Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Brother to the Sun King III

Death of Madame
Madame painted after her death 
Henrietta died suddenly in June 1670 and there were plenty of people happy to claim that Philippe had murdered his wife. The trip to England could not have helped what was already a frail constitution, possibly ravaged by anorexia.

‘Listless and tired throughout the journey, she took no nourishment except milk; on alighting from the carriage in the evening she retired immediately to her quarters, generally to take to her bed.’[i]
Henrietta arrived back in Saint-Germain on 18th June. Philippe refused to follow court etiquette and meet her and escort her to the chateau. Both Louis and Charles had showered money on Henrietta, who was also loaded with honours and showered with attention by the court. The following day Louis returned to Versailles, but Philippe refused to follow to ensure that his wife could not continue to bask in the courtier’s admiration.

Henrietta began to complain of pains in her side and stomach; but despite this went bathing in the river and as she was unable to sleep took late night promenades in the garden. When she took a nap after dinner on the 29th her face appeared to have changed beyond all recognition and the following day Henrietta was so ill that even her husband remarked upon it. He was preparing to spend the evening in Paris and came to take his leave of her.
Every afternoon Henrietta habitually drank a cup of chicory water[ii]. As she drank the chicory water she clutched her side and cried of a pain in her side. As she was undressed and her confessor was sent for Henrietta claimed she had been poisoned.
‘Fixing her eyes upon the cup from which she had drunk, she pronounced that one bottle had been substituted for another, that she had been poisoned and was going to die.’[iii]
Philippe, who was present, agreed that poison remedies should be procured for Madame and ordered that the remainder of the chicory water be tested on a dog. As it became obvious that Madame was beyond saving Louis, Mademoiselle, Louise de la Valliére, Madame de Montespan and others came and said their adieus to the dying princess.

Madame assured her husband that she had never been unfaithful to him. She died in the evening of 30th June 1670[iv]:
‘No one was talking of anything but the death of Madame, of the suspicion that she had been poisoned, and of the terms which she and Monsieur had long since lived.’[v]
It is unlikely that Philippe had anything to do with Henrietta’s death, despite Charles (who detested his brother-in-law) apparently believing the rumours. But even if they had been true it is exceptionally unlikely that Louis would have had someone as close to him as his brother brought to justice.

Marriage to a German Princess
Immediately after Madame’s death Mademoiselle was offered the position of Philippe’s wife by his brother. She declined the honour; currently infatuated with a guardsman in the king’s service. She then began to have second thoughts about improving her status at court, but so too was Louis. He realised that marriage to his cousin would place Philippe in control of one of the largest fortunes in France and this would lessen the financial hold Louis had over his brother.

Elisabeth Charlotte, Princess Palatine
Philippe married again in 1671. Once again his marriage was a state affair, the bride chosen for him by his brother and his advisers. This time Louis looked to Germany for a princess for Philippe; the choice was Elizabeth Charlotte (known as Liselotte) daughter of the Elector Palantine. Liselotte’s father had been contacted about the possibility of Liselotte replacing Henrietta in the role of Madame, within 12 days of the death of the latter. The suggestion came from Liselotte’s aunt Anna Gonzaga, the Countess Palatine, an intellectual at the French court.
The negotiations dragged on, as Liselotte was endowed with only a modest dowry and had no expectations, her father Karl Ludwig being one of the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire. As minor royalty Karl was extremely eager to ally his house with the mightiest monarchy in Europe. Why Louis agreed to the match is less comprehensible.

By August 1671 the major hiccup to the marriage was the question of the bride’s religion. A Protestant bride was not acceptable for a Catholic prince. A reluctant Liselotte was secretly instructed in the Catholic faith and on a trip to Metz to see her aunt was accepted into the Catholic church. For the sake of his Protestant subjects the Elector immediately made public his ‘disapproval’ of the conversion.
The marriage took place on 16th November 1671. The new Madame was to have a jointure of 30,000 livres per annum; heady stuff for a princess from an impoverished minor court, whose prince had his shoes repaired when they wore out. At the time of his marriage Philippe’s annual income from his brother was 1,212,000 livres (about 80% of his total income). Louis commented in his memoirs
‘The sons of France must never have any home but the court nor any resource but the love of their brother.’[vi]
The new Madame was fascinated by the strange world she found herself in;

‘It is not that I am taking more strenuous walks here than I used to do, but the people here are as lame as geese, and except for the king, Madame de Chevreuse, and myself there is not a soul here who can do more than twenty steps without sweating and puffing.’[vii]
Madame dressed for the hunt
Presumably Monsieur, never one for outdoor activities unlike his hunting mad brother, was one of the sweaters and puffers. For the first few years the married couple got on together well enough; Madame wrote to one of her correspondents in December 1672
‘I only say this, that Monsieur is the best man in the world. We are getting on very well together, he does not resemble any of his portraits.’[viii]
This was despite the recall to court in that year of the Chevalier de Lorraine. Madame de Sévigné noted a conversation between Louis and his brother:

‘’But do you still think of this chevalier de Lorraine? Do you still care for him? Would you like to see him returned to you?’

‘Truly Monsieur’ replied Monsieur, ‘that would be the greatest joy that I could know in my life.’

‘Very well’ said the king ‘I wish to make you this present; in fact the courier left two days ago…..I give him back to you.’’[ix]
Philippe threw himself at his brother’s feet in gratitude, but the chevalier’s return did not spoil the marital felicity of Monsieur and Madame.

Duc de Chartres
By September the following year Madame was pregnant with her and Philippe’s first child. The Duc de Valois was born on 2nd June 1673, but died less than three years later while his mother was pregnant with her third and last child, a daughter Elisabeth Charlotte born in September 1676. The Duc de Chartres was born in August 1674. Monsieur sat with Liselotte through her confinements.
Madame was naturally devastated by the death of her first-born

‘I was too stricken by the unexpected disaster God Almighty has visited upon me; I simply cannot get over it…….they have strange ways here with children.’[x]
Liselotte blamed the death of her son on the foreign ways of the French court and she was left alone to grieve as Philippe had followed Louis on campaign. Of her second and third children she wrote in her very down to earth fashion

‘He is now, thank God, in quite perfect health as is his baby sister, who is as fat as a stuffed goose and very big for her age. On Monday last both of them were christened and given Monsieur’s and my names.’[xi]
Madame also had two stepdaughters from Philippe’s marriage to Henrietta to care for too, until their marriages; one to the king of Savoy and the other to the king of Spain.

An illness of Madame’s in 1675 saw an outpouring of love between the couple and indeed Philippe wrote to his father-in-law telling of his relief at the recovery of Liselotte from her illness.
‘And as for myself, I was more dead than she, for I do not think that since the world began, there has been a better marriage than ours. I pray that it may long endure.’[xii]

Brother to the Sun King – Nancy Nichols Barker, 1989 The John Hopkins University Press

Louis XIV – Vincent Cronin, The Reprint Society London 1965
A Woman’s Life at the Court of the Sun King – Elborg Forster, John Hopkins Paperbacks 1997

Memoirs Duc de Saint-Simon Vol 1 Edited Lucy Norton, Prion Books 2000
The Affair of the Poisons – Anne Somerset, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 2003

Louis XIV – John B Wolf, Panther History 1970

[i] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[ii] Chicory is known to be an ancient German remedy for everyday ailments. The flower has oils that are used for appetite stimulants and treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises – www.kalamala.com
[iii] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[iv] The autopsy showed the death as peritonitis, resulting from a perforated ulcer
[v] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[vi] A Woman’s Life at the Court of the Sun King - Forster
[vii] Ibid
[viii] Ibid
[ix] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[x] A Woman’s Life at the Court of the Sun King - Forster
[xi] Ibid
[xii] Ibid

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Brother of the Sun King II

A Homosexual at the Court of the Sun King

Comte de Guiche
In his adolescence Philippe was certainly interested in girls; Cardinal Mazarin objected to his attentions towards one of his nieces and Philippe was clearly able to father children with both his wives.

However Mazarin was soon warning the Comte de Guiche’s father to keep his son away from court and Philippe’s attentions. Anne forbade Philippe to see the Comte without others being present. Like Lorraine after him de Guiche[i] lorded it over Philippe with an arrogance that scandalised the court and enraged Anne. De Guiche was

‘The handsomest young man at court, well-built, gracious, gallant, bold, brave, of elevated rank and station. He was haughty of attitude, but all recognised that no one had more merit than he.’[ii]

In France homosexuality was punishable by death, although in practise this rarely happened. Philippe did not hide his aberrant (as it was viewed at the time) behaviour. Sodomy was viewed as impure and profane by the church. Practitioners were often accused of even more horrendous crimes[iii]
Chevalier de Lorraine
Philippe’s affair with the man he was infatuated with, for most of his adult life, began in 1658; while he and Philippe, known as the Chevalier de Lorraine, were living at the Palais Royale. This Philippe was a penniless second son of the Comte de Harcourt and was described by contemporaries as ‘beautiful as an angel.’ He was not angelic by temperament however and gloried in his ability to control Monsieur, three years his elder. The Chevalier too bore a resemblance to Louis.
‘The Chevalier de Lorraine, who ruled Monsieur in everything. He had been compellingly handsome; Monsieur’s taste was not for women; he made no attempt to disguise it; he had taken the Chevalier de Lorraine as his master and so he remained throughout the rest of his life.’[iv]

Lorraine was to dominate Philippe for the rest of his life.

Louis was of a religious turn and when cavorting with his many mistresses would go without the consolation of his religion. He sneered at Philippe’s propensity to go to confession even though he was breaking the church’s dictum on homosexuality.
‘He would not play the hypocrite like him, who went to confession because the Queen Mother wished it.’[v]
Exile of a Favourite

Henrietta holding a portrait of Monsieur
Louis did not hesitate throughout the nine years of the Orléans’ marriage to sow discord between the unhappy couple. Philippe was resentful of his brother’s interference and that resentment was fuelled by Louis’ early interference in his marriage. Henrietta’s affair with the Comte de Guiche continued for four years until he was exiled from court by Louis, whom de Guiche had offended.
In 1666 Conti died and Philippe again wanted the post of Governor of Languedoc. Acting on the same priorities that had driven him six years before, Louis refused his brother’s request. At the same time Louis also refused a request for a fauteuil[vi] for Henrietta. In the etiquette of the court the right to be seated in the presence of the royal family was a great honour. Duchesses had the right of the tabouret, but only queens had the right to the fauteuil. In his memoirs Louis recalls that he hypocritically told Philippe

‘I did not believe, out of consideration for the dignity of my rank and for the lack of precedent of his petition, that I could permit him to lessen the distinction between us.’[vii]
In January1666 Louis declared war on England[viii], Philippe had tried to act as a go-between for the two monarchs. His brother-in-law, Charles despised Philippe as did his brother.

Charles II
Louis wanted to extract Charles from an alliance with the Dutch to facilitate his own planned war with the Netherlands. Henrietta was heavily involved in the negotiations between the two kings. Louis played on Charles’ strong affection for his baby sister. Charles wrote to his sister almost every week and in December 1669, when the negotiations were at their peak declared to one of Louis’s special ambassadors in the matter
‘The intermediacy of Madame was absolutely essential.’[ix]
Henrietta’s mother had died in September and Madame was now the sole point of personal contact between Louis and Charles.

Henrietta intensely disliked the hold the Chevalier de Lorraine had on her husband and was prepared to use her brother’s influence with their cousin Louis. Henrietta demanded Lorraine’s exile from court, and Louis was happy to oblige, particularly after Charles had intervened saying
‘He was still disappointed that the king of France had done nothing for Madame that could compensate her in the eyes of the court……[He was].aware that Monsieur was treating Madame badly….he attributed the abuse to the intrigues of Lorraine.’[x]
On 30th January 1670 a contingent of soldiers burst into Philippe’s apartments in the Palais de Saint Germain and seized the Chevalier who was taken to Lyon and imprisoned. Philippe was horrified and devastated. Naturally this did not improve relations between him and his wife; the battle between husband and wife raged on.

Failing to receive satisfaction from his brother Philippe insisted on moving his court and his wife to an isolated chateau in his own domains. Philippe refused to return to court unless Lorraine was released and Louis upped the ante by transferring Lorraine to the Chateau d’If[xi] 
Chateau d'If
After 25 days Philippe gave in and returned to court, bringing Henrietta in his wake. Their return was announced abroad. The negotiations between the brothers resulted in the release of the Chevalier de Lorraine from his incarceration, but he was not allowed to return to Paris. Instead he moved to Rome. Henrietta was to find her success a mixed blessing:
‘The absence of the Chevalier de Lorraine was a new source of discord between Madame and Monsieur. Every day they had another row’[xii]
wrote Mademoiselle, their mutual cousin. In their battles Philippe was fighting against his wife as proxy for the brother he could never hope to defeat.

However Madame’s presence was essential during the negotiations of the treaty and it appears that her presence, for which Philippe’s permission was required, had not been included in the agreement between Louis and Philippe. In late March Philippe was still refusing to allow Henrietta to travel to England. But Louis forced his acquiescence in this matter, as in all others.

Madame de Montespan
Louis took the court on a tour of Flanders, ostensibly showing his queen her heritage. Louis and his queen were also accompanied, in their carriage, by his new mistress Madame de Montespan. Philippe was not the only person Louis was happy to humiliate. Philippe was in a foul mood during the trip, his wife was to leave for England to continue with her diplomatic duties; duties that Philippe himself longed to undertake. On May 24th the royal party arrived at Dunkirk and Madame and her retinue embarked on an English warship.
Henrietta’s role was essential to Louis and Charles who, in a secret addendum to the peace treaty of Dover signed in June 1670, agreed to change his religion and in return was to be a secret pensioner of the French crown[xiii]. The effects of the treaty were not visible until nearly fourteen months after Henrietta’s death when Louis declared war on the Dutch[xiv] and was followed the following day by a declaration of war by the English on their co-religionists.

Brother to the Sun King – Nancy Nichols Barker, 1989 The John Hopkins University Press

Louis XIV – Vincent Cronin, The Reprint Society London 1965
A Woman’s Life at the Court of the Sun King – Elborg Forster, John Hopkins Paperbacks 1997

Memoirs Duc de Saint-Simon Vol 1 Edited Lucy Norton, Prion Books 2000
The Affair of the Poisons – Anne Somerset, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 2003

Louis XIV – John B Wolf, Panther History 1970

[i] Who bore an uncanny resemblance to the king
[ii] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[iii] The Chevalier de Lorraine being accused of Henrietta’s ‘murder’ and of the death of her elder daughter.
[iv] Memoirs, Vol 1 - Norton
[v] The Affair of the Poisons - Somerset
[vi] The armchair was for very senior members of the Royal family, instead of the tabouret or stool.
[vii] Memoirs, Vol 1 - Norton
[viii] Joining on the side of the Dutch in the Second Anglo-Dutch War
[ix] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[x] Ibid
[xi] One of France’s most notorious prisons
[xii] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[xiii] This allowed Charles to reign without parliament for the last years of his life
[xiv] Whereby Louis appropriated the former Spanish Netherlands in what the French called the War of Devolution

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Brother of the Sun King

Another Miracle Baby
Louis & Philippe
Philippe de Bourbon was the second child of Louis XIII, king of France and his wife Anne of Austria. Born on 21st September 1640; Philippe was granted the title of Duc d’Anjou by his father. Philippe’s parents had been married twenty-five years by the time of his birth and their only other living child was Philippe’s elder brother, known as Louis Dieudonné. Louis and Philippe were placed in the care of the Marquise de Lansac.

Throughout his life Philippe suffered from the knowledge that his brother was his mother’s favourite child. Philippe’s education was far less thorough than the programme his brother was subjected to. When Louis fell ill Anne would be at his bedside day and night. When Philippe was ill Anne attended balls or left him alone in order to spend long periods of time with Louis. Louis was her idol; he had saved her from any possibility of divorce.

From his earliest childhood Philippe was required to defer to and obey his brother. He was given to understand that only in this way could he win his mother’s love and approval. Philippe’s education was deliberately minimal and he was encouraged to concentrate in frivolous pursuits to lessen the danger of Philippe following in his Uncle Gaston’s footsteps; a potential rival to his brother’s crown.
Philippe was an attractive and intelligent child and his mother called him ‘her little girl’. He was encouraged by his mother and her senior minister Cardinal Mazarin to make friends with active homosexuals at court. This cannot have had any effect on his sexuality; his father, if not an active homosexual[i], was certainly attracted to men rather than women; which may have partly explained the length of time before his children were born[ii].

Le Petit Monsieur

Philippe dressed for his brother's coronation
When Philippe was less than three years old his father died and on 14th May 1643 the five year old Louis became king. Philippe was now heir to the throne.
The Queen was made Regent and her adviser was Cardinal Mazarin[iii]. Anne’s power was severely limited by Louis’ will. Her brother-in-law Gaston was made lieutenant general of the country. Anne and her advisers were able to persuade the Paris Parlement to override the will; Gaston remained as lieutenant general, but was now subject to the Regent.

The Fronde

Gaston, Duke of Orleans
Anne saw the five year war of the Fronde in the stark terms of disobedience to her son; whether it was the Fronde of the Parlement 1648-9 or the Fronde of the Princes 1651-2. For her the second of the two periods of violent disturbances was more dangerous, involving as it did the disloyalty of senior nobility and members of the royal family.
Naturally Louis’s Uncle Gaston was involved in this attempted power grab. Gaston had been involved in many attempts to seize power from his brother and now had no compunction in attempting to dispossess his nephew.

Philippe was ill with smallpox when the Fronde originally erupted following the arrest of three members of the Paris Parlement. The people demanded the arrest of Anne and her replacement by Gaston. Louis was taken to Rueil[iv] and Philippe was left in Paris, until rescued several days later.

Cardinal Mazarin
For the next four years the court led a nomadic existence. Originally Gaston was chosen to negotiate with the revolting Parisians. But it was not long before Anne and Mazarin decided that he appeared to be too sympathetic to the demands of the Parlement. In 1650 Gaston’s wife produced a son and the Parisians were delirious with delight; Anne and Mazarin must have feared that Gaston would try and replace Louis.
Louis was permanently scarred by the wars of the Fronde. He avoided his capital as much as possible during his adult life; preferring the palace of Versailles he had built on the site of one of his father‘s hunting lodges. Philippe as an adult made the Palais Royale his Parisian home, until the Palace of St Cloud was built.

Duchesse de Montpensier
Gaston’s eldest daughter[v], Mademoiselle[vi], had always considered her cousin as her future bridegroom, despite a twelve year difference in their ages. She took an active part, on the side of her father, in the war and in doing so, as Mazarin remarked
‘With that cannon Mademoiselle has shot her husband.’[vii]
When finally Louis was able to re-enter his capital on 21st October 1652 Gaston was exiled to his estates in the Loire valley and Mademoiselle to her property at Saint Fargeau. Philippe lost the company of his two favourite relatives.

Louis was henceforth to be far less trusting of those around him:
‘It could reasonably be asked if a prince does not have as much need to protect himself from the pretensions of his own allies, of his own subjects, and even of his own family, as from the attacks of his enemy.’[viii]
This mistrust was to rule his actions throughout the rest of his life, causing Philippe much unhappiness.

Marriage to an English Princess
It was not until the death of his Uncle Gaston in February 1660 that, when he was 20, Philippe was made Duc d’Orléans. The dukedom had always been held by a member of the royal family. Philippe had not seen Gaston since he was exiled, but they had kept in contact by letter. Louis was angered by Philippe’s sorrow

‘Not only did he profess not to believe in his brother’s grief, but through the disguise of mockery he saw it as a threat.’[ix]
Normally the revenues of the dukedom were settled on the new duke, but Mazarin and Louis were reluctant to give Philippe this financial freedom, preferring to keep him dependent on his brother. It was decided to give him a reduced revenue stream of 150,000 livres[x] per year once he was married. With the death of Gaston the title of Monsieur passed to Philippe. For Philippe, an inveterate gambler, money was essential. In 1678 Monsieur had to pawn his best jewels to cover his gambling losses.

The governorship of Languedoc also fell vacant on Gaston’s death, but Philippe must have been disappointed to not receive this post which had paid his uncle circa 500,000 livres per annum in the form of bribes from local officials. The post was given to the Prince de Conti[xi], a former Frondeur, but now living the life of a religious penitent and powerless in Louis’s opinion. Giving Languedoc to Philippe would have boosted his power vis-à-vis his brother; that was something Louis was determined not to do.

Henrietta Maria
After his brother’s marriage to Marie Therese in June 1660 the Queen Mother persuaded Philippe to offer for the younger sister of the newly restored English king, Henrietta. He had previously offered for the hand of his cousin Anne-Marie, la Grande Mademoiselle[xii], Gaston’s daughter and heiress to a great fortune. The Duchesse de Montpensier refused Philippe’s offer, remaining unmarried until her death in 1693
The marriage between Henrietta and Philippe took place on 31st March 1661, three weeks after the death of Cardinal Mazarin, Philippe’s mother’s adviser[xiii] since the death of her husband eighteen years before. Louis was in favour of the match, writing later in his memoirs 
‘The marriage of my brother served to keep [Charles] on my side.’[xiv]
Philippe was eager for the match[xv], and despite his preference for men, he was clearly capable of doing his duty as a husband. Philippe and Henrietta had three children and one still-born child. Only the youngest daughter outlived her father. The couple’s only son Philippe died in infancy eighteen months before his mother.

It is possible that the extremely thin and highly strung Henrietta suffered from anorexia nervosa; she slept very little and ate even less. Her life was a frenetic search for amusement.
When the newly married couple were summonsed to court at Fontainebleau, Henrietta, freed at last from her mother’s dour tutelage, was ready to flirt with her husband’s brother and Louis was more than happy to humiliate his brother. Louis and Henrietta spent a lot of time together;

‘The couple explored the grottoes, bathed in the river and on moonlit evenings promenaded to the sounds of violins around the canal.’[xvi]
However innocent these pleasures may seem to modern eyes, they caused a lot of gossip and scandal. Philippe was furious to find himself publicly cuckolded so soon after his marriage.

The public conduct of the affair ceased only when Louis’ mother joined Queen Henrietta Maria and Philippe in pressuring Louis into conducting the affair with some attempt at subtlety. Henrietta and Louis now would practise subterfuge; to this end Louis was to pretend to set up one of his sister-in-law’s ladies as his new mistress; Louise de la Valliére.
Louise de la Valliere
Louis fell in love with la Valliére and Henrietta was cast aside, the first discard of many[xvii]. Now humiliated in her turn, Henrietta set up a new flirt, the Comte de Guiche, who was also one of her husband’s lovers. Philippe’s humiliation was redoubled. By July he had got his wife pregnant.

Brother to the Sun King – Nancy Nichols Barker, 1989 The John Hopkins University Press
Louis XIV – Vincent Cronin, The Reprint Society London 1965

A Woman’s Life at the Court of the Sun King – Elborg Forster, John Hopkins Paperbacks 1997
Memoirs Duc de Saint-Simon Vol 1 Edited Lucy Norton, Prion Books 2000

The Affair of the Poisons – Anne Somerset, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 2003
Louis XIV – John B Wolf, Panther History 1970


[i] There is no evidence that he was actively homosexual
[ii] There were rumours extant at the time that Louis’s father was Cardinal Richelieu
[iii] Former secretary to Cardinal Richelieu
[iv] Outside Paris
[v] One of Europe’s greatest heiresses
[vi] Her court title
[vii] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[viii] Ibid
[ix] Ibid
[x] Possibly as much as £700,000 at today’s rates.
[xi] Brother of the prince de Condé, one of the highest ranking Frondeurs
[xii] Her court title after the birth of Philippe’s eldest daughter
[xiii] It is rumoured that he was also her lover.
[xiv] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[xv] Possibly due to the knowledge of the immediate rise in his income the marriage would bring in its wake.
[xvi] Brother to the Sun King - Barker
[xvii] Louis was very callous towards his ex-mistresses