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Thoughts on Versailles: The Queen’s mysterious ear bug… – Party like 1660

Thoughts on Versailles: The Queen’s mysterious ear bug…

Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche, Louis XIV’s wife, is killed off with the help of some mysterious bug in Versailles. If you read my season three reviews, you know that I had no clue what kind of bug that was and I said I will update you if I find out what it is.


Triatoma infestans - ZSM.jpgIt is called Triatoma infestans and very ugly. I never have heard of such a thing before, but @hoechlirn did and hopped into my Twitter messages to tell me. Merci for that.

Triatoma infestans are commonly called kissing bug or barber bug in English and little blood-suckers. They can cause Chagas disease and are widespread in Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru.

Chagas disease is quite nasty too. It starts mild, with possible fever and swollen lymph nodes, headaches and swellings were the bite occurred. Then cramps can follow, as well as stomach aches, redness of the eyes,  diarrhea and difficulty in breathing. If not treated, it can eventually lead to heart failure. This disease was not known during the time of Louis XIV. It was first described in 1909. Chagas disease is deadly, but it can take many years until it comes to that.

Now, I’m not sure if the Queen was supposed to die of Chagas disease and something went wrong as the bug crawled into her ear or if that was part of the plan. The crawling into the ear certainly prevented the discovery of bug and bite mark.

In real, Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche‘s death was not caused by a bug or anything remotely like that. It was quick and sudden, but the reason was an abscess which had formed under her left arm. The abscess turned purple and purulent, showed signs of septicaemia, and put her in a lot of pain. The doctors treatments did only weaken her further. Marie-Thérèse died on July 30 in 1683, aged forty-four.


  • Daerrina

    What I am wondering about is how smart that bug was in the series. Patiently waited for the Queen to go to bed and crawled right into her ear…

  • Camille

    I’m from Brazil and in 2016 we got international acknowledgment of the interruption of Chagas disease caused by the biting of the bug. Since the 70’s only 1% of the country’s population presents the diagnostic of Chagas’ disease

    • Aurora von Goeth

      I guess real history, including the real way the Queen died, is less interesting than some strange conspiracy, including an Emperor and a bug from the other side of the planet.

      • Daerrina

        I’m not even sure that such a well-trained bug is from this planet at all. At least I’m going to stick to this theory until I find information about insect training in the XVII century 🙁

        I mean, for this to be an assassination attempt, when the victim needs to be removed quickly, it has to be something surer than an ordinary bug that might wander away to the assassin’s own bed.

        (I’m not serious, of course… but this season is just so frustrating. And the ease with which Sophie just went and bought it, so sure of what she’s doing… how did she even know where to go?!)

  • Jonas

    This bug causes Chagas, a disease that killed my grandfather here in Brazil. The symptoms are related to blood and heart functions. There is nothing to do with madness. We should acknowledge that historical dramas like Versailles include some untrue facts that make the show attractive. Ironically, I am saying that after doing research online in order to figure out if that bug really poisoned the queen! LOL

  • Jen KC

    It seemed like it was lifted more from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” than it was from history books. Thank you for the research and explanation!