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Sophie de Marbois

Sophie de Marbois[1], after marriage Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun, Duchess of Plaisance, known in Greece as (Greek: Δουκισσα της Πλακεντιας). Great Philhellene, and Benefactor.

Sophie was born 1785, in Philadelphia, USA. She was the daughter of the French Consul-General Francois Barbe-Marbois, and Elizabeth Moore, daughter of William Moore, Governor General of Pennsylvania. There is very little known about her early life.

In 1804, Sophie married a Frenchman, Charles-Francois Lebrun (1739-1824), Duke of Plaisance, Prince of the Empire. They had one daughter, named Elizabeth. The marriage did not last long. The couple separated and Sophie and her daughter settled in Italy, while her husband moved on and became Governor of Holland.

It did not take long for Sophie de Marbois to show her love and support for Greece. She supported financially the Greek War of Independence and about 1830, Sophie moved to Nafplion with her daughter. In Nafplion, she met Ioannis Kapodistrias but it did not take long for her to oppose his policies and the way he was running the Government.

About 1834, Sophie returned to Greece from Italy and settled in Athens. In Athens, she invested in properties around Athens, including land near Mt Penteli. At the time, she also engaged the well known Architect Stamatis Kleanthis to design a few buldings for her.

In 1836, her daughter died in Beirut from pneumonia and the Duchess had to organize the return of the body for burial in Athens. She was buried, until a more suitable place was ready, in Piraeus.

By 1841, the Tower of the Duchess was ready and work commenced for the construction of her Villa Illisia, which was completed 1848. At that time, the Duchess disappointed with her own religion and the Greek Orthodoxy, converted to Judaism. She was the benefactor of the Jewish Temple, in Chalkis, Euboea.

Her final engagement of the Architect Kleanthis was to build a resting place for her daughter, known as the "Castle of Rododafni". It was never completed.

Sophie died 1854. She was buried with her daughter in her Tower near Mt. Penteli.


References

  1. Sophie de Marbois, Duchess de Plaisance, by Fitfl Rebel, Arts et Metiers Graphiques, 1965. Paperbak. GRE/010408