Ancient Archive // Micaela Almonester – The Installment Where I Swear Loads

Ancient Archive Explination

micaela almonester rejected princesses.jpgThis Baroness was a survivor and honestly should be your new role model because if she can be locked away, mentally and emotionally abused by her father-in-law and shot four times and still be the badass she is you can get out of bed and wash your hair.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning. Our girl Micaela was born in 1975 New Orleans.
Throughout her life, she was described as a

flamboyant, temperamental redhead,

though portraits show her with brown hair. Her contemporaries called her

persistent, bright-eyed, intelligent, vivacious, prompt, shrewd and business like.

Male historians labelled her

strong-willed, imperious, penurious, self-indulgent and vacillating.

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Micaela’s father was Don Andrés Almonester y Rojas, a Spanish builder and was arguably the richest man in New Orleans. Her mother,  Louise Denys de la Ronde, was poor but well-connected and over her lifetime, proved to be a sharp businesswoman.

micaela almonester 1.jpgWhen her father died, he left 2-year-old Micaela as the sole heiress to her his fortune.

She had her mother to thank for her inheritance growing substantially while she was still young. You could also say she inherited her eye for business from her mother as well. But that comes later. 

Not long after Micaela’s father’s death, Louise, now 40, married a 25-year-old French man, Jean Baptiste Castillon. This caused ~quite~ the scandal and the people of New Orleans were pissed!

Basically, they had a party that lasted 72 hours to express how disgusted they were that a woman dare act the same fucking way a man does.

They were so extra the party even featured a model of Louise’s new husband and one of her dead husband in his coffin.
The only way poor Louise could get them to cut it the fuck out was promising to donate a sum of $3,000 to the poor so at least someone benefited from that fucking mess.

As a daughter of such an illustrious family, it looked like Micaela’s life was made. She was educated and cultured, was multilingual, owned her very own piano because nothing screams rich like your own piano, I don’t make the rules and now, had her father’s fortune. All she needed was a husband. 😒 I get it, it was a different time and a woman was a failure without having been married, whatever. But if history has taught me anything, it’s that men ruin everything, and husbands were generally a woman’s downfall. But don’t take my word for it, take Micaela’s.

celestin de pontalba micaela almonester.jpg

In possibly Louise’s worst move, she sets up a marriage for her fifteen-year-old daughter with Baby Fuckface™ Celestin de Pontalba, who also happened to be Micaela’s cousin, because back then that was a thing and also probably the reason so many white peoples’ genes are fucked up, our ancestors are all like “you’re welcome” from the grave.

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Now, some background on these this guy’s father who arranged the marriage with Micaela’s mother, Baron Joseph Delfau de Pontalba;

Joseph was hella manipulative and controlling.

Just to give you a taste of how much of a dickwad this guy was here’s an example:
While being separated from his wife he demanded that she wrote to him every minute detail in her life as if writing in her own diary.

His son, Celestin, got the same shit and, in a letter from Joseph, he was asked, “Are you not sorry not to have your dear papa put his arms around your neck and squeeze you tighter and tighter?because are you really parenting if you don’t mind fuck your children??? I have seen enough families go through shit to know that no child gets out of their parents’ separation unscathed. This is why you make sure you’re having kids to the right person people! Although in saying that you don’t know anyone until you have kids with them and then separate. So maybe just don’t have kids at all?? 

Celestin was bound to be a fucking asshole with a name like that, I’m sorry I’m not but even if he had a different name, he was basically fucked anyway thanks to being fathered by Captain Fuckface™ Baron Joseph de Pontalba. 

Micaela and Baby Fuckface wed in New Orleans and then Micaela was almost immediately shipped off to France with her Mother.

Her dowry was quite large, however, Louise redeemed herself by making the legal paperwork ironclad and Captain Fuckface™ only got a third of it to start off. The rest would be released to him in increments over the course of Micaela’s marriage.

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Joseph kicked off hardcore over this, He will do this a lot, by the way, dramatically stating that the bride had

arrived despoiled.

Mostly he was probably just mad that Louise had dared to pose conditions on her daughter’s dowry.

Also in the contract, Louise stated that her daughter’s inheritance would go to Micaela and only Micaela and if Joe wanted the rest of his daughter-in-law’s dowry he had to sign over an equal sum to his son. He agreed to it, but the sly little shit had a plan. He made his son sign a super sneaky secret agreement that Celestin would never under any circumstances actually ask for the money.

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Our girl, Micaela stumbled open the paperwork one day. Her lawyer later said of the incident that

life became complicated

As if this shit wasn’t already complicated enough. But you know what people were like back then. Dramatic over shit that didn’t matter, while downplaying everything that did.

micaela almonester country estate.jpgIn true Fuckface™ style and like almost every man the women in my family get blind-sighted by the Baron pulled the most common of all abusive fuck moves.

He relocates Micaela to his country estate, ignore the fact it looks like a fucking Disney castle, bad shit happened there, just as she was about to give birth to her first of five children, effectively cutting her off from her family and friends right when a new mother needs that kind of support the most.

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Captain Fuckface™ then spent years slowly intimidating his daughter-in-law into signing over Power of Attorney to his son, Celestin. In doing so, Micaela signed over control of her assets, rents and capital (this included her inheritance) to her husband, which went to her father-in-law since he controlled all of his son’s finances.

This would prove to be one major dumbass move but in defence of our girl, she had little to no choice in the end. Chances are she gave in, in the hope that her father-in-law would calm the fuck down or to try and strengthen her relationship with her spineless husband. Of course, none of this happened.

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There seems to have been some affection between husband and wife, though I don’t get it. Somehow Micaela seemed to genuinely care for Celestin. But then again Stockholm Syndrome is a thing sooo…. She once wrote in her notary

My husband is too devoted to me not to love me always; they can’t take away the friendship which is in the depths of his heart for me.

I mean that just sounds like a load of shit but whatever. Don’t worry, he later fucks up anyway. Trust. Her mother tried to fight back in court but failed. Joe coerced Louise to sign over more and more of her fortune over to her son-in-law, which in turn went to the Baron. This included signing over more of her American property, all of the houses of Place d’Armes, now Jackson Square, in New Orleans, in a bid to placate her daughter’s captor, after he forbade Micaela from seeing her mother until Lousie complied. However, Louise once again tries to trap Joe by stipulating that Celestin had to surrender the power of attorney Micaela had already assigned him. 

But don’t get your hopes up kids, Celestin made the dick move of leaving right after Micaela signed over the power of attorney, though they were still technically married. Because men can ditch the wives whenever they want in 1800s France but when a woman does it her husband can literally take everything from her, remember that, it comes up later. This is where things get confusing and my sources contradict each other…And let’s be real here, I’m not getting this info from first account resources or whatever the called them in high school when I was clearly not listening.

Supposedly our girl, Micaela persuades her drop kick husband to set up his own crib in Paris. And the couple moves in with their children, either into this house or into one of the Baron’s properties… Fuck know’s guys. I’m trying to get this finished today and I did not give myself enough time to prepare so this is what you get.

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Micaela is gone for 3 years, with her sons and lived off a $600 a month allowance, provided by her husband which in today’s money (look at that, I did extra research) would be $12,000. This is described as pitiable and like???? I’m sorry what??? Wasn’t like everything $0.05 then??

At some point during all of this her mother died. Listen, the timeline is very confusing and I had to try and make one on my own and research is hardLet’s toast to our girl Louise, the badass bitch that played solid hardball.

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Celestin seizes Louise’s property in Paris after she had left all of it to her daughter.
After 20 years of a fucked up marriage, Micaela finally realizes that her marriage is never gonna fucking work and starts actively fighting back. She may or may not go back on this a little later. She decides that it’s

urgent for her to become enlightened as to her own rights

and our girl gets herself a fucking lawyer. Suck it Captain and Baby Fuckfaces™! The lawyer told her that her husband has no legal standing when it comes to claiming her American property (except that which was specified in the original marriage contract) since Louisiana law still used the Code Napoléon despite Napoleon’s fall. This kept Micaela’s properties from the Pontalbas but to reclaim her rights she had to go to Louisiana.

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So of she fucks off to New Orleans, without Baby Fuckface’s™ permission because fuck him right? no seriously, fuck him.
Micaela takes the opportunity to travel as well, visiting Washington and maybe, possibly, having an affair with the President because once you go “Fuck it” can you really ever stop??

Our girl reestablished her claims of her property, bumped up her income to $40,000 a year (that’s $103,000 in today’s money) and threatened Celestin with a divorce under Louisana law instead of the French law that was constantly fucking her over.

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Guys, now shit gets real. The legal system in France at the time said that a woman who abandoned her husband’s household could have everything taken from her including her children. While away our favourite partners in wankery hired spies to follow Micaela around, they got themselves a judgement against her which gave her 60 days to return to them.

Our girl has a flair for dramatics too, so she arrived back in France on the last possible day because 🖕🖕 I would have paid to see the Baron get his hopes up that she wouldn’t get back in time and then the crushing defeat when she did. 

But shit was about to get worse for our badass. On her return, a couple of days before Micaela’s and Celestin’s 23rd wedding anniversary, Micaela gives her husband a chance and visits him at Mont-l’Evêque, the Baron’s household. Micaela really needed a good girlfriend to tell her to fucking not but alas, she did not.

No one really knows what the fuck happened during the 3 hours of this private meeting but Joe, nonetheless, kept his daughter-in-law a prisoner as he and his son set out to drive the poor woman insane.

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Micaela was only allowed in one room of the house, entirely on her own, in a time when it was pretty much impossible to dress one’s self without help. The staff were instructed not to talk or even look at her and visitors who showed any favour towards the mistress of the house were kicked out. During this time Micaela was also epileptic so during the hellish years in that house she began having daily seizures.

But our girl is strong af and as they tortured her, she fought back by collecting solid proof of their fuckery for her legal case against them.

She’d pull hella extra, passive-aggressive stunts like sitting at the head of the table in wait of the Pontalbas’ objections so she could catch them out in admitting she wasn’t the head of the household. Listen, I hate passive aggressive behaviour, however, if you’re in a situation like this where you’re being abused, have at it and if you’re gonna do it, go all out! 

All three lived in one house, with the only reprieve being when they fought in court. Micaela lost over and over because Frances divorce laws were some bullshit. Fuckfaces continued to abuse and terrorize Micaela in hopes she would leave again, long enough for all of her wealth to be handed over to the Baron.

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On October 19, 1834, the Baron finally well and truly lost it. He stormed in Micaela’s bedroom and shot her four times in the chest at point-blank range with a pair of duelling pistols. Allegedly after the first shot, she screamed 

Don’t! I’ll give you everything

and he responded saying,

No, you are going to die

and proceeded to shoot her the other three times.

He managed to shoot away two of her fingers when she instinctively used her hand cover one of the gun’s muzzles. One of her breasts were also damaged.

Micaela attempted to escape her father-in-law, she fell into the arms of a maid who dragged her downstairs to another room while the Baron was still in pursuit. He stood over her body, in the end, firing no more shots.

He returned to his study, willed all of his wealth to a military school where he stated attendants were to be kept for 10 years without leaving at all, and then he shot himself with one of the duelling pistols. Because why not go out the way you live, a fucking cunt. 

No toasting a drink for the Baron because we do not toast drinks to fuckfaces. It’s just a good rule of life to hold guys.

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As Celestin had succeeded his father, Micaela became the Baroness.

Her recovery was slow and painful. She couldn’t sleep due to the pain and continued having epileptic seizures for three weeks. One of her lungs was collapsed for the rest of her life.

Micaela’s husband doted on her. Her response to this was that he

behaved towards me as he should.

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And of course in true Celestin style, once it was clear his wife recovered he served her a summons. Micaela continued trying to get her divorce for three weeks but of course, the courts ruled against her because this woman can not catch a break. Or can she? Micaela lost loads of high society friends thanks to all of this because ya know, rich people have always been terrible. I’m kidding, relax. Just, most of them. 

Baby Fuckface then goes on to prove he’s just like his father, only more idiotic. You see, his and Micaela’s eldest son paid money to the journal, that was essentially the trashy mag of its time, to not print the transcript of the latest court case where Micaela once again lost her divorce battle. Which would have kept Micaela’s social standing from falling even further.

Only, the new Baron went and paid the same journal the same amount to print just his lawyer’s arguments. He was so proud of himself, probably contacting his father through the grave telling him “look, daddy, look! I pulled a you, aren’t you proud?”, that he went and got a publisher to make the one-sided transcript into a little rose booklet and gave it out to 500 of his closest friends. The courts did not like that. 

Apparently, your father can shoot your wife four times and she still has to be chained to you but if you talk shit about her, then you’re fucked.

micaela almonester hotel de pontalba.jpg Regardless our girl cut her chain, she was granted separation (not divorce) from her husband, a civil rights judge gave her back her property and she got the fuck out of dodge.

Joking…She hung around in Paris for a bit first, built her super meagre townhouse on Rue St. Honoré, Hotel de Pontalba.  I looked it up on google maps, it’s fucking huge. It’s now the home of the U.S. Ambassador to France.

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Later she went back to her home city casually became the Queen Bee of fashionable society there and became the richest white bitch of New Orleans.

Her mates referred to her as vivacious and business-like. She clearly inherited much of her, sharpness, business skills and instincts from her parents.

The once opulent Place d’Armes where her owned property had gone to shit. She set to work on revitalizing it, bringing it back to its old and beautiful state. She had the buildings demolished and hired a contractor to renovate the French Quarter.

Allegedly, after the mayor tried to keep her from ripping out two rows of trees, Micaela threatened to shoot him with a shotgun. I choose to believe it.

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micaela almonester pontalba buildings.jpgShe personally designed the construction of the Pontalba Buildings, the townhouses that face each other on the square and they still stand their today.

Their design influenced the architectural fashion that spread and defined the look New Orleans was know for. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why she chose to name her buildings after her husband’s clusterfuck of a family but it was still her name too I suppose. I’m just super spiteful, there’s no way I’d be sharing my work with the name of the fuckface that kept me hostage but okay. 

She was behind the name change to Jackson Square, honouring her presidential friend, turned the sit into a formal garden and helped finance the bronze statue of Andrew Jackson himself.

Rumour has it the reason he is tipping his hat towards the Pontalba Buildings is that Jackson himself said he would never tip his hat to her so long as she continuing her behaviour of dressing in pants, being on the work-sites and ordering the workers around. That statue is being challenged, like many of the memorial statues in America that idolize men from history, because Andrew Jackson was hella racist and had slaves. 

The Baroness was so good with financials that she became the head of all her families finances. She also went through all her children’s marriage wills and contracts with a fine tooth comb because the bitch doesn’t make a mistake twice. 

Eventually, after fixing up New Orleans and making a name for herself, Micaela retired back to Paris with her family. Her husband fell apart physically and mentally, karma is a real bitch, and the Baroness, too good for this world, took care of him for the last 23 years of her life, until her own death on April 20, 1874 at the ripe old age of 78 or 79 because history is actually really shit at the details, man.  Her descendants still reside in France today.

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micaela almonester 2.jpgMicaela Almonester was a legend, a survivor and a fucking badass bitch if I ever saw one! So let’s toast to her legacy, brilliance, and ability to keep going no matter how fucked up her life became. You can’t tell me that shit isn’t
admirable.

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http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/princesses/micaela-almonester
http://www.frenchquarter.com/baronesspontalba/
http://www.knowlouisiana.org/entry/micaela-almonester-baroness-pontalba
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B4tel_de_Pontalba
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontalba_Buildings
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micaela_Almonester,_Baroness_de_Pontalba
http://www2.latech.edu/~bmagee/louisiana_anthology/encyclopedia/a/almonester-micaela.html

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What did you think of our Badass Baroness?
Had you heard of her before?
Do you have any suggestions of who I should cover next? Let me know! 

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