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Ballet Evolved: At the Court of Louis XIV; part of the Royal Opera House’s exploration of the history and development of ballet.

A Study of Historical MonChevy

Hi, I hope you all like this! I’ve included as much as I could in a short time, but I will be writing a few more of these in the next few weeks! @monchevy-versailles @the-king-and-his-warlock @suspectsim


In the series ‘Versailles’ we are shown the relationship between Philippe (Monsieur) and Philippe, Chevalier de Lorraine. Their relationship in the series is shown to be loving if a little chaotic at times, this is in most senses quite accurate to history. Very little is mentioned in the series as to how the two met, this may well be due to the fact that sources report different timings. Some suggest that the two met as children, as the Chevalier’s older brother, Louis, was childhood friends with Monsieur’s brother, King Louis XIV. It’s unknown when Monsieur and the Chevalier first became romantically involved, some suggest it was the late 1650s, others say the 1660s suggesting that the two first became a couple in the War of Devolution. When the Chevalier sustained an injury to his foot in a battle, Monsieur was greatly concerned and upset. He had the Chevalier cared for in his (Monsieur’s) own tent. It’s widely written that when they returned home from the war the two had become inseparable. Personally it seems likely that they became lovers earlier than the War of Devolution.

According to some sources it would seem that at times, the Chevalier was manipulative in regards to Monsieur however, it must be remembered that the very limited sources we have on the Chevalier de Lorraine are written according to the history Louis XIV wanted to have shown. We must therefore, take some of what is written with a pinch of salt and remember that the people who lived at the French court had to be ruthless otherwise they’d never have survived the constant gossip they may have found themselves victim to. And so when we see quotes describing the Chevalier as “insinuating, brutal and devoid of scruple” we must remember that many people were more than likely similar. It’s also written by many historians that the Chevalier was not in love with Monsieur but was instead in love with the wealth and position Monsieur could bring. It’s said that the Chevalier ‘dominated’ Monsieur for all of Monsieur’s life. However, if we look at what we can tell of the Chevalier’s behaviour when out of Monsieur’s favour it’s quite obvious that he didn’t dominate him. The Chevalier left to go to one of his abbeys (the abbey at Saint-Jean des Vignes). This is not the behaviour of someone that ‘dominated’ the actions of another person.

Monsieur, sources seem to agree however, was more than likely completely, deeply and utterly in love with the Chevalier. When the Chevalier was arrested (in the presence of Monsieur), Monsieur left court taking Henriette with him. This seems to be a sort ‘well you took the Chevalier away so I’m going to take Henriette away from court’ type action against his brother. In 1672 Louis XIV asked Monsieur if he wanted the Chevalier to be returned to court, when answering this question Monsieur ‘threw himself at the king’s feet, embraced him about the knees and kissed his hand with unsurpassed joy’ according to Madame de Sévigne. It was more or less common knowledge that the arrest of the Chevalier in 1670 was down to Henrietta of England, who she more than likely felt was responsible for everything that had gone wrong with her marriage.

As mentioned earlier the Chevalier and Monsieur fought alongside one another on multiple occasions this includes during the Dutch War, in which the Chevalier was badly injured to his temple, Monsieur was also hit by a musket ball (only to his armour, however). The Chevalier is widely described (even by some critics) as being a very brave warrior as well as intelligent, attractive and very funny (even Louis XIV found him amusing at times). Him fighting alongside Monsieur is something which is sadly omitted from the series. Perhaps to place more emphasis on Monsieur’s bravery. It’s a shame that it is missed because the Chevalier was extremely brave participating in a one on one fight with a Turkish solider, in a war previous to the Dutch War.

Monsieur and the Chevalier were in one another’s company for more or less their whole adult lives. To me it seems unlikely that someone that could easily have survived at court in other ways, like the Chevalier could have would remain with someone they did not love their entire life as many sources try to suggest. Personally I believe that the Chevalier deeply loved Monsieur, the fact that the Chevalier would later make peace with Philippe’s second wife Elizabeth Charlotte (Liselotte) would suggest he was willing to do what would make Monsieur happy. There are too many examples of small things that to me show they had a very deep relationship rather than the Chevalier using Monsieur for status.

Monsieur died on the 9th June 1701, the Chevalier died just over a year later on the 8th December 1702. Perhaps I’m reading a bit too much into this but the fact that there was just over a year between their deaths speaks volumes to me. Overall, their portrayal on Versailles strikes me as quite accurate, obviously it misses large swathes of history but that’s more down to having a limited amount of time to show a quite large section of history.

VOCAB WORDS

OH YA AP EURO MASSIVE SUMMARY

Ok so first this may seem scary but here are key terms and comprehensive definitions taken tom R.E.A’s AP Euro Crash Course edition book… so ya look at these and make sure you know at LEAST vaguely what each one means. Just for more credit they are literally verbatim from the R.E.A. book. No credit to me.

Key Terms—you have to know these

a.       Europe in Transition, 1450-1650

  1. Humanism: The scholarly interest in the study of the classical texts, values, and styles of Greece and Rome. Humanism contributed to the promotion of a liberal arts education based on the study of the classics, rhetoric, and history.
  2. Christian Humanism: A branch of humanism associated with northern Europe. Like their Italian counterparts, the Christian Humanists closely studied classical texts. However, they also sought to give humanism a specifically Christian content. Christian humanists like Desiderius Erasmus were committed to religious piety and institutional reform.
  3. Vernacular: The everyday language of a region or country. Miguel de Cervantes, Geoffrey Chaucer, Dante, and Martin Luther all encouraged the development of their national languages by writing in the vernacular. Desiderius Erasmus, however, continued to write in Latin.
  4. New Monarchs: European monarchs who created professional armies and a more centralized administrative bureaucracy. The new monarchs also negotiated a new relationship with the Catholic Church. Key new monarchs include Charles VII, Louis XI, Henry VII, and Ferdinand and Isabella.
  5. Taille: A direct tax on the French peasantry. The taille was one of the most important sources of income for French monarchs until the French Revolution.
  6. Reconquista: The centuries-long Christian “reconquest” of Spain from the Muslims. The Reconquista culminated in 1492 with the conquest of the last Muslin stronghold, Granada.
  7. Indulgence: A certificate granted by the pope in return for the payment of a fee to the church. The certificate stated that the soul of the dead relative or friend of the purchaser would have his time in purgatory reduced by many years or cancelled altogether.
  8. Anabaptist: Protestants who insisted that only adult baptism conformed to Scripture. Protestant and Catholic leaders condemned Anabaptists for advocating the complete separation of Church and State.
  9. Predestination: Doctrine espoused by John Calvin that Gad has known since the beginning of time who will be saved and who will be damned. Calvin declared that “by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once and for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction.”
  10. Huguenots: French Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin.
  11. Politiques: Rulers who put political necessities above personal beliefs. For example, both Henry IV of France and Elizabeth I of England subordinated theological controversies in order to achieve political unity.
  12. Columbian Exchange: The interchange of plants, animals, diseases, and human populations between the Old World and the New World.
  13. Mercantilism: Economic philosophy calling for close government regulation of the economy. Mercantilist theory emphasized building a strong, self-sufficient economy by maximizing exports and limiting imports. Mercantilists supported the acquisition of colonies as sources of raw materials and markets for finished goods. The favorable balance of trade would enable a country to accumulate reserves of gold and silver.
  14. Putting-Out System: A pre-industrial manufacturing system in which an entrepreneur would bring materials to rural people who worked on them in their own homes. For example, watch manufacturers in Swiss towns employed villagers to make parts for their products. The system enabled entrepreneurs to avoid restrictive guild regulations.
  15. Joint-Stock Company: A business arrangement in which many investors raise money for a venture too large for any of them to undertake alone. They share profits in proportion to the amount they invest. English entrepreneurs used joint-stock companies to finance the establishment of New World colonies.

    b.       The Age of Kings, 1600-1789

  16. Absolutism: A system of government in which the ruler claims sole and uncontestable power. Absolute monarchs were not limited by constitutional restraints.
  17. Divine Rights of Kings: The idea that rulers receive their authority from God and are answerable only to God. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, a French bishop and court preacher to Louis XIV, provided theological justification for the divine right of kings by declaring that “the state of monarchy is the supremest thing on Earth, for kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon Earth and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself are called Gods. In the scriptures kings are called Gods, and their power is compared to the divine powers.”
  18. Intendants: French royal officials who supervised provincial governments in the name of the king. Intendants played a key role in establishing French absolutism.
  19. Fronde: A series of rebellions against royal authority in France between 1649 and 1652. The Fronde played a key role in Louis XIV’s decision to leave Paris and build the Versailles Palace.
  20. Robot: A system of forced labor used in eastern Europe. Peasants usually owed three to four days a week of forced labor. The system was abolished in 1848.
  21. Junkers: Prussia’s landowning nobility. The Junkers supported the monarchy and served in the army in exchange for absolute power over their serfs.
  22. Scientific Method: The use of inductive logic and controlled experiments to discover regular patterns in nature. These patterns or natural laws can be described with mathematical formulas.
  23. Philosophes: Eighteenth century writers who stressed reason and advocated freedom of expression, religious toleration, and a reformed legal system. Leading philosophes such as Voltaire fought irrational prejudice and believed that society should be open to people of talent.
  24. Deism: The belief that God created the universe but allowed it to operate through the laws of nature. Deists believed that natural laws could be discovered by the use of human reason.
  25. General Will: A concept in political philosophy referring to the desire or interest of a people as a whole. As used by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who championed the concept, the general will is identical to the rule of law.
  26. Enlightened Despotism: A system of government supported by leading philosophes in which an absolute ruler uses his or her power for the good of the people. Enlightened monarchs supported religious tolerance, increased economic productivity, administrative reform, and scientific academies. Joseph II, Frederick the Great, and Catherine the Great were the best-known Enlightened monarchs.
  27. Enclosure Movement: The process by which British landlords consolidated or fenced in common lands to increase the production of cash crops. The Enclosure Acts led to an increase in the size of farms held by large landowners.
  28. Agricultural Revolution: The innovations in farm production that began in eighteenth century Holland and spread to England. These advances replaced the open-field agriculture system with a more scientific and mechanized system of agriculture.
  29. Physiocrats: Group of eighteenth-century French economists led by Francois Quesnay. The physiocrats criticized mercantilist regulations and called for free trade.
  30. Invisible Hand: Phrase coined by Adam Smith to refer to the self-regulating nature of a free marketplace. 

    c.        Revolution and Reaction, 1789-1850

  31. Parlements: French regional courts dominated by hereditary nobles. The Parlement of Paris claimed the right to register royal decrees before they could become law.
  32. Girondins: A moderate republican faction active in the French Revolution from 1791 to 1793. The Girondin Party favored a policy of extending the French Revolution beyond France’s borders.
  33. Jacobins: A radical republican party during the French Revolution from 1791 to 1793. Led by Maximilien Robespierre, the Jacobins unleased the Reign of Terror. Other key leaders included Jean-Paul Marat, Georges-Jacques Danton, and the Comte de Mirabeau. The Marquis de Lafayette was not a Jacobin.
  34. San-Culottes: The working people of Paris who were characterized by their long working pants and support for radical politics.
  35. Levee en Masse: The French policy of conscripting all males into the army. This created a new type of military force based upon mass participation and a fully mobilized economy.
  36. Thermidorian Reaction: Name given to the reaction against the radicalism of the French Revolution. It is associated with the end of the Reign of Terror and reassertion of the bourgeoisie power in the Directory.
  37. Legitimacy: The principle that rulers who have been driven from their thrones should be restored to power. For example, the Congress of Vienna restored the Bourbons to power in France.
  38. Balance of Power: A strategy to maintain and equilibrium, in which weak countries join together to match or exceed the power of a stronger country. It was one of the guiding principles of the Congress of Vienna.
  39. Liberalism: Political philosophy that in the nineteenth century advocated representative government dominated by the propertied classes, minimal government interference in the economy, religious toleration, and civil liberties such as freedom of speech.
  40. Conservatism: Political philosophy that in the nineteenth century supported legitimate monarchies, landed aristocracies, and established churches. Conservatives favored gradual change in the established social order.
  41. Nationalism: Belief that a nation consists of a group of people who share similar traditions, history, and language. Nationalists argued that every nation should be sovereign and include all members of a community. A person’s greatest loyalty should be to a nation-state.
  42. Romanticism: Philosophical and artistic movement in late eighteenth—and early nineteenth—century Europe that represented a reaction against the Neoclassical emphasis upon reason. Romantic artists, writers, and composers stressed emotion and the contemplation of nature.
  43. Chartism: A program of political reforms sponsored by British workers in the late 1830s. Chartist demands included universal manhood suffrage, secret ballots, equal electoral districts, and salaries for members of the House of Commons.
  44. Zollverein: A free-trade union established among major German states in 1834.
  45. Carbonari: A secret revolutionary society working to unify Italy in the 1820s.
  46. Luddites: A social movement of British textile artisans in the early nineteenth century who protested against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution. The Luddites believed that the new industrial machinery would eliminate their jobs. The Luddites responded by attempting to destroy the mechanized looms and other new machines.
  47. Utilitarianism: A theory associated with Jeremy Bentham that is based upon the principle of “the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” Bentham argued that his principle should be applied to each nation’s government, economy, and judicial system.
  48. Utopian Socialists: Early nineteenth-century socialists who hoped to replace the overly competitive capitalist structure with planned communities guided by a spirit of cooperation. Leading French utopian socialists such as Charles Fourier and Louis Blanc believed that the property should be communally owned.
  49. Marxism: Political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They believed that history in the result of class conflict that will end with triumph of the industrial proletariat over the bourgeoisie. The new classless society would abolish private property. 

    d.       Toward the Modern World, 1850-1914

  50. Second Industrial Revolution:  A wave of late-nineteenth-century industrialization that was characterized by an increased use of steel, chemical processes, electric power, and railroads. This period also witnessed the spread of industrialization from Great Britain to western Europe and the United States. Both the U.S. and Germany soon rivaled Great Britain.
  51. Social Darwinism: The belief that there is a natural evolutionary process by which the fittest will survive. Wealthy business and industrial leaders used Social Darwinism to justify their success.
  52. RealPolitik: “The politics of reality”; used to describe the tough, practical politics in which idealism and romanticism play no part. Otto von Bismarck and Camillo Benso di Cavour were the leading practitioners of realpolitik.
  53. Syndicalism: A radical political movement that advocated bringing industry and government under the control of federations of labor unions. Syndicalists endorsed direct actions such as strikes and sabotage.
  54. Autocracy: A government in which the ruler has ultimate power and uses it in an arbitrary manner. The Romanov dynasty in Russia is the best example of an autocracy.
  55. Duma: The Russian parliament created after the revolution of 1905.
  56. Imperialism: The policy of extending one country’s rule over other lands by conquest or economic domination.
  57. Sphere of Influence: A region dominated by, but not directed by, a foreign nation. 

    e.       The “Second Thirty Years’ War”: WWI and WWII, 1914-1945

  58. Fourteen Points: President Woodrow Wilson’s idealist peace aims. Wilson stressed national self-determination, the rights of small countries, freedom of the seas, and free trade.
  59. Bolsheviks: A party of revolutionary Marxists, led by Vladimir Lenin, who seized power in Russia in 1917.
  60. New Economic Policy (N.E.P.): A program initiated by Vladimir Lenin to stimulate the economic recovery of the Soviet Union in the early 1920s. The New Economic Policy utilized a limited revival of capitalism in light industry and agriculture.
  61. Existentialism: Philosophy that God, reason, and progress are all myths. Humans must accept responsibility for their actions. This responsibility causes an overwhelming sense of dread and anguish. Existentialism reflects the sense of isolation and alienation in the twentieth century.
  62. Relativity: A scientific theory associated with Albert Einstein. Relativity holds that time and space do not exist separately. Instead, they are a combined continuum whose measurement depends as much on the observer as on the entities being measured.
  63. Totalitarianism: A political system in which the government has total control over the lives of individual citizens.
  64. Fascism: A political system that combines an authoritarian government with a corporate economy. Fascist governments glorify their leaders, appeal to nationalism, control the media, and repress individual liberties.
  65. Kulaks: Prosperous landowning peasants in czarist Russia. Joseph Stalin accused the kulaks of being class enemies of the poorer peasants. Stalin “liquidated the kulaks as a class” by executing them and expropriating their lands to form collective farms.
  66. Keynesian Economics: An economic theory based on the ideas of twentieth-century British economist John Maynard Keynes. According to Keynesian economics, governments can spend their economies out of a depression by using deficit-spending to encourage employment and stimulate economic growth.
  67. Appeasement: A policy of making concessions to an aggressor in the hopes of avoiding war. Associated with Neville Chamberlain’s policy of making concessions to Adolf Hitler. 

    f.        The Cold War Era, 1945-1991

  68. Containment: The name of a U.S. foreign policy designed to contain or block the spread of Soviet policy. Inspired by George F. Kennan, containment was expressed in the Truman Doctrine and implemented in the Marshall Plan and the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.
  69. Decolonization: The process by which colonies gained their independence from the imperial European powers after WWII.
  70. De-Stalinization: The policy of liberalization of the Stalinist system in the Soviet Union. As carried out by Nikita Khrushchev, de-Stalinization meant denouncing Joseph Stalin’s cult of personality, producing more consumer goods, allowing greater cultural freedom, and pursuing peaceful coexistence with the West.
  71. Brezhnev Doctrine: Assertion that the Soviet Union and its allies had the right to intervene in any socialist country whenever they say needed. The Brezhnev Doctrine justified the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
  72. Détente: The relaxation of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Détente was introduced by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon. Examples of détente include the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), expanded trade with the Soviet Union, and President Nixon’s trips to China and Russia.
  73. Solidarity: A Polish labor union founded in 1980 by Lech Walesa and Anna Walentynowicz. Solidarity contested Communist Party programs and eventually ousted the party from the Polish government.
  74. Glasnost: Policy initiated by Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s. Glasnot resulted in a new openness of speech, reduced censorship, and greater criticism of Communist Party policies.
  75. Perestroika: An economic policy initiated by Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s. Meaning “restructuring,” perestroika called for less government regulation and greater efficiency in manufacturing and agriculture.
  76. Welfare State: A social system in which the state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens in matters of health care, education, employment, and social security. Germany was the first European country to develop a state social welfare system.

“Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12 presents a minor problem to mainstream Christianity. It becomes a much larger problem to Bible literalists. LUCIFER IS NOT SATAN!

 Lucifer makes its appearance in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah, at the twelfth verse, and nowhere else:

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”

“O Lucifer” was used to express “O shining one”, and not the name of a biblical character, and certainly not Satan. Its own simple context clearly shows this.

The first problem is that Lucifer is a Latin word. So how did it find its way into a Hebrew manuscript, written before there was a Roman language? To find the answer, I consulted a scholar at the library of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. What Hebrew name, I asked, was Satan given in this chapter of Isaiah, which describes the angel who fell to become the ruler of hell?

The answer was a surprise. In the original Hebrew text, the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is not about a fallen angel, but about a fallen Babylonian king, who during his lifetime had persecuted the children of Israel. It contains no mention of Satan, either by name or reference. The Hebrew scholar could only speculate that some early Christian scribes, writing in the Latin tongue used by the Church, had decided for themselves that they wanted the story to be about a fallen angel, a creature not even mentioned in the original Hebrew text, and to whom they gave the name “Lucifer.”

Why Lucifer? In Roman astronomy, Lucifer was the name given to the morning star (the star we now know by another Roman name, Venus). The morning star appears in the heavens just before dawn, heralding the rising sun. The name derives from the Latin term lucem ferre, bringer, or bearer, of light.“ In the Hebrew text the expression used to describe the Babylonian king before his death is Helal, son of Shahar, which can best be translated as "Day star, son of the Dawn.” The name evokes the golden glitter of a proud king’s dress and court (much as his personal splendor earned for King Louis XIV of France the appellation, “The Sun King”).

The scholars authorized by King James I to translate the Bible into current English did not use the original Hebrew texts, but used versions translated … largely by St. Jerome in the fourth century. Jerome had mistranslated the Hebraic metaphor, “Day star, son of the Dawn,” as “Lucifer,” and over the centuries a metamorphosis took place. Lucifer the morning star became a disobedient angel, cast out of heaven to rule eternally in hell. Theologians, writers, and poets interwove the myth with the doctrine of the Fall, and in Christian tradition Lucifer is now the same as Satan, the Devil, and — ironically — the Prince of Darkness.

So “Lucifer” is nothing more than an ancient Latin name for the morning star, the bringer of light. That can be confusing for Christians who identify Christ himself as the morning star, a term used as a central theme in many Christian sermons. Jesus refers to himself as the morning star in Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

And so there are those who do not read beyond the King James version of the Bible, who say ‘Lucifer is Satan: so says the Word of God’….“

- Doc de Lux

Red Against the Snow

by Ember (AO3)

Pairing: Derek Hale x Stiles Stilinski

Chaptered

Word count: 34k

Rating: Explicit

Summary: Little Red Riding Hood isn’t just one story. People are mistaken about that. Hell, Grimm wasn’t even original about it. The first guy to publish it was actually Charles Perrault, a french writer who wrote shit for the Louis XIV’s court. And damn, there was nothing subtle about it.

Stiles is trapped for the holidays in the cabin of a strange man/hermit named Derek. A strangely friendly wolf befriends Stiles during his stay. It’s up to the teenager to find out why Derek has secluded himself from society, what the feelings he’s beginning to have means, and what the connection between the mysterious man and the mysterious black wolf is.

Read Here!

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This table is one of the most magnificent surviving examples of the fashion for silver furniture, which spread to England from the court of Louis XIV at Versailles, during the reigns of the later Stuart monarchs. Its solid silver legs support an oak tabletop, overlaid with thick sheets of silver, bearing the marks of Andrew Moore (1640–1706), a silversmith from Bridewell in the City of London.

When a man and a woman danced together, they generally performed the same steps in mirror image, though men were given to virtuosity while women were expected to exercise restraint.  The relationship was chivalric, with the man performing technical feats in honour of his demure lady, and also reflected commonly-held views of sexuality: women were thought to be biologically and physically the same as men – just a bit less developed and with less ‘heat’.  The difference was one of degree, not kind, and so it was in the dances.
— 

“Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet”

- on ballet at Louis XIV’s court in the late 1600′s

LAW # 4 : ALWAYS SAY LESS THAN NECESSARY

JUDGEMENT

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx-like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW

Gnaeus Marcius, also known as Coriolanus, was a great military hero of ancient Rome. In the first half of the fifth century B.C. he won many important battles, saving the city from calamity time and time again. Because he spent most of his time on the battlefield, few Romans knew him personally, making him something of a legendary figure.

In 454 B.C., Coriolanus decided it was time to exploit his reputation and enter politics. He stood for election to the high rank of consul. Candidates for this position traditionally made a public address early in the race, and when Coriolanus came before the people, he began by displaying the dozens of scars he had accumulated over seventeen years of fighting for Rome. Few in the crowd really heard the lengthy speech that followed; those scars, proof of his valor and patriotism, moved the people to tears. Coriolanus’s election seemed certain.

When the polling day arrived, however, Coriolanus made an entry into the forum escorted by the entire senate and by the city’s patricians, the aristocracy. The common people who saw this were disturbed by such a blustering show of confidence on election day.

And then Coriolanus spoke again, mostly addressing the wealthy citizens who had accompanied him. His words were arrogant and insolent. Claiming certain victory in the vote, he boasted of his battlefield exploits, made sour jokes that appealed only to the patricians, voiced angry accusations against his opponents, and speculated on the riches he would bring to Rome. This time the people listened: They had not realized that this legendary soldier was also a common braggart.

Down on his luck, [the screenwriter] Michael Arlen went to New York in 1944. To drown his sorrows he paid a visit to the famous restaurant “21.” In the lobby, he ran into Sam Goldwyn, who offered the somewhat impractical advice that he should buy racehorses. At the bar Arlen met Louis B. Mayer, an old acquaintance, who asked him what were his plans for the future. “I was just talking to Sam Goldwyn …” began Arlen. “How much did he offer you? ”interrupted Mayer. “Not enough,” he replied evasively. “Would you take fifteen thousand for thirty weeks?” asked Mayer. No hesitation this time. “Yes,” said Arlen.

THE LITTLE, BROWN BOOK OF ANECDOTES, CLIFTON FADIMAN, ED., 1985

News of Coriolanus’s second speech spread quickly through Rome, and the people turned out in great numbers to make sure he was not elected. Defeated, Coriolanus returned to the battlefield, bitter and vowing revenge on the common folk who had voted against him. Some weeks later a large shipment of grain arrived in Rome. The senate was ready to distribute this food to the people, for free, but just as they were preparing to vote on the question Coriolanus appeared on the scene and took the senate floor. The distribution, he argued, would have a harmful effect on the city as a whole. Several senators appeared won over, and the vote on the distribution fell into doubt. Coriolanus did not stop there: He went on to condemn the concept of democracy itself. He advocated getting rid of the people’s representatives—the tribunes—and turning over the governing of the city to the patricians.

One oft-told tale about Kissinger… involved a report that Winston Lord had worked on for days. After giving it to Kissinger, he got it back with the notation, “Is this the best you can do?” Lord rewrote and polished and finally resubmitted it; back it came with the same curt question. After redrafting it one more time—and once again getting the same question from Kissinger-Lord snapped, “Damn it, yes, it’s the best I can do. ” To which Kissinger replied: “Fine, then I guess I’ll read it this time. ”

KISSINGER. WALTER ISAACSON, 1992

When word of Coriolanus’s latest speech reached the people, their anger knew no bounds. The tribunes were sent to the senate to demand that Coriolanus appear before them. He refused. Riots broke out all over the city. The senate, fearing the people’s wrath, finally voted in favor of the grain distribution. The tribunes were appeased, but the people still demanded that Coriolanus speak to them and apologize. If he repented, and agreed to keep his opinions to himself, he would be allowed to return to the battlefield.

Coriolanus did appear one last time before the people, who listened to him in rapt silence. He started slowly and softly, but as the speech went on, he became more and more blunt. Yet again he hurled insults! His tone was arrogant, his expression disdainful. The more he spoke, the angrier the people became. Finally they shouted him down and silenced him.

The tribunes conferred, condemned Coriolanus to death, and ordered the magistrates to take him at once to the top of the Tarpeian rock and throw him over. The delighted crowd seconded the decision. The patricians, however, managed to intervene, and the sentence was commuted to a lifelong banishment. When the people found out that Rome’s great military hero would never return to the city, they celebrated in the streets. In fact no one had ever seen such a celebration, not even after the defeat of a foreign enemy.

Interpretation

Before his entrance into politics, the name of Coriolanus evoked awe.

His battlefield accomplishments showed him as a man of great bravery. Since the citizens knew little about him, all kinds of legends became attached to his name. The moment he appeared before the Roman citizens, however, and spoke his mind, all that grandeur and mystery vanished. He bragged and blustered like a common soldier. He insulted and slandered people, as if he felt threatened and insecure. Suddenly he was not at all what the people had imagined. The discrepancy between the legend and the reality proved immensely disappointing to those who wanted to believe in their hero. The more Coriolanus said, the less powerful he appeared—a person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.

The King [Louis XIV] maintains the most impenetrable secrecy about affairs of State. The ministers attend council meetings, but he confides his plans to them only when he has reflected at length upon them and has come to a definite decision. I wish you might see the King. His expression is inscrutable; his eyes like those of a fox. He never discusses State affairs except with his ministers in Council. When he speaks to courtiers he refers only to their respective prerogatives or duties. Even the most frivolous of his utterances has the air of being the pronouncement of an oracle.

PRIMI VISCONTI, QUOTED IN LOUIS XIV, LOUIS BERTRAND, 1928

Had Coriolanus said less, the people would never have had cause to be offended by him, would never have known his true feelings. He would have maintained his powerful aura, would certainly have been elected consul, and would have been able to accomplish his antidemocratic goals. But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief. Power cannot accrue to those who squander their treasure of words.

Oysters open completely when the moon is full; and when the crab sees one
it throws a piece of stone or seaweed into it and the oyster cannot close
again so that it serves the crab for meat. Such is the fate of him who opens
his mouth too much and thereby puts himself at the mercy of the listener.

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519

OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW

In the court of Louis XIV, nobles and ministers would spend days and nights debating issues of state. They would confer, argue, make and break alliances, and argue again, until finally the critical moment arrived: Two of them would be chosen to represent the different sides to Louis himself, who would decide what should be done. After these persons were chosen, everyone would argue some more: How should the issues be phrased? What would appeal to Louis, what would annoy him? At what time of day should the representatives approach him, and in what part of the Versailles palace? What expression should they have on their faces?

Finally, after all this was settled, the fateful moment would finally arrive. The two men would approach Louis—always a delicate matter—and when they finally had his ear, they would talk about the issue at hand, spelling out the options in detail.

Louis would listen in silence, a most enigmatic look on his face. Finally, when each had finished his presentation and had asked for the king’s opinion, he would look at them both and say, “I shall see.” Then he would walk away.

The ministers and courtiers would never hear another word on this subject from the king—they would simply see the result, weeks later, when he would come to a decision and act. He would never bother to consult them on the matter again.

Undutiful words of a subject do often take deeper root than the memory of ill deeds…. The late Earl of Essex told Queen Elizabeth that her conditions were as crooked as her carcass; but it cost him his head, which his insurrection had not cost him but for that speech.

SIR WALTER RALEIGH. 1554-1618

Interpretation

Louis XIV was a man of very few words. His most famous remark is “L‘état, c’est moi” (“I am the state”); nothing could be more pithy yet more eloquent. His infamous “I shall see” was one of several extremely short phrases that he would apply to all manner of requests.

Louis was not always this way; as a young man he was known for talking at length, delighting in his own eloquence. His later taciturnity was self-imposed, an act, a mask he used to keep everybody below him off-balance. No one knew exactly where he stood, or could predict his reactions. No one could try to deceive him by saying what they thought he wanted to hear, because no one knew what he wanted to hear. As they talked on and on to the silent Louis, they revealed more and more about themselves, information he would later use against them to great effect.

In the end, Louis’s silence kept those around him terrified and under his thumb. It was one of the foundations of his power. As Saint-Simon wrote, “No one knew as well as he how to sell his words, his smile, even his glances. Everything in him was valuable because he created differences, and his majesty was enhanced by the sparseness of his words.”

It is even more damaging for a minister to say foolish things than to do them.
Cardinal de Retz, 1613-1679

KEYS TO POWER

Power is in many ways a game of appearances, and when you say less than necessary, you inevitably appear greater and more powerful than you are. Your silence will make other people uncomfortable. Humans are machines of interpretation and explanation; they have to know what you are thinking. When you carefully control what you reveal, they cannot pierce your intentions or your meaning.

Your short answers and silences will put them on the defensive, and they will jump in, nervously filling the silence with all kinds of comments that will reveal valuable information about them and their weaknesses. They will leave a meeting with you feeling as if they had been robbed, and they will go home and ponder your every word. This extra attention to your brief comments will only add to your power.

Saying less than necessary is not for kings and statesmen only. In most areas of life, the less you say, the more profound and mysterious you appear. As a young man, the artist Andy Warhol had the revelation that it was generally impossible to get people to do what you wanted them to do by talking to them. They would turn against you, subvert your wishes, disobey you out of sheer perversity. He once told a friend, “I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up.”

In his later life Warhol employed this strategy with great success. His interviews were exercises in oracular speech: He would say something vague and ambiguous, and the interviewer would twist in circles trying to figure it out, imagining there was something profound behind his often meaningless phrases. Warhol rarely talked about his work; he let others do the interpreting. He claimed to have learned this technique from that master of enigma Marcel Duchamp, another twentieth-century artist who realized early on that the less he said about his work, the more people talked about it. And the more they talked, the more valuable his work became.

By saying less than necessary you create the appearance of meaning and power. Also, the less you say, the less risk you run of saying something foolish, even dangerous. In 1825 a new czar, Nicholas I, ascended the throne of Russia. A rebellion immediately broke out, led by liberals demanding that the country modernize—that its industries and civil structures catch up with the rest of Europe. Brutally crushing this rebellion (the Decembrist Uprising), Nicholas I sentenced one of its leaders, Kondraty Ryleyev, to death. On the day of the execution Ryleyev stood on the gallows, the noose around his neck. The trapdoor opened—but as Ryleyev dangled, the rope broke, dashing him to the ground. At the time, events like this were considered signs of providence or heavenly will, and a man saved from execution this way was usually pardoned. As Ryleyev got to his feet, bruised and dirtied but believing his neck had been saved, he called out to the crowd, “You see, in Russia they don’t know how to do anything properly, not even how to make rope!”

A messenger immediately went to the Winter Palace with news of the failed hanging. Vexed by this disappointing turnabout, Nicholas I nevertheless began to sign the pardon. But then: “Did Ryleyev say anything after this miracle?” the czar asked the messenger. “Sire,” the messenger replied, “he said that in Russia they don’t even know how to make rope.”

“In that case,” said the Czar, “let us prove the contrary,” and he tore up the pardon. The next day Ryleyev was hanged again. This time the rope did not break.

Learn the lesson: Once the words are out, you cannot take them back. Keep them under control. Be particularly careful with sarcasm: The momentary satisfaction you gain with your biting words will be outweighed by the price you pay.

Image:
The Oracle at Delphi.
When visitors consulted the
Oracle, the priestess would utter
a few enigmatic words that seemed
full of meaning and import. No one
disobeyed the words of the Oracle—
they held power over life and death.

Authority: Never start moving your own lips and teeth before the subordinates do. The longer I keep quiet, the sooner others move their lips and teeth. As they move their lips and teeth, I can thereby understand their real intentions…. If the sovereign is not mysterious, the ministers will find opportunity to take and take. (Han-fei-tzu, Chinese philosopher, third century B.C.)

REVERSAL

There are times when it is unwise to be silent. Silence can arouse suspicion and even insecurity, especially in your superiors; a vague or ambiguous comment can open you up to interpretations you had not bargained for. Silence and saying less than necessary must be practised with caution, then, and in the right situations. It is occasionally wiser to imitate the court jester, who plays the fool but knows he is smarter than the king. He talks and talks and entertains, and no one suspects that he is more than just a fool.

Also, words can sometimes act as a kind of smoke screen for any deception you might practice. By bending your listener’s ear with talk, you can distract and mesmerize them; the more you talk, in fact, the less suspicious of you they become. The verbose are not perceived as sly and manipulative but as helpless and unsophisticated. This is the reverse of the silent policy employed by the powerful: By talking more, and making yourself appear weaker and less intelligent than your mark, you can practice deception with greater ease.

A week or so ago I was asked if I could do a rec with books about Louis XIV. So here it is, since it’s a big subject, it’ll have a few categories.

  • Personal life

Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King, Antonia Fraser, (Thanks to quality-cafe for the suggestion <3)

 Louis XIV,  a Royal life, Olivier Bernier

A woman’s life in the court of the Sun King : letters of Liselotte von der Pfalz, 1652–1722, Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchesse d'Orléans, translated by Elborg Forster, Johns Hopkins (This one is a very good read if you want to know more about the king’s court, because it’s all seen from a direct witness, the palatine princess, she writes a lot about the king, her brother in law which she admired greatly.

The Memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon on the reign of Louis XIV, and the Regency, Translated by Bayle St. John. (Another Direct witness, which is pretty interesting also)

Louis XIV, Peter Robert Campbell

  • Political life

Louis XIV and Absolutism: A Brief Study with Documents , William Beik

  • France under his rule

The splendid century, life in the France of Louis XIV, W.H Lewis

The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV, Anne Somerset (Don’t know about this one tbh… )

The Great Nation: France from Louis XIV to Napoleon, Colin Jones

Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen, Pierre Goubert.

  • In French

Louis XIV, Jean-Christian Petitfils

Versailles, la Passion de Louis XIV, Jean-Christian Petitfils

Louis XIV et vingt-millions de français, Pierre Goubert

La mort de Louis XIV, Saint Simon

Les guerres de Louis XIV, John Lynn

Les Reines de France au temps des Bourbons, Simone Bertière

Le procès Fouquet, Simone Bertière

Cette Pute me fera mourir, Saint Simon, édited by François Raviez (highly recommanded if you want a good laugh at the king’s court)

  • Arts

The Triumph of Pleasure: Louis XIV and the Politics of Spectacle, Georgia Cowart.

The Story of Versailles, Francis Loring Payne

Time and Ways of Knowing Under Louis XIV: Moliere, Sevigne, Lafayette, Roland Racevskis

  • Music

And a bit of music to accompany your reading:

Rameau: Les Indes Gallantes, La Chapelle royale et Philippe Herrewhege

Jean Baptiste Lully: Le Roi Danse, Köln & Reinhard Goebel

Marc Antoine Charpentier , Musica Antiqua Köln

Versailles Meta Part 3

(clearly I am on a roll today)

PSA: we need to start separating the characters from the historical figures. I mean this in the nicest way possible but if ‘history’ was 100% kept to, the show would be kind of boring. Number one: a lot of these historical sources are opinions and observations of biased people at court. Many of them were paid for by Louis XIV (obviously not Liselotte’s letters but she had her own biases too). Number two: this is a story. Characters need to develop and change over time and they need to be adapted in a way that makes sense for modern viewership, for streamlined purposes, and in a way that creates an arc.

Like yes, ok realistically and under the rules of etiquette Liselotte would not be left to sit under a window until someone talks to her. But, as a character, she’s almost an audience surrogate. She’s relatable to probably most people who watch the show because let’s be honest how many of us have been in that situation of being  in a new school/job/whatever and been so excited  and then had someone be a complete bitch to you. Or have seen that popular person and been like ‘damn I wish I was them’? Everyone? Yeah everyone. In contemporary historical dramas, there is a fine line between respecting the period and also making the characters people we can understand in today’s context. And I understand being frustrated by the tiny inconsistencies. As a history buff who’s read a LOT about the court I am too, but as an actor and as someone who understands the dramatic medium I can forgive having Montespan sit in an armchair because of what that represents in the story: that her status is perceived to be as high as the queen’s. Making her downfall all the more dramatic. 

Also story. Story and storytelling and characters not starting at 10 but getting somewhere is important. There is also a finite amount of time in any series and only so much that can be explained without becoming confusing or contradictory. Like it or not, the storyline that makes the most dramatic sense for the Chevalier is not for him to start out being a rich, courageous fighter-prince because a: that would basically make him Philippe and b:…there’d be nowhere for him to go. Which is probably closer to reality than the show paints him to be. I think that his character has probably the most growth over the season because he starts out as what you think is a sterotypical manipulative asshole who is using Philippe for his own gain and then you realize that he is a bit of a dick but he also is a man in a very precarious position who loves this man more than anything and is terrified of losing him not just because he’d literally be thrown out into the street but also because he loves Philippe more than I think he can even express and the thought of losing him to another is devastating. His depression and terror is heartbreaking, because a big part of the Chevalier as a character is that he is insecure because as he states multiple times to both Philippe and to Louise, he KNOWS that Philippe deserves better than him and he’s scared that someone is going to come along who is as smart, as brave and as awesome as Philippe and he’ll be left. And someone does come along, even though Philippe is not attracted to Liselotte physically, she’s sort of exactly the person that he SHOULD be with (in the Chevalier’s eyes). She’s his worst nightmare. Her scene with the Chevalier is the most honest I think we see him (or the beginnings of it). She saw straight through him, he’s terrified and he’s throwing away the best thing in his life. I think by the end of the season, he has grown closer to the historical Chevalier. He has wealth of his own now, he’s found more confidence in himself, that he isn’t as fearful as he thought he was when things come down to it, and that he isn’t going to lose Philippe and that Liselotte isn’t his enemy but could potentially be his friend. And that’s great storytelling. That’s a character arc. I would not be surprised if next season, you do see him going to war and fighting by Philippe’s side (which happened in real life and he got wounded!). 

And to continue: I am beyond happy that the show did not make Philippe a stereotypical presentation of a gay man. I ADORE the fact that they took someone who has historically been painted as VERY flamboyant and yet a brave soldier and colored in the lines. I do not find him too masculine, I find him a wonderful balance of everything. He’s still sassy, he still loves fashion (I see him as more NYC fashion where everything is black and dark but stylish), he has NO filter but he’s also an intelligent bookworm. He’s honestly one of the most three dimensional characters I have seen and I will say that to my dying day. Which he needs to be, there NEEDS to be a reason that Louis is scared of being overshadowed. Philippe has some qualities that Louis does not have, he is well-liked, he’s fun to be around, he’s brave and he’s intelligent. There also needs to be contrast between Philippe and the Chevalier, because they need to balance each other out. The Chevalier’s flightyness is offset by Philippe’s (more) serious nature. Philippe’s tendencies to behave like Wednesday Addams is offset by the Chevalier’s sense of fun. 

So TLDR…history sometimes needs to be changed a teeny bit to work as a TV series. This show is GOOD. The writing on the show is terrific in my opinion because though it does use some modern ‘golden age’ of television tropes like the shocking death, overall the show is more about the characters’ relationships than about the story. That’s why I  watch it. They do character arcs very well and very subtly and that should be celebrated. 

I am unquestionably very ugly; I have no features; my eyes are small, my nose is short and thick, my lips long and flat. These do not constitute much of a physiognomy. I have great hanging cheeks and a large face; my stature is short and stout; my body and my thighs, too, are short, and, upon the whole, I am truly a very ugly little object.
—  Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency by Elizabeth Charlotte, Duchesse d'Orleans
For dancing, the conventions of costume gave men a distinct advantage.  Roman-style dress or fashionable skirted waistcoats, breeches, and silk stockings left the legs free and visible.  Women had no such freedoms…heavy skirts that fell to the floor, worn over petticoats and topped with mantuas, aprons, and stiff bodices and corsets, conspired to constrain movement in the interests of upright posture and dignified carriage.  These gowns, however, were not necessarily seen as impediments: a woman carried her dress as if it were part of her body, and its architectural structure contributed to her poise and stature.
— 

“Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet”

- on ballet at Louis XIV’s court in the late 1600′s

Catherine Sedley (21 Dec 1657 - 26 Oct 1717)

Mistress of: King James II and VII.
Tenure: 1678 - 1686.
Royal Bastards: Three (disputed).
Fall From Power: The king was deposed.


Catherine was the only legitimate child of the poet Sir Charles Sedley. Her mother, Lady Catherine Savage, gradually descended into madness until finally being sent to a Catholic convent when Catherine was in her early teens. By 1670, Charles had a mistress, by whom he had two children, and Catherine was thrown out of his home. The relationship between Charles and his mistress lasted until his death, though he petitioned extensively to be allowed to divorce his wife. Nevertheless, Charles was rich and Catherine therefore would lay claim to his wealth after he died.

Notoriously plain, thin and a brunette, Catherine certainly did not believe she would attract any male attention. She was; however, known for her wit, which she likely got from her father. When Catherine was fifteen. she joined the court of Mary of Modena, who had just married James, Duke of York. When Catherine turned 21, James chose her to be his mistress, much to everyone’s surprise. Bewildered, Catherine remarked that “it cannot be my beauty for he must see I have none, and it cannot be my wit, for he has not enough to know that I have any.” James apparently had a habit of choosing “ugly” mistresses; his brother went so far as to joke that James’ confessor must impose these mistresses on his as a penance.She apparently made up for her lack of typical beauty by wearing extravagant gowns.

James became king in 1685, upon which time he was urged to give up Catherine by a myriad of Catholic priests. James advised Catherine to leave the country, though he promised to provide for her. Catherine refused, though she did leave court and settled into a lavishly decorated home in St. James Square. She was; however, given a parting gift of four thousand pounds a year. The affair briefly ended until James’ coronation day. which just so happened to also be day their son, James Darnley, died. Both parents were distraught, became close again, and thus the affair resumed. James’ wife, Mary, was appalled at her husband’s behavior. Mary was even more aggrivated by the fact that Catherine had produced a thriving daughter in 1681, when she herself had born seven children since her marriage in 1672, all of whom died tragically by miscarriage, stillbirth, or disease (the only exception being her daughter Isabel, who died of “natural causes” before her fifth birthday). Their son James had been born in 1684 and, although he died within the year, Mary had by then suffered two stillbirths, the death of her 4-week-old child from “convulsions”, and a miscarriage in four years.

In 1686, Catherine was created Countess of Dorchester, which aroused so much indignation, that she spent several months in Ireland on lands that the king gave her. By the end of year; however, Catherine was back in England though she could not rouse the king’s interest any longer. Perhaps this was a good thing as just two years later, James was deposed during the Glorious Revolution, quickly fleeing to France. Catherine continued to write to him, asking for support for her and her daughter, which lead many to believe she was a spy.

James was replaced by his eldest daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange; after one serious attempt to recover his crown in 1689/90, which ended in defeat, James returned to France and lives out the rest of his life at the court of King Louis XIV. In 1696, Catherine married Sir David Coylear, with whom she had two sons and by all accounts lived happily. When her sons were sent off to school, she told them both that “if anybody call either of you a son a whore, you must bear it; for you are so: but if they call you bastards, fight till you die; for you are an honest man’s sons.”

At the court of George I, during his coronation in 1714, the Archbishop ritually asked if the people accepted their new king, Catherine, noticing the heavy guard, asked “Does the old fool think anyone will say no?” Catherine died in Bath in 1717 just a few months shy of turning 60. Through her son, Charles, Catherine is a relative of Charles Darwin.

Sources

  • The Countess of Dorchester by Sir Peter Lely, ca. 1675.
  • Holloway, Susan Scott. The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II. NAL Trade (2010). ISBN 0-451231155..
  • Cawthorne, Nigel. Sex Lives of the Kings & Queens of England: An Irreverent Expose of the Monarchs From Henry VIII to the Present Day. Prion (2004). ISBN: 1853755362.

Louise de La Vallière (Françoise Louise de La Baume Le Blanc; 6 August 1644 – 7 June 1710) was a mistress of Louis XIV of France from 1661 to 1667. She later became the Duchess of La Vallière and Duchess of Vaujours in her own right. Unlike her rival, Madame de Montespan, she has no surviving descendants. Louise was also very religious and she led a religious penance for herself near the end of her life.

Early life

Louise de La Vallière was born in Tours, the daughter of an officer, Laurent de La Baume Le Blanc (who took the name of La Vallière from a small estate near Amboise) and Françoise Le Provost. Laurent de La Vallière died in 1651; his widow remarried in 1655, to Jacques de Courtarvel, marquis de Saint-Rémy, and joined the court of Gaston, Duke of Orléans, at Blois.

Louise was brought up with the younger princesses (the future Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Duchess of Alençon, and Duchess of Savoy), the half-sisters of La Grande Mademoiselle. After the death of Gaston, Duke of Orléans, his widow moved with her daughters to the Luxembourg Palace in Paris and took the sixteen-year-old Louise with them.

Louis XIV

Through the influence of a distant kinswoman, Mme de Choisy, Louise was named Maid of honour to Princess Henrietta Anne of England, sister of King Charles II of England, who was about her own age and had just married Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, the King’s brother. Henrietta (known as Madame) was extremely attractive and joined the court at Fontainebleau in 1661. Her friendly relationship with King Louis XIV, her brother-in-law, caused some scandal and fed rumors of a romantic affair.

To counter these rumors, the King and Madame decided that Louis should pay court elsewhere as a front, andMadame selected three young ladies to “set in his path”, Louise among them. The Abbé de Choise reported that the seventeen-year-old girl “had an exquisite complexion, blond hair, blue eyes, a sweet smile … [and] an expression [at] once tender and modest." One of her legs was shorter than the other, so Louise wore specially made heels.

Mistress

Louise had been at Fontainebleau only two months before becoming the king’s mistress. Although she was intended to divert attention from the dangerous flirtation between Louis and his sister-in-law, Louise and Louis soon fell in love. It was Louise’s first serious attachment and she was reportedly an innocent, religious-minded girl who initially brought neither coquetry nor self-interest to their secret relationship. She was not extravagant and was not interested in money or titles that could come from her situation; she wanted only the King’s love. Antonia Fraser writes that she was a "secret lover not a Maîtresse-en-titre like Barbara Villiers.”

Nicolas Fouquet’s curiosity in the matter was one of the causes of his disgrace, for, when he bribed Louise, the King mistakenly thought that Fouquet was attempting to take her as a lover.

In February 1662, the couple fell into conflict. Despite being directly questioned by the King, Louise refused to tell her lover about the affair between Henrietta and the comte de Guiche. Coinciding with this, Jacques-Benigne Bossuet delivered a series of Lenten sermons in which he condemned the immoral activities of the King through the example of King David’s adultery—and the pious girl’s conscience was troubled. She fled to the convent at Chaillot. Louis followed her there and convinced her to return to court. Her enemies—chief among them, Olympe Mancini, comtesse de Soissons, niece of Cardinal Mazarin—sought to orchestrate her downfall by bringing her liaison to the ears of Louis’s queen, Maria Theresa of Spain.

During her first pregnancy, Louise was removed from the Princess’ service and established in a lodging in the Palais Royal, where, on 19 December 1663, she gave birth to a son, Charles, who was taken immediately to Saint-Leu and given to two faithful servants of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Despite the secrecy of the transfer, organised by a doctor Boucher who was present at the birth, the story quickly spread to Paris. The public scorn at a midnight mass on 24 December resulted in a distraught Louise escaping home from the church.[6]

Downfall

Concealment was practically abandoned after her return to court, and within a week of Anne of Austria’s death on 20 January 1666, La Vallière appeared at Mass beside Maria Theresa. Ashamed of her conduct, she treated the queen with humility and respect. In return, the queen was reportedly venomous towards her during the five-year affair, continuing even after the affair really ended—unaware that the king had taken another mistress.

After five years, Louise’s favour was waning. On 7 January 1665 she had given birth to a second son, Philippe, and on 27 December of that year she gave birth a third son, Louis;but the three children soon died, Charles on 15 July 1665, Philippe before the autumn of 1666 and Louis shortly after. A daughter was born at Vincennes on 2 October 1666. In May 1667, by letters patent confirmed by the Parlement de Paris, Louis XIV legitimised his daughter, who was named Marie Anne de Bourbon and was given the title of Mademoiselle de Blois. Louis XIV also made Louise a duchess and gave her the estate of Vaujours. As a duchess, Louise had the right to sit on a tabouret in the presence of the queen, which was a highly prized privilege. However, Louise was not impressed. She said her title seemed a kind of retirement present given to a servant who was retiring. Indeed she was correct, for Louis commented that legitimising their daughter and giving Louise an establishment “matched the affection he had had for her for six years”: in other words, an extravagant farewell present.

On 2 October of that year, she gave birth to their fifth child, a son named Louis, but by this time her place in the King’s affections had been usurped by Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan, whom both she and the queen (both pregnant when the affair began) had thought of as a trusted friend. Under the pretense of her pregnancy, Louise was sent away to Versailles while the King and the court were at the scene of the war; however, she disobeyed the King’s orders and returned, throwing herself at his feet sobbing uncontrollably. In a strange twist of fate, she ended her relationship with the King in the same way in which she started: used initially as a decoy for Louis and “Madame”, Louise now became a decoy for her own successor, as Louis made her share the Marquise de Montespan’s apartments at the Tuileries to prevent the legal manœuvres of the Marquis de Montespan (who wanted to get his wife back) and to keep the court from gossiping.

Mme de Montespan demanded that Louise assist her with her toilette, and Louise did so without complaint. Whenever the king wished to travel with his real mistress, Athénaïs, he made both Louise and Athénaïs sit in the same carriage with the queen. Since Athénaïs was married, it meant that both the king and she were committing adultery, a mortal sin. Louise had refused a smokescreen marriage for this very reason. (In cases where one partner is unmarried, canon law of the Roman Catholic Church considered a carnal affair to be simply fornication.)

Mlle de La Vallière was the godmother of Athénaïs’ and Louis XIV’s first daughter, who was given the first name Louise. Louise hated being the decoy for Athénaïs and begged and wept often to be allowed to join a convent. She took to wearing a hair shirt, and the strain of being forced to live with her former lover and his current mistress caused her to lose weight and become increasingly haggard.

She attempted to leave in 1671, fleeing to the convent of Ste Marie de Chaillot, only to be compelled (once more by order of the King) to return. In 1674, she was finally permitted to enter the Carmelite convent in the Faubourg Saint-Jacques in Paris under the name of Sister Louise of Mercy.

When Louise left the Court, the new Duchess of Orléans (born Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate) took care of the education of her only surviving son, Louis. He later was involved in a scandal with his uncle Philippe de France and Philippe’s favourite, the Chevalier de Lorraine, and died in 1683 while in exile in Flandres.His loving sister and aunt were greatly affected by his death, while his father did not shed a tear. His mother, still obsessed with the sin of her relationship with the king, said upon hearing of her son’s death:

I ought to weep for his birth far more than [for] his death.

Madame de Maintenon asked Louise if she had fully considered the discomforts that awaited her at the Carmelite convent which ended up including being forbidden to wear the shoes that allowed her to walk without a limp. “When I shall be suffering at the convent”, Louise replied, “I shall only have to remember what they made me suffer here, and all the pain shall seem light to me.” The day she left, she threw herself at the feet of the Queen, begging forgiveness: “My crimes were public, my repentance must be public, too.”

She took the final vows a year later, accepting the black veil from the queen herself, who kissed and blessed her. The queen already had a habit of spending brief sojourns at the convent for spiritual consolation and repose. Interestingly, later in life, Mme de Montespan went to Louise for advice on living a pious life. Louise forgave her, and counselled her on the mysteries of divine grace. She died in 1710. The Duchy of La Vallière went to her daughter Marie Anne as did the fortune she had acquired during her life as Louis’s mistress.

La Vallière’s Réflexions sur la miséricorde de Dieu, written after her retreat, were printed by Lequeux in 1767, and in 1860 Réflexions, lettres et sermons, by M. P. Clement (2 vols.). Some apocryphal Mémoires appeared in 1829, and the Lettres de Mme la Duchesse de la Vallière (1767) are a corrupt version of her correspondence with the Maréchal de Bellefonds.

2

Versailles was a world in which all the nobility revolved, according to their own rank, each in his own orbit, like the stars and planets about the sun. Etiquette, invisible and absolute as gravitation, bound all, and an infraction of its laws was the unpardonable sin.

–James Eugene Farmer, Versailles and the Court Under Louis XIV

10

- Le Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye est un château royal, d'abord un château médiéval entre 1122 et sa destruction en 1346 par le Black Prince, puis une forteresse pendant la Guerre de Cent ans (occupée par les anglais pendant 20 ans), et enfin reconstruit comme château de la Renaissance par François Ier – devenant un des palais préféré des rois. Plusieurs rois naquirent ou moururent à Saint-Germain et, avant Versailles, Louis XIV installa sa cour au château pour éviter les dangers de Paris. Puis, James II y vécu en exile jusqu'à sa mort et ses partisans ne le quittèrent qu'avec la Révolution.

Le château est maintenant le Musée National d'Archéologie et est connu pour sa Grande Terrasse de 2,4km et sa vue sur l'Ouest parisien et La Défense.

- The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a royal palace, first a medieval castle between 1122 and its destruction in 1346 by the [English] Black Prince, then a fortress during the Hundred Years’ War (occupied by the English during 20 years), and later reconstructed as a Renaissance château by King Francis I (XVI century) – becoming one of the favourite palace of the French kings. Several kings were born or died in Saint-Germain and, before Versailles, Louis XIV held court in the castle to avoid the dangers of Paris. Then, King James II of England lived in exile in the château, where he died, and his supporters remained at the palace until the French Revolution.

The château is now the National Museum of Archaeology and is known for its 2.4km Grande Terrasse along the Seine and its outstanding view of West Paris area and La Défense business district.