There are no photographs of Madame Rosalie de la Val, an émigré to America during the French Revolution and a major character in my historic romance novel. This fact leaves me free to create her physical characteristics in my image.
Within three months of her 1791 emigratioon to the United States she became an independent land speculator, participating in a playing field that included General Henry Knox, Colonel William Duer, General Henry Jackson, and William Bingham. They themselves were involved in the whirlwind of land speculation following the American Revolution, which included large tracts of land in Hancock and Washington counties, Maine.
She skillfully, artfully, and very business-like, maneuvered through this field, in spite of the fact that she was in a strange country and had little proficiency in its language.
Her plan was to develop a French colony in Downeast Maine, along the Frenchman Bay coastline. Although she and two other French émigrés—Jean Baptiste de la Roche and Joseph du Barth—formed The French Company of the Union to purchase part of the Knox and Duer’s Maine land purchase, Madame independently planned out the community and made all the decisions. Early in the process, Monsieur du Barth dropped out; somewhat later, Monsieur de la Roche left the company. Thus, Madame became, in actuality, an independent land speculator.
Several years after her 1794 marriage to Franco van Berckle, the second Dutch ambassador to the United States, the couple moved to British Guiana. That Madame was the head of this union was also not in question. In one incident, when rebellious slaves broke into their home, van Berckle hid while Madame confronted them.
Although I visualize Madame’s eyes being a shade of purple, I have never seen anyone with violet eyes. In my online search, I discovered that there is debate whether Elizabeth Taylor had true purple eyes or not. Other persons wrote in that they either knew a person with violet eyes of had eyes of that color themselves.
All the sites I explored pointed out that violet, lavender, purple or amethyst eyes are very, very rare. One site noted that the purple-shaded eyes sported by some fictional characters indicate that the character is very special, and has an attitude. That kind of describes Madame.
One blogger mentioned that the purple eye color of a female acquaintance changed intensity with a variation of light conditions. Another blogger said she didn’t need a mood ring because “My eyes turn colors. . .they’ve been violet before. It usually depends on my mood. . .if I’m really mad or upset they turn like a neon green, and if I’m content they’re blue, and if I’m really happy, they turn like a violet color. . .”
Several sites explained that purple eyes result when blood vessels show through very pale blue eyes (combine red and blue to get purple).
An almost-ophthalmologist agrees. He stated that, definitely, natural violet eyes do exist, but are “exceptionally rare.” He explained that the iris has “essentially three layers: an outer thin layer, a middle spongy layer, and a thin backing layer. Any and all of these layers can have varying degrees of melanin in them…Less melanin=bluer…Violet eyes have almost no melanin and the purple color is caused by the blood vessels in the retina showing through. Red+Blue=Purple.” He notes that any less melanin would produce pink albino eyes.
A most interesting myth about Alexandria’s Genesis, an explanation of purple eyes, was told on several sites.
Alexandria’s Genesis is a genetic mutation, generally occurring in women of Euro-American (a.k.a. Caucasian) descent. It was discovered in the 1960’s. The first known written record of the mutation was recorded in the Common Era year 1330.
Alexandria Augustine was born in London, England, on April 29, CE 1329. Although she was an apparently normal, blue-eyed, female, infant, her parents soon noticed that her eyes were changing color. By the time she was a year old, they were purple.
Her startled parents, scared by the dramatic change, thought the child had been targeted by a witch. They took to their priest, and asked him if he could ask God to return the child’s eyes back to the original color. The priest informed the parents that the change in eye color was not the work of the devil. It was a myth come true.
“I heard a story about a race of people with purple eyes,” the priest said. “These humans were thought to have come from Egypt after a mysterious light flashed in the sky during a moonless night, thousands of years ago.
“These humans had very fair skin, and were considered ‘spirit people’ due to their appearance. These people eventually went north and vanished without a trace.
“Don’t worry,” the priest told Alexandria’s parents. “You have a special child in your hands, and you should take good care of her.”
Alexandria grew up to be very beautiful. She married and had four daughters with purple eyes. She was never ill, and lived to be 150 years old before dying of natural causes.
This site continued on to give the characteristics of Alexandria’s Genesis, of which women are the prime carriers, and which remains active, growing stronger, generation after generation.
The chief characteristic of Alexandria’s Genesis is the presence of blue or grey eyes at birth that begin to change at six months. By puberty the eyes become dark purple, deep purple, a royal purple or a violet/blue shade. The eyes have perfect vision.
Other characteristics of Alexandria’s Genesis include: a lack of facial or body hair except that at birth; dark or black hair, and shimmering white skin that resists tanning and burning. There is a highly evolved immune system that is known to resist all of man’s known diseases; an appearance of being five to twenty years younger than their actual years (between ages 40-50, aging stops completely), and a long life span. The well-developed, well-proportioned, body is never overweight,
At puberty, girls don’t develop the normal hair growth, and as women they never menstruate—although they are fertile and go through the same things non-mutation women go through every month. It’s worth noting that Madame had birthed one child, a daughter.
My research reassures me that I can create Madame in my image of her. In fact, the characteristics of Alexandria’s Genesis suite my image quite well: petite, with black flowing hair, fair-skinned, and violet eyes that change shades or colors according to her mood.
That violet eyes are rare also fits my image of Madame. She was a person that others couldn’t help but turn their heads, attention, and bows to. She was an exceptional woman, highly intelligent with a business acumen. She pushed the limits of her time. She was unusual. Unique.
As are violet eyes.
If anyone asks me, I will tell them that her violet eyes are a sign that she is mystical, that purple is a color of loyalty and royalty.
Furthermore, those violet “peepers” were a gift to Madame, a gift from a smiling god.