Friday, 18 July 2014

La Bouche du Roi

La Bouche du Roi which translates into "the King's Mouth" was responsible for every meal served to the King. It was the largest sub-category of the domestic household and quite possibly the largest overall. The system was packed with posts on purpose; by giving the high nobility honours to strive after Louis XIV eliminated the threat of a conspiracy against himself as King - he became the only source of power. This sub-category even have sub-categories of its own covering everything from fruit to wine! So, the Bouche du Roi counted (some of the names are in French but are explained under each link) offices known as the "Ancient Offices" which had the highest honour:

First Maître d'Hôtel
Grand Panetier
Grand Échanson
First Écuyer Tranchant

When Louis XIV sat down to dine he was waited on by 36 male servants, guarded by 12 officers and watched by the entire court. The servants that employed the less prestigious posts would normally not be of the nobility and they would wear the King's livery. However, it was a much sought-after privilege to be the gentleman standing behind the King waiting with a glass of water for the King to lift his hand signalling he desired something to drink.

The numbers for these sub-sub-categories are taken from around 1680 rather than at the end of the Ancien Regieme because the monarchy had had to cut back a lot and I wish to demonstrate the full glory of the household. These are the main ones


Counting 30 employees the Gobelet was responsible for everything the King drank. It was run by 12 Head Chefs and an assistant chef, 5 assistants, 4 pages, 4 wine boys and 4 hackney drivers


Counting at least 82 employees the Cuisine-Bouche was responsible for the bulk of the food including meats and vegetables. To control that everything ran smoothly was 4 Masters and their 4 assistants. Then came the 4 kitchen garden chefs, 4 pastry chefs, a staggering 40 common assistants, 4 porters, 1 controller, 4 safeguards, 4 spear-boys (turning the roasts) and 4 pantry boys. Besides came the squires and those who should inform the kitchen of the King's wishes.


Counting at least 22 employees it was the Paneterie that delivered the baked goods. The employees counted 13 chefs, 4 assistants, 4 safeguards, 1 washer and many controllers.


Counting 32 employees the Fruiterie handled fruits - probably coming from the King's own gardens. There were 12 chefs, 12 assistants, 4 controllers and 4 regular assistants.

Still from the movie "The Taking of Power by Louis XIV"

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