Friday, 17 November 2017

A Wedding Farce

The Duc du Maine suffered the loss of his son in 1698; the little boy was just three years old. Court etiquette demanded that mourning was not to be observed for children under the age of seven but Louis XIV had become far more lax in this practice in his later years. Consequently, the September of that year saw the cancellation of court festivities and the courtiers dressed in sombre colours. 

However, an event was soon to take place which was hardly fit for a court in mourning. After searching in vain for a royal husband for Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans (daughter of Monsieur and the Princess Palatine) a marriage was finally arranged. The young lady - known as Mademoiselle - was to marry the Duc de Lorraine.
Monsieur was anxious that his daughter's marriage was not to be lessened by the mourning which cast a gloom over the court. Surprisingly, Louis XIV agreed and gave the orders for ending the mourning period in time for the wedding. Everyone were informed that they were to bring their best clothing for the ceremony but not everyone were happy about it.


The proxy ceremony

Louis XIV's two legitimized daughters - the Princesse de Conti and the Duchesse de Bourbon - did not consider the event worth dropping the mourning for. They made it clear that they had no intention of following orders; naturally, their father was displeased. Learning of his daughters' disobedience he gave them stern orders to do as they were told. Most courtiers would have caved in at the sight of the Grand Monarch's wrath but his daughters had a great deal of his own pride. They sassily responded that they had no other clothes!
Losing his patience, Louis XIV snappily replied that in that case they were to immediately order new clothes. Finally, they had to admit defeat and begrudgingly appeared at the ceremony dressed in the required court costume.

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