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Thoughts on Versailles, Episode Eight – Party like 1660

Thoughts on Versailles, Episode Eight



We start with a heartbroken Monsieur, I share that feeling, and Louis inviting him to a ride. Their conversation, of course, circles around the Chevalier. Monsieur let’s Louis win a little chase, obviously in a mood somewhere between anger and frustration. In his opinion Louis had of course other ways to deal with the matter and yes, he could have dealt differently with it.

While our show Monsieur remains in Versailles, the historical Monsieur, as mentioned in the last Episode, fetched his wife and went off to one of his country estates. Creating two problems for Louis, it stirred gossip and people thought if Monsieur went off like that something major must have happened between the brothers. Problem two was that Monsieur took Minette with him, and Louis needed Minette for an errand. Monsieur was rather furious about the arrest of the Chevalier and confronted Louis with it before he left, in turn that made Louis angry and he had the Chevalier brought from Lyon to a place called Chateau d’If.
If you are familiar with Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” the Chateau d’If might ring some bells. Dumas had his Count imprisonment there. It was, next to the feared Pignerol, the worst place one could be in. People who were brought there knew that their chances of ever leaving the island fortress again were like zero. It were political prisoners along with people who were supposed to be forgotten, usually never more than a handful, in small cells. If one had money, one could spend it on a fireplace and a straw bed, if one had no money…it was the common cells, rats and slow decay. The Chevalier was there for quite some time and probably thought as well he would never leave the place again. Monsieur was not allowed to contact him and refused to talk with Louis as well. Colbert calmed the situation later on and Monsieur and Minette returned to court. Officially, Louis did not make any sort of promises to his brother, but the Chevalier was released from d’If shortly after and told to leave the country. Well, exile is better than rats.

Upon returning, Louis is informed of Minette being unwell and rushes to her at once. It seems that even in a situation like this Monsieur is pretty much the last to know of it and it seems like he partly blames his brother for Minette’s miscarriage. Minette had several of them, perhaps to due her fragile health. She suffered four miscarriages in the time of five years, one in 1667 during the War of Devolution. We hear Louis and Bontemps talk of a visitor from England… more about that in a bit.

Fabien is nowhere to be found and we see him in bed and in obvious pain. Beatrice is there too and sweet talking. He seems to suspect her by now and vanishes, as she fetches him a drink, to drags himself to Claudine, who now pretends to be a Claude.

Minette wakes and the first thing she asks is if the King visited. She receives the answer to this, for her, very important question from her husband, which had watched over her. I do not know why he still bothers. Historical Monsieur and Madame were pretty much at war with each other as that time of their marriage. Monsieur was very aware that Minette had something to do with the arrest of his lover, which didn’t really improve their relationship. Madame, on the other side, tried her very best to hide that she had something to do with it, but acted a little bit too smug and thus raised suspicions.

In the meanwhile, Louis meets with his English visitor, Sir William, and I do not doubt that he left those chateau plans lying there in order to impress Sir William.
What they talk about is today known as the Secret Treaty of Dover, secret because it was not known to the public until a good hundred years later. Louis planned, after taking the Spanish Netherlands, to invade Holland, but Holland was allied with England. Louis needed the support of England on the matter, but what could he offer England? Money. Lots of money. Charles II was always quite broke.
The first conversations about this secret alliance took place from 1663 on, with only very few people being aware of it, yet no real progress was made in the negotiations until 1669. Charles II insisted the final terms are to be delivered by his sister, along with, as we mentioned in the last Episode, something needing be done about that devilish Chevalier annoying his little sister so much. Louis agreed to both and Madame prepared for a travel to England. She was rather eager to see her brother and even more eager to be of importance to Louis. Monsieur had no idea what was going on, as we also mentioned in the last Episode, and suspected they have an affair again judging by all the time they spent together again. As Monsieur finally was aware what was going on, he was not happy about it at all. Louis excluded him from everything political. He excluded his own brother, and now his wife was supposed to play ambassador. Something he could do just as well, if not better, something that would give him something to do, something that would be a chance for him to prove himself and please his brother. What Philippe did not know, was the fact that Charles II could not stand him. We can blame the letters filled with constant complains Minette wrote her brother for it. Charles II pretty much thought his sister was married to a raging pervert that sleeps with little boys, and whose greatest joy was it to see Minette suffer.
Philippe and Louis had heated arguments about the matter, partly also fueled by the fact that the Chevalier was still in exile, but all arguments Philippe had were in vain.

Louis pays a visit to the Chevalier and I can hardly stand to see him like that. As we already said, some characteristics of Les Philippes have been switched for the show, and as we see him here, in his cell, he is acting. Even with switched characteristics, he is a little too coward there. He knows his only chance of getting our of there is Louis and he does everything to make Louis believe he is terribly sorry. Partly, this might be even true and he is certainly sorry for himself, perhaps also a little for Monsieur, but certainly not to the amount of kissing Louis’ feet. What I still do not get is why he does not simply tell him all he knows. He is afraid, yes, but why not fight the enemy with its own weapons? Why not declare one was merely a spy to save one’s handsome behind?

Another secret meeting takes place and the group is made aware of the fact that Louis is up to something involving Minette and England. Montcourt sneaks back inside, while the rest leaves, and spies on two masked figures. One unmasks himself, the other stays masked…. subtle-not-so-subtle ring close up. I know that ring. I have seen it before. On the very person I was suspecting to have something to do with it.
All the hints that were given to us by now point towards him. The man must be a noble, the man must be a noble with access to the Royal Offices, a noble who has access to the King perhaps…

Louis takes and gives. As Minette is prepared for her new role, the Chevalier is released, and suddenly, just as Monsieur had predicted it, the child Minette was carrying is Louis’. Not surprising. He needs her now.
Les Philippes are reunited, more or less. We see the Chevalier playing a bit with Monsieur, aware that the mention of maggots in noms, would create sympathy, but Monsieur seems to have the upper hand here.
The historical Chevalier returned to Monsieur in 1672, long after the Secret Treaty took place, and once again it was not an act of brotherly love that caused his return. Louis was planning on going to war and needed all man with military skills on his side, the Chevalier was rather skilled on the battlefield. The second main reason for the Chevalier’s return was that Monsieur got quite out of hand, seeing it from Louis perspective. As soon as the Chevalier was gone and Monsieur back at court, plenty of people were eager to take the vacant place as Monsieur’s favourite. Monsieur was someone who could be easily blinded by flattery, everyone was aware of it, and so it did not take long for this and that pretty face to gain influence over him, something that was not possible as the Chevalier was on Monsieur’s side. He always made sure nobody can get into a position that would endanger his own or be too close to Monsieur. Louis did not like the fact that now several people were putting ideas into the head of his brother, while before it was just one, and realized that the Chevalier might be the smaller of two evils to deal with. Our sunny King sent word to Italy, where the Chevalier was living in exile, to inquire what the Chevalier would do for him if he was allowed to return and hinted that if it should be the case, he expects the Chevalier to influence Monsieur on a matter or two he wouldn’t agree with otherwise. Meaning, in order to return, the Chevalier had to promise to intervene on Louis’ behalf, should Louis be in need of Monsieur’s approval on a matter and the latter not willed to give it. He agreed, being quite sick of Italy and most likely seeing it as his only chance to return, while Louis sold the whole thing to Philippe as an act of brotherly love.

A messenger from Pau arrives and it seems like Beatrice will be in a bit of a trouble soon. Pau, by the way, was the very place Henri IV was born, the great King Henri of France and Navarre, Louis XIV’s grandpa. Fabian and Claudine talk poison. Poison was a big thing in the 17th century and we will talk about that in the next two Episodes.
Back to Louis and Minette and him giving her a bit of a lesson on how to act, before we move on the Les Philippe’s again. I know, I like to go on about them without an end… So, let me just say I liked this scene very much. It was touching and it was very Chevalier. He always knew how to create the effect he wanted on Monsieur, and while he probably partly regrets what had happened, this declaration of love is not entirely without a selfish intent. I could write a whole book about my thoughts of whether he actually loved him or not, so lets keep it short…. did he actually love him? I believe so. He did, but he might have not planned on it in first and the nature of the time they lived in, along with the nature of Monsieur and both of their positions at court, made him declare his love not in an obvious way, which thus leads most people to believe he did not love him and everything he did was purely selfish.

What is Montcourt up to? We see him returning to Versailles and telling Louis almost everything, including the plan of our mysterious masked noble and the other hoodlum to have Minette killed. Moncourt does not mention the masked noble, but proposes a plan to capture the hoodlum we have seen in his and Cassel’s company already. He also says he is a member of the Police. Interesting.
One thing I have noticed several times already and that tickles my senses for details, is the fact that they refer to Monsieur and Madame as simply Highness, when Royal Highness would be the correct way to refer to them. There a difference between those two.
Fabien has a cold, or so he tells Bontemps. I had to laugh. And he suspects what we already know, his eager assistant is dead. Madame de Clermont, the actual one, is also dead, and Fabien seems to have suspected that too as he had a look on the papers Beatrice handed in. Beatrice tries to warn Sophie, as she leaves with Minette, and perhaps says a little too much.

While we see Minette here leave to take the waters in Vichy, the actual Louis came up with quite a good plan to hide the actual reason for Minette going to England too. He decided that Minette should suddenly start to feel terribly homesick, while traveling in his company and that of Monsieur, and should be graciously allowed to visit her brother in England. Monsieur was forced to play along, and it is said the atmosphere in the carriage was rather poisonous.

The hoodlum is prevented from executing his plan by Bontemps. Yay, Bontemps. Montcourt is welcomed back into the loving arms of the court. Louis gives and takes, as it serves him best. In the meanwhile the hoodlum refuses to speak and Fabien comes to the rescue. I do like him.

We close this Episode with Louis proposing a job to Monsieur. Master of Etiquette. Court etiquette is one of my favourite topics to ramble about and I shall do so in the next Episode, but first……….

That ring again. Rohan. I knew it.

Merci beaucoup.