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 to the court. The new King weeps much after receiving their compliments.
In the meanwhile, the body of Louis XIV is laid out on his deathbed, and remains so for the rest of the day. The court is in mourning and cheers its new King at the same time.
From the diary of the Anthoine brothers: ” At 7 o’clock in the morning, nature making a last effort, the King fell into his death throes which lasted until 8.15, then, having sighed repeatedly a few times, and hiccuped slightly twice, without any agitation or convulsions, this great monarch gave up his soul to God in admirable tranquility. Sic transit gloria mundi […]. After the king had died, his mouth and his eyes, which had remained open and were almost as beautiful as they were in life, were closed by lords Tortillière and La Grange, servants of the Chamber, who performed this last duty for their good master. His face was pale and had become a little yellowish and very thin, but nevertheless his features were little changed”.
“Monsieurr Maréchal, First Surgeon, helped the servants of the chamber, valets of the chamber and upholsterers, to take the king’s body out of the bed to change the bedlinen and carry out other appropriate duties (washing the body), and then placed him in a sitting position so that his face could be seen uncovered throughout the day”.
Seventy-two years after Louis XIV became King of France and Navarre, his reign has now ended. There are not many who weep for the dead King, for the Sun of France.