|Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701|
On this day, almost three hundred years ago, Louis XIV, the Sun King, died. His reign of seventy two years was the longest of any European monarch and he left behind a legacy of monarchical absolutism that was ended only by the French Revolution.
On 10th August, the king went hunting in Marly and on his return complained of a pain in his leg. His doctor, Guy-Crescent Fagon, was summoned and swiftly diagnoses sciatica, a diagnosis that he steadfastly refused to change even as black marks began to appear on the king's leg, a sure sign of encroaching gangrene. Louis attempted to carry on about his business but the pain worsened with each passing day and on 25th August, he was forced to retire to his bed at Versailles. He would not leave the room alive again.
With Fagon clinging to his initial diagnosis of sciatica, the king endured an agonising final week. He received and gave counsel to his successor, bade farewell to court and intimates and as his health failed, sank into near-unconsciousness. Louis XIV lingered on until 1st September 1715, passing away at just after eight o'clock in the morning.
After remaining on view for eight days, the remains of the king were transferred to the Saint-Denis Basilica, where they would remain until they were exhumed during the French Revolution.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.