The Dauphin displayed great stubborness and obstination at a very early age. This caused him to be whipped very often.
He was not quite two years old when he was birched for the first time. After that, he was frequently whipped.
One example, among many, of his disobedience, happened on the day that Mme de Montglat had a proclamation made by Thomas le Suisse, to the sound of a horn. In it, “all persons, of whatever quality, condition or nation, are called upon to no longer relieve themselves in the castle enclosure except in the places destined for this act. A fine of one quarter of an ecu is applicable, one half going to the poor and the other to the denouncer of the transgressors; or, if unable to pay it, to remain in prison on bread and water for the space of twenty-four hours. There is at this time [August 1606] the plague in Paris and other places surrounding it. After supper, Mlle d’Agre surprises the Dauphin urinating against the wall of the underground room where he was. “Ha! Monsieur,” she says. “I’ve caught you! You will pay one quarter of an ecu.” He is surprised, blushes, doesn’t know what to say, recognizing having transgressed.”
In Heroard’s diary, there are often notes such as: “Obstinate, whipped.” The King leaves his son; he screams, becomes angry: whipped! Another time, he is put into such a bad mood, through being tormented constantly, that “he wants to hit everyone, screaming uncontrollably.” Once again, he receives the birch.
The King, himself, whips him several times “with his royal hand”. It must be recognized that punishment was sometimes deserved, like when the child had crushed the head of a live sparrow; or in another circumstance, when he had a musket fired at a gentleman he didn’t like. Luckily, the arm was only charged with powder.
Mme de Montglat, “Mamenga” as he calls her to abbreviate, is usually given the task of punishing him. She perhaps does not always apply suitable moderation and tact to it. The child venges himself “by giving her two big scratches on her cheek”, or by taking the birches from her hands and beating her in return.
You have to be his nurse to put up with his indiscretions and the impertinence of his answers. Having asked him if he wanted to suckle, and having presented her breast to him, he turns his back on her, and she hears him say coldly: “Suckle my arse!… ”
Mme de Montglat whipped him time and again. On top of that, she frightened him by threatening him with invisible bogie men. One day, she even had a handful of birches descended down the chimney, attached to a string, telling the child that it had been brought by an angel.
Another day, the nurse having asked him what he had eaten for supper, “he replies smilingly, as if proud of it: “Shit!”” We must add, in defence of the child, that this nurse used language, when talking to him, which appears strange to us today. “Sir”, she would say. “Never let anyone touch your breasts or your little knob, it will be cut off.”
The governess did not use much more decency in her language when she spoke to the child, who was visibly shocked by it. One small example is the following piece of dialogue.
Mme de Montglat says to him: “I am going to put on my shoes: if you haven’t combed your hair by the time I return, you will be whipped.” She comes back, the Dauphin has not combed his hair. She then says to him: “I am going to piss, if you haven’t combed your hair and fixed it properly by the time I come back, you will have the whip.” He mumbles to himself: “Ha! She is a naughty girl! She says in front of everyone that she is going to piss; that is not very honest! Fi!” The people present were, apart from the doctor who reported the anecdote, Mme de Montglat’s tailor and one of her lackeys.
Even the doctor said this strange thing to him: “Sir, you no longer have your little knob.” He uncovers himself, has a candle brought and approaching the light, says: “That’s it, isn’t it?”
Mr le Grand says to the nurse, whose husband had come the previous day: “You feasted yesterday, Madame Nurse.” She replies: “On a flageolet bean!” Raw language seems to have been the rule.
Mr de la Court says to the Dauphin: “Monsieur, haven’t you properly understood that Papa told you that he wants you to learn to wash your hands by yourself and to wipe your own arse!”
“Why didn’t you tell him to wipe it himself!”
The child answers very sensibly: “If I had dared to do that, he would have had me whipped.”
The gentleman could have given the excuse that the King, himself, did not always watch his language. He wrote to Sully that he had bought, at the Saint-Germain fair, “merchandise up to three thousand ecus”; and added “because the merchants from whom I bought the said merchandise have hold of me by the arse and the pants, I am writing to you to tell you to immediately send the said sum.”
Fourth part tomorrow.