Le Roi Est Mort

The last days of Louis XIV follows the Sun King's last illness, his death and funeral.

  • Court Mourning

    The colours of mourning followed Louis XIV during his long reign of seventy-two years and especially in the last years of his reign, the court hardly got out of mourning. Court mourning followed strict rules of etiquette as well as strict rules of fashion, the latter so much that fabric merchants all over France suffered great losses whenever the court went…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – October 23, 1715

    October 23, 1715 After laying-in-state for forty days, during which a constant stream of visitors roamed Saint-Denis, Louis XIV’s coffin is carried into the crypt. By tradition, the coffin of a deceased King is placed by the entrance of the crypt, until his successor’s demise, after which the King’s coffin is brought to its final resting place and the successor…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – September 9, 1715

    September 9, 1715 At first light, the funeral convoy is welcomed at the city gates by the Dionysian clergy. After the customary prayers are said, Louis XIV’s body is taken into the Basilica of Saint Denis. It had been decorated in mourning and the upper choir was transformed into a lying-in-state chapel for the King’s coffin. In the meanwhile, the…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – September 8, 1715

    September 8, 1715 Louis XIV’s coffin is brought from his apartments to the Marble Court of Versailles. At precisely seven o’clock in the evening the royal hearse leaves the château for Saint-Denis, the traditional burial-place of the French Kings. The Sun King will join his wife and legitimate children there, as well as his brother, and his first wife, their…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – September 5, 1715

    September 5, 1715 It is Louis XIV’s birthday. He would have turned seventy-seven today. His coffin of oak is still on display in the Royal Apartment and will be so for a few more days, before it travels to Saint Denis. The Royal Apartments have been transformed into a place of mourning. The walls and floors are covered. People come…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – September 2, 1715

    September 2, 1715 Louis XIV’s body is opened for an autopsy. His leg is black with gangrene. His heart and guts are removed, his body put into a coffin of lead. It is noted that the King’s bowels are apparently twice as long as that of a normal man. In them, a tapeworm of ‘extraordinary’ size is discovered. Outside of…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – September 1, 1715

    September 1, 1715 Le Roi Est Mort. Vive Le Roi. It is Sunday morning as the Sun sets over Versailles and France. At quarter past eight, Louis XIV takes his last breath, four days before his seventy-seventh birthday. The King’s valets close his eyes and change his shirt. The Duc d’Orleans, now Regent of France, presents the five year old Louis XV…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 31, 1715

    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.…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 30, 1715

    August 30, 1715 The gangrene spreads further. Dangeau notes “the leg was in such a state that it might have belonged to a man who had been dead for six months“. Louis XIV can still swallow a little jelly and pure water, but his hands need to be held while he is fed, otherwise he would take it out of…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 29, 1715

    August 29, 1715 It is now twenty days since Louis XIV first complained of a pain in his leg and the end draws nearer. Today, upon changing the bandages, it is discovered the gangrene has spread to the thigh. Louis XIV’s leg is slowly rotting, the smell of it almost unbearable. The King hears mass in his bedroom, like every morning.…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 28, 1715

    August 28, 1715 Wednesday, nineteen days after Louis XIV first complained of a pain in his leg. A ‘quack’ makes an appearance at Versailles, bringing a miracle elixir. He comes from Marseilles and calls himself le Brun. His elixir, so he claims, can cure gangrene at the most advanced stages. After a consultation with the doctors, in which he explained…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 27, 1715

    August 27, 1715 It is Tuesday, eighteen days after Louis XIV first complained of the pain in his leg. No new black spot appeared during the last days, but the King is becoming weaker by the day. His mind is still clear, but his body merely flesh and bones. Each day his leg is dressed with new bandages in a…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 26, 1715

    August 26, 1715 Louis XIV says his good-byes. At ten o’clock the bandages are removed and his leg lanced to the bone several times. All the while Madame de Maintenon knelt alone at the foot of the bed. At noon, the King sent for the Dauphin, the future Louis XV. “You are going to be a great King, but your…

  • 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…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 24, 1715

    August 24, 1715 Louis XIV is in pain. The King dined in bed and held a council of Finances, then continued to work alone with the Chancellor. In the evening the court was allowed to enter the King’s room in order to see him, in his dressing gown, sup in public. It was the last time they did so. Louis’…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 22, 1715

    August 22, 1715 Louis XIV did not sleep very well till three o’clock. As he woke, the King saw the four physicians he did not see the previous day. Some of them were sure the King suffered of fevers every night, just as Mareschal thought, and ordered remedies to ease the fever. It is not the fever that troubles Louis…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 21, 1715

    August 21, 1715 Georges Mareschal, the Royal Surgeon, has noticed a black spot on the king’s leg. The Marquis de Dangeau writes: “The King passed this night still better than the last. He saw four of the physicians who are assembled here. He will see four others tomorrow, and they are all of the same opinion on the report that…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 20, 1715

    August 20, 1715 Louis XIV slept better. He only drank three times during the night. The King heard mass in bed, being not able to leave it, due to a feeling of weakness, and saw the ambassadors as he ate dinner. Today, he did not go to Madame de Maintenon’s rooms, but asked her to come to his. The King’s leg aches…

  • The Last Days Of Louis XIV – August 19, 1715

    August 19, 1715 It has been ten days since Louis XIV complained of a pain in his leg the first time. He passed another restless night and did not fall asleep before three o’clock in the morning. Like the previous day, Louis was rolled to the apartment of Madame de Maintenon in a wheelchair, where he listened to a little concert…

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