of Alsace and part of Lorraine, payment of a five billion gold           franc indemnity, and allowed the Prussians to enter Paris           triumphantly. During the Franco-Prussian War, the French government           had collapsed and was replaced by the Third Republic, the Parisians           had revolted and established the Paris Commune, and France had lost           the major industrial centers of Alsace and Lorraine.

The years following France’s defeat witnessed a           widening demographic and industrial gap between France and the newly           formed Germany. Throughout the end of the nineteenth century and the           beginning of the twentieth, conservative factions of the French public           became increasingly concerned by Germany’s growing strength in           contrast to France’s relative weakness. Their demographic concerns           were justified. In the sixty years preceding Henriette Caillaux’s           trial, France’s population had grown by 9.5 percent while Germany’s           population had increased by 74.9 percent. At the time of the trial,           France had a population of 39 million, and the death rate outstripped           the birth rate. By contrast, Germany had experienced rapid population           growth in the last century, bringing its population to approximately           60 million in 1914.

France’s demographic weakness raised concerns for           the security of the nation, and according to historian Karen Offen,           following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the loss of           Alsace-Lorraine, “leaders of the Third Republic were painfully aware           of the international implications of the decline: the German victory           underscored the relationship between population and national might.”

France’s dangerously low population growth was           perceived as a threat to the nation’s security. France’s demographic           weakness was compounded by similar discrepancies in industrial           prowess. Germany had experienced rapid population growth and           industrialization which far outstripped the industrialization France           had undergone by 1914. These disparities in population and industrial           productivity between the two countries made it unfeasible for France           to compete with Germany.

From 1870 through the first years of the twentieth           century, France’s diplomatic relationships with Germany fluctuated           between the liberals’s policy of détente and the conservatives’s           defensive hostility. Historian J.F.V. Keiger writes that following           France’s defeat in 1871, “France’s foreign and defense policies were           predicated on how to deal with the German ‘question.'” In part, the           question of France’s relationship with Germany played itself out in           the colonies. On July 1, 1911, a diplomatic standoff began between           Germany and France in the Moroccan Port of Agadir. What became known           as the Agadir Affair had originated with France’s violation of the           Algeçiras agreements, which had prohibited France from interfering in           events transpiring in Moroccan backcountry. Earlier that year, France           had sent troops into Morocco to intervene on behalf of European           citizens in a political upheaval in Fez. In response to France’s           violation, Germany ordered a gunboat into the port of Agadir, which           then brought Franco-German tensions to a head.

The liberal government under then Premier Joseph           Caillaux opted to begin secret negotiations with Germany to avoid an           outright conflict, the odds for which were not in France’s favor. An           agreement was reached on October 11, 1911, that granted Germany claims           on joint economic and financial venture and granted them part of the           French Congo. In exchange, France received a protectorate over           Morocco, which was far more profitable than the Congo. However, once           Joseph Caillaux’s secret dealings with the Germans came to light, the           French public was outraged. Le Petit Journal reported on           November 8, 1911, that “the accord that was just signed is the           definitive condemnation – by the Germans themselves – of the clumsy           politics, unjust and without glory, which they have managed against           France for more than ten years.” There was a general sense of betrayal           and heightened suspicions of Germany that resulted from the Agadir           Affair. These tensions and suspicions quashed all hope of achieving           détente with Germany was lost and the two countries entered into an           arms race.

While tensions with Germany varied in degree of           intensity in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, French fears           of the German threat mounted with the growing force of the nationalist           movement. The nationalist movement was most powerful among French           conservatives, but at the turn of the twentieth century, its influence           extended beyond political identification. The nationalist movement           responded to France’s demographic vulnerabilities by valorizing the           family as the building block of population growth.

The Family as France’s Foundation

The value placed on the family was clearly visible           in public attitudes toward divorce. France legalized divorce in 1884,           but by 1914 the law still sparked tremendous controversy. Le Matin           took advantage of this controversy in February 1908, by publishing a           series of readers’s letters advocating and opposing divorce. Many of           divorce’s supporters argued for the necessity of having the right to           escape marriages marked by infidelity, illegitimate children, and           suffering in unhappy marriages. However, many of divorce’s opponents           aligned the dissolution of families with the weakening of France. One           reader responded in a survey on February 9 that “if you want a great           France, strong and prosperous, if you want to affirm the stability of           our beautiful country and assure its repopulation with healthy and           strong men, form indissoluble families.”

Three days later on February 12, another reader           wrote, “it is only the homeland in danger and the defense of the           territories that can separate spouses,” and in so doing, aligned the           unity of family with the defense of nation. Parisians closely           identified maintaining strong, unifies families with patriotism and           the nation’s defense against threatening outside forces.

At the center of healthy families was a respect for           traditional gender roles. Men were to assert their masculine duties of           protecting their honor and the honor of their families, while wives           were to adhere to a subservient, domestic lifestyle. The recent           emergence of the feminist movement in France threatened traditional           roles as women began to step outside their spheres and into the world           of men. In some extreme anti-feminist circles, loud-spoken individuals           painted the feminist movement as a foreign disease infecting French           society and undermining traditional values. Yet, as French historian           Edward Berenson argues, in more reserved circles “feminism, even in           its mildest version, aroused the most exaggerated, and contradictory,           species of masculine fears.” These fears arose in response to women           breaching traditional gender norms and adopting more masculine roles.

On January 1, 1900, the newspaper Le Gaulois           printed in its front page an editorial comparing the women of 1900 to           those under Napoleon, claiming that “education changed their form…we           gave to women a mature instruction” and “they were subjected to           redoubtable contact with ideas” through which they grew “accustomed to           looking at truth, in the boldest manner,” and “they become virilized.”

According to the editorial, women who moved outside           of their traditional domestic roles to receive a worldly education           previously reserved for men would take on other manly characteristics.           Women who challenged traditional gender roles lost their femininity           and thereby threatened the stability of the family. For this reason,           Feminists were perceived as threats to traditional social order and           women’s place in the family, and conservative elements of society           rejected the feminist movement and behavior that affronted traditional           female roles.

Scandal and Divorce

When Henriette Caillaux’s trial opened on July 20,           1914, it found itself well within this historical context that was           increasingly dominated by nationalist pride that valorized the family           and supported traditional gender roles. The controversy of divorce’s           threat to family stability swiftly followed the opening remarks on the           first day of the trial as Henriette Caillaux took the stand for the           judge’s inquiry. The judge began by asking Mme. Caillaux about the           circumstances surrounding her divorce. His direct opening question           reflected the imposed centrality of issues of marriage, divorce, and           adultery to the case. While these issues were secondary to the main           events of the trial, the presiding judge deemed the placement of           Henriette in the context of two marriages to be of utmost importance.           In 1908, Henriette divorced her husband of fourteen years. She had           been having an affair with Joseph Caillaux over the course of the           previous year and had decided to leave her first husband to marry           Joseph. Joseph, also, was married at the time of their affair to           Berthe Gueydan, but unlike Henriette, he had no children by his first           marriage. The couple’s adulterous relationship and morally           questionable divorces made the integrity of family a theme developed           by several newspapers covering the trial.

Henriette’s response to the judge’s questioning           reflected careful navigation of social norms. She began by identifying           herself with her peers, stating:

“I was raised like all the other young girls of             my time… I never left my parents until the day of my marriage.” She             then confessed that soon after her first marriage, which took place             when she was only nineteen years old, “bad feelings unexpectedly             arose…our characters did not complement one another; on several             occasions, I was at the point of breaking off the union, but I had             two children, two girls, and for them I waited.”

Henriette characterized herself as a woman of the           time: she had the same upbringing as her peers and the same           expectations for a happy marriage, and she placed her family above her           personal needs. Parisian society could not blame a woman for desiring           happiness in marriage; after all, by 1914, happiness in marriage had           become a realistic expectation. Henriette’s desire for a happy           marriage was not uncommon for women in the Belle Epoque, and her           postponement of personal satisfaction for the sake of her children           suggested to the public that she was a woman who upheld family values.

Divorce was a point of contention in the Third           Republic, in addition to being widely considered unpatriotic. Divorce           undermined family and was thus seen as linked to France’s purported           moral decay. In his article on divorce in the Belle Epoque, Berenson           writes, that the link between moral decay and divorce, “commentators           claimed, had spread to the family itself, an institution progressively           weakened by feminism, individualism, and divorce” with depopulation as           the “inevitable result.” Immorality, divorce, adultery, and feminism           were intimately linked in the conservative minds of the right.           Parisian press in opposition to Henriette Caillaux exploited these           connections to portray her as unwomanly and thereby associated with           the moral decay perceived as subverting French society. By contrast,           newspapers that wrote sympathetically of Henriette overlooked her           checkered past to emphasize her respect for social norms and her           attempt to live by them.

The question of divorce was certainly formidable,           but it was second to the public nature of Henriette’s affair with           Joseph Caillaux. While much of French society feared that divorce           undermined the family, it placed growing value on happiness and sexual           fulfillment in marriage. According to Michèle Plott, “between 1860 and           1900…to a far greater extent, upper-middle-class women could construct           a sexual sense of self while remaining respectable,” and in fact,           “many respectable middle-class women expected to find sexual           satisfaction in marriage.” The growing acceptance in France of women’s           sexuality and the expectation of sexual fulfillment in marriage           resulted in society’s growing acceptance of women engaging in acts of           adultery, and it grew increasingly acceptable for women who did not           find happiness in marriage to turn elsewhere.

While society accepted women’s adultery, it did not           accept the scandal that accompanied public knowledge of such affairs.           Women engaged in extramarital relations were expected to keep the           knowledge of it within the confines of their intimate circle. The           paradox of Belle Epoque society was that the perception of morality           and purity of the family was idealized while the reality of discrete           immorality was accepted. Parisian society thus deemed it acceptable           for a woman to seek sexual fulfillment outside of wedlock if the           marriage was devoid of it, but it was unacceptable for a woman to           allow her extramarital affairs to be made public. Gaston Calmette’s           campaign threatened to make Henriette’s affair public by publishing           intimate love-letters on the front page of Le Figaro. Her           extreme reaction to the threat of her affair’s publication, that is           the murder of M. Calmette, was cast by favorable newspapers as playing           by social rules rather than subverting them. By contrast, newspapers           hostile to Henriette took advantages of the opportunity to emphasize           the morally questionable start to the marriage of Henriette and           Joseph, in which two families were dissolved.

Biasses in the Press

Le Matin‘s front page report of the           trial’s first day proceedings ran sympathetic headlines that           emphasized Henriette’s fear that Calmette would have exposed her           affair with Joseph. The headlines printed across Le Matin‘s           front page directly quoted Henriette’s testimony and were selected by           the editors to summarize the important points from the day’s           proceedings. One headline read, “I feared the publication of the           lettres intimes, I feared for my husband, for myself, for my           daughter.” Le Matin used this quote to highlight the portion           of Henriette’s testimony that reflected her concern first for her           family and then for her own reputation. This headline made clear to           the reader that Henriette feared the consequences of the affair’s           exposure for her husband and his career and for her daughter and the           consequences she would experience as a result of the dishonorable           beginning to her parents’s relationship. Le Matin‘s depiction           of Henriette’s fear overlooked the morally questionable affair to           direct the reader’s attention to her laudable love and concern for the           wellbeing of her family.

Le Matin ran a second headline below the           first that emphasized the private, personal nature of the lettres           intimes. The second headline read, “it was all flaunted, my           intimacy, my most dear secret, but also the most hidden, my womanly           honor was made bare.” Whereas the first headline emphasized           Henriette’s concern for family, the second contrasted her socially           acceptable pursuit of love with Calmette’s threat of exposure. This           headline implies that Henriette found happiness in her affair with           Joseph and that she recognized the importance of her affair’s secret           nature. She desired to adhere to the social norms which dictated the           affair remain private if it were to remain socially acceptable. Le           Matin’s choice of headline conveys the idea that the exposure of           Henriette’s affair was no fault of her own, but rather, that of           outside forces which threatened her honor as a woman. Le Matin’s           description appealed to public sympathy by casting Henriette as the           victim who was faced with the threat of exposure and inadvertent           violation of social rules.

More subtly, Le Petit Parisien also           emphasized aspects of the trial that cast Henriette Caillaux in a           favorable light. The Parisian press included complete transcripts of           the trial proceedings in their dailies. To make the long transcripts           more manageable, the press divided them into sections with section           headings. Section breaks and headings were subject to each paper’s own           discretion and each determined where their breaks would fall and what           they would be titled. Sections functioned to bring the reader’s           attention to certain passages and the section titles served to shape           the reader’s perception of the content contained within.

In its July 21 coverage of the trial, Le Petit           Parisien inserted a section break at a point in Mme. Caillaux’s           testimony that emphasized the private nature of the lettres           intimes and M. Calmette’s violation of a woman’s privacy. The           newspaper titled the section “The ‘Ton Jo’ letter was a private           letter” to introduce Henriette’s statement that “it is well evident           that in publishing the ‘Ton Jo’ letter, M. Calmette entered into the           private life of the Minister, but in short he also entered into the           private life of a woman, the recipient of this letter.”

Le Petit Parisien drew the reader’s           attention to a passage portraying Henriette Caillaux as a victim,           whose respectability as a woman was threatened indirectly by M.           Calmette’s attacks on her husband. Henriette Caillaux was not           responsible for the controversial political decisions made by her           husband that had instigated the attack from the right; however, she           was directly affected by what appeared as negligence on M. Calmette’s           part. Therefore, public exposure of Henriette’s affair was not an           instance of her social deviancy, but rather M. Calmette’s disregard           for feminine honor.

Le Figaro was intimately connected with           the trial as its own editor, Gaston Calmette, was murdered by the           accused. Unsurprisingly, the newspaper was particularly hostile in its           treatment of Henriette. Le Figaro was more nuanced in its           bias than other, more widely circulated dailies. It relied primarily           on the printed text and photograph captions to sway the reader’s           opinion. Le Figaro hostility toward Henriette Caillaux was           most clearly conveyed in the photograph captions dispersed throughout           the newspaper. One such caption quoted from Henriette’s testimony,           claiming, “I did not yet know if I would be going to a tea or to           Le Figaro.”

By isolating this phrase outside of the context of           the testimony, Le Figaro depicted Henriette as casual and           nonchalant in her decision to murder Gaston Calmette. It suggested           that Henriette considered murder on par with going to tea with           friends. In doing so, Le Figaro cast her as a cold and           heartless woman, unfazed by the thought of committing murder. Whereas           sympathetic papers stressed Henriette’s fear of exposure, Le           Figaro suggests that Henriette was far from emotional in the           hours preceding Calmette’s murder.

Le Figaro continued its assault against           Henriette’s feminine nature by portraying her as a cold and unwomanly           through the caption, “my father put me in the habit of always carrying           a little revolver in delicate situations.” If Henriette was accustomed           to carrying a gun, she was also familiar with using it. Describing the           prosecution’s strategy, Berenson claims that in Belle Epoque society,           a woman’s ability to operate a gun was an “apparent departure from           female propriety.” Henriette’s familiarity and ownership of a gun           situated her in a masculine role.

Furthermore, by drawing the reader’s attention to           Henriette’s familiarity with guns, Le Figaro pointed to the           question of motivation. Why would Henriette possess a gun? She was a           married woman and it was her husband’s duty to protect her honor. As           Robert Nye argues, Belle Epoque society was governed by “the rituals           of a code of honor that idealized the feminine and required men to           defend their families, but they denied to women the quality of honor           that would permit their inclusion” in the masculine sphere.

Therefore, if Henriette were truly a feminine           woman, she would have no need to carry a gun, unless she intended to           usurp her husband’s duty to defend her honor. Le Figaro’s           strategic caption implies that Henriette’s nature is at odds with           traditional gender roles, which dictated she defer acts of violence in           defense of honor to her husband. The newspaper’s subtle accusation           that Henriette was in opposition to her role as a woman and a wife,           questioned her respect for family and adherence to traditional family           values.

Belle Epoque Feminity: Comme il Faut?

Similar to the divorce controversy was the question           of women and femininity. French women at the turn of the nineteenth           century increasingly questioned traditional gender roles. Le Matin           had reported on the first feminist march on Paris on July 6, 1914,           taking place just two weeks before the opening of Henriette’s trial,           and columns like “Le Jeune Fille ‘Comme il Faut'” made regular           appearances on the front pages of the Parisian dailies. Henriette’s           trial was not exempt from the feminist discussion, and the French           press manipulated the contrasting stereotypes of feminine and feminist           to reflect their biases and sympathies throughout their trial           coverage.

The trial featured two leading women who in a sense           were foils of one another. While the papers cast both women in varying           degrees of sympathetic light, themes did emerge. Papers that favored           Henriette Caillaux portrayed her as a frail, delicate woman with her           frequent outbursts of sobs and repeated fainting spells, while they           depicted Berthe Gueydan, Joseph Caillaux’s first wife, as an           aggressive woman with marked “bitterness and lassitude.” The           newspapers exploited social themes that pitted the feminine against           the feminist and established a binary through which they bestowed           pardon and condemnation on these two women.

The press reports favoring Henriette Caillaux           stressed her submissive, feminine character not only in their           descriptions but also in the images they published in their papers.           The above illustration appeared in Le Petit Parisien and           represents Henriette Caillaux’s postures on the day M. Labori read the           notorious lettres intimes. The artist sketches a submissive           woman, whose eyes are constantly averted and who positions her body in           a submissive attitude. Three out of the five sketches show Henriette’s           head bowed. Interestingly, in the two sketches in which men appear,           Henriette is in this bowed, submissive attitude. Nothing in her           attitude or appearance would seem to threaten the upright and           aggressive postures of the men in the sketches.

In the three sketches in which Henriette appears           alone, she also appears lost and weak. She is hardly discernible in           the first drawing, having bowed her head so low that only the top of           her hat is visible. The center sketch is the only one of the five in           which she is drawn standing upright; however, her upright posture is           far from aggressive, as it shows her looking lost and concerned with           her arms drawn toward her as she gazes across the audience. The final           sketch depicts Henriette with a raised head and a hand grasping the           bar as she blankly stares out into the courtroom. Her attitude seemed           weak, timid, and worried. Despite appearing in the minority of           sketches, the men dominate this illustration with their aggressive,           erect stances. Henriette’s humble, submissive attitude in relation to           these men affirms her feminine character and adheres to traditional,           submissive feminine gender roles.

Four days later, Le Petit Parisien printed           a similar drawing depicting Mme. Caillaux in a submissive, vulnerable           light. In the sketch captioned, “What one saw of Mme. Caillaux while           the lawyers spoke,” Henriette appeared alone in three postures, all of           which depicted only a portion of the top of her head. The images           showed Henriette weak and weeping while seated at the dock as her           lawyer, M. Labori, read the lettres intimes before the court.           Le Petit Parisien sympathetically portrayed Henriette as a           woman attempting to hide her shame as she is publically exposed. The           drawings suggest that while Mme. Caillaux could not hide her           adulterous past, she could hide her person and thereby attempt to           maintain a sense of feminine decency.

Le Petit Journal printed sketches that           cast Henriette Caillaux in a similarly sympathetic light by drawing on           themes of weakness, uncertainty, and vulnerability. In its July 22           drawing of Henriette sitting at the dock, Le Petit Journal’s           artist captured the image of a woman whose weak eyes and mouth make           her appear tired and sad. She can barely raise her head above the           dock’s railing, and the incline of her head coupled with her sad,           tired features, gives her a pleading, helpless air. It is as if she           cannot help herself but requires the pity and charity of others to           bring her out of her condition. In the drawing, she is accompanied by           a guard to ensure she behaves while in court. The guard’s presence is           almost laughable next to the docile, submissive depiction of Henriette           Caillaux. Le Petit Journal’s drawing emphasized Henriette’s           gentle and weak femininity that posed no threat to traditional gender           roles.

In contrast to Henriette, Berthe Gueydan appeared           on the stand as a strong and forceful woman in papers sympathetic to           Mme. Caillaux. The above series of drawings were printed in Le           Matin the day following Mme. Gueydan’s testimony on the witness           stand. The drawings cast her in an aggressive, confident, and           assertive attitude. In three of the four drawings, Mme. Gueydan stands           with a casual and easy lean and holds her head high. Berthe Gueydan is           alone in a man’s world, surrounded by men in the background, and yet           her stance suggests that she is comfortable and at ease in this           environment. Unlike Henriette, Berthe’s body language depicted in           Le Matin is aggressive, strong, and not distressed by being alone           in a masculine environment. Berthe’s confidence is matched by           defensive and harsh body language in the final drawing. Even while           sitting, Berthe keeps her head up and her elbow out. Her manner of           sitting is far from the delicate, passive sketches of Mme. Caillaux           bowing her head before the men in the court. Berthe’s attitude in           these drawings is assertive in a man’s world and could easily be read           as threatening masculine power.

Le Petit Parisien‘s depiction of Berthe           Gueydan also differed markedly from the timid and weak drawings of           Henriette Caillaux. On July 25, the newspaper printed a pair of           sketches showing Berthe Gueydan in profile. These images contrasted           drastically with the images of Henriette, captioned “Mme. Caillaux’s           various attitudes during yesterday’s hearing,” that were printed           directly above them. In the photo to the left, Berthe appears old and           haggard with her drooping mouth, dark eyes, and slightly sagging head.           Rather than seeming soft and feminine, Berthe is depicted as a tired,           hardened, and unapproachable woman. Whereas the newspaper portrayed           Henriette overcome with emotion and her handkerchief in hand, it           represented Berthe as stern and emotionless. Le Petit Parisien           paired the picture on the left with the drawing to its right. This           second sketch conveyed a different image of Berthe Gueydan, but one           equally unwomanly. In the second image, Berthe is shown tight lipped           and glaring at the reader with her straining neck aggressively           thrusting her head forward. Her aggressive and hostile depiction is           again at odds with the submissive, feminine ideal valued by more           conservative elements of French society. Through this somewhat hostile           representation, Le Petit Parisien distanced Berthe from           feminine emotions and stereotyped gender norms.

Ironically, these two images depict Berthe wearing           a hat reminiscent of the red Phrygian cap of the French Revolution.           The deeply symbolic Phrygian cap was at once a symbol of national           liberty and of the violent overthrow of the ancien régime.           The French Third Republic was well familiar with this symbolism: Paris           had erected a statue of Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic,           wearing such a hat in 1883 in the Place de la République. Rather than           emitting a sense of patriotism, Berthe wearing Marianne’s Phrygian cap           only reinforced her threatening character. Berthe’s unwomanly and           hardened image aligned her with masculine characteristics. Her image           subverted traditional gender roles and thereby undermined a core           element of the family. In the minds of many of the French press’s           readers, as previously demonstrated, a threat to the family was by           nature a threat to the national strength. Therefore, Le Petit           Parisien’s sketches of Berthe wearing a patriotic Phrygian cap           were more of a mocking caricature than a move to bestow patriotic           valor on Joseph Caillaux’s former wife.

Unsurprisingly, Le Figaro strongly opposed           the binary depiction that favored Henriette as submissively feminine           and Berthe as aggressively masculine. The conservative newspaper           described Mme. Caillaux as “cold-blooded” and marked by “impatience,”           “disappointed ambition,” and “disheartened snobbery.”

In contrast, Le Figaro sympathetically           cast Mme. Gueydan as a woman plagued by the hardship of a “sad picture           of a household, where, after love was lost, the husband had nothing           left but hate and wanted to throw the woman he once loved to the           street.” Yet Le Figaro‘s slant was expected as Henriette had           shot its editor, and does not accurately reflect the majority of           newspapers’s characterization of the two women. In fact, as Berenson           notes, “commentators outside Le Figaro‘s orbit – even those           quite hostile to Henriette Caillaux – presented Berthe Gueydan as           tough, aggressive, and capable of caring for herself.”

While Le Figaro’s representation of the           two women opposed that of the majority of Paris’s popular press, the           conservative newspaper also drew from stereotypes to advance its           biases. In the image above, Le Figaro depicted Henriette           Caillaux as the most prominent figure in the male-dominated courtroom.           Unlike the submissive qualities emphasized in sympathetic newspapers,           Henriette is drawn as the dominant figure, towering over the men in           the courtroom. Her prominent placement endows her with a sense of           authority as she looks down on the bowed heads of lawyers and guards.           Both lawyers and guards are responsible for preserving order; however,           in Le Figaro’s sketch of Henriette, she has ironically           usurped the order by defying the authority and dominance given to           these men by their traditional gender roles.

Le Figaro contrasted Henriette with its           sketches of Berthe Gueydan. Far from the aggressive, masculine           caricature found in rival newspapers, Le Figaro fashioned           Mme. Gueydan into an emotional, distraught, and helpless woman who had           been betrayed by an unfaithful husband and usurped by his mistress. In           the image printed on the front page of Le Figaro’s July 24           issue, the image of Berthe Gueydan appears soft and delicate. Her           sense of fragility is intensified by her raised eyebrows and parted           lips, which create a helpless, lost image of Mme. Gueydan. Le           Figaro’s image personifies the themes of betrayal and injustice           the newspaper bestowed on Berthe in its columns. In doing so, Le           Figaro played on the divorce controversy to ignite pity amongst           its readership to further the newspaper’s bias against Henriette           Caillaux.

On the sixth day of the trial, M. Labori stood           before the courtroom overflowing with reporters and spectators and           began to read aloud the notorious lettres intimes, for which           Henriette Caillaux had reportedly been willing to kill to prevent           their publication. Le Matin had described Henriette as she           entered the court that morning as “more pale than ever and, already,           giving signs of extreme distress.” Despite the “almost super human           effort…not to give vent to her feelings and scream,” Mme. Caillaux,           overcome with emotions, fainted as M. Labori finished his readings,           having experienced what Le Petit Parisian termed, “an attack of           nerves.”

The trial was suspended until Henriette Caillaux           was able to return, but even then, according to reports from The           New York Herald, “she was frightfully pale,” and “a helpless,           semi-inanimate form” for the remainder of the hearings. Yet not all           journalists present had the same interpretation of the notorious           letters and Henriette’s climatic fainting spell. In contrast to the           sympathetic tones taken by many newspapers, the conservative Le           Figaro dismissed the hype surrounding the letters, claiming that           they contained “nothing. Absolutely nothing” and asserted that “the           letters were an alibi for her.”

Instead of a woman ashamed and frightened that her           affair would be publically exposed, Le Figaro claimed that           the hype surrounding the letters was merely an act. The paper implied           that Henriette hid behind a feminine disguise to appear as an adherent           of social rules that permitted women to have private love affairs when           trapped in an unhappy marriage, so long as they guarded against their           public exposure.

Final Remarks

French newspapers had found their success in the           Third Republic, but along with it they also found their notorious           reputation for bias reporting. In the case of Henriette Caillaux’s           trial, Parisian newspapers slanted their descriptions of the trial in           terms of the integrity of the family and the affirmation of           traditional gender roles. For many newspapers, the image of Henriette           Caillaux as a weak and feminine woman was manipulated by editors and           reporters favorable to Henriette Caillaux. By situating Henriette in           the context of family and gender, the newspapers appealed to the           existing social framework in Belle Epoque society. Newspapers that           hoped for her acquittal described a woman subject to her own emotions,           who, despite all efforts, was unable to master the emotional distress           the public exposure of her scandalous affair caused her. Her weak,           frail nature was the antithesis of masculine strength, and as such,           her character appeared to pose no threat to male authority.

Extreme biases did exist in the press, and not all           newspapers shared the same biases in Henriette Caillaux’s trial. Yet,           while French dailies were divided in the biases they had toward           Henriette Caillaux and Berthe Gueydan, they were unified in their use           of femininity and gender roles to cast the two women as opposing           characters. Sympathetic and hostile newspapers alike drew from themes           of family and femininity existent in 1914 Parisian society to bias           their papers and influence their readers. Headlines, section titles,           commentary, and images carried the undercurrents of overarching social           questions of femininity, feminism, changing gender roles, and how they           fit within the context of the family. The gender question took a           prominent place in the coverage of Henriette Caillaux’s trial and was           used as leverage to support or oppose her acquittal.


Books of The Times; A Belle Epoque Killing That           Wasn’t a Murder

By herbert Mitgang – The New York Times

March 11, 1992

The Trial of Mme. Caillaux By Edward Berenson           Illustrated. 296 pages. University of California Press. $25.

This is how Edward Berenson’s fascinating “Trial of           Mme. Caillaux” — the unfolding of a crime of passion that captivated           all France on the eve of World War I — begins:

“On 16 March 1914 at 6 o’clock in the evening           Henriette Caillaux was ushered into the office of Gaston Calmette,           editor of Le Figaro. . . . Mme. Caillaux wore a fur coat over a gown           strangely formal for a late afternoon business call. Her hat was           modest, and a large furry muff linked the two sleeves of her coat.           Henriette’s hands were hidden inside the muff.

“Before Calmette could speak she asked, ‘You know           why I have come?’ ‘Not at all, Madame,’ responded the editor, charming           to the end. Without another word, Henriette pulled her right hand from           the mass of fur protecting it. In her fist was a small weapon, a           Browning automatic. Six shots went off in rapid succession, and           Calmette fell to the floor clutching his abdomen. Figaro workers from           the surrounding offices rushed in and seized Mme. Caillaux. . . . ‘Do           not touch me,’ she ordered her captors. ‘Je suis une dame!'”

Here was no case that might have required the           sleuthing services of Hercule Poirot or Inspector Maigret. The society           woman held a smoking gun in her hand and never denied that she had           committed the deed. It was a murder in cold blood, punishable under           French law by life imprisonment or even death.

Henriette Caillaux shot the editor because he had           conducted a campaign of vilification against her husband, Joseph, a           wealthy former prime minister affiliated with the center-left Radical           Party. Or was her motive more a familiar affair of the heart? She had           been one of Joseph Caillaux’s mistresses; it was a second marriage for           both. The Figaro editor, a rightist political enemy, had broken an           unwritten Parisian rule by publishing a love letter written to a           gentleman’s mistress. Joseph Caillaux, a notorious boulevardier, had           sent the letter 13 years before the trial to another woman, who later           became his first wife, and it had been leaked to Figaro.

Political and social mores, the Napoleonic Code           that discriminated against women legally and the venality of the press           all came together in the affaire Caillaux.

Her celebrated lawyer, Fernand Labori, had           represented Emile Zola and successfully defended Capt. Alfred Dreyfus           against false charges of treason in the notorious, anti-Semitic           Dreyfus affair. In her clever defense on the witness stand, Henriette           Caillaux made two points. She evoked the romantic and idealized notion           that women were ruled by their passions; hers was simply a “crime           passionnel.” She also used new scientific language that stressed the           nervous system and the unconscious mind.

Henriette Caillaux’s testimony shifted back and           forth between literary and scientific images. It was intended to make           her appear a heroine of uncontrollable emotions to the jury, and a           victim of deterministic laws to the experts. Literature made a woman           of ungovernable passions sympathetic, even attractive; criminal           psychology placed her beyond the law.

After a seven-day trial in the Cour d’Assises in           Paris, Henriette Caillaux walked out free. In less than an hour of           deliberations, the all-male jury decided the homicide was committed           without premeditation or criminal intent. The jurors accepted her           testimony that when she pulled the trigger, she was a temporary victim           of (as her lawyer put it) “unbridled female passions.”

By digging deeply into the transcripts of the case           and newspaper files, Mr. Berenson, a professor of history at the           University of California at Los Angeles, has unearthed and           reconstructed a highly readable story that touches upon many aspects           of life during the so-called Belle Epoque in France.

Under one infamous article of the 1804 Napoleonic           Code, “The husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to           her husband.” The author emphasizes that French attitudes toward women           were an important part of the trial and its coverage in the press.           Describing the newspaper illustrations, Professor Berenson writes,           “Mme. Caillaux stands out starkly as a lone woman speaking to a sea of           mustachioed male faces, as a woman subject to their gaze, open to           their scrutiny.”

Going beyond the trial itself — and giving his           book a modern feminist twist — Professor Berenson notes that during           the Belle Epoque men claimed the existence of natural and hierarchical           differences between the sexes. After France’s defeat by Prussia in           1870, some commentators attributed a decline in French power to moral           decay and to changing relations between the sexes. The author says           these commentators attributed France’s weaknesses to the emancipation           of women, the legalization of divorce and the emasculation of men.

What distinguishes “The Trial of Mme. Caillaux” is           its portrait of society before the guns of August 1914 destroyed the           illusions of the Belle Epoque. In an epilogue, Professor Berenson           writes that World War I gave women important responsibilities on the           home front and greater recognition. Even so, it took a second World           War before French women won the right to vote.



Our girl risked all for her boy~~Murderpedia is thanked profusely here for providing the pictures and story that tell her tale~~


~~Κύριε ἐλέησον~~

Rejoice and Glad!!




John Daniel Begg


Washington, District of Columbia

United States

Monday, 22 Juillet, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, 2013~


John Daniel Begg


Washington DC


john daniel begg public affairs and speechwriting

4853 Sedgwick Street
North West
Washington, DC 20016-2323533
Voice Telephone: 1-(202) 966-8029
Telefacsimile: 1-(202) 966-4125
Mobile Telephone: 1-(202) 557-1064
Risking all for her boy~~our girl escaped the blade and lived a full~~very rich~~ life~~well into her dowage~~thank heavens~~

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