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The death of Madame Blanchard


In his "historical diary", Carlos Ma. de Bustamante says that Madame Blanchard counted 67 trips or ascents. In the 68th ascent, the balloon fired on and fell, crashing with don José María Fagoaga's eaves. "Just as he told me" - Bustamante says- don Francisco Fagoaga who was there".

On the 6th of July, 1819, Sophie Blanchard made an ascent above the Tivoli gardens in Paris-now the Gare Saint Lazare- with the objective of throwing away fireworks from her balloon. At the beginning of the ascent, there was a little collision against the trees and that moved the pyrotechnics box and she did not realize it. When the fireworks set fire to the pyrotechnics, some of them flew through the balloon -full of hydrogen- and they caused it to burn. The balloon started to descend slowly and shakily. It crashed against eaves in the Provenza street. Because of the impact, the basket tumbled and Sophie was expelled and she crashed against the ground.

José María and Francisco Fagoaga looked the fatal accident from the garret of that house. They got downstairs to help madame Blanchard, but she died ten minutes later, because a broken neck.

The anecdote could be banal if we don’t think about the historical meaning of people: the first aeronautic woman, Napoleon I' favorite -who named her "Hot air fire Minister." For that, she made several ascents in Paris and Milan- and two other aristocratic family members from Oiartzun, Spain. They had an old branching, important business in Mexico and a house in Paris since XVIII century.

The presence of the Fagoaga at moment of the accident makes us wonder about emigration of Mexican people to France and the continuous circulation of business, technology, models and knowledge between the both countries.

We know the Dr. Mora, Melchor Ocampo, Belisario Domínguez, Madero brothers' cases; the exiled like Manuel Romero de Terreros, José Yves Limantour and of course the general Porfirio Díaz; artists like Jesús F. Contreras, Julio Ruelas or Diego Rivera. But there are many others waiting to be discovered, to investigate the sense of their French experience in the history and French-Mexican culture.