The Sémonville Affair of 1793

In 1793 Charles Louis Huguet, Marquis de Sémonville had left for Italy with Hugues-Bernard Maret on a secret mission to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Kingdom of Naples respectively. The two envoys were kidnapped in Valtellina on Austrian orders. One of their companions was Constable Christian Köhl. The French diplomats remained imprisoned in a Tyrolean prison until December 1795, when a prisoner exchange occurred upon the release of Madame Royale, daughter of the executed King Louis XVI, from the Temple Prison.[74]

But what exactly had happened? Austrian lords had paid the bailiff of Traona, a region in the Valtellina, to raid the traveling party, arrest and imprison the French diplomats. Christian Köhl, at that time watchman of the city of Chur, and other companions had been hired in Chur to escort the travelers safely through the area of the Three Bunds to Italy. After the group of travelers had crossed the Splügen Pass and passed the Lago di Mezzzola, the bailiff and his mercenaries attacked the group, kidnapped the Frenchmen and later released their companions. This happened on the territory of the three confederations. The bailiff thus violated the instructions of his masters in Chur. Christian Köhl returned to Chur unharmed, but very angry, and filed a complaint against the bailiff of Traona before the council. In his memorandum he describes the events in detail and complains about the interference of foreign lords and judges.[60]


60: Denkschrift an alle freien Bürger von Chur, Christian Köhl, 1793, StAC D V/3.059.022

74: Sémonville, Charles Louis Huguet, Marquis de, Diverse, 1911

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