Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Painful Death of Louis XV

Louis XV of France (Versailles, France, 15th February 1710 - Versailles, France, 10th May 1774)
 

Louis XV of France by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 1748
Louis XV of France by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 1748

We have met Louis XV on more than one occasion here at the salon, peeking in at his wedding and even hearing about his attempted assassination and the terrible fate that befell his attacker. Today marks the anniversary of the death of Louis though he did not fall victim to an assassin's blade.

On 10th May 1774 Louis XV died in his apartments at the Palace of Versailles. He had been taken ill on 26th April whilst visiting the Petit Trianon and within days his doctor confirmed that the king, in the fifty ninth year of his reign, was suffering from smallpox. Placed in isolation, the ailing monarch's health deteriorated swiftly despite the best efforts of physicians working under the watchful eye of his doctor, Pichault Germain de La Martinière.


Louis XV of France by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1730
Louis XV of France by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1730

Although he initially seemed to rally, fate had other plans in mind for the monarch and Louis suffered an agonising death, his body blackened and rotting with the infection. After being placed in his coffin and covered with alcohol and linens, the king's remains were  interred in the
Basilica of Saint Denis, his near six decade reign coming to a painful and unhappy end.

12 comments:

  1. One cannot help but despair at the way so many people were killed off by medical procedures!!!! All those who say they wish they lived in the past should study the deaths of the rich and very famous..who had the best access to the finest medical knowledge. I write Victorian fiction and have been exploring the death of Prince Albert ..who might have lived had his doctors known better. Very interesting post, thanks.

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    1. Thank you! I heartily agree with your point on the medical aspect of life in the past - not one of the more romantic aspects of history...

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  2. Catherine, I wholeheartedly agree with you about the lack of medical knowledge being one of the less romantic aspects of life then.

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  3. Yes, but wasn't Louis gorgeous! Not with the small pox, I mean! Those portraits of him...sigh, swoon. He was one of the only French monarchs who forbade his court to ride over the crops of the peasants; he deserved his Well Beloved title for a while, until it all went Poisson shaped! I like the blog, too, Madame!

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    1. Louis certainly scrubbed up well in his portraits!

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  4. I have always loved history of any kind. Great story and thank you for sharing.

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    1. A pleasure; thank you for reading!

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  5. This whole story, assassination attempts and all, reminds me of Henry VIII and particularly his demise whe his rotting and bloated body exploded after being left on a table overnight in transit to being interred! Now there's a blog subject for you... ;~) (ps. I know how annoying it is whe peolle start telling you what to write but I only jest. On the other hand, what about the real story of William Wallace? It takes someone with your grissly fascination for the grotesque to set the record straight :D )

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    1. I *do* have a fascination for the grotesque, it's true - I really should assemble a cabinet of curiosities! Sadly, fascinating through Wallace's tale is, it's a few centuries outside of my era!

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    2. Hmmm, just curious, Madame, but are you a Scorpio by chance? I am, and we share the same fascination with the grotesque and morbid.....

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    3. I'm actually a Virgo, but it's always a pleasure to meet another fan of the grotesque!

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