Tag Archive: Louis XIII

Frontispiece of "L'Ariane", one of a dozen exceptionally bad tragedies written and presented by Desmaret de Saint-Sorlin.

Simon Morin is even more assured of his mission, as a man of quality, a truly superior mind – an Academician no less – has just joined his busy little crowd of disciples.  His name is Jean Desmaret de Saint-Sorlin.  Morin effusively welcomes this spiritual brother to his hovel.  He informs him that he, Desmaret, will be the Saint Paul to the new Christ that Morin, himself, is.  He promises to reveal all his secrets to him soon.

In vain, Morin’s wife tries to warn him.  She finds Saint-Sorlin highly suspicious.  After a few days, Morin puts him in contact with “spirits” that he evokes during seances, and exposes the new religion to him.  That of the “Inner Circle of the Holy Spirit” that Louis XIV must install as quickly as possible.  If he doesn’t, he will die that same year.  These mind wanderings are heard by an attentive Desmaret who, hands joined and eyes lowered, appears to be listening to the Sermon on the Mount.

Morin adds that, at a certain degree of purity, carnal excesses, with whichever sex they are performed, are cleansed in advance of any stain.  Desmaret pudically lowers his eyes and manages to extort a few other insanities from the fellow.  Then, while these redoubtable confidences are still fresh in his mind, he rushes off to give an account of them to the ecclesiastical judge.

He clamours:

“Lese-majeste, sorcery, sodomy!”

He receives the retort:

“In intention, only!”

So what?  Is one less culpable of only wishing the death of the King than of killing him?

Simon is therefore arrested again.  Confronted with the Academician, he denies nothing of these platitudes.  This time, he even assures that he is ready to die for them.  And what does the stake matter to him, since the angels would come to snatch him from the flames and consecrate his glory?  From the hearing room, he goes directly to the torture chamber.  There, before a Doctor in Sorbonne and a clerk of the Criminal Chamber to whom a Confessor is added, he has to suffer the Extraordinary Question.  Do they even listen to what he screams in his abominable torments?  He is condemned to be burnt alive in front of the Notre-Dame porch, the next day at Dawn.  At four o’clock, he leaves the torture chamber broken, is thrown panting onto a tumbril, with a few books and a few sheets of his vaticinations.  When the lamentable cortege arrives Place de Greve, he contains his atrocious sufferings and cries out:

Simon Morin's atrociously mutilated body was delivered to the flames before an hilarious crowd of onlookers.

“I am innocent!  It is not permitted to shed the blood of the just!”

A great crowd is assembled Place de Greve.  It had already enjoyed seeing one of Morin’s mistresses whipped and marked with a red-hot brand.  The executioner then drags the broken body of the unfortunate man onto the faggots and between two screams of pain, just before the flames and smoke rise, the dying man’s voice can again be heard:

“Jesus!  Mary!  My God!…  Give me misericord!”

The Confessor turns toward the good people of Paris and invites it to pray…

In his Hotel du Marais, Saint-Sorlin has also recited his Matins.  A messenger has kept him informed of the good result of his work.  Instead of taking a bit of rest, he immediately calls his secretary and dictates for La Gazette rimee seven lines of poetry on “the imposter” and his death.


The Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement was a secret society founded in 1627, under the devout Louis XIII, to restore Catholicism after the upheavals of the Renaissance.  It was open to monks, nuns, priests as well as laics, and counted at one time nearly 60 centres throughout Paris and in the provinces.  In the beginning, its members were above all devoted to charitable enterprises, the improvement of the lot of those condemned to hard labour, notably, but always with the idea of wiping out “immorality” everywhere.  They also went to war against gallant rendez-vous inside churches, the “nudities of the throat“, “dishonest or abominable paintings or almanachs” and prostitutes [filles publiques]

Little by little, the repressive aspect, the occult denunciation and spying, on the Protestants in particular, take over from all of the other activities.  To the point that the clergy itself becomes worried about it, and supports in 1660 a request for its dissolution by the Paris Parliament.  Thanks to the intervention of Lamoignou, its First President, and of Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV, who was very religious at the end of her life, the dissolution is not total.  But by the action of Mazarin, whose joyous life was discretely criticized by the Company, and the immense success of Moliere’s Tartuffe in 1669, its influence is gradually reduced to nothing.


Simon Morin was a poor devil who earned his living by copying official documents for illiterate people or by writing their letters.  He represents a heresy which goes right back to the XIIth Century.  It prophesies that, after the time of the Father and of the Son, will come the time of the Holy Spirit, when all the sacraments will be abolished and when each would be able to save himself by the grace of the Holy Spirit.  There will be no more sins, and therefore no more reason to not commit as many as possible, say its sectaries, who do not deprive themselves of doing it…  In 1281, a nun named Guillelmine dies in Milan, in odour of sanctity.  Shortly after her death, the Inquisition sets off an Enquiry which permits to establish that “the saint” had frenetically fallen into this heresy.  Her cadaver is dug up and is taken in great pomp to the stake.

This belief in a Holy Spirit carrying away on his wings all the conventions of established morality would last for a very long time, and Simon Morin is only one of the last links in a long heretical chain which causes talk for half a millenium in the Catholic world.


Saint-Sorlin was very proud of what he had done…  Starting from there, he busied himself creating a force similar to the Ligue du Bien Public, which had suscitated, among other miseries, the Saint-Barthelemy Massacre.  He also wrote a book where he recounted all his evil actions, which he hoped would be a best-seller.  He only left his study to hunt out new victims and he sent denunciations in such great numbers that the Prosecutors, irritated, asked him to deposit bail.  That is to say to become partie civile and pay the costs of the trial when his victims were acquitted.  He died at a very old age, 81, in 1676, not at all tired of hunting true and false heretics.  Alas, the fashion had passed, and he finally died very sad to have been able to roast only one unfortunate person…



How did women first get the idea of applying little pieces of black taffeta to their faces?  In the beginning, these cut-outs simulated the ramifications of veins on the temples.  But what was their origin?  Could it be a doctor’s prescription for a certain plaster to calm a headache?  The effect produced on the face of a pallid woman might have encouraged her friends to do the same.

Some say that it is the Duchess of Newcastle, under the reign of Charles II, who had the idea of covering the pimples that she had around her mouth, with a piece of black material.  A rival, seeing that it enhanced the whiteness of her complexion, and that she gained a certain je ne sais quoi by it, started to do the same thing.  This introduced the fashion of beauty patches, which reigned despotically for more than a century.

However, the use of patches was apparently known even in Ancient Rome.  The Romans appear to have been very prone to pimples.  In the writings of the Greek doctors who cared for them, as many as twenty-three different denominations of pimples can be counted.  It was therefore natural that they tried to hide them, just like the fashion-conscious ladies of the XVIIth Century.

They used little black plasters in the form of a crescent, called splenia.  They applied them to give the effect of having been scattered on the skin.  These patches were supposed to imitate the little spots commonly known as “beauty spots”.  Sometimes , instead of plasters, little dots were made with a brush, to create the crescent form.

It can be presumed that it is not in imitation of the Romans that the young lords from the time of Louis XIII suddenly had the fantasy to wear patches.  For it wasn’t only women who wore them.  Men also started wearing them.

The taffeta which was used to make these little plasters was cut into strange shapes.  There were the crescent moon, the star, different flowers, and even animals or people.  The face looked like a shadow-play performance.

Their positions on the face varied.  There were, however, some favourite places.  The seven principal ones were:  at the corner of the eye, la passionneela galante, in the middle of the cheek;  la baiseuse, at the corner of the mouth;  on a pimple, la receleuse;  on the nose, l’effronteela coquette, on the lips.  A round patch was called l’assassine.  At one time, women wore patches circled with diamonds on their right temple.

Massillon, who strongly condemned this mania, was preaching at Versailles in front of an auditory of elegant lady sinners.  He thought that he could kill this fashion by exclaiming ironically:  “Why don’t you put them everywhere?”  His advice was followed within the hour.  The fashion-conscious ladies put them in all the places where they hadn’t yet thought to put them.  And this was how the mouches (patches) a la Massillon were born.

It was very important to know where to place patches.  Sometimes it was a pimple or a tumour which needed to be cleverly concealed.  Sometimes, it was a sign that was placed near dimples which, according to Cardinal de Bernis, gave so much grace to the royal favourite’s smile.

We know that Mme de Pompadour used patches in a singular circumstance.  She wrote a letter, enclosing the whole plan of a military campaign, to Field-Marshal d’Estrees.  On the plan, the different points which he was to attack or defend were indicated by patches.

In the first years of the XVIIIth Century, the use of patches had become general, almost everywhere.  At this time, all women possessed a patch box.  The richness of the decoration was in accordance with their social position.

Under Louis XIV, artists represented mythological scenes on them.  Under Louis XV, they displayed graceful subjects, surrounded with rocaille ornamentation.  Under Louis XVI, Venus and Cupid appeared, with their attributes.  They were made, at this time, with Martin varnish, incrusted with gold and silver.

Closed, they looked like snuff-boxes.  Inside, they were divided into three compartments, two of which were closed by a lid with hinges.  The third, in which particles of rouge can often still be seen today, contained the brush used to apply it.

When it was good taste to wear rouge, fashionable women used boxes with double compartments.  One was destined to receive patches, the other, rouge.  Patches were sometimes kept in jewellery-type boxes of green and gold leather.

The patch box was part of a girl’s marriage trousseau for a very long time.  It was among the jewellery that was distributed at court in certain circumstances.  The description of the toiletry set given by Louis XV to the Dauphine in 1680, mentioned three patch boxes in vermilion.

Patches did not survive the French Revolution.  It seems that they have completely disappeared since then.  Unless we count those young ladies who put pencil dots on their faces, in a pale imitation of the taffeta beauty patch of yore.

Women weren’t the only ones to decorate themselves.  Some men, those known as the vieux beaux and, at the time, vieux mignons, inundated themselves with perfumes and painted their faces.

It was the King, himself, who set the tone.  His calumniators said of Henri de Valois that he was “uncertain King of France and imaginary King of Poland, Emperor of his wife’s collars and curler of her hair”.  The extravagances of this prince in matters of toilette have remained famous.  He loved to inundate himself with perfumes, daub his face with colours, or soften it with special pastes.

To conserve the freshness of his complexion, the King used a mask prepared with a few ounces of top quality wheat flour and a few egg whites.  He applied this paste upon retiring and only removed it the next day with warm water.  It is said that he got this recipe from the Venitians.

Following the King’s example, his mignons, conserved the whiteness of their complexion and of their hands, by using masks and gloves full of cosmetics, at night.  Here is a cosmetic recipe from 1573, found in Instruction pour les jeunes dames (Instruction for the young ladies):

“I take firstly pigeons from which I remove the legs and wings, then terebenthine from Venice, lily flowers, fresh eggs, honey, a type of shellfish called cowrie, crushed pearls and camphor.  I peel and incorporate all of these drugs together and put them to cook inside the bodies of the pigeons, which I put to distill in a glass alambic in a bain-marie.  I put in the beak of the alambic a little plug of linen on which there is a small amount of musk and ambergris, and I attach the recipient with some lut [paste] to the neck of the screed to which the water is distilled, after which I put the water in a cool place and it becomes very good.”

At the Renaissance, an invasion of cosmetics and perfumes arrives from Italy and they supplant the practice of cleanliness which had characterised the wealthy in the Middle Ages.  Catherine de Medicis, who had had all kinds of perfumes imported, had given a taste for them to her sons.  They oiled and painted themselves like the women and also dressed like them.

Under Marie de Medicis, widowed, then under Louis XIII, perfumes and balms re-appeared in a new vogue.  Diane de Poitiers or Marie Delorme, who contented themselves with simple, water-based lotions, were exceptions.

The Duchess of Montbazon used makeup openly.  Mme de Rambouillet reddened her lips.  Others put rouge on their cheeks, so abundantly, that this applied rouge destroyed the natural rosiness.  Others again, to appear whiter, stayed in bed with unbleached sheets or ate lemons to make themselves pale.

It was from this time that date gloves a la Cadenet, because of that gentleman’s preferred perfume.  He had created the cadenettes, Frangipani gloves, named in reference to the Marquis of Frangipani, and Neroli gloves, for which the Princess of Nerola had found the perfume.

Such habits could not disappear in one day.  Although Louis XIV was antipathetic toward perfumes, he was obliged to tolerate that which he could only stop at the risk of upsetting his most agreeable subjects, and the excessive use of perfumes and makeup continued.

One day, a marquis, whose eyesight was not good, met a duchess who used an exaggerated amount of makeup, in the Versailles park.  He wanted to kiss her but she avoided him by darting behind a statue, which received the kiss.  This drew the remark:  “Plaster for plaster, the error is not great,” from the marquis.

It is also said that the witty Mme Cornuel, meeting one day one of her nieces who had covered her face with a layer of white and pink, exclaimed:  “My God!  My niece, what a lovely mask you have there!…  Your face can be seen through it.”

The King, himself, finished by catching the ambient contagion.  He employed no fewer than eighteen china boxes to keep the various balms which he used.

If Marie-Therese, wife of Louis XIV, contented herself with her natural graces and did not abuse makeup, her brother-in-law spent his time creating himself a face.  As a child, he was often dressed like a girl, and, as these clothes suited him admirably, he liked to dress in them.  He opened formal balls dressed as a woman, a mask on his face, beauty patches on his cheek.  At the court, he played female acting roles.

Saint-Simon painted him, already old:  “Small, with a big stomach, mounted on stilts, his shoes were so high, always decorated like a woman, lots of rings, bracelets, sparkling stones everywhere, with a long wig all established in front, black and powdered, and ribbons everywhere he could put them, lots of all sorts of perfumes.  He was accused of surreptitiously wearing rouge.”

Fourth part tomorrow.

Henri IV of France likes the company of buffoons and has several on his payroll.  He likes Chicot for his jokes.  Chicot passes into his service after having worked successively for Henri III and Charles IX.

L’Estoile says, in his Journal (Diary):  “The King liked Chicot all fool that he was, and found nothing bad at all in what he said, which caused him to lose himself in a thousand follies.  When the Duke de Parma came for the second time to France, in 1592, he [Chicot] said to the King in front of everyone:  “Sir my friend, I well see that all that you do will serve for nothing in the end, if you do not become a Catholic.  You must go to Rome, and while there, you hang on the Pope’s shirt tails, and let everyone see you;  for otherwise they will never believe that you are Catholic.  Then you take a lovely enema of holy water, to finish washing all the rest of your sins.””

The court fool enjoys the privilege of saying all truths, even those which are not good to hear.  A sword thrust deprives Henri IV of his buffoon;  a blow from a halberd (or halbert) provides him with his successor.

The new fool is an apothecary from Louviers.  His name is Guillaume Marchand or Le Marchand, “jovial companion, the life and soul of the party, very well-known among his compatriots”.

The origin of his madness is worth being told.  When, in 1591, the town of Louviers is taken from the Ligueurs, Marchand receives a halberd blow to the head, which deranges his brain.  He is given to the young Cardinal de Bourbon, “who was amused by him, as well as the people who came to his home”.  He is taken in by Henri IV at the death of his first master.

We know that Louis XIII likes to try his hand at different trades, even taking pleasure in shaving the beards of his officers and of his buffoon Marais.  Marais, after having patiently suffered the trial of this operation, which had been long and painful, counts out fifteen sols, in liards and deniers, and gives them to the King.

The King tells him that it isn’t enough.  Marais answers:  “I’ll give you thirty sols when you are a master.”  This is judged to be too witty, and has him disgraced.

If we can believe Tallemant, Marais has great assurance.  One day he says to his master:  “There are two things about your job that I could not get used to:  eating alone and… relieving myself in company!”

This liberty to do and say everything has its advantages, even if it is not completely without inconveniences.  It allows some of Nature’s mistakes to take revenge on their physical disgraces and, through the favour of their exceptional situations, to hazard a few wise reflections, received with indulgence by those who hear them, and which can also contribute to the public good.

At this time, there are many other people, apart from the fools, who are employed to divert the King.  As well as the Moors, whose role is to divert the ladies by singing foreign songs and by dancing grotesque dances, there are the dwarves.

Queen Claude of France has a female dwarf whose name is Marie Dareille, and the accounts for the year 1533 mention another female dwarf, “the little dwarf (petite nayne) of the late Mademoiselle”.

Ten years later, a foreign female dwarf is received into the court.  She belongs to the Queen of Hungary, and accompanies her mistress.

Many paintings of the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries, show people with different types of malformation, to which they owe their lucrative situations.  The most common malformations are rachitism, giving deformed bones and problems with teeth;  scurvy, provoking skin alterations;  cretinism, which is accompanied by a voluminous goitre.

It can also be obesity, infantilism, which stops physical development at the childhood stage, or achondroplasia, a squeletal anomaly.  There are very few dwarves who, apart from their small size, have no physical deformity and are not, at the same time, hunchbacked or rachitic.

Seventh part tomorrow.

Dressed as a man, the Swedish Queen’s appearance is remarkable by her negligent attire and her physical imperfections, but also by the glow of her eyes.  According to Christina, her sunken shoulder is due to a female servant who threw her down a flight of stairs, by order of an enemy sovereign who wanted to take her throne.

In a letter kept at the Harley Library, Christina’s physionomy appears deformed to the point of caricature.

“Her body is completely irregular:  she is hunched, she has a hip outside architecture, she limps, she has a nose longer than her foot, her eyes are fairly beautiful, but her sight is not good;  she laughs with such bad grace that her face wrinkles like a piece of parchment that is put on hot coals;  she has one tit lower than the other by half a foot and so buried in her shoulder that it seems that half of her chest is absolutely flat.  She stinks so honestly as to oblige those who approach her to take precautions and protect themselves with one hand.

“The way that she is dressed is no less extraordinary than her person, for, to distinguish herself from her sex, she wears very short skirts, with a jerkin, a hat, a man’s collar or a handkerchief which she ties like a cavalier going to a party;  and when she wears a cravate like the ladies, it doesn’t stop her closing her shirt to the chin and wearing a small man’s collar with cuffs like the ones that we wear, so that, seeing her walking with her black wig, her short skirt, her closed breast and her raised shoulder, she looks like a disguised face.”

In 1654, she puts on men’s clothes so as to travel more easily throughout Europe.  In Rome, she surprises everyone by mounting a white horse like a man.  In Paris, she is also on horseback, still astride.  In Venice, she mounts in pants, and in Vienna, she appears with Turkish trousers.

Star attraction for the court and the people of France, Christina is awaited with a certain amount of impatience.  Her reputation has preceded her, and everyone wants to see her and speak to her.

Mme de Motteville describes her arrival at Compiegne with her “straight wig, her man’s shirt, her slightly hunchbacked body, her quite well-made hands, but so dirty that it was impossible to notice any beauty”.  The lady’s remarks are indulgent compared to the reports of Brienne and particularly la Palatine.

During the first days of September 1656,  Christina arrives at Fontainebleau.  En route, she is greeted by Mlle de Montpensier, daughter of Gaston d’Orleans, brother of Louis XIII.  La Grande Mademoiselle was on her way to Essonne to see a ballet.

She says that she had heard so much about the way that Christina dressed that she was worried that she would die of laughter on seeing her.  Suddenly she hears:  “Get out of the way!”  and the crowd is invited to let the Queen’s carriage through.  That’s when the King’s niece is able to examine the noble foreigner and describe her silhouette.

“She had a grey skirt, with gold and silver lace, a street merchant’s jerkin, the colour of fire, with lace the same as the skirt;  at the neck, a point de Genes handkerchief, tied with a fire-coloured ribbon, a blond wig and round at the back, like women wear, and a hat with black feathers which she was holding… ”

With her usual perspicacity, Christina could not avoid noticing the ascendant exercised by Mazarin over the Queen.  But she remained persuaded that, “in the friendship of these two people, there is nothing criminal…  gossip has wronged the virtue of this princess”  the most virtuous in the world, of an exemplary piety and incapable of disobeying the rules of honour.

It is at Compiegne that she speaks to the Prime Minister about her projects.  She asks France to help her become Queen of Naples and promises to take a son of the French royal line as her successor.  Mazarin’s answer is evasive enough for her to not insist further.

This will be the constant attitude of Mazarin toward Christina.  As diplomacy demands, he will never reproach her with anything, but will carefully avoid her whenever he can, and when her scrapes become too compromising.

She gets on better with the young King who, although very timid, talks to her freely and not without some enjoyment.  As for the Queen, she is unable to hide her surprise when she sees Christina.  Although she had been warned about her originality, she is still astonished by her.

This woman dressed as a man, who looks like a man dressed as a woman, possesses a gift which has always conquered the French, the gift of seduction.  But her nature rapidly takes over and, as in Rome, her impertinence, after having amused, shocks.

Eighth part tomorrow.

Not a great deal is known about the childhood of Henri IV’s other children.

During the illness of one of his daughters, Christine or Chretienne, doctors had been called from Paris.  They were unable to agree on the nature of her illness or on the treatment to prescribe and were sent away.

Marie de Medicis was displeased that Chretienne was so often on horseback.  She felt that, as her daughter was so young, this exercise could spoil her figure.

More delicate and frailer than Chretienne and Elisabeth (who married the future Philippe IV of Spain) Henriette was, according to Malherbe, “one of the kindest princesses in the world”.  Louis XIII cherished her even more because she was weaker, and he advised Mme de Montglat to watch over her as she would over himself.

Louis only had a marked aversion for his illegitimate brothers and sisters.  He was still a very young child when he answered his governess, who was rebuking him for having mistreated Mr de Vendome, one of the royal bastards:  “Oh well!  But he isn’t one of Mummy’s sons!”.

Later on, he never forgot that his illegitimate brothers had the same father as himself, and that, because of this, he owed them support and assistance.  He did not abandon any of his father’s children.

He was even on friendly terms with one of them.  She was a nun at Fontevrault and coadjudicator of the monastery.  Her name was Jeanne-Baptiste de Bourbon, daughter of Charlotte des Essarts, Countess of Romorantin.

Louis took care of her health.  If an epidemic was declared at Fontevrault, he would advise her to leave that convent for somewhere healthier.

However, he established distinctions.  If he showed preferences for some of the bastards, he also knew how to keep them at a respectful distance, and never permitted them to stray from their rank.

In these circumstances, he showed, as he did in many others, that he had a strong will, and that he was, and intended to remain, the King.

As the second Duke of Orleans was born on a 25 April, there was some discussion about whether or not to name him Louis, after Saint Louis, who was also born on 25 April.  Henri IV wanted him named Gaston, in memory of the valorous prince of the House of Foix.  Jean-Baptiste was added to please the Queen, who believed that this would put her third son under the protection of the saint of Florence, her home.

The Queen had also voiced the wish that he receive the title of Prince of Navarre.  But as this title could designate him as presumptive heir to the kingdom of Navarre, and permit someday certain pretensions unfavorable to the State, another title was chosen.

He became the Duke of Anjou, in memory of the famous House whose princes had been Kings of Jerusalem and of Sicily.  It was only on his marriage to Mlle de Bourbon that Gaston exchanged his title of Duke of Anjou for that of Duke of Orleans because the duchy of Orleans was given to him on this occasion.

Marie de Medicis had immediately shown a preference for this son.  She worries about finding a good nurse for this pampered child, insists on finding out if her milk is good, and if she has enough of it, if she likes wine, the quality and condition of her parents, and if there is anything which can be said against her.  She tells those charged with this mission, “if she is as she should be, dress her immediately, so that she is tidy and clean and ready when I send for her”.

The child grows, and like his brothers and sisters, is subject to the diseases of childhood.  Like Louis XIII, he catches smallpox, and his mother shows her anxiety.  She writes to Mme de Montglat:  “Doubtless this illness must follow its course and I have hope that the child will soon be cured”.  She tells her to bring “all the care and assistance which can be brought” to this end.

The patient is installed at Saint-Germain, in the King’s own bedroom.  The windows are opened “so as to ventilate it”, and a “good fire” is lit, on which is put ” juniper wood, so that the room remains without the slighest whiff of bad air”.

When the little prince is completely cured, the Queen is not opposed to him being shown to the people of Paris, so that it sees him “healthy and strong”, but “he mustn’t stop anywhere, because of the bad air and the illnesses which are there”.

So, he was taken out twice in Paris, but the second time, he started a temperature on his way back in the evening.  It was for this reason that he was left at the Louvre.

The Queen then came from Fontainebleau to see the Duke of Anjou, whom she found less ill than she had feared.  However, he refused to take the medicines presented to him.

The Queen wanted him to take an enema in her presence.  This was a drama.

To bring the child around to it, his mother told him that she had come to Paris to take him back with her to Fontainebleau, and that he needed to be strong to undertake the trip.  There was nothing better to contribute to this than his taking “a little broth”.  He agreed to take it.

“The Queen then told him that he had to take it from behind, and that , if he took it, she would give him a little silver pendant, which she showed him.  He immediately recognized what the Queen meant and said to her:  “I well see what it is, your broth to be taken from behind.  It’s an enema in disguise.  I don’t want it.  I don’t care about Fontainebleau or pendants.””

Surprised by this resistance, Marie de Medicis threatened him with the whip.  “These threats had no effect, force was necessary.  She therefore had him held down by three or four people, rendering him immobile.  Seeing the position he was in, he decided to accept what she wanted.”

After that, he was given “a little syrup”, and soon afterwards, he was found “running and playing, in the best mood that anyone could wish”.

Later, he had other indispositions.  There were worms and stones, “three grains like pin-heads, joined together, not smooth, but rough”.

He had adenoid growths, like his brother Louis XIII.  His mouth was constantly open, he had a dazed expression, with his lower lip hanging down.

He also had facial tics, which showed him to be “in a perpetual state of anxiety”.

Seventh and last part tomorrow.

The second son of Marie de Medicis caused her less worry than Louis XIII did.  Mainly because he died at an early age.

He was born in the night of 19 to 20 March 1607, around 2 a.m..  His birth was accompanied by a strange phenomenon.

Two sentinels, one French, the other Swiss, made a report to the King the following morning.  They had “seen, coming from underneath the Queen’s bedroom, the form of an eaglet, surrounded by a great light, which passed over the garden, near the clock, with a great bang, like from a thunderbolt or from a cannon”.

Certain conclusions were drawn from this.  Some said that “this eagle was a prediction of the future greatness of this little prince, to whom the heavens seemed to promise the Empire, and that his name, like a thunderbolt, would explode throughout all the universe.  Others made diverse predictions, not less favorable.”

However, “the end showed well that we shouldn’t be sure of these or similar signs and meteors, for the fourth year and six months of his age, the little Duke of Orleans died at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.  And if we make any judgement on such a sign, it would be more obvious to say that, like a flash of lightning and a thunderbolt, this royal eaglet passed promptly from this life to the next”.

His brief existence gave continual alerts.  The doctors didn’t know what remedies to try.  Baths succeeded cauteries.  Goat’s milk was tried.  All with no result.

In November 1611, the patient’s health worsened.  On 14, he was almost in a coma-like state, with a few light convulsions.  He raised himself on his bed to answer his brother, who had come to visit him.

“Good evening, my brother,” the King said to him.

“Good evening, my little Papa (as he called him)”, replied the patient, painfully.  “You honour me too much by taking the trouble to come to see me.”

The King started to cry, left and didn’t come back.

The next day, Louis XIII asked his governor for news.

“Isn’t there any way to save him?”

“Sire”, replied Mr de Souvre.  “The doctors are doing what they can, but you must pray to God for him.”

“I am very willing to do that”, answered the child-king.  “Isn’t there anything else that can be done?”

“Sire, you should dedicate him to Our Lady of Lorette.”

“I am very willing to do that.  What should I do?  Where is my chaplain?”

The chaplain came and said to the King:  “You must make a silver image as high as he is.”

“Send to Paris straight away.  Hurry up”, said Louis, quickly.

And then “he prayed to God, with tears in his eyes”.

The next day, he woke at midnight to ask about the state of Monsieur, his brother.  Then, he went back to sleep.  Almost at the same moment, the Duke of Orleans died, “between midnight and one o’clock”, says Heroard.  “By falling asleep, with a few convulsions.”

All these symptoms rather resemble a meningeal illness, particularly as the child is described to us as “endowed with an enormous head on a squeletal body”.  The autopsy does not infirm this hypothesis.

On 18, “was opened the body of the late Mr Duke of Orleans, in presence of Mr Antoine Petit, First Doctor of the late King, and Mr Jean Houltin, doctor of Paris, by Elie Bardin, surgeon of Paris, and Simon Berthelot, his surgeon”.  The brain was found to be “filled with catarrhs and all spoilt, full of black water, and the cerebellum fell apart in the fingers in handling it”.  A few days later,  the royal child’s body was transported to Saint-Denis.

Marie de Medicis felt violent grief to begin with, but her affliction didn’t last long.  There remained, to console her, the second Duke of Orleans, born one year after the prince whom she had just lost.

Sixth part tomorrow.

The Dauphin didn’t like any lack of respect for his person.  His governess having accidentally turned her back to him, he says to her, in a very authoritive tone:  “You must not turn your arse to Monsieur Dauphin.”

Heroard also tells us of a dispute between Henri IV and his son.

“The King says to him:  “Take off your hat.”  He has trouble removing it.  The King takes it off for him, and he gets angry about it.  Then the King removes his drum and drumsticks, which is even worse.  “My hat!  My drum!  My drumsticks!”  The King, to upset him even more, puts the hat on his head.  “I want my hat!”  The King hits his head with it, and he is really angry and the King against him.  The King takes him by his wrists and lifts him in the air like stretching his little arms on a cross.  “Hey!  You are hurting me!  Hey!  My drum!  My hat!”  The Queen gives him back his hat, then his drumsticks.  It was a little tragedy.  He is taken away by Mme de Montglat, he is dying of anger.  Carried to the bedroom of Mlle Nurse, where he cries for a long time without being able to calm down, he doesn’t want to be kissed or hugged by Mme de Montglat, doesn’t say sorry to her, except when he feels his clothes being pulled up;  in the end, whipped, not punished… ”

Other passages from Heroard lead us to believe that when the Dauphin is whipped, it is on top of his dress.  When he is punished, it is naked.  It is more often the latter method which is employed by the King.  Henri IV was convinced that it was the best method of education, as is shown in the following letter, which he sent to Mme de Montglat, on 14 November 1607:

“I complain of you because you haven’t written that you have whipped my son;  for I want and command you to whip him every time that he is obstinate or does something wrong;  knowing myself that there is nothing in this world which will profit him more than that;  because I recognize by experience that it has been good for me;  for, at his age, I was often whipped.  That is why I want you to do it and that you make him understand.”

But people have different temperaments, and what might have been successful for the father, could harm the child.

The King didn’t hold back either, if we believe this exclamation from the Dauphin, one day that he had received a good hiding:  “Mamanga!  Papa has broken my thigh!  Put some ointment on me!”  You can’t always believe him, because he often pretended to feel great suffering in order to obtain a pardon.

It is astonishing, however, that an excessively sensitive child was submitted to these multiple beatings.  His sensitivity was sometimes displayed in attacks of a clearly morbid character.

His irritablity was even stronger because he hadn’t had a bowel movement for a long time.  His constipation could therefore be responsible for this state of excessive sensitivity which didn’t last very long.  One of the most conscientious historians writing about the childhood of Louis XIII shares this opinion.  Mr Louis Batiffol writes:

“With children, the following phenomena are produced:  at any given moment, the mood becomes dark, irritable, nervous;  they suffer, they are listless for several days, whitefaced.  Gradually, the abdominal pains become sharp, and the irritability grows extremely.  Then, suddenly, a violent emptying is produced, and the patient is cured.”

His entourage never suspects, of course, that these fits of anger could have a pathological cause.

Sometimes , the child was so enraged, that he fell into fainting fits.  The Queen understood that more gentleness was needed.  She wrote to the governess “that the whip be given with circumspection so that the anger which could take hold of him, does not engender any illness”.

Believing, rightly or wrongly, that the beatings presented more risks in the hot season, she recommended that everything be done before coming to the extremity of the whip.  The Dauphin benefited from this belief, but only for a short time.

He had just been proclaimed King when he was again birched.  His governor having reluctantly whipped him by formal order of his mother, the regent, the young sovereign entered the room where she was.  Obeying etiquette, Marie de Medicis rose and made a beautiful curstey to her son.  This drew the remark from Louis XIII:  “I would rather have fewer curtsies made to me and not be whipped!”  Those present smiled.  The Queen, although uncomfortable, did the same.

Richelieu reports that Henri IV once said to the Queen:  “I can assure you of one thing, that, knowing your temperament the way that I do and forseeing what his [the Dauphin’s] will be, you all of one piece, not to say stubborn, you will absolutely have some horn-locking with each other.”

Fifth part tomorrow.

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.

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