The Miracle Birth Of Louis XIV

Anne d’Autriche and Louis XIII had been married for a long twenty-three years before their first son, Louis XIV, was born. This birth of a healthy heir to the Throne of France was regarded a miracle and what let to it was reportedly a happy coincidence.

Louis XIV as an infant with his nurse Longuet de la Giraudiére
Louis XIV as an infant with his nurse Longuet de la Giraudiére

As Anne d’Autriche and Louis XIII were married on the 24th November in 1615, both were of the tender age of fourteen and pressured to consummate their holy union as swiftly as possible, but Louis XIII had little interest for it. It took him quite a while to get his mojo going and Anne wasn’t at all satisfied with her husband’s performance. Louis’ sporadic visits to Anne’s bedchamber were yet not all in vain. She became pregnant twice, but unfortunately suffered miscarriages in both cases.

The situation between Louis and Anne grew a little tense, especially after her second miscarriage in 1622. Anne fell down a staircase and lost the child afterwards, for which Louis gave her alone the blame. In his opinion, she should have been more careful. The heir situation was not the only thing Louis had a issue with. Anne had plenty of admires and on top of that started to get involved into politics.

Anne also exchanged letters with her brother Philip, the King of Spain, and this led a suspicious Cardinal Richelieu to question her loyalty to France. It went so far that Anne was even accused of treason by Cardinal Richelieu in 1637. Luckily for her, Louis pardoned her, but nevertheless remained suspicious about his wife himself.

Portrait of a Child Presumed to be Louis XIV, French school c. 1638
Portrait of a Child Presumed to be Louis XIV, French school c. 1638

In 1638, the year Louis XIV was born, Anne had reached the age of thirty-seven and was by all means a old woman by 17th century standards. Nobody, including herself, thought she would be still able to give birth to a healthy child.

What finally led to her becoming pregnant again was quite the random coincidence. While traveling, her husband was surprised by a sudden and heavy rain storm, perhaps intervention of the highest sort. Louis could not continue his traveling, but luckily Paris was not too far away, and so the King and his entourage headed for the Louvre, where Anne resided. It was the 5th December 1637.

As it was custom in noble French society when traveling from chateau to chateau, Louis had taken the larger part of his furniture with him. Thus his own rooms at the Louvre were not just unprepared and not heated, they also lacked a bed.

As King of France he could of course not sleep on some makeshift bed like a common person, not could he sleep in a bed that was not elaborate enough to host him for the night.

The only bed fit to perform the task was, so it was decided, that of his wife, on which a second pillow was placed that night. It had been quite a while since both of them shared a bed…

Anne d'Autriche in 1625.
Anne d’Autriche in 1625.

Maybe it was the rainstorm outside, maybe the rooms where a little chilly, or maybe Louis thought it was time to perform his duties, whatever it was, he got his mojo going. Successfully.

Anne became pregnant and both of them were rather delighted. Louis performed a pilgrimage and dedicated his Kingdom to the Virgin Mary, all the while praying for a male heir. On September 5 1638, nine months after the cozy night at the Louvre, Anne went into labor. Her labor began at about two o’clock in the morning and at eleven o’clock, in the Château-Neuf in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the future Louis XIV was born.

Louis XIII fell to his knees and thanked God for this true miracle, the birth of his heir, and the Gazette de France called it “a marvel when it was least expected”. Riders carried the happy news to all corners of the Kingdom, the church bells sounded and salutes were fired.

Since the birth of Louis XIV was regarded to be such a great miracle, he received the rather fitting name of Louis-Dieudonné. Louis, the God given.

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