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Thoughts on Versailles, Episode Five – Party like 1660

Thoughts on Versailles, Episode Five



We jump back in where we stopped last Episode. Flanders. Am I the only one that has to think of Ned Flanders when hearing that word?
Louis talks treaty and receives the usual praise and applause… until a wild and rather dashing Monsieur appears. As mentioned in Episode Four, Monsieur did not actually fight during the War of Devolution, but the Chevalier de Lorraine did. Monsieur’s activities in Camp during the War of Devolution considered of him decorating his tent, lending support to the troops in form of coins and words, visiting the injured, something he was well liked for, and occasional visits to the trenches to chat with the Chevalier after the latter had been, as requested by Monsieur, allowed by Louis to be transferred, along with his regiment, to the command of a different Marshal and thus the same Camp Monsieur was located at.

What we see here might be inspired by one of Monsieur’s greatest victories, perhaps we will see that actually in season two as well. It somewhat reminds me of the Battle of Cassel that has taken place in 1677 during the Franco-Dutch War, where Monsieur kicked bum like no-one has kicked bum before. Louis didn’t like it at all.

Our Louis here doesn’t really like to see his little brother being celebrated either, the little glory stealer he is, and we see a slightly changed Monsieur there. The effects of War. He tells Louis to stay in the carriage as they stop at the very stop we have just seen Montcourt do a bit of killing. Louis, of course, does not stay in the carriage.

Back in Versailles we witness a lovely witty exchange between Madame de Montespan and our favourite Chevalier, these two have the most awesome lines, before we see Louis arriving… and planning a party along with sending his soldiers to Versailles as builders. He made that a bit of a habit, because, in contrary to other countries, Louis actually had a standing army, meaning men that were soldiers before anything else and they of course needed to do something in times of peace. Just like Louis ordered his Swiss Guards to dig a lake, he ordered the rest of his troops to help in the gardens or help with the constructions of the Palace. Smart man.
The party they are referring to might be the one that has taken place on February 2 1668 in Versailles. Louis had just conquered the Franche-Comté and was in mood to party. It was one magnificent party with one big buffet, they had a large pyramid of candied fruits among other things.

Let’s move on to the next scene and the sort of rambling you already know from me when it comes to the nature of the Chevalier. Once again, he works perfectly well the way he is in the show, but the part in me that adores him finds something to do a light wrinkling of the nose at here.
We see Monsieur return to his chambers where the Chevalier tries to get himself into a casual yet alluring position. Monsieur enters, a bit of snogging, we move to the bedroom… Monsieur still suffering from the effects of war flips him over and he leaves, or rather stands there and watches Monsieur vanish in the bedroom with a maid. No problem with that, we have some hints that he actually had something like very brief phases where he actually went after females when returning from war and we see him clearly suffer the effects right now.
My issue is, that while show Chevalier was basically just standing there with an unbelieving expression, the actual Chevalier, in my humble opinion, wouldn’t have done that. We see the traditional game between them of trying to annoy the other by doing something shocking enough to cause the wished effect…. but I can’t actually imagine he would have just watched in that situation. Why? Because the Chevalier was dependent on Monsieur’s good graces and he was very aware of it. You might say it was just some maid, yes it was, but what happened before wasn’t just a simple something. It was Philippe trying to be dominant and showing a certain “I don’t need you.” attitude. That should ring all the alarm bells. It was essential for the Chevalier to be needed, thus instead of leaving, I see him more storming into that room and making a mighty fine scene that would get Monsieur quickly back onto his feet. He would make him feel guilty, extremely so, and then forgive him after Monsieur promises not to do such a thing again or even think of it. He would subtly push him into the very direction he wants him to be, in order to secure his own position. One could say in a situation like the one we see, when one coming back after a longer absence, it would be vital for the Chevalier to do so. He was always the more dominating part in their relationship for the simple fact that he had to be it in order to secure his fortune and that depended on Monsieur loving him and not some other pretty face. What we see in the show is a slight shift of personalities, meaning some attributes the Chevalier had are more prominent acted out by Monsieur, while some characteristics of Monsieur have been transferred to the Chevalier. For example, Monsieur appears to be way more stronger than he actually was, while the Chevalier appears less so, thus switching their roles to some degree. You can see it by the fact that while the actual Monsieur hardly did a thing without getting permission of the Chevalier and was craving his love, our show Monsieur appears way more secure and independent from him, which in turn makes him appear less “feminine” than he actually was and perhaps more hetero. I guess this is more appealing for the general audience than a rouged-utterly-in-love ball of cuteness, but I can’t help to think it would add a bit more of dept to them and the nature of their relationship. Also, most people don’t really care how it really was and then there is me with the great longing to ramble on about it. It’s a show, not an account on historical correctness, I know, but I can’t help it and it doesn’t make me like the show any less for what it is.
Enough of that, let’s move on…

While Naive Louise straightens the road for Athénaïs to get what she wants, the King. He is has to deal with a rather angry brother. Again. I miss his brighter side a little. Where is happy Monsieur that plays silly games with his entourage to amuse himself?
Cassel receives an invitation, he starts to remind me of Roose Bolton, and gives Montcourt a good scolding for attacking a cargo wagon that belonged to Cassel. A man is missing and they figure he must be dead. We see that very man being brought to female Masson, which saves his life. Smart girl. Unusually smart, as we have noticed, and certainly smarter than her father, who is quite jealous by now.

Now to Sophie and Beatrice. Aha. I knew something was wrong with her.
Since the very first mention of them being related to the Chevalier, I was wondering how. That is how my brain works. I hear something and then need to figure out how things are possibly connected. Being related to the Chevalier, is not too difficult. The Lorraines had several branches and were in some way related to half of Europe. In fact, Philippe is even loosely related to Minette. Philippe’s great-grandfather was the brother of Marie de Guise, Queen of Scots, which is the great-great-grandmother of Minette.
In case of Beatrice, so I figured, she can’t possibly be related to the Chevalier after saying she was a Huguenot. The Lorraine-Guise are like the most Catholic family in the whole of France, not every member acts like it, but in general they are.

What is she on about with possibly losing her head? Huguenots weren’t the peoples, or rather Catholic peoples favourites. You might have heard about the French Wars of Religion and the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the Lorraine-Guise had quite a prominent role in it. The whole thing was calmed by Henri IV’s, Louis XIV’s grandpa, signing the Edict of Nantes. Louis himself wasn’t too fond of the Huguenots and later revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, but already before it made it his mission to turn the Huguenots into Catholics, forcing many of them to leave the country.

In the meanwhile, Sophie is dragged off by Athénaïs to talk Cassel into going to Versailles, as instructed by Louis, while he visits Minette and discovers a book with odd signs on the pages. Fabian makes quickly sense of it and Louis gets a grip on what is going on in his Palace of a house.

Witty Athénaïs, with her hair dressed like that of a Roman Goddess, how fitting, and sweet Sophie dine with Cassel and she plays with his vanity and the threat of when Cassel does not come to the King, the King will come to Cassel. Louis actually did invite himself a couple of times into the houses of others to have them throw lavish parties for him. If you haven’t seen Vatel yet, I recommend it highly. It is basically about one of those visits. Athénaïs’ games seem work out very well, whilst Cassel’s missing servant wakes and is questioned by Fabien. Spilling the beans.

Now to the party and Louis sitting under an image of the sun.
Louis had many weapons. Some being actual weapons, some forms of art, or how something was presented and whichever he choose what carefully thought through. The man did hardly anything without having a plan or an idea of the effect it would create. Same for choosing the picture of the sun and the image of Apollo for himself. Apollo wasn’t just the Sun God, he was also the God of light and knowledge, of music, poetry and art, of oracles, archery, of plague and medicine. An all round talent. Nobody can survive without the warm rays of sun, and so France can’t survive without Louis, nor can the courtiers survive. A subtle-not-so-subtle message again.

We see the nobles, including Cassel, present themselves and offering their respects to the King. Louis is rather pleased to see Cassel and, I love the way it was done, gets him to pay more respects than he actually intended by casually lowering his hand. Beatrice goes after Fabien. She is smart, I have to give her that.
Whilst Monsieur is catapulted back to the field of battle and images of dead by the sounds of the fireworks and we do see Louis doing something quite unusual for him. He forgets everything else and for once just his brother is of importance as he runs after him. Alas, Philippe……

We close this Episode with la Montespan getting what she wants, the King, and Cassel looking at the burning grounds of what was once his chateau. Well played, Louis… Until the next Episode.

Merci beaucoup.