Good morning, Just Jane 1813 readers! I’d like to welcome Catherine Curzon to Just Jane 1813. Not only is she here to offer us a sneak peek into her newly released book, “Life in the Georgian Court,” she’s also here to share with us a terrific post about Louis XIV.
Every time I read a post from Catherine’s blog, I wish all of my college and high school history textbooks would’ve been as much fun and as informative to read! She takes the juiciest parts of European history and swirls them into a delicious story filled with the most intriguing information. Did I mention the captivating images she also shares with her posts? Her Facebook page is another treat to behold, as it also expresses her love and knowledge for everything Georgian.
A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life is where she regularly shares her posts. Yet, for today, you can have the pleasure right here of sitting back and enjoying this story about the infamous Sun King…
In royal history the name of Louis XIV, aka the Sun King, is near legendary and his appearance in Life in the Georgian Court is fleeting yet gruesomely memorable.
Louis’ reign of seventy-two years remains the longest of any European monarch and he left behind a legacy of absolutism that endured for generations, ended only by the keen blades of the French Revolution. Though Louis XIV died decades before the clouds of discontent gathered over the country, when the sun set on the Sun King, it was painful, grisly and far from regal.
Since the days of his youth, Louis XIV had been a keen outdoorsman; he loved to shake off the cares of office with a day of sport and hunting was one of his favourite pastimes. Even in his seventies Louis adored the thrill of the chase and on the fine summer morning of 10th August 1715, he decided that there could be no better way to make the best of the weather than to spend the day hunting in Marly. As Louis enjoyed these carefree hours his pleasure was marred somewhat by a sharp pain that stabbed at his leg. Suspecting an injury, the agonised monarch cut short the hunt and requested that his doctor, Guy-Crescent Fagon, be summoned. The physician examined his illustrious patient and, weighing up the symptoms, made a confident diagnosis of sciatica.
Confident, but wrong.
As the days passed and the agony did not ease, an alarmed Louis noticed black marks appearing on his leg, a sure sign of gangrene. Even now the learned Fagon steadfastly stuck to his initial diagnosis of sciatica with a self-assurance borne out of years of professional authority. As so many of his contemporaries would do when suffering from appalling ailments that would lay even the most robust person low, the king attempted to continue with business as usual. However, the pain grew steadily worse until he was forced to retire to his bed at Versailles. Even if Fagon had immediately treated the gangrene, it was too late to save Louis and the king would not leave his chamber alive again.
The Sun King endured a final week of unimaginable torment, gangrene making its fatal, unstoppable way through his body. Sure that he was nearing the end, Louis began to put in place plans for his succession, determined to leave every thread neatly tied when his last moments came. With farewells made to courtiers and friends, Louis sank into a delirium and just after eight o’clock on the morning of 1st September 1715, the Sun King died.
Having lain in state for a week, the remains of the king were transferred to the Saint-Denis Basilica, where they would remain until they were exhumed during the French Revolution. Perhaps in the future his monumental reign will be exceeded but in the history of the European monarchy, the Sun King will remain iconic… his doctor less so.
About the Author
Catherine Curzon is a royal historian and blogs on all matters 18th century at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.
Her work has featured by publications including BBC History Extra, All About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austen’s Regency World. She has also provided additional material for the sell-out theatrical show, An Evening with Jane Austen, will she will introduce at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, in September (tickets are available here).
Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.
About Life in the Georgian Court
As the glittering Hanoverian court gives birth to the British Georgian era, a golden age of royalty dawns in Europe. Houses rise and fall, births, marriages and scandals change the course of history and in France, Revolution stalks the land.
Peep behind the shutters of the opulent court of the doomed Bourbons, the absolutist powerhouse of Romanov Russia and the epoch-defining family whose kings gave their name to the era, the House of Hanover.
Behind the pomp and ceremony were men and women born into worlds of immense privilege, yet beneath the powdered wigs and robes of state were real people living lives of romance, tragedy, intrigue and eccentricity. Take a journey into the private lives of very public figures and learn of arranged marriages that turned to love or hate and scandals that rocked polite society.
Here the former wife of a king spends three decades in lonely captivity, Prinny makes scandalous eyes at the toast of the London stage and Marie Antoinette begins her last, terrible journey through Paris as her son sits alone in a forgotten prison cell.
Life in the Georgian Court is a privileged peek into the glamorous, tragic and iconic courts of the Georgian world, where even a king could take nothing for granted.
Wow, Catherine! You have such amazing stories from the past to share with your readers! Thank you for taking the time to share this story, along with your new book, with my Just Jane 1813 readers.