Tag Archive: Louis XVI


The magic of numbers

Doctor Encausse, better known as Papus, used to say:

“If one knew how to read the numbers which stud our lives, we would perhaps have knowledge of our destiny…  Unhappily, only a few initiates know how to read them, and this is very unfortunate…”

It is indeed very unfortunate, for in History, there exists a quantity of arresting examples which appear to show that Doctor Encausse is right.  These mathematical phenomena that cannot be attributed to chance are extremely numerous.  Here are a few examples:

From his accession to the throne until his death, the political life of Louis XIV seems strangely linked to the number 14.

Let us take the number 14.  This number is linked in a very strange fashion to the life of France’s Sun-King.  It is to be found at the principal crucial points of his political existence:

Louis the Great, who was the 14th monarch of this name, mounted the throne on 14 May 1643.  Add the numbers in 1643 = 1 + 6 + 4 + 3 = 14.

When he was on the point of losing his throne during the Fronde, he was saved by Turenne, at Bleneau, in 1652 (1 + 6 + 5 + 2 = 14).

He was declared major at 14 years old and began to govern personally in 1661 (1 + 6 + 6 + 1 = 14).

This year of 1661 is going to be an important year in his life.  It is in 1661 that his son, the Grand Dauphin is born.  And it is also in this year that, invited by Fouquet to the Chateau de Vaux, he is dazzled, jealous, and decides to build Versailles…

The Sun-King has the Hotel des Invalides built in 1670 (1 + 6 + 7 + 0 = 14).

His star dims at Romillies and at Turino in 1706 (1 + 7 + 0 + 6 =14).

Finally, he dies in 1715 (1 + 7 + 1 + 5 = 14), at the age of 77 (7 +7 = 14), having reigned 72 years (7 x 2 = 14)…

It therefore well appears that the number 14 had been a sort of sign from Destiny all along the Sun-King’s life…  A sign that neither Louis XIV, nor his contemporaries, seem to have noticed, and that we can only note as a mysterious presence…

***

A simple calculation shows that Louis-Philippe and Queen Amelie seem to have had their destiny written in the important dates of their lives.

Many other famous people seem to have had their destinies written in the important dates of their lives.  This was the case, for example, for Louis-Philippe and his wife, gentle Queen Amelie:

Louis-Philippe becomes King in 1830.  He is born in 1773.  Let us add the numbers in this date:  1 + 7 + 7 + 3 = 18.  1830 + 18 = 1848, the date of the Revolution which made him abdicate.

Let us continue:  Queen Amelie, his spouse, is born in 1782 (1 + 7 + 8 + 2 = 18).  1830 + 18 = 1848.

Their union dated from 1809.  By adding 1, 8, 0, and 9, we still find 18 which, added to 1830, gives the date of the collapse of their throne and their exile…

***

Numbers sometimes reveal the strange links that exist between events which are apparently very unrelated, or even between certain people.  This is how a curious parallel can be established between Napoleon and Hitler.  Let us closely follow Guy Breton:

The numbers show that there is a mysterious link between the careers of Napoleon I (right) and Adolf Hitler.

The French Revolution begins in 1789.

The German Revolution in 1918.

The difference between these two dates is 129 years.

Napoleon’s arrival to power (18 brumaire) dates from 1799;  Hitler’s dates from 1928.  Difference:  129 years

Napoleon is Emperor in 1804.  Hitler becomes Fuhrer in 1933.  Difference:  129 years.

Napoleon’s Russian Campaign dates from 1812.

Hitler’s Russian Campaign, from 1941.

Difference:  129 years

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo is in 1815.

The Allied Landings, which is the event which determines Hitler’s fall, is in 1944.

Difference:  129 years

Finally, Napoleon dies in 1821.  And if we believe the sayings of certain historians who refuse to believe that Hitler died in the Berlin Bunker in 1945, the Nazi Chief supposedly finished his life in Argentina, near Mar del Plata, in 1950…

1950 – 1821 = 129 years

***

Louis IX of France, known as Saint Louis

Another example:  If Napoleon and Hitler are very curiously linked together by the number 129, we notice that Saint-Louis [Louis IX] and Louis XVI were connected by the number 539.

Here is what can be noted:

Saint Louis was born on 23 April 1215.

Louis XVI on 23 August 1754.

Difference:  539 years.

Isabelle, sister of Saint Louis, was born in 1225.

Elisabeth, sister of Louis XVI, was born in 1764.

Difference:  539 years.

Louis XVI.

Louis VIII, father of Saint Louis, dies in 1226.

The Dauphin Louis, father of Louis XVI, dies in 1765.

Difference:  539 years.

Saint Louis, victorious, concludes a peace with Henry III of England in 1243.

Louis XVI, victorious, concludes a peace with George III of England in 1782.

Difference:  539 years.

A prince from the Orient announces to Saint Louis, by an embassy, his desire to become a Christian, in 1249.

A prince from the Orient sends an ambassador to Louis XVI for the same reason, in 1788.

Difference:  539 years.

Beginning of the Revolt of the Pastouraux, of which the apostate Jacob was the head, in 1250.

Beginning of the activities of the Jacobins in 1789.

Difference:  539 years.

At the end of his captivity, Saint Louis goes to La Madeleine-en-Provence in 1254.

At the end of his captivity in the Temple, Louis XVI is beheaded and is inhumed in the Madeleine Cemetery in 1793.

Difference:  539 years.

In view of all this, how can we not believe that certain numbers, to which we are linked by obscure affinities, mysteriously rule our destiny?

***

There is no explanation for all this.  As Doctor Encausse used to say:

“One has the impression that we are directed by a destiny that is a mathematician and gives us, all throughout our existence, coded information which it is up to us to decipher…”

***

Arithmetic was for a long time considered as a science related to Hermetism.

The universe of numbers is a mysterious universe which touches on magic…  Here is an example with the “golden number” which we simplify in the form of 3.1416.  This number is very important in mathematics since it indicates the relation which exists between the circumference of a circle and its diameter.  For centuries, Chinese, Egyptian and Greek scholars – Archimedes himself – before Leibnitz and Newton, tried to evaluate it.  It can be obtained in a very simple, but very singular, way.

Take a sheet of paper and a pin.  Trace several parallel lines on the paper, separated by a distance representing twice the length of the pin.  Then throw the pin on the drawing without aiming.  Do it one hundred times, one thousand times, five thousand times, ten thousand times and more.  Note the number of times that you have thrown the pin, then the number of times that it fell on a line.  Divide the first number by the second.

For 100 throws of the pin, you will obtain 2.7;  for 500 throws, 2.94;  for 1,000 throws, about 3;  for 2,500 throws, 3.004;  for 5,000 throws, 3.14;  for 10,000 throws, 3.141.  That is to say, the beginning of the golden number with three decimals.  And if you continue, the golden number will become even more refined.  You will obtain 3.1415 – 3.14159 – 3.141592 – 3.1415926 – 3.14159265 – 3.141592653 – 3.1415926535, etc. or the numbers that the best calculating machines would give you…

You can change the orientation of the sheet of paper, throw the pin any way that you want, you will always find the same result, and it will be the golden number…

***

Guy Breton gives another example of the mystery surrounding numbers.  You will see that, whatever the rationalists say, whatever touches mathematics can sometimes arrive at the inexplicable.

Do the following experiment:  during a gathering of friends, ask that they guess the number of peas in a cup.  You will notice, by studying the results obtained, that most of the numbers that are given to you end in zero.  Then, in decreasing order of frequency, the terminal numbers 5, 8, 2, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 1, and always in this order.  You can re-do the experiment as many times as you wish, you will always obtain the same series.  This list of numbers seems to be linked in an inexplicable fashion to the phenomenon of divination which, after all, constitutes an evaluation.

All evaluations obey this rule.  In the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, figure the tomb inscriptions from three regions of Ancient Rome.  The Romans inscribed the age of the dead on the tombs, but they didn’t do it as precisely as we do.  They evaluated this age.  And, if we examine the numbers reported by the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, we find exactly the series 0, 5, 8, 2, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 1…

The last example is American.  During a census done around 1950 in Alabama, the citizens are asked to indicate their ages.  Knowing that, in this State, there was a high percentage of African Americans who didn’t know their date of birth and were going to content themselves with an evaluation, an American mathematician, Leslie J. Myers, asked to study the results.  There again he found the same series of terminal numbers

***

This could give the impression that these numbers surge from another universe to give us signs that we don’t understand.  These signs seem to abolish chance.  Sometimes in malicious fashion.  Let us look at this story.  Around 1950, a group of theologists of the Etudes carmelitaines wrote a thick book on Satan…  When this book left the printers’, the authors received a shock:  their work had 666 pages…  And 666 is the number of the Beast in the Apocalypse…

***

Louis XV.

It took the mortal illness of Louis XV for the French Court to see things differently.  The dead King had declared himself to be against innoculation and the young Dauphin refused to submit to it.  Only the Orleans family and a few enlightened nobles had up until then shown the way, if we except the massive character of the Franche-Comte operation.  As early as 13 May 1774, or three days after the death of the Bien-Aime, an innoculating doctor offers his services to the Count de Provence and the royal family in general.  Some are worried when, on 13 July, the Gazette de France announces the imminence of the operation.  It is thought that this decision has been taken under the influence of the Queen [Marie-Antoinette] who was able to see the efficacy of the procedure at the Vienna Court.  Worried, the Duke de Croy nevertheless concludes that

Marie-Antoinette and her children.

“if this goes well, it would be great worries the less and perhaps a revolution in the King [Louis XVI] which could make him make children, a consideration which could have entered into the just views of the Queen”.

The uncertainty is a burden nonetheless, and is translated by the brutal fall of the course of shares in the Compagnie des Indes orientales.  [Doctor] Tronchin having apparently managed to extricate himself from the solicitations of which he is the object, the innoculators retained are Richard, inspecteur general des hopitaux militaires, Lassone, the Queen’s doctor, and Jauberthon, a reputed Parisian innoculator.

Louis XVI.

The three men will firstly select a good “variolifere” (smallpox carrier):  the daughter of a laundry couple whose morality is guaranteed by the lieutenant general de police.  The King and the Princes go to Marly on 17 July.  They are joined by the sick girl on the following day.  Richard removes, via a lancet, the necessary pus from the child and then pricks Louis XVI, his two brothers and the Countess d’Artois.  After the first pains felt on the 22nd, the fever appears in the King on the 24th, soon followed by nauseas and shivers, but things get better from the 26th, and the eruption of the 27th has only a benign character.  After the suppuration engaged on the 30th, the absence of secondary fever over the course of the following days signifies that the sovereign is now out of danger.  The same goes for his two brothers and his sister-in-law.

Encouraged by this success and impressed by the size of the campaign in Franche-Comte, Louis XVI is favourable to a generalization of the procedure.  In 1782, the efforts deployed in Normandy by Doctor Lapeyre end in the creation, near Caen, of a specialised establishment.  On 24 September 1786, Calonne informs the Intendants that

“the King’s intention being to extend the progress of innoculation into the province, His Majesty has approved the project of having innoculated all of the foundling children who are in the villages and the countryside, as well as orphan children and others received into the hospitals, and who are in their charge”.

Doctor Jauberthon is given the task of supervising the operations.  The intention is laudable, but the Intendants’ responses highlight the material difficulties which the carrying out of such an enterprise will face.

The Revolution changes nothing about the case, and we have to wait until 1799, when Doctors Pinel and Leroux, from the Ecole de medecine, suggest the creation of an innoculation clinic for the purpose of using the “vaccine” procedure elaborated in England by Edward Jenner.  In 1798, in London, An Enquiry on the Causes of the Pox Vaccine [Une enquete sur les causes de la variole vaccinee] had appeared.  In it, Jenner demonstrates the anti-smallpox properties of cow-pox.  This possesses numerous advantages that the former innoculation did not have.  With vaccine, it is no longer necessary to treat the patient after innoculation, which permits envisaging it on a large scale.

Within a few years, it will allow the massive regression of deaths from smallpox.  From 50,000 to 80,000 victims before 1800, the number falls to under 10,000 from 1805.  From 1804, under the impulsion of the prefets, who receive instructions in this sense from the central power, sous-prefets, mayors and curates are mobilised for the creation of local vaccination committees.  The efficacy of the procedure is rapidly verified and overthrows the last reticences, particularly as the new innoculation no longer involves the very real risks which always accompanied the old one.  However, the road will still be long to the 1902 law which will make anti-smallpox vaccination obligatory in France.  It is only in 1910, that the illness will have almost totally disappeared, before being finally eradicated from the planet at the end of the XXth Century.

The empiric procedures of medicine, which is still in its infancy, or “old wives” remedies are hardly in measure to be able to cure smallpox.  But all will change with the introduction and the diffusion throughout Europe of the innoculation procedure.  It is Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of His Gracious Majesty’s Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, who gives this method the publicity which will rapidly make it a success.  The smallpox epidemics which strike Istanbul in 1701 and 1709 reveal the positive effects of a preventive innoculation practised by two Greek fortune-tellers.  Informed by two Greek doctors of the protective consequences of the operation, Lady Wortley Montagu, who arrives in the Ottoman capital with her husband in 1717, is directly concerned by this question:  her brother died from the disease in 1713 and she caught it herself two years later.  She takes it upon herself to have her son innoculated and, upon her return to London, she does the same thing for her daughter, in April 1721, with the help of the surgeon Maitland.  In August 1721, King George I orders that the experiment be performed on six Newgate prisoners, who have been condemned to death, thereby saving them from hanging.  Five orphan babies, who are in turn innoculated, contract a completely benign smallpox and are therefore immunised.

In April 1722, it is the turn of the Princess of Wales’ children, and several hundred subjects are then innoculated over the course of the following months.

The death of a three-year-old child and that of an adolescent calm the enthousiasm for a while, but the practice remains, in spite of the polemics.  In the first line of attack, William Wagstaffe rebels, in the name of medical science, against this “old wives remedy”.  The Reverend Edmund Massey, for his part, calls upon the Holy Scriptures to condemn a practice considered to be diabolic.  On the other side, James Jurin refers to the statistical results and underlines that, out of 481 people innoculated between 1721 and 1725, 447 artificial smallpoxes were transmitted, only nine of which were mortal, which constitutes a more acceptable mortality risk compared to the usual ravages attributed to smallpox itself.  One death out of fifty people innoculated, while the illness kills one person out of ten, or even seven.  The risk still appears too high and, from 1727, the innoculations are practically stopped.

***

The Regent, Philippe d'Orleans.

In spite of the interest manifested in the beginning by the Regent, France remains reticent.  For certain members of the Faculty, it is unacceptable to introduce an illness germ into a healthy body.  This is notably the opinion of Doctor Hecquet in his work entitled Raisons et Doutes contre l’inoculation.  In England, this procedure is again used in 1743, on the occasion of an epidemic which is ravaging Middlesex.  Five years later, Doctor Tronchin of Geneva has his son innoculated in Holland and, in 1754, La Condamine presents before the Academie des sciences a Memoire historique et critique en faveur de l’inoculation.  That same year, a four-year-old child is innoculated in France, soon followed by a young noble of twenty.  On 12 March 1756, the Duke d’Orleans has his children innoculated by Tronchin, which makes people forget about the death of a young girl of fourteen, a victim of the operation.

There are roughly 200 innoculated people in the kingdom in 1758, and the method spreads to the whole of Europe, except for Spain.  In 1760, Bernouilli demonstrates, in his Mortalite causee par la petite verole et les avantages de l’inoculation pour la prevenir, that a generalization of the procedure to the whole of the kingdom’s population would be greatly beneficial, whatever the statistical risk of failure.  D’Alembert pronounces himself for innoculation also, but leaves each person the free choice of using it or not.

On 8 June 1763, the Paris Parliament delivers a famous judgement on the question.  It orders

“the Faculties of Theology and of Medicine to assemble, to give their precise opinions on the fact of innoculation […] and if it is appropriate to permit it, defend it or tolerate it;  and meanwhile, by provision, it is forbidden to practise this operation in the towns and outskirts of the court’s resort”.

Those who choose to have themselves innoculated will do it in the country and will remain there

“from the day that they are innoculated, until six weeks after their recovery”.

As for the virtues or dangers of the procedure, the doctors are divided on this question and are incapable of finding an agreement.

Louis XVI.

Meanwhile, Doctor Girod, who is helped in this by the support of Intendant Lacoree, sets up an impressive campaign of innoculation of the population, in Franche-Comte.  But it is in 1774, thanks to the decision of Louis XVI, his two brothers and the Countess d’Artois to use this practice, that it is going to develop.  So, 33,619 people will have been innoculated in Franche-Comte between 1765 and 1787 and it can be thought that, on the scale of the kingdom, 60,000 to 70,000 individuals are concerned, while there are over 200,000 in England.  Except for the exceptional case of Franche-Comte, it is the nobility milieux which use it in priority.  This has several reasons.  While, in the popular classes, the illness strikes in childhood, it touches those privileged by birth and fortune more often at adult age, and its effects are suffered with more difficulty for this reason.  It makes the risk of innoculation appear smaller when, once recovered from it, there is the guarantee of escaping the disease.  On top of that, the operation and the rest that it imposes, cost a lot and are not accessible to everyone.

A true caste privilege in most cases, innoculation causes, in spite of everything, a lot of worry.  The tears of the Duchess d’Orleans when her husband decides, in 1756, to have Tronchin innoculate their two children, the Duke de Chartres and Mademoiselle de Montpensier, show this.  In 1774, the Duke de Croy, whose grandsons had successfully submitted to the operation three years earlier, is, however, indignant that it has been decided to innoculate Louis XVI and his two brothers at the same time – it is too risky for the throne’s succession.  However, Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria had had all of her children innoculated in 1768.  And Empress Catherine II of Russia had submitted to the same operation three months later.

To be continued.

Louis XV.

On Monday 2 May, there is an improvement in the King’s health.  His temperature is lower, his urine is abundant and clear, and the suppuration seems to indicate that the process of expulsion of the illness has started.  The optimism is not, however, general, and Doctor Lorry discretely declares to one of his friends:

“The King is better, everyone is clamouring victory.  He will go on like this until the 11th, then the smallpox will turn to its worst, and on the 13th, he will no longer be alive.  Believe my experience, he has a smallpox from which one does not return.”

The improvement is however confirmed on 3 May.  The Duke de Belle-Isle reports in his Journal de la maladie du Roy, that Cardinal de La Roche-Aymon, the Grand Chaplain, has come to congratulate the patient

“for the notable improvement in which he was, and that he attributed it principally to the fervent prayers of forty hours that Monsignor the Archbishop had ordered”.

The Countess du Barry in 1789.

But it is on this same day that the sovereign understands, on his own, that he is suffering from smallpox.  For the partisans of Madame du Barry and the Duke d’Aiguillon, this is a catastrophe.  Their fears are quickly confirmed, for, in the evening, the patient sends his chambervalet, Laborde, to find the favourite.  Poor Jeanne, who has watched by the King’s bedside each night, the daytime being reserved for his daughters, hesitates.  She is, according to the Duke de Croy, “held back and encouraged by her Party” and herself wishes “to go away”, in these circumstances where she might risk being reproached for the death of her royal lover in a state of mortal sin.  She obeys the King’s order, however, when he says to her around midnight:

“My duty is to God and to my people.  So, you must retire from the Court tomorrow… “

Louis XV.

On 4 May the patient’s state worsens, with the ceasing of the suppuration.  He is made to drink Spanish wine to start it up again but, inexorably, “the poison turns inward”.  Around ten o’clock in the morning, the Duke d’Aiguillon receives instructions about Mme du Barry’s departure.  She leaves Versailles in the middle of the afternoon.

At midday, the Archbishop de Paris comes again to celebrate Mass in the King’s bedchamber, and Louis lets him know, on two occasions, that he is aware of the nature of his illness.  However, the Archbishop does not seem in any hurry to evoke the necessary sacraments – the Duke d’Aiguillon’s Party is still insisting to the Grand Chaplain, Cardinal de La Roche-Aymon, that they would kill the patient.  The Duke de Croy reports that the King’s daughters are still

“in the appalling dilemma of wanting him to confess himself, and of fearing that the revolution of fright and sacrifice would kill him”.

Louis XV.

The situation remains stationary on the 5 and 6 May.  The dying man’s mind is weakening, while no-one yet decides to administer the Last Rites to him.  Even worse, Abbot Maudoux, the Curate of Saint-Louis de Versailles, who demands to hear the penitent, is kept away.  Convoked on the evening of 5 May, the Grand Chaplain does not go to the patient’s bedside, and he has to wait until the night of 6 to 7 May, around two o’clock in the morning, when, in a moment of lucidity, Louis XV orders the Duke de Duras to call Abbot Maudoux.  He even has to repeat his demand, for the Duke pretends not to have heard him.  And even then, to justify himself in the eyes of the gathered courtiers, he thinks himself obliged to declare:

“Messieurs, you hear it, the King orders me to have his Confessor brought to him”.

A bit of time is gained, because of the inability of being able to find the required Confessor, to the point that, around four o’clock in the morning, the King worries about it.  The Confession can at last take place half-an-hour later.  In the morning, Cardinal de La Roche-Aymon administers the Last Rites.

This day of 7 May is marked by a real improvement, and La Martiniere is able to declare to the monarch, who has asked him to take his pulse,

“that it is better than before your Confession and if Your Majesty permits me to speak to him frankly, it will be even better when he has received Holy Communion, that will calm you”.

It is just the improvement that precedes the end.  The fever redoubles, the suppuration ceases and calls to the innoculator, Robert Sutton, remain unanswered.  During the day of the 9th, the Duke de Croy reports that

“the scabs are stopping the King from being able to see […].  He has a mask like bronze, made bigger by the scabs […] his mouth open, without the face being deformed elsewhere, nor showing agitation, sort of like the head of a Moor, a Negro, wax-like and swollen”.

Around nine o’clock in the evening, the dying man asks for Extreme Unction and the Prayers for the Dying.  Abbot Maudoux remains the whole night near his penitent.  In contradiction to the black legend which presents a dying Louis XV tormented by anguish and terrorised by the vision of infernal flames, all of the direct witnesses report that the King faced death courageously and calmly.  The next day, a violent storm strikes Versailles while the royal family is praying in the chapel, and it is a little after three o’clock in the afternoon, after an agony which had begun two hours beforehand, that the King fades away in the arms of Laborde, his chambervalet.

***

The risks of contagion explain why the inhumation is organized according to a simplified rite.  This ceremonial is the same as that which had accompanied the funeral of the Grand Dauphin, Louis XV’s grandfather, and of the Duke de Bourgogne, Louis XV’s father, both dead from smallpox in 1711 and 1712.  That puts paid to the myth which says that the King’s funeral takes place in secret because of the King’s unpopularity.  The remains are placed, surrounded by perfumed linen, inside a lead coffin placed inside another coffin of oak.  Two days later, the King’s body is taken to Saint-Denis.

Louis XVI.

Louis XVI is now King of France.  Immediately, the conditions in which his grandfather has disappeared (and, before him, two other generations of dead Dauphins, they too of smallpox) raises the question of innoculation.  Of all of Europe’s princes, the new sovereign and his two brothers, the Counts of Provence and of Artois, are the only ones not to have been innoculated.  The operation, having become relatively common over the previous thirty years, has, at the time of Louis XV’s death, already opened the way for the future eradication of the disease.

***

To be continued.

Michel de Nostre-Dame, known as Nostradamus, painted by his son Cesar.

In 1556, a Salon-de-Provence doctor, Michel de Nostre-Dame, known as Nostradamus, who has just published a very strange book entitled Centuries et Propheties de Nostradamus, is received by Monsieur de Florinville in his castle at Fains, in Lorraine.  Mr de Florinville is a headstrong man who does not believe in either clairvoyants or prophets.  In inviting the Salon doctor to his home, he has a hidden motive.  He wants to play a trick on him.

He begins by asking Nostradamus if he would be able to predict the future of people of a different race to their own.  Nostradamus replies in the affirmative.  Mr de Florinville clarifies his question by saying that he means animals…  Nostradamus tells him that he had already understood that.  Mr de Florinville clarifies further by asking if this would include the lowliest of animals.  Nostradamus again acquiesces.  Mr de Florinville begins to laugh and starts to tell him that the animals in question are… and Nostradamus finishes his sentence by “two suckling pigs”.

Mr de Florinville stops laughing and asks the prophet how he knows.  Nostradamus does not reply and merely asks to be taken to the animals…

Mr de Florinville, accompanied by a few friends, leads his guest to the pigsty where there are two suckling pigs, one pink and white, the other pink with black spots.  He asks Nostradamus to tell him the animals’ destinies.  Nostradamus does not hesitate.  He points to the white piglet and predicts that it will be eaten by a wolf.  The black one will be eaten by Mr de Florinville, himself.

Mr de Florinville leads Nostradamus back to his apartments, telling him that they will see if this prophecy comes true.  After which, to prevent it from coming true, he tells his cook to kill the white piglet and immediately prepare it to be eaten that evening.

Delighted with the prank that he is playing on Nostradamus, Mr de Florinville invites his guest to dinner.  The meal is succulent.  When the plates are empty, Mr de Florinville turns to Nostradamus and asks him if he knows what he has just eaten.  The Salon doctor replies that it was suckling pig…  Mr de Florinville is very pleased with himself.  He says:

“Yes, Sir!  And precisely the one that – according to you – was supposed to be eaten by a wolf!…  See how easy it is to make prophecies lie…  Fortunately, in our enlightened century, these charlatan stupidities can only abuse children, old women or uneducated people.  My friends, let us drink to Reason!…”

Everyone applauds and they drink.  Nostradamus, who has listened to Mr de Florinville’s speech without displaying any signs of impatience or the least irritation, turns to his host and asks him if he could see the black piglet.  And all of the table companions go to the pigsty, where a surprise awaits them:  there is no black piglet…

Mr de Florinville calls his cook and asks him where the black piglet is.  The cook lowers his head and explains that, having killed the white piglet to prepare it for dinner, he was greasing a dish when a young, partly-tame wolf cub, to which the servants sometimes gave a piece of meat, entered the kitchen, jumped onto the table and ate the animal…  So, he killed the black piglet and that was the one that they had eaten that evening.

Notradamus simply remarked:

“There are many more marvels under the stars than are believed…”

***

Nostradamus was born in 1503, at Saint-Remy-de-Provence, into a Jewish family which had converted to Catholicism, and was called, in reality, Michel de Nostre-Dame.  After serious medical studies at the Faculty of Montpellier where he had, by the way, Rabelais as a fellow student, he travelled around France, Germany and Italy, before settling, as a doctor, in Salon-de-Provence.

***

He treated his patients exclusively with plants that he gathered himself, on nights of full moon, in the mountains of Provence.

***

In Salon, he had had an observatory made which permitted him to study the stars and to do astrological themes.  But his gift of clairvoyancy was known for a long time before he wrote the Centuries.  He helped people find lost animals, he discovered water sources and predicted very exactly the future of the inhabitants of Salon…  From that to the destiny of the world, was only a step, which he took around 1550 and published, in 1556, his famous prophecies which immediately had an immense success.

***

Nostradamus announced Louis XVI's arrest at Varennes, two hundred and thirty-five years before it happened.

This success is surprising because the prophecies are written in a complicated fashion and, except for a few, are not understood until after they have happened.  For example, in the XVIth Century, what could be meant by two quatrains concerning an event situated at Varennes, involving a certain “Cap”, and a return to the Thuille (the Tuileries) caused by someone called “Saulce”?…  Nothing!  But, in 1791, it is at Varennes that Louis XVI, known as Capet, is arrested by the grocer Sauce, who has him brought back to the Tuileries.

In the XVIth Century, Nostradamus announced the fourteen years of Napoleon's reign.

Another example:  three quatrains are consecrated to an “emperor who will be born near Italy, who will be found to be less prince than butcher”…  Nostradamus gives a precision:  “From simple soldier will come to an empire, from short tunic will come to long”;  and he adds:  “The shaven head, for fourteen years, will hold the tyranny”…  Who could have guessed that this is the story, resumed in fulgurant fashion, of the ascension of Napoleon, known as “Little Baldy”, and his fourteen years of rule?

***

As for the story of the white and the black piglets, Mr de Florinville recounts it in his Memoires.  He concludes “that one cannot make a prophecy lie, as it is impossible to modify a being’s destiny, even if it is a suckling pig”

To be continued.

Robespierre’s one-day religion

Maximilien Robespierre

Maximilien Robespierre, known as l’Incorruptible, is at the summit of his glory.  Rivers of blood, flowing from the guillotines of France, have washed away the Girondins and anyone who had pactised with them; the Jacobins, even though they were close to him;  certain Montagnards and, curiously, some of his friends who had too openly supported the theses of the atheists…

In this 1794 Spring, all the great names which had embodied, one after the other, the revolutionary ideals have disappeared in the torment:  Verniaud, Brissot and twenty-one of their friends;  Petion whom he called his brother and Roland, known as le Vertueux;  his wife, the fascinating Madame Roland, Condorcet, the great scholar, President of the Convention, whom he had obliged to commit suicide.

The Corrompus, the Indulgents and, for good measure, the Exageres;  Hebert and his band of lynchers;  the superb Danton and all his companions;  Camille Desmoulins, his former fellow-disciple at Louis-le-Grand, whose best man he had been at his wedding, had all been cut in two.

So great is his power now, that to have any opinion at all is a crime of lese-Revolution.  Since obtaining the head of Louis XVI, he seems to be invested with a sort of absolute power, a divine right.

Without a debate, with no interrogation, no discussion and without anyone to defend him, he had wanted to throw the King into the common grave.  When, after having voted for death, the Convention came to its senses, terrified at what it had just decided, he demanded an immediate execution.  To succeed in this, he had the public tribunals of the Assembly invaded by his friends the sans-culottes.  The redoubtable Commune de Paris lays seige to the King’s prison, the armed sections, the clubs who are devoted to him, get ready for a fight…

Of course, no-one likes him.  There are those who hate him because he has made them vile through the fear that he inspires.  There are those who admire him fearfully, like the Ancients who bowed down before the omnipotent demiurge.  There is the People whom he loves more than he understands, and who idolises him for the absolute rigour of his life.  But without really liking him.  When he, himself, will follow the tragic path of the King, in a cart, an immense cry of joy will rise from the little people of Paris.

He has always been alone, since childhood, and the sceptre of death that he brandishes always higher, isolates him more every day.  Two men only can still enter as they like the door of the living god.  Two exterminating angels.  The handsome Saint-Just, whose principles sharpen every day the blade of the guillotine, and the frightful Couthon, the paraplegic, the blue shadow of the machine, when a gendarme carries him to the tribunal to designate the next victims…

It is April 1794 and, in Paris, it is more oppressing than in the heart of Summer.  Everyone is waiting to see how the High Priest is going to organize the next part of the sacrifice.  For a whole month, a great silence settles on Paris, troubled only by the cries of the executed.  The Convention, the clubs, the army, the Commune and even the revolutionary tribunal, remain quiet…

At last, on 6 May, l’Incorruptible climbs up to the tribunal.  He is wearing his sacerdotal clothes, a sky blue riding-coat and white stockings.  In the deathly silence which greets all of his appearances now, he straightens up and stares for a long time without speaking at the faces of several Deputies.  In particular, that of Fouche, who feels his stony heart starting to liquefy…

Then, he begins in a strange voice, both exalted and monochord…  He starts by establishing that the people of France are at the height of happiness.

“It is in prosperity that the people must meditate to listen to the voice of wisdom…”

Prosperity:  that must be the explosive inflation, with its cortege of misery.  As for wisdom:  that must be the definitive one via the guillotine, with twenty-four heads the day before, and twenty-six today.

Robespierre is more nervous than usual.  His pale, graceless face is agitated with tics.  His eyes with their moist gaze blink frequently while his fingers drum on the edge of the tribunal.

Now, his voice swells, and he climbs over the cadavers, toward the high metaphysical regions, where the Assembly has trouble following him, at first.  By degrees, he asks the Deputies to recognize the existence of a

“Supreme Being and immortality as the directing power of the Universe”.

Then to the stupefaction of some, and the enthusiasm of others, he wants to give his vibrant profession of faith the form of a decree, with immediate effect.

His speech, which at the end rises in a passionate plea for a regenerated Humanity, is welcomed by unending applause.  Couthon spurs his gendarme mount and proclaims that this great piece of literature must be displayed throughout the whole country.  That it should be translated into all languages, too, and diffused throughout the whole universe.

The fabulous decree which institutes in France a new religion and proposes a festival in the style of the celebrations of Antiquity, is voted with enthusiasm and without any discussion.  In the corridors, when the euphoria has died down, the least terrorised start to murmur that, when they had voted the King’s death, they thought that they had also voted that of God.

The French people welcome back a divinity.  For months, the churches had been profaned.  Mountain decors peopled with mythological characters symbolising Reason had been built in them.  In a lot of places, prostitutes, “living marbles of public flesh” had draped themselves, completely naked, on the altars.  God was now being re-installed under the name of Supreme Being.

In Paris, it is not yet known that this Being will soon take on the profile of l’Incorruptible.  But perhaps this will eclipse in a brilliant manner the red reflects of the guillotine, of which everybody is secretly very tired.

To be continued.

Jacques Cazotte

Jacques Cazotte has just told the Duchess de Gramont that greater ladies than herself will be taken to the scaffold in the executioner’s cart, with their hands tied behind their backs.  Madame de Gramont jokes that the prophet won’t even leave her a confessor.  He replies:

“No, Madame, you won’t have one.  No-one will.  The last person to be executed who will have one, as a special favour, will be…”

He hesitates for a moment, but Condorcet wants to know who will be the happy mortal who will have this prerogative.  Cazotte answers:

“It is the only one that will remain to him, Monsieur, and it will be the King of France.”

This time, the host, Prince de Beauvau, rises, along with everyone else, and goes towards Cazotte, saying:

“Monsieur Cazotte, this lugubrious pleasantry has lasted long enough.  You have gone too far.  I ask you to stop this conversation.”

Cazotte says no more.  He is preparing to leave when Madame de Gramont, trying to lighten the atmosphere, goes towards him, saying:

“Sir Prophet, who tells us all of our good, or rather bad fortune, you say nothing of your own.”

Cazotte replies:

“I, too, will die on the scaffold, Madame.”

He bows, and leaves.

***

Four years later, in 1792, La Terreur, announced by Cazotte, reigned over France.  Heads were falling in the name of Liberty, Philosophy and Reason.  And all the people designated at that dinner party at the home of Monsieur de Beauvau, died the way that Cazotte had predicted.

He, himself, was arrested on 11 September, and guillotined on the 25th, at seven o’clock at night, on the Place du Carrousel.

***

Cazotte was born in 1719 in Dijon where his father was a clerk of the court.  At nineteen, he enters the Administration of the Marine Royale.  A sinecure which allows him to write songs, fables and stories which he publishes with success.  In 1747, he is sent to Martinique as Controller of the Iles-sous-le-Vent.  There, he marries the daughter of a High Magistrate, the lovely Elizabeth Roignan, and continues to write works full of fantasy.  This literary activity does not stop him from fulfilling the duties of his charge and energetically repelling, in 1759, an English attack on the Saint-Pierre fort.

In 1761, at the age of 42, he resigns, leaves the Antilles, returns to France and settles in a pretty house – part castle, part cottage – at Pierry, near Epernay.  He becomes passionate about occultism and publishes, in 1772, Le Diable amoureux which is the first fantastic story to appear in France.

***

Some time after the publication of Le Diable amoureux, he receives, one evening, the visit of a stranger who uses bizarre signs.  Cazotte asks him if he is mute.  The man repeats his strange gestures.  Cazotte starts to become annoyed, and asks him what it is that he wants from him.  The stranger says:

“What?  But I thought that you were one of us, and in the highest of grades.”

Cazotte tells him that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  The stranger replies:

“If you are not initiated, where have you found all that you have written in your Diable amoureux about the mysteries of the Kabbala, the power of numbers, the spirits of the air, etc.?  It is impossible that you imagined all that…  Are you a Free Mason?”

Cazotte denies it.

“Well then, Monsieur, either by intuition, or by luck, you have penetrated some secrets which are accessible only to initiates of the highest order.  Perhaps it would be prudent, from now on, to abstain from such revelations.”

Cazotte swears that he only wanted to write a literary work, and that he knew no secrets.  After a long interrogation, the stranger finishes by believing the incredible:  Cazotte, by his own intuition, and perhaps by a gift of clairvoyancy, has found some important elements of the teachings reserved for the Initiated.  Suddenly his tone changes:

“Since you are an intuitive profane, and not the unfaithful brother that I had supposed, I want to instruct you in our science.  You have guessed too much to not know more.”

A first discussion takes place then, which will last until the next morning.  And on that night, Cazotte begins to learn – he would later say – things “to make the hair on your head stand up.”

The following day, he accompanies his initiator to Lyon where he enters the sect of Martinezites, founded by Martinez Pasqualis.

***

Martinez Pasqualis is certainly one of the most mysterious characters in the Illuminism of the XVIII Century.  He went from town to town and formed adepts who, after initiation, entered into the Ordre des Chevaliers Macons elus Cohens de l’Univers, which he had created.

His doctrine consisted in helping Man to find those faculties lost at the moment of the Fall of Adam, and to again resemble God…  It is found in the book written by Martinez, himself, entitled:  Traite de la Reintegration des etres dans leurs premieres proprietes, vertus et puissances spirituelles et divines.

***

Cazotte was initiated and we know that he participated in theurgical operations – or divine magic – during which he became – according to him – capable of “premonitory visions which passed in front of his internal eye with the rapidity of lightning”.  He also started to enter into states of trance and ecstasy.  Back in his Perry house, he set up a magic room where he locked himself for whole days to perform mysterious things which intrigued his family.

***

Cazotte is a man of many facettes.  This occult activity did not prevent him from continuing to write light works and to receive his friends Condorcet, Beaumarchais and Chamfort in his home.  It is said that they delivered themselves up to “mind debauchery”.

***

La Harpe published an account of the dinner in 1805.  Some historians consider that the prophecy didn’t happen, because of the date of the publication.  However, they forget that certain people knew about it before the Revolution:

Madame de Genlis affirms, in a letter to Deleuze, having heard many times, before the Revolution, La Harpe recount Cazotte’s prophecy with numerous details;  the English writer William Burt in his book Observations on the curiosities of Nature, declares having been at Prince de Beauvau’s famous dinner, and having heard Cazotte’s prophetic words;  Baroness Louise d’Oberkirch, childhood friend of Grand-Duchess Maria Feodorovna, reports in her Memoires, which end in 1789, that she had knowledge of the prophecy in the winter of 1788-1789, when she was in Strasbourg at the home of her friend, Mr de Puysegur.  On the subject of a somnambulist who was making rather frightening predictions in Alsace, Baroness d’Oberkirch writes:

“I had just read, the day before, the famous prophecy of Monsieur Cazotte, sent to Russia by Monsieur de La Harpe, and that the Grand-Duchess had passed on to me”…

This last text alone, would be sufficient to authentify the prophecy.

***

The prophecy came true in all of its details:  Condorcet poisoned himself in his prison cell, Chamfort cut his veins with a razor, Monsieur Vicq d’Azyr had them opened for him, Madame de Gramont was guillotined, and La Harpe became a Christian.

***

Louis XVI, King of France, from a painting by Dumenil

On 21 June 1791, we read in the Journal of Louis XVI:

“Left Paris at midnight, arrived and was arrested at Varennes-en-Argonne at eleven o’clock at night.”

In this solstice period, when daylight hours are about to be shortened, Louis XVI puts an end to his reign by sacrificing himself on the nation’s altar.  For the man was executed on 21 January 1793, but the king died that night, on the road leading to Varennes.  He had been brought down in flight.

The many caricatures of the “pig king” which are born of this episode, reproach him pitilessly with this.  The farm pig must be killed, then eaten.  Such is its destiny.  And if it betrays its own, it hastens its judgement… and pronounces its own sentence.

In the same way, the head of the nation must offer his life.  And if he fails his duty, his subjects do not pardon him.  He must then leave the stage.  With no appeal, and no remission.

A few hours before his death, the King would repent of this weakness before the only master whom he loves and respects.  He writes:

“I would not have the temerity, oh my God, to want to justify myself before you;  but you know that my heart has always been submissive to the Faith and to morality;  my faults are the fruit of my weakness and seem worthy of your great misericord.  You pardoned King David, who had been the cause of your enemies blaspheming against you;  you pardoned Manasses, who led his people into idolatry.  Would you be inexorable today for a son of Saint Louis who takes these penitent kings for models, and who, following their example, wishes to repair his faults and become a King after your own heart?”

The repentance is touching and sincere.  But it comes too late.  And anyway, did time really play a decisive role in this story?  Who can say?  It would seem that other forces were in play.  The Prince’s childhood led to the worst kind of unhappiness, which could be attributed to a mysterious “bad luck”.  As soon as someone becomes kind, illness takes him away.  As soon as a ray of sunshine appears, a cloud covers it.

There are those who believe in signs.  And those who don’t.  Perhaps this episode could incite us to adopt an intermediary attitude.  We must definitely not give in to the easy temptation of accusing fate or determinism here.  But it has often been remarked that certain destinies are doomed from birth, and their burden becomes heavy with the weight of events.  It is as if a certain habit gradually insinuates itself… and slowly gangrenes the whole being.  The scapegoat gradually takes on all of the world’s problems, as he travels through life… finally succumbing under their weight.  The innocent victim of a pitiless game of massacre between Destiny and his destiny.

By continually bathing in suffering, we become accustomed to unhappiness.  There comes a point, when there is nothing left but flight.

The bells start to toll.  The whole village of Varennes awakes and treason explodes into the open.  The road is cut.  The King is delivered.  Behind him – far behind – eight centuries of absolute power disintegrate.  In the dust of a doomed carriage that wanted to escape the ruses of an inexorable destiny.

Louis XV dies of smallpox on 10 May 1774.  This terrible illness leaves in its wake a halo of terror and suspicion.  A medical book which appears that year affirms that it is “the most general of all”.  Ninety-five people out of every hundred in France contract it.  One in seven dies from it.

Care is taken to avoid the people who frequented the King during his illness.  For this reason, the young successor cannot even consult the ministers who advised his grandfather, right at his bedside.  Louis-Auguste, as well as his two brothers, rapidly decide – in spite of the reprobation of the court elders – to have themselves innoculated.

During the few days which follow the operation, France lives in fear.  Everyone waits for news of the King, who is suffering fever and discomfort.  But, rapidly, the menace disappears and the people forgets its fear and praises the audacity of the Children of France.  Voltaire says:

“History will not forget that the King, the Count of Provence and the Count of Artois, all three very young, taught the French, by being innoculated, that you must face danger to avoid death.  The nation was touched and instructed.”

So, one by one, all those who had guided the steps of the future King Louis XVI left the scene, leaving him alone to assume the heavy burden which incumbs to the heir to the French Crown.  To complete this sad picture, we must also note the disappearance of his governor Mr de La Vauguyon, in 1772, followed several years later by that of Abbot Soldini, his confessor.

***

On 11 June 1775, during the Festival of the Trinity, the King is consecrated at Reims.  He struggles a bit under the thirty square feet of his heavy mantel, even though it is raised by the Grand Ecuyer.  He had murmured when hearing of the death of his grandfather, Louis XV:

“My God, protect us, we are too young to reign.”

The prophecy of the Austrian Empress comes true, and he can’t escape it.  The unctions of the holy oil open wide the doors of the kingdom to him…

The 6 August is a great day for the royal family.  A beautiful child is born.  But the mother is the Countess of Artois and the King is “still at the same point” according to Marie-Antoinette’s own expression.  The unhappy wife is unable to conceal her chagrin “to see an heir [born] which is not from her”.  At the announcement of his sister-in-law’s pregnancy, Louis XVI again consults a doctor.  We learn from a letter sent by Marie-Antoinette to Marie-Therese that this doctor says

“just about the same as the others that the operation was not necessary and that there was every hope without it”.

To resume, there was every reason to hope… and every reason not to hope, for time was passing and age was advancing.  Inside and out, in the salons and in the corridors, mocking words were starting to be heard.

“Each asks quietly:/Can the King?  Or can’t He?/The sad Queen desperately tra la la, tra la lee.”

Tired of these songs, the Dauphine finally obtains from her husband the promise that

“if nothing has been decided in the next few months, he will decide, himself, on the operation”…

In the Spring, Joseph II visits Marie-Antoinette.  The Emperor comes to give advice to his sister… and to get his own idea of the King.  He reports to his brother Leopold:

“This man is rather weak, but not stupid;  he has notions, he has judgement, but there is an apathy of body and mind.”

After her brother’s visit, Marie-Antoinette tries to get closer to her husband.  And at last, the miracle happens.  On 30 August 1777 – seven years after their marriage – she announces to her mother the news that all Europe awaits:

“I am in the most essential happiness of my whole life.  My marriage has been perfectly consummated for more than a week;  the proof has been reiterated, and again yesterday more completely than the first time.”

A few months later, the Dauphine, with great joy, declares to her husband jokingly:

“I come, Sire, to complain about one of your subjects who is so audacious as to give me kicks in the stomach…”

On 19 December 1778, a girl is born.  Louis XVI is at last a father – not only the father of the nation, father of twenty-seven million French – but father of a little Marie-Therese-Charlotte whom he immediately cherishes tenderly.

The news spreads rapidly throughout the kingdom.  The whole of France sinks into the intoxication of this happy event.  To show her joy, the Empress of Austria sends her daughter two vases in petrified wood, decorated with precious stones.  But these fragile objects, broken during the trip, never arrive at their destination…  Is this another omen?  In any case, the euphoria does not last long…

The King could have started to enjoy life from this day on.  But it seems that destiny decided otherwise.  Two of the three children who are born in the following years rapidly leave the land of the living, abandoning their father to the torments of History in the making.  Here and there, riots break out in the street and a dull rumour of discontentment starts to rumble.  Everywhere, oppositions are born.  The King tries to resist for a time.  But he is not prepared for an affrontment.

To be continued.

On 19 April 1770, Mr de La Vauguyon’s function as governor of the Dauphin comes to an end.  This is because his pupil, aged fifteen-and-a-half, puts an end to his childhood by marrying, by procuration, the Archduchess Marie-Antoinette, daughter of the Empress Marie-Therese of Austria.  The Dauphin’s mother-in-law gives him the following advice:

“Love […] your duties to God, I say to you, my dear Dauphin, and I said it to my daughter.  Love well the peoples over whom you will only too soon reign.  Love the King, your grandfather, inspire and renew this attachment in my daughter;  be good like him!  Make yourself accessible to the poor;  it is impossible that in acting like this, you will not be happy.”

Upon the arrival of the Dauphine in France, she will receive these wishes from an old lady, aged one hundred and five, who had never been ill:

“Princess, I make vows to heaven for you to live as long as I have and as free from infirmities.”

Marie-Antoinette answered:

“I desire it to be so, if it is for the good of France.”

The festivities last several days.  On 16 May, the grounds and palace of Versailles are decked out for the marriage ceremony.  Boats pack the rivers and the gardens swarm with people.  Triumphal arches glow with thousands of little lamps so that this celebration will be placed under the sign of Light.  The festivities look as if they will be spectacular.  However, a few formalities have to take place first.

At one o’clock, the ceremony begins.  Louis-Auguste makes a few mistakes in his responses and Marie-Antoinette signs the marriage act with an enormous ink-blot.  Nothing very serious.  But, as they leave the church, a big storm breaks.  A capricious cloud pours down great buckets of water, inundating the marriage feast preparations.  The celebrations are postponed.  And this heavenly anger only serves to announce the drama which will explode a few days later in Paris.

An over-dense crowd crams into the Rue Royale to join the festivities on the boulevards.  One hundred and thirty-two people perish trampled or suffocated.  The tolling of the bells for this event announces the approaching end of the solemnities.  On 8 June, a tornado closes them definitively by blowing away the Temple of the Sun which had been erected to celebrate the union.  So many bad omens were accumulated during these days of national celebration…

The first months of the marriage pass without any noteworthy incidents.  In the Prince’s diary, only frequent indigestions are noted, along with a few blood-spittings and temporary stomach weakness.  But the future King commits no excesses… anywhere.  Rumour even has it that the young husband is rather late in accomplishing his conjugal duties, limiting himself to the courtesies codified by sacrosanct “etiquette”.  On 15 June 1770, it is reported to Marie-Therese that King Louis XV speaks of

“the cold countenance of the Dauphin, underlining however “that he should be left alone”, that he was extremely “timid and unsociable”, and that he wasn’t “a man like others” “.

Whatever the cause, everyone is surprised and worried about this abnormal situation.  Rumour spreads not only in Versailles, but also in all the European courts.  The “matrimonial state” of the Dauphin fuels the conversations of the salons and the couple becomes everyone’s laughing-stock. 

Marie-Antoinette occupies herself as best she can.  She learns to ride a horse and follows the royal hunts.  She plays with the children of her chambermaids.  She teases the dogs in the palace grounds.  Her impatience grows from day to day.  To her wifely frustration is added that of the woman who ardently wants to be a mother.  But she holds a gleam of hope.  She is told that, according to a doctor’s report, Louis-Auguste

“is well-constituted, he loves [his wife] and is full of goodwill, but he is of a nonchalance and a laziness which leaves him only for hunting”.

The young husband even assures his wife himself that he “loves her tenderly”… and that he “estimes her even more”.  However, the months pass and the Dauphine starts to get tired of waiting.  She says:

“The coldness of the Dauphin, young husband aged twenty, toward a pretty woman, is inconceivable to me.  In spite of the assertions of the Faculty, my suspicions are growing as to the physical constitution of this prince… “

In reality, it should be remembered that, at his marriage, the young man was only sixteen.  He had been raised in the aversion of the sins of the flesh.  The devout people’s teachings had stopped at the chapter on guilt.  Of women, he knows only the severe judgement of his preceptors, who saw in them replicas of the first temptress.  This is perhaps the reason for the reserve which the Prince feels toward these singular creatures.

We know that this moral righteousness will be the subject of a dispute with his grandfather, Louis XV.  Since the death of his wife Marie Leszezynska, the King diverts himself by making frequent visits to the “little houses” of the Parc-au-Cerfs…  Rapidly, the Countess du Barry becomes his “favourite” and the Prince does not hide his reprobation.

Gradually, however, time will bring the two men together, and it is another heart-wrenching moment for the young boy when he is told that his grandfather is living his last instants.  Blood-lettings succeed each other, but they don’t work.  A doctor discovers a suspicious rash, which removes all interrogation on the illness…  and at the same time, any hope of a cure.  The infection progressively covers the whole body and a sickening odour spreads throughout the apartments.  On 10 May 1774, smallpox kills the King.

To be continued.

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