Monday, 29 April 2019

The Duc de Vendôme vs. The Duchesse de Bourgogne

Louis Joseph de Vendôme had proved himself as a very capable military leader prior to 1709. However, the campaign of that year saw him share command with the young Duc de Bourgogne, the king's grandson. The two did not get along very well; together they failed to prevent the French military defeat at the battle of Oudenarde. 

While the young Bourgogne was away at war, his wife, Marie Adélaide of Savoy, was kept well aware of her husband's difficulties with the Duc de Vendôme. Consequently, she came to loathe Vendôme. Marie Adélaide could not influence events on the battlefield but she was in a supreme position to damage the Duc de Vendôme's position at court. Louis XIV absolutely doted on his granddaughter-in-law and she could use that affection to undermine her husband's rival.

The way in which the Duchesse de Bourgogne handled the situation was a masterpiece of skillful maneuvering within the structure of the court of Versailles.

The winter break of 1708 that followed the disaster at Oudenarde, saw both the Duc de Bourgogne and the Duc de Vendôme return to Versailles. Prior to the latter's return, the seeds for his downfall had already been laid. Even though Louis XIV received his defeated general warmly enough, there was still a sense that something was about to happen. The first obvious sign came when the Duc de Vendôme offered a general invitation to his estate of d'Anet. However, those around him excused themselves which had not happened hitherto. Still, Louis Joseph went to the château d'Anet where he sojourned over the winter before returning to Versailles. Once he returned to Marly and the king's side, it was noted that the Duc de Vendôme failed to pay his respects to the Duchesse de Bourgogne who was officially the highest-ranking woman at court.

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Louis Joseph, Duc de Vendôme

Being invited to the private estates of Marly and Meudon was an immense privilege and one which  the Duc de Vendôme had enjoyed for years. The Duc de Saint-Simon gives us an insight into a situation in which the young Duchesse de Bourgogne used her influence to thwart the Duc de Vendôme. The Grand Dauphin were playing brelan with both the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne at Marly one evening and requested a fifth player. For this purpose, he sent for Louis Joseph. Marie Adélaide immediately implored her father-in-law not to make her play with Vendôme as it was already a trial to her to be in the same room. The Grand Dauphin obliged and filled the seat with someone else - however, no one informed the Duc de Vendôme. Once he arrived, he found his seat taken and had to make the embarrassing walk back through the room.

According to Saint-Simon, the Duchesse de Bourgogne sought to further prevent the Duc de Vendôme from being in her presence. She turned to Madame de Maintenon - also an enemy of Louis Joseph - who in turn asked Louis XIV to omit the Duc from their visits to Marly. By this time, several squabbles over military failures (not just with Bourgogne) had made Louis tired of Vendôme and he agreed. The message was delivered to Louis Joseph by a valet.

As could be expected, the Duc de Vendôme was furious at this snub. Yet, he knew that the Grand Dauphin was still a friend to him. Although being barred from Marly was a humiliation, he could try to safe face by spending more time with the heir to throne. His open invitation to Meudon also proved to be an opportunity to get back at Marie Adélaide.
The Duchesse de Bourgogne almost always visited her father-in-law while he was at Meudon. Knowing that the master of Meudon was the Grand Dauphin - and not the king - Louis Joseph made sure to be present as often as possible. Etiquette demanded that he presented himself to both his host and the Duchesse de Bourgogne. Consequently, he could irritate her by showing that while she had managed to ban him from Marly, she had not done so from Meudon - yet.

One day, the Grand Dauphin was at Meudon with the Duc de Vendôme when the king, Madame de Maintenon and Marie Adélaide paid him a visit. Louis Joseph took the opportunity to "present himself" to the king and his granddaughter-in-law. Apparently, Marie Adélaide did not expect him to be there and she turned her head away - a great insult. Despite this, the Duc de Vendôme tried his luck again that same evening by approaching Marie Adélaide but with the same result. As a result, he turned on his heel and left the room.

Marie Adélaïde of Savoy as depicted circa 1697 (wearing Fleur-de-lis as Duchess of Burgundy) by a member of the École Française.jpg
Marie Adélaide of Savoy

Marie Adélaide took advantage of his absence and complained to both the king and Madame de Maintenon. She appealed to both the hierarchy and the affection of the king. She pointed out that while the king had respected her discomfort and barred Vendôme from his private retreat, the Grand Dauphin had not done so.

Naturally - considering they were literally under the same roof - the Duc de Vendôme heard of this and immediately went to the Grand Dauphin. He complained that he was being prosecuted by the Duchesse de Bourgogne. He received little reassurance from his friend who would at most say that he could continue to visit Meudon but he must avoid the Duchesse while she was still at odds with him.

The very next day, the final blow was delivered by the Duc d'Antin. He had been sent from Versailles (where the king and his entourage had returned to) to inform Louis Joseph that the king had asked the Grand Dauphin to no longer admit Louis Joseph. In an absolute fury, Louis Joseph up and left Meudon immediately.

And that - as it happened - turned out to be the end of the Duc de Vendôme's career as a courtier. Understandably, he made himself scarce and even refrained from returning to Versailles. He was shunned by those who feared a similar fate and he would die three years later - ironically, the same year as the Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

The Sang Froid of the Marquis de Favras

Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras had been attached to the Swiss Guards under the command of the Comte de Provence. Although he retired in 1775 (not being able to keep up the expenses of being an officer) and travelled abroad, he returned in 1789 to aid Louis XVI and the Comte de Provence.

Apparently, the Comte de Provence had hatched a plot to liberate his brother, Louis XVI, and the rest of the royal family from the Tuileries. However, the Comte was short of cash and asked the Marquis de Favras to obtain a loan. Thus, the Marquis de Favras became involved with the plot - but with fatal consequences. A couple of officers whom Favras entrusted with vital information betrayed him. Soon, a leaflet circulated Paris in which the Comte de Provence was accused of having around 30.000 soldiers ready to lay siege to Paris; it was rumoured that the Comte de Provence was to become absolute regent once the king and queen had been smuggled out of France. Furthermore, the leaflet claimed that the conspirators had planned to starve the Parisians into submission and kill the leaders of the liberal movement including Lafayette. 

Marquis de Favras

Both the Marquis and Marquise de Favras were imprisoned on the night between 24-25 December 1789 and the Comte de Provence denied having had anything to do with Favras for at least 15 years. The two were split up and he was taken to the Grand Châtelet. His trial was a remarkably lengthy one. It lasted for over two months and caused a great deal of controversy. The fact was that very little evidence existed that could prove his guilt of "planning against the people of France". Even staunchly revolutionary editors admitted that there was little to go on.

Thomas de Mahy could perhaps have been released. However, his fellow-Royalist supports attempted to free him from his captivity by force on 26 January 1790. This appeared to the Parisians to be only a confirmation of the validity of the charge and his trial was resumed on the 18 February 1790. He was found guilty by a majority of 32 to six despite proclaiming his innocence. The entire trial was a farce. It was an open secret that the Marquis was not guilty of the trumped up charges. Of the twelve witnesses brought before the court, only two "spoke to any serious facts" - and even these contradicted each other. Apparently, even one of the judges had the audacity to approach the Marquis and state that it was clear that he was innocent but his life had to be sacrificed to keep the public peace. Throughout it all, an angry mob had surrounded the courtroom and demanded the death of the Marquis. The Marquis de Favras was sentenced to hang on 19 February 1790.

Knowing that he had been abandoned by the Comte de Provence, the Marquis de Favras offered to give his captors a few names for a reprieve. However, they rejected a reprieve but still demanded the names. In turn, Favras refused to name the others involved in the conspiracy - even the Comte de Provence. 

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Execution of the Marquis

On 19 February 1790, the Marquis de Favras was taken to the Place de Grève on foot. He was dressed only in his breeches and shirt - no hat and no shoes. In true medieval fashion a plaque was hung from his neck proclaiming him to be a "conspirator against the state"; likewise the noose was draped around his throat. His execution would be the first in which a nobleman was hanged rather than being given a more "honourable" execution. Thomas showed little emotion during his final moments. When his death warrant was read aloud to him, he famously responded "I see you have made three spelling mistakes".

He then climbed the ladder to the gallows and addressed the crowd. Once again he proclaimed that he died an innocent man and bade the executioner do his duty. The Marquis was then hanged. It was only with considerable effort that the guards prevented the assembled crowd from tearing his body down and placing his head on a pike.

His widow and child were presented the following day to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who gave them a pension. The royal family had been following his trial and was deeply affected by the outcome; sadly they were not allowed to show their grief outwardly.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Failed Education of the Grand Dauphin

The turbulent childhood of Louis XIV made him determined to provide his son and heir with the best education possible. Jacques Bénigne Boussuet was appointed as Louis, le Grand Dauphin's tutor; the Grand Dauphin's education would be decided by him as well as his governor, the Duc de Montausier. However, before they took over, the basic education was formed by Louis' preceptor, Périgny.

Unlike what might be imagined, Louis was not alone in the school-room. Four boys of the highest ranking families were chosen to partake in his lessons with Périgny. They were taught the basics of writing and reading. Périgny - in his capacity as the Grand Dauphin's preceptor - focused heavily on the moral education of his pupil. For this purpose, he used the legendary fables by La Fontaine to highlight moral problems. He also began the Grand Dauphin's lessons in French and Latin. Louis appears to have enjoyed his lessons by Périgny but they were not to last. Périgny died in 1670 and Boussuet took his place.

Louis, le Grand Dauphin

The plan devised for his new education included a wide array of subjects: geography, history, philosophy,  classical literature, rhetoric, logic, anatomy and physics. Besides these were the more courtly pursuits of drawing, riding and dancing. But there was one more aspect that was necessary for a future king: lessons in warfare, jurisprudence and the day-to-day functions of government.

As for his political education, Louis XIV took that into his own hands. He wrote the book "Memoires pour l'instruction du Dauphin" which was meant to guide the Grand Dauphin when he ascended the throne. However, nothing else was done to further the young boy's political acumen. Even when he became older and could have benefited from listening in on his father and his advisors, the Grand Dauphin was barred entry into the Council Chamber. 

Louis was born with a natural desire for learning but his teachers were terribly ill-suited. The young boy would have benefited from a less rigid educational style - like his own sons would receive - but both Boussuet and Montausier were of the old school. They attempted to cram as much knowledge into Louis in as short a time as possible - and would mercilessly berate him if he made mistakes. The consequence was that Louis became terrified of new knowledge and avoided it at all costs. 

Boussuet himself stated that the education of the future king was very much a "public affair". Therefore, he dedicated the vast majority of his time to this goal. Unfortunately, his pupil did not have the same pedantic nature. Louis had an indolent streak which would only get more pronounced as he grew older. 


Nevertheless, Louis had the very best materials available for his personal use. France had some of the best cartographers of the time and the maps dedicated to the Dauphin were some of the best and most interestingly decorated. Montausier is generally credited with assembling the Delphine collection of classical works specifically for Louis' education - hence the name.

The Grand Dauphin's studies were divided into three parts throughout the day. The first was between 9 o'clock in the morning and 11.30. The second began at half past one and continued until supper only interrupted by quick playtimes such as fishing. Finally, after supper the third study period began which lasted a few hours. The Grand Dauphin would then have a little time before being put to bed. This schedule was the same - even on Sundays - and was only interrupted for major ceremonial events.

In a typical lesson, Boussuet would read and explain a text or a subject which the Dauphin was then to write down in French - what he remembered anyways. This was then to be translated into Latin. Louis' education would be officially terminated when he was married in 1680 - at the age of 19.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Film Fashion: Outlander

Plot: in the second season, Claire and Jamie Fraser travels to Versailles to scheme with Bonny Prince Charles.

Takes place: 1740's

NOTE: not all costumes are featured

Claire Fraiser

English-born Claire's wardrobe for her sojourn at Versailles is characteristically a mixture of luxurious fabrics but little adornment otherwise. Compared to Louise de Rohan, this difference becomes all the greater.

This mixture of yellow silk and an exquisitely embroidered petticoat would be more in the tune of fashion in the 1740's. Despite the lack of ruffles, bows etc. the dress would have been expensive enough due to the quality of the fabric and the work gone into the petticoat. 

This gorgeous emerald-coloured robe à la Françaose would have been very simple by Versailles-standards - the tiny amount of ruffles at the neckline would be just too little ornament. However, the colour - albeit a tad dark - would have played well into the love of exotic colours at Louis XV's court.

Want to dress like Claire? Find out where to get replications of some of our favorite Outlander outfits. #clairefraser #Outlander #thereddressOutlander Costume on Twitter: "@ssskkk111 @jongarysteele Season Two."

Georgian 18th century petticoat & sack back gown watteau | Etsy

While I have the impression that this red gown was a fan-favourite, it is completely wrong for Versailles. The main issue is the opening of the bodice. While the 18th century was a time when a woman's bossom was very much in focus (due to a combination of tight corsets and low necklines) this would have been too much. The gown is beautiful but an 18th century courtier would consider it to be an unfinished dress. Besides the cleft in the bodice it is also completely devoid of any type of ornament which would typically have been all the focus of the age.

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander (2014) - Click to expand

Outlander on Twitter: "Our incredible leading lady. #Outlander… "Claire red dress profile

Again, the costume is too simple compared to the time it is supposed to take place in. The cut is accurate, though, as it would have been the right length for a caraco or a pet-en-l'air.

I spent a lot of time looking at a LOT of 18th century French Costumes. The vast majority did not feel like Claire. They felt like Louise. They felt like any member of the French aristocracy, but n…

This maternity gown is not far from what a deshabille would have been - a looser bodice but still in valuable silk. However, the lack at the engagents would not have been dyed black. 

Claire, miscarrying Faith, in the Bois de Boulogne as she tries to stop the duel between Jamie and Black Jack Randall

While absolutely beautiful, there is something odd about this gown. It seems that the skirt has been sewn onto a jacket and the gloves are overlapping the sleeves. Nevertheless, the embroidery and the lovely Bergère-hat are definitely appropriate.

Outlander: Paris is always a good idea - except for the Frasers - Linda Merrill #outlander #paris #gabaldon #season2 #claire #jamie #versaillesOh yeah, he's basically a model. | The 38 Sexiest Pictures of Jamie on Outlander | POPSUGAR Entertainment Photo 26

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James Fraiser

Jamie - like Claire - tends to stick to the darker shades. This suit would probably have been a few shades brighter if it was a genuine 18th century suit. Still the heavy embroidery on the waistcoat is very true to form. The cravat is a bit "rustic" but would not have been that out of place.

Here are 40 NEW portraits of the cast of Outlander Season 2 More portraits after the jump!40 New Portraits of the Cast of Outlander Season 2 | Outlander Online

It is true that not everything worn by an 18th century courtier was made of silk; men's suits - especially the coats were often of velvet or rougher materials. However, the embroidery on this white coat would have been in a contrasting colour - the entire purpose was to show it off. The addition of the black belt is related to the story line, so there is no problem with that.


Speaking of contrasting embroidery, Jamie wears a good example - albeit somewhat colour-less - at a ball:

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Bonnie Prince Charlie

Having lived at Versailles, Prince Charles Stuart definitely took to the fashion trends of his hosts. Heavy embroidery, brightly coloured silks, large buckled shoes and detailed buttons are all a part of his ensembles. The flower embroidery is realistic since florals were very much in - both for men and women.

Outlander S2 Andrew Gower as "Prince Charles Edward Stuart"40 New Portraits of the Cast of Outlander Season 2 | Outlander Online

Portraits appears to have been a source of influence for the costume designers which is very clear in this tartan-suit. Note how even the lavish gold border is replicated - this attention to detail is irresistible.

New BTS pic of Andrew Gower from Outlander Season 3 | Outlander Online

Outlander Online                                                                                                                                                                                 MoreLearn about Outlander filming locations, places to visit in Scotland, including Castle Leoch and standing stones, find Outlander map and more.

These colours are a perfect example of what was favoured by Louis XV's court - bright and lustrous. Pink (or salmon depending on how you see it) was not reserved for females - it was a time before all that. 

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Louise de Rohan

A true French aristocrat, Louise de Rohan's dresses are very true to what real women at Versailles would have worn. Ostentatious and lavish, her wardrobe is primarily of silk and is decorated with an abundance of bows, ruffles and lace.

This robe à l'Anglaise depicts a silk gown with a large floral pattern - quite in mode at the time. The second photo beautifully shows of the engageants at the sleeve with the delicate lace underneath. Notice the row of bows at the bodice; this and the choice of colour resembles those worn by Madame de Pompadour in her portraits.

Outlander + Costume Details | ©️️Outlander - Louise de Rohan (4)

Once again, my name-sake brings all the ruffles to the bodice - and adds a golden trim. Especially interesting is the lace around the neck. The 1740's was a transition period when it came to accessories. Jewels were still popular but lace and pearls were increasingly worn - even at formal occasions. 

Claire Sermonne as Louise de Rohan in "Outlander" (2014-)

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Louis XV

Although his role is limited - and pretty unlike a gentleman - it was impossible not to include Louis XV. 

The golden suit is perfect for the king of France. Everything from the intricate lace in the cravat to the lavish gold-thread embroidery and the (apparently) diamond encrusted buttons are perfectly realistic. The only thing that stands out is how metallic the breeches looks - it almost looks a bit too modern.

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Considering the extravagance of the military uniforms, Louis' certainly lives up to his rank. The red and blue uniforms of his guards are equally true to form.

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The pattern of this banyan is slightly odd but could be imagined to be imported from the Far East - that was popular at the time. Notice that his shoes match the pale red of the banyan.

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Mary Hawkins

There is something violently English about Mary Hawkins (besides her name). Compared to her more flamboyant, French counterparts her gowns are of a far more subdued colour palette. This could also be attributed to the fact that she was unmarried for a good deal of the season.

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Although far more practical, this dress would hardly be approved at Versailles. It is far too simple but the bodice is strange. Rather than an actual bodice a scarf is merely held in place by two straps - I have never seen a gown from this period that looks anything like it. However, the straw hat is on mode.

Comte de Saint-Germain 

The Comte is portrayed (by a man who has previously played Louis XV) as a wealthy courtier and he would certainly have had to be to afford a wardrobe like his. Not only is his coat of silver silk brocade, it is also lined with fine lacing and his waistcoat is similarly silver lined. 

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The lighting in the photo below makes the coat look almost purple while it is in fact blue - which is obvious from the other photo. Still, there is no lack of gold embroidery or even a contrasting pattern on the waistcoat. The Comte has changed his waistcoat for a bright yellow one, too, in the second photo.

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and finally...

I could not resist including this gem. It reminds me a great deal of this genuine 18th century gown of the same period

 still screaming abt a book