November 8 1814: Metternich’s Ball

“The Tsar certainly appeared impervious. ‘Alexander enjoyed himself greatly at the Redoute,’ one of Hager’s agents reported on the morning of 8 November. ‘He paid an enormous amount of attention to a masked lady wearing a large hat with a black plume whom we believe to have been Countess Esterhazy-Roisin. From 2 o’clock to 3.30 he was much taken, along with the King of Prussia, by two dominos in black. The beauty of Madame Morel once again produced a great effect. She also spoke to Count Schoenfels and Prince Narishkin. Then it was the turn of the prince de Ligne, who took her under his wing and remained at her side for a long time. The Grand Duke of Baden did not dare show himself with her in the ballroom, but he never ceased circling her and never lost her from sight.’

The next day there was a ball given by Metternich. He might have been in despair over the political situation and his love life, but his masked ball that night was one of the most elegant and enjoyable of the whole season. His villa on the Rennweg had been decorated with a Venetian theme, and the guests were asked to come in national costume or in red-and-white dominos. The place was a riot of dirndls and other peasant dresses, which permitted the ladies to show a little leg, and some had taken the opportunity to dress up as Indians, Persians or Chinese. The Russian ladies spoilt the effect of their peasant dresses by covering them in diamonds, while Lady Castlereagh astonished everyone by wearing her husband’s decoration of the Order of the Garter on her head. It was the Danes whose dress was generally praised the most, although the ravishing young Anna Eynard ingenuously noted in her diary that the Swiss had also rated well, as she noticed that all the men came up to her to have a closer look and make compliments.”

—  Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna by Adam Zamoyski.

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