In the age of 19 years, a French nobleman child go to war -- across the ocean -- away to another continent, America. Sadly he left his wife to fight, not for people of his compatriots, but for a group of foreign insurgents. What the hell was he looking for? History later recalled that Gilbert de Lafayette went wide across the Atlantic Ocean in the 18th century, because of his love to an unclear case : independence.
But perhaps its case was not as simple as that. At first, indeed, it was a statement dated July 4, 1776, which was signed by a number of regional representatives in the British colonies in America. Its contents: an announcement of the government's power uprising in London. The declaration also a justification which then shook the whole world: that people have the right to abolish a government that they do not agree.
July 4, 1776 Statement away from Philadelphia was heard up in France three months later - too late, as many particulars in the 18th century. At that time, Versailles still a center of political power, the continuation of magnificent era of the "Sun King", Louis XIV, in power indefinitely. The aristocracy still alive with shimmering wealth. No one was suing them seriously. The poorer classes screamed but only echoed in the dark rooms.
Gilbert de Lafayette, of course, no need to scream. He was a descendant of the old nobles. He was rich, he was the heir of a large land with an income of 145 thousand lire a year. His parents-in-law also came from famous Noallles clan, close to the king. But anyway, he went a number of rebels who sided with their uncertain fate. He felt uneasy.
Lafayette biography, written by Olivier Bernier in 1983, tells it all: behind Lafayette's brilliant background, he was marginalized. This slim and unhandsome teenager, who lost his father since childhood, who came from the area Chavaniac far from the capital, when he was an adult, he became a clumsy man.
For a clumsy man, the nobles at Versailles was a wretched place. Here the young men preened and perfumed, handsome and sage, flexible and haughty, between beautiful women and delicious wine. But not with Gilbert. In quadrilles dance hosted by the Queen, he even be laughable: he fell down.
Lafayette went from a situation like that. Of course, he was well aware of his own shortcomings. But the dismissive view from around him, even from his father-in-law, made him always tend to take a big step to prove. So he went to America, without the palace permission, with a ship bought from his own money.
As he wrote in an honest letter, he did all of it not just for the defenders of freedom who tried to defend themselves in the newly established United States. He also wanted to acquire what was expected by the French aristocratic society of the glories of youth : la gloire.
And it turned out he was succeeded, after a series of mistakes and frustration and stupidity. With a number of rebel soldiers he led, together with French regiment which was then sent to assist, Lafayette joined the British forces who tried to defeat the insurgency across the Atlantic. The clumsy man -- who had been ridiculed in Versailles -- then became a byword in salons in Paris.
But the story of Lafayette is not just a story with theme of the ugly duckling who later becomes a dashing swan. The character story is a story about an understanding of the independence process , the man who came from the world who actually did not want independence.
What is gained by Lafayette finally not just glory. From America he gained the fame of a pro La Liberte, and he continues to put himself there.
Then the French Revolution ensued. The aristocrats eradicated, the King and Queen were beheaded, and the world moved into a new era. Lafayette was in the arena: a person who was considered hostile to his own class, and finally rejected at any party, especially when the Revolution -- which at first chanted "freedom" -- later evolved into the machine of independence suppressor..
That was about Napoleon, the revolution officer, who then he became a dictator, and made himself as the Supreme king, and ruled practically without limit. Lafayette declined an offer to sit in the Senate. His relationship with the new regime was broken. So, when one day it was known that a general trying to overthrow the new Supreme king, Lafayette then was suspected. He was not arrested, because he was not involved. But Napoleon had fired his voice to the old freedom fighter, "Who declares that insubordination is a liability?"