The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 25, 1715


August 25, 1715

The Gazette published an optimistic medical report on the previous day. Now Louis XIV’s condition is critical. The gangrene spreads fast.

It is Sunday. The fete of Saint-Louis, said to be the day when the Sun sets straight above the Grand Canal and aligns perfectly with the Chateau de Versailles, its gardens, and the King’s bedroom.

Louis XIV had a terrible night. He barely slept due to the increasing pain in his leg, but the King does not wish it to get into the way of celebrating the day of Saint-Louis. As it was custom, the King was awoken at dawn by the sounds of drums and trumpets the guards played beneath his windows. Louis did not seem incommoded and suggested the twenty-four violins should play in his anti-chamber during his dinner.

The King held council in the morning and gave the command of all his household, both civil and military, to the Duc de Maine, his son by Madame de Montespan. Louis was aware he was dying.

At dinner-time the orchestra of twenty-four violins and oboes played in his ante-chamber, as he had wished, and the door of was left constantly open. The musicians expected to give another concert at seven o’clock, but Louis had fallen asleep during the afternoon and as he woke, the King was in a bad condition. His pulse was bad and his head clouded. Father le Tellier was summoned again.

A shivering fit followed and Louis XIV asked for viaticum. The King confessed and received absolution afterwards. At eight o’clock the Cardinal de Rohan, accompanied by the cure of the parish and lackeys bearing torches, came in with the viaticum and the sacred oils. Louis XIV received the last sacraments of the Church with firmness and piety.

The ceremony lasted nearly an hour. The King then sent for his nephew, the Duc d’Orleans, heir of his brother, and the Duc du Maine. He spoke to each of them separately for some time. The Duc d’Orleans would be Regent of France after Louis’ death and it is noted by Dangeau the King conversed with him for a long time with great esteem and affection.

As the curtains of the royal bed are closed for the night, the news of the King receiving the final rites spreads, crowds begin to gather in front of the chateau de Versailles.

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