August 31, 1715
The atmosphere is tense. Louis XIV’s leg is marbled with black. The court prepares to go into mourning.
Louis is in a comatose condition the whole day. As a last resource the physicians administer ‘Agnan’s remedy’ for small-pox. It has been sent by the Duchesse du Maine, the wife of Louis’ favourite son by Madame de Montespan.
At half past ten in the evening, the almoners were called to recite prayers for the dying King. Louis woke briefly as he heard them and repeated the Ave and Credo several times aloud.
Outside, in front of the golden gates of Versailles, people gather in the light of torches. Their glance fixed on the chateau as they await the announcement of Louis XIV’s death any minute. Inside, the only hushed whispers and inconsolable sobs break the tense silence.