The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 25, 1715

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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 played by the guards 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 is aware he is dying.

At dinner-time, the orchestra of twenty-four violins and oboes played in his ante-chamber, as he had wished, and the door was left constantly open. The musicians expected to give another concert at seven o’clock, but Louis fell 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 is summoned again.

A shivering fit follows and Louis XIV asks for viaticum. The King confesses and receives absolution afterwards. At eight o’clock the Cardinal de Rohan, accompanied by the cure of the parish and lackeys bearing torches, enter with the viaticum and the sacred oils. Louis XIV receives the last sacraments of the Church with firmness and piety.

The ceremony lasts nearly an hour. The King then sent for his nephew, the Duc d’Orleans, heir of his brother, and the Duc du Maine. He speaks with each of them separately for some time. The Duc d’Orleans will be Regent of France after Louis’ death and it is noted by Dangeau how 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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