The Resource The Empress of South America, Nigel Cawthorne

The Empress of South America, Nigel Cawthorne

The Empress of South America
The Empress of South America
Statement of responsibility
Nigel Cawthorne
"Born in Ireland in the 1840's, Eliza Lynch left the country as a girl, fleeing the potato famine with her parents. As a young woman, she became one of Paris most celebrated courtesans, until she was persuaded by Francisco Solano Lopez, the son of the dictator of Paraguay, to leave Paris for South America, where he promised he would make her Empress of the entire continent. Back in Asuncion, they embarked on a programme of extravagant building (the grandiose buildings they commissioned included a replica of the Palais Garnier, though few of them were ever completed), acquisition (Eliza's collection of jewellery, little of it acquired quite honestly, became legendary), hospitality (Eliza was known to attend balls dressed as Elizabeth I, highly impractical, given Paraguay's climate) and, finally, war. Paraguay went to war with a coalition that included all its neighbours, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. By the time their reign was over, Paraguay's population had been devastated." "Shunned by the ladies of the aristocratic Lopez family, threatened by the prospect of Francisco's marriage to the daughter of the Brazilian Emperor and given little choice but to share Lopez with numerous other women, Eliza nevertheless became the First Lady of Paraguay in all but name. Styling themselves the Napoleon and Josephine of South America, Francisco and Eliza stopped at nothing in their pursuit of power - not even if it meant death for three-quarters of the country's population and, ultimately, Francisco himself." "Escaping with much of her jewellery and cash, Eliza survived Francisco for many years. She lived and raised her children (and some of those of Francisco's other mistresses) in London before returning to Paris, where she eventually died. Buried in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, her corpse was dug up at dead of night and smuggled back to Paraguay in 1961, where General Stroessner, then dictator of the country, planned, despite the condemnation of the Church, to make her the centre of an Evita-style cult. Her body lies there to this day." "The Empress of South America tells of the creation of a myth: the remarkable transformation of the despised mistress of a tyrant into the embodiment of female virtue and martyrdom. Eliza's corpse was brought back to Paraguay to play its part in the rewriting of history. Then, in death, Eliza achieved the status that she had always craved in life. Her story, both terrible and blackly farcical, shows that nothing is sacred in the hunt for power, not even history itself."--BOOK JACKET
Biography type
individual biography
Cataloging source
Dewey number
  • illustrations
  • maps
  • portraits
index present
Literary form
non fiction
The Empress of South America, Nigel Cawthorne
The Empress of South America, Nigel Cawthorne
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Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references and index
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Carrier MARC source
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Content type MARC source
Control code
23 cm.
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314 pages, [16] pages
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Other physical details
illustrations, maps, portraits
System control number
  • (Sirsi) SL75274
  • (Uk)gb A20U0840
  • 7279931
  • (UkLWHE)b000196007
  • (BNAtoc) 2003430395

Library Locations

    • Dunedin City LibraryBorrow it
      230 Moray Place, Dunedin, 9058, NZ
      -45.8729762 170.503373
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