Here we are again. Back in Versailles with episode two. The last episode finished with a solar eclipse and a beheading, now we start in with a yawning Louis XIV walking through a salon. Our King seems unable to sleep and is nearly hit by a falling chandelier.
Bossuet thinks it’s a bit of a sign. The historical Bossuet was quite the famous man, of which Louis was not always too fond. He was famous for his sermons and orations, among others he held a speech at the funeral of Minette for which he received much praise. Here’s a part of it: “Oh, night of woe! Oh night of horror! When, like a pearl of thunder, the dreadful cry bursts on us, Henrietta is dying! Henrietta is dead! Nothing could be heard but cries, nothing was discernible but grief, despair, and the image of death!”
Back to the presence, Bossuet is of the opinion that it is all God’s doing. God does punish our Sun King for his sins. Most prominently that of double-adultery. They had quite the problem with Louis and Louise already, but Louise was not married, so it wasn’t that bad. In Louise’s case it all counted as ‘fornication’, now with Madame de Montespan it is a completely different matter. Both of them are married, thus both of them are breaking the holy bonds of marriage and we can’t have that. Louis shows us his unimpressed face again and argues since he plans to go to war with the Dutch, who are Protestants, God should be more than pleased with him. Yet Bossuet continues to warn him, saying that God does throw subtle hints at Louis, but one day may forsake him completely if certain things do not change.
It appears Louis is not inclined to change them, for the next scene brings us to the apartment of la Montespan and some juicy double-adultery. The Queen hears it all. Her apartments were above those of la Montespan. Just moments before I sat down to scribble this, Alex Vlahos shared a picture on Twitter. It is a pic of a UK-based ‘news’ paper with the headline ‘BBC porn storm as Versailles returns…. with five in a bed’ and I can not help to wonder how they will react to this image of sex with a very pregnant woman. God help us. How very dare those lewd French to show a man in bed with a duvet consisting of other men. Naked men. There are even uncovered bums. Man bums.
From sinning to praying, we see Louis and Marie Thérèse in the little chapel and the Queen ain’t happy with her hubby. She urges Louis to have Montespan confined to spare her at least a little bit of humiliation. After all she has to see the pregnant Montespan waddle about all day, while she is not pregnant. He puts the child in danger too, but Louis wants to hear nothing like this and turns to leave. To my great surprise, Marie Thérèse then grabs him by the arm. Why am I surprised? Because the historical Marie Thérèse would never have dared. She was way too timid and way too paranoid she might upset her hubby.
After the glorious intro-tune, we find ourselves in Saint-Cloud, the home of Monsieur, and in his bed. Guess who’s back? Everyone’s favourite Chevalier. My heart lights up. Aren’t they lovely…. and naked…. I wonder how the UK papers will react to the wicked display of men bums and one of them being kneaded… and slapped. I like it.
The Chevalier shows us his skills at speaking Italian. He can order wine. Too bad that the valet has no idea what he says. (I had to laugh.) Oui, he’s back from Rome and we still don’t know what got him there in first place. Philippe missed him and so did I. Episode one was a little lacking without him. We see him pose, naked, in front of a mirror, while Philippe wanders, naked, to glance casually out of a window. The Chevalier tells us he had many opportunities to engage in Rome, but declined them all, then waves a boy over to hold him a chamber pot. The face he makes while relieving himself hints that he might not have said the truth about refusing engagements. The other Philippe doesn’t notice. He is too busy to rant about his big bro.
In the meanwhile, back in Versailles, our King gets briefed by Fabien on the poisoning of his Minister. As we have guessed, it was not Madame-Minister-Widow who did it. Fabien tells us the powder she used to help her husband, with certain issues located in the lower regions, must have been exchanged by someone for poison. Fabien wants to get behind the whole thing by figuring out how these powders are getting into Versailles.
He might want to ask the Chevalier. We are back in Saint-Cloud and I can not help not to mention that this use of arm-chairs is perfectly fine with the rules of etiquette. Les Philippes sit on them and glance at a garden that does not look as spectacular as that of Versailles. Monsieur is upset that his bro lured all his friends to Versailles. “Versailles can be the centre of whatever world it likes, you are the centre of mine” and everything in me goes awwwwwwww. “We shall be just the two of us“.. awwwww.
Being so busy with all the awwww, I nearly forgot to mention that both of them look out at the gardens of Vaux. What we see in the background is the Grotto of Vaux, here starring as Saint-Cloud, and we have seen the exact thing a couple of times already in several Versailles garden settings. (We will see a couple of times more this season.) Both Vaux-le-Vicomte and Saint-Cloud have served Louis XIV as inspiration for his Versailles and the same people worked on creating all three of them.
Back to les Philippes and one Philippe telling the other Philippe that he is the star. “He might be the Sun, my dear, but you… are the star. And it is time you show your brother how brightly you can sparkle. I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but while the sun rules the day, it is the stars that rule the night.” “Did miss you a great deal.” My everything is aflutter. Insert dreamy sigh here.
I do enjoy this scene a lot and we move to some courtiers enjoying themselves in the gardens of Versailles in the midst of the night. Louis does not enjoy himself as much. He is arguing with his Goddess-Mistress. They talk of Gaston and that he did not get the Minister job. Montespan seems quite interested in it and thinks herself unable to play nice with Cassel. Louis politely reminds her to get a grip and leaves. This might sound a little cruel, considering that it was hinted Cassel had abused the Marquise in some form in the past, but it perfectly fits the character of historical Louis. Everyone has to play their roles and personal preferences count only little. It is the grand vision that is of importance. It is Louis, his needs and desires, that are important and he cared only little about the rest.
It seems that Montespan had promised to assist Gaston in some way and see her talk with him and his mother in the next scene. Advancing the ruling-mistress in order to gain favours was common practice. She was in the perfect position to plant ideas into the King’s mind. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes not. If it did, the mistress gained an ally to help her fight possible competition while the other part gained a nice position. This whole thing reminds me a little of the Duc de Lauzun. He had approached Madame de Montespan in order to gain a position, but the whole thing did not work out for him. He was quite upset about it and took to calling her all sorts of not too polite things. Once he even hid under her bed as she was with the King.
As they talk, Mademoiselle de Clermont saunters elegantly through the salon and ogles Thomas a little, before whispering with some female being. It appears Sophie tries to get into possession of some love powders to hand over to Fabien. Louis appears and is told by Bontemps that more nobles have arrived to join his sparkling court. His dream of Versailles has come true, but the King does not look too pleased.
Sophie heads off to hand the acquired love potion to Fabien as the Mademoiselle she got it from takes to flirting with Thomas. There is talk of Spanish Fly, a green bug that was used for aphrodisiacs and can cause the demise of the user. Thomas would like to try it and is tugged away by the Mademoiselle as the King enters. He ogles the Mademoiselle. Montespan is not amused.
Up next we have Fabien riding to pay a visit to Claudine, who then tests the love powder on what looks like the skin of a skinned something. The powder is not poisonous, but causes a blistering, just like the Spanish Fly.
Louis rides about too, looking a bit like a merry child or a King without sorrows, in order to meet up with a gentleman of the Palatine and discuss the marriage terms of his brother. The Palatine gentleman wears a dashing purple hat and is called Zweibrücken. The conversation turns to etiquette and in what way it must be observed. It makes me smile, because the etiquette of one court alone can be terribly complicated and when rules of two or mole clash, it can be a lovely mess. Louis and Monsieur Zweibrücken discuss the first meeting of Monsieur and the new Madame. As do the Philippes. Is it just me or is everything a little lighter, a little brighter, a little more free as soon as we are in Saint-Cloud?
Monsieur lies casually on a table, and is circled by a Chevalier, as he reads the requirements for the first meeting. He is expected to arrive first and the Chevalier throws teasingly in that Philippe has never been on time to anything so far. I smile to myself. Said Chevalier playfully snatches the papers Philippe was reading and gosh, are they cute or are they cure? Philippe approaches with a painting of his bride in hand…. “….but look at her face“. “She seems……handsome.” “I hear she is fond of Bratwurst.” “It is important for every married couple to share a common interest.” Excuse me while I roll over the floor.
Turns out that protocol demands Monsieur and his new Madame to head straight to Versailles after the meeting. And Versailles is it that we see next. I am amazed by those shots and I am amazed to see Latone and the terrace that once was where the Hall of Mirrors is now.
Our Sun King meets up with Jacques, a man of endless wisdom, in the gardens. Jacques asks why Louis did not have the original Versailles, his father’s small hunting lodge, destroyed and instead had included it in his new Versailles. Louis tells us something along the lines of should the spirit of his father return to Versailles, he will not recognise it anymore. The Queen walks the gardens too. She is in company of Bossuet and they chat about fighting the devil. They may have a hard time with that, because as they speak powders are exchanged, potions drunk, and Thomas amuses himself with two young ladies.
Sin, says a certain father Pascal, friend of the Queen, as we find ourselves in the chapel of Versailles. Starring as such is the chapel of Fontainebleau and allow me to say it does look quite impressing. Father Pascal holds a sermon that clearly aims at Montespan. The church was really quite averse to Madame de Montespan, but it did not need the Queen to tell them so. A certain father Lécuyer raged on about her, and indirectly the King, on several occasions. His Majesty was not amused at all and is not amused right now as he leaves the chapel.
After Montespan had some words with Bossuet and relieved herself in a corner of the chateau, we have Louis and the Queen. She is in company of that father Pascal and jebus, I do not know what it is, but that man looks like he is a potential serial killer. Louis makes it clear that he has no interested in hearing another word from father Pascal. It seems the King is a little fed up with men of the church.
A other man of the church, namely the Chevalier de Lorraine, makes a great entrance into Monsieur’s chamber. He wears red and poses. Monsieur is a little irritated by it all. The Chevalier tells him of fashion and how they should make a new one every season. He would not have to tell historical Monsieur. While our show Monsieur seems fond of dark colours, the historical one was a beautiful butterfly that introduced new fashions regularly. He was also a whole less serious…. and a whole lot more merry…. can we have him a little more like this please? Pretty please?
Back in Versailles, after a lovely shot of the Fountain of Apollo which was designed by Charles Le Brun, we have Madame de Montespan talking about a certain Madame Scarron that is supposed to look after her child. Or children. Here is me being confused again. I can’t quite say which child she is pregnant with. Judging by the open display of her pregnancy, it can not, historically speaking, be the first one. As she was pregnant by Louis for the first time, it was impossible to show off her belly like that. Why? Because by law the husband may claim any child his wife gives birth to, no matter if he is the father or not. Louis XIV wanted to avoid that by all costs. Then I remember what Monsieur said last episode, about Monsieur de Montespan being ordered to remain in the country, where he holds fake funerals for her, (He really did.) and I am sure it can’t be the first, time-wise…. until she mentions Scarron. Madame Scarron was hired before the first one was born and looked after them in Paris, until they were legitimised in 1673. She then moved with them to Saint-Germain. As this happend, Madame de Montespan and Louis had four kids already. Technically our show Montespan should be pregnant with Mademoiselle de Tours right now… but we know the writers enjoy to form time as it suits them best.
We stay with Madame de Montespan and see her enter the house of Madame Agathe. She is worried that her being pregnant might turn her royal lover a little off. (He didn’t seem bothered in that scene earlier on.) After all he has *gasp* looked at a other woman already. She does not grow younger and pregnancy means her body will change and probably not be as it was before. (This again fits the worries she had as she was pregnant the first time.)
The scene changes and we see Monsieur all fairy-tale style on a white horse galloping towards his new bride. The tune reminds me a little of Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel… and you will have no clue what I mean with that unless you happen to be German as well. Monsieur’s new bride might, for she is German.
Philippe does look dashing in his coat. It is a sort of silver-light-blue colour and I want it. He dismounts his white steed to welcome his wife…. which is nowhere to be seen at first. Turns out she’s having a wee in the bushes. His face. I laugh. Having finished her bush-business, she gives him a merry wave and waddles to him. His face. I can’t. She is on the chatty side and that irritates him even more. He most likely did not expect the first words he would exchange with his wife would circle around yellow waters. His face says it all again. I find it hilarious. He is absolutely not sure what to make out of that woman… but she brought gifts for his kids. It is the first time we hear that he has some already. There was no mention of it at all in season one, just that he lacks an heir. Monsieur had two girls with Minette and he was especially fond of the oldest. As she was born Minette said ‘A girl? Toss it into the Seine.’ … make what you will out of that.
On we go and Philippe gets a shoulder-clap by Liselotte, who tells him she is looking forward to meeting his brother. Ouch. The first meeting between historical Philippe and Liselotte took place in the middle of nowhere. As they saw each other for the first time, they had already been married for a bit. It was not quite like we see it here. Monsieur arrived with a large entourage of friends and quite a few carriages carrying most of his furniture. He was sparkling all over with gems and wore really high shoes. Liselotte wasn’t that outspoken either yet, but she managed to get some words out. The whole thing was quite awkward for both and Monsieur uttered his concern that he might not be able to sleep with her. If you fancy to read more about Monsieur’s marriages, click here.
While Monsieur is on the way to Versailles with his bride, the Chevalier pays a visit to Claudine. He got a bit of a problem in the lower-regions and is about as skilled in explaining it as I am in explaining things. She takes a closer look at the matter, with cold hands, and ensures him it is not life-threatening. It is painful enough, he thinks, and demands a little bottle to be filled with liquid to ease his pain. I presume it is something like Laudanum he wants, a tincture of opium. The history version of the Chevalier got himself a bit of syphilis caused by various exploits. Monsieur had it too. (And passed it on to Liselotte.) So did Louis XIV and pretty much everyone else. Claudine suggests a tincture of mercury to tackle the problem and this is what was used in the 17th century as well. It was applied to the spot in question or injected, with quite ugly consequences at times. Not to mention that mercury is a bit poisonous.
In the common quarters of Versailles, Fabien chats with the Minister-Widow about where she got the love powder from. She spits blood shortly after. Not good.
What our King is told by Louvois is not good either. It appears several places controlled by the church refuse to garrison his troops. Louis goes into rage mode and heads towards the chapel. There he addresses Bossuet, who for a moment looks as if he thinks God is speaking to him, and tells him Rome should stay the f…. out of his business. This is so very Louis. I like it.
Monsieur’s expression says it all again as he enters Versailles with a impressed looking Liselotte. Louis stalks from a window and Philippe gives him a bit of a ‘I hope you are happy now’ look. Doesn’t seem so.
Pleased or not, the marriage has to be celebrated. We are in the grand salon of Vaux, that once more serves at location for a larger salon of Versailles, and see Monsieur and the new Madame. She is introduced to the court, there is music and dancing, but she is more interested in nomming….can’t blame her…. until someone tells her it could be poisoned… and I wonder what’s the point of that? Of telling her, I mean? Let the woman eat. She just arrived. Sure the first Madame was poisoned… but still…
The third pee reference this ep brings us to Louis and Philippe meeting in a cabinet to relief themselves, or rather Louis joins Philippe as he is in the middle of it and joins in. I wonder if Monsieur thinks something like ‘Oh, bugger off. Can’t I even have peace on the loo?’
In the background plays a tune from Lully’s Ballet des Plaisirs as the Chevalier has a sassy battle of words with Liselotte and we jump to Thomas doing mysterious things in the garden. Jacques interrupts him in the act and… is killed. I did not expect that. Inside the party continues and Louis dances with his mistress. The latter hops about, pregnant as she is, which again is in tune with the expectations historical Louis had. He did not care much for the comfort of others. At all. It did not matter to him if someone was pregnant or ill. They all had to perform, play their roles, carry on. He did not even allow them much rest after giving birth and some appeared in public again, all dolled up as if nothing happened, the very next day.
We close this episode with the screams of Madame de Montespan. She’s gone into labour. Claudine tells her to push as Madame Agathe hovers over her cards and turns them. As the last card is turned, I can not quite see what, but it has a skull thingy and I presume has something to do with death, all candles go out. Dramatic.
Next episode we will probably talk a bit more about Liselotte. I shall see you then and thank you for reading.