If you watched Versailles, you probably did ask yourself what of all the things shown on the show actually happened and what not. Is it more fact of fiction? It is both. Most of the things we see on the show have their roots in historical events or gossip of the time, but not everything happened as it was shown… let’s have a closer look. (If you have not finished the season yet, beware there are spoilers ahead.)
Did Marie Thérèse give birth to a black baby?
No, yes, nobody really knows. The whole thing is based on the tale of the Black Nun of Moret and the birth of Marie-Anne de France at the Louvre in 1664. Marie-Anne de France was apparently deformed and of an odd colour as she was born. She did not live long. Gossip started to spread that the child was actually of dark skin colour and years later it was speculated that Marie-Anne de France might actually have not died, but was renamed Louise Marie Thérèse and now lived in a convent.
Did Philippe wear gowns?
He did. His cousin, La Grande Mademoiselle, actually wrote something in her memoirs about him showing up at all ball wearing a gown. She also mentioned how everyone, including Monsieur, dressed up as shepherdesses for a different ball. Monsieur also wore make-up, was rather fond of all sparkly things and his hair was adorned with ribbons.
Did Louis really trust Philippe so little?
A bit, but the issue does not really lie with Philippe here, but with the Fronde. During the Fronde, the French Civil War, members of the Royal Family rebelled against Louis, who was still a child then. Louis learned the lesson that it might be better not to trust his own family, especially his brother. While Philippe never wanted the throne for himself, Louis was paranoid this could be the case all his life. This is why he always held Philippe on a short leash, yet their relationship was still quite close.
Did Louis XIV say ” I am the State”?
He most likely did not. It is more something that was said about him, than something he said of himself. There is no hint that this line ever left his lips.
Did Bontemps sleep at the foot of the King’s bed?
Yes. The First Valet of the King slept in the same room as the King on a sort of makeshift bed.
Did Philippe rape Minette?
This is highly unlikely. Philippe enjoyed the company of females, but not in that department, thus he would not have forced himself on any female. He could not even stand to touch someone of the female gender.
Did Louis and Minette have an affair?
That is hard to tell. Fact is they were quite fond of each other for a while. As both were teens, Louis did not like her too much, but that changed later on as she married his brother. If they had an affair, this affair pretty much ended with the birth of Minette’s first child. In the show the affair carries on for longer than it actually did.
Did people get killed on the way to Versailles?
Probably, but not because a bunch of nobles plotted against the King. 17th century roads were dangerous, no matter where they lead.
Did Philippe throw porridge at his brother?
It wasn’t porridge, but broth. And it wasn’t just one event, but two. In the first the brothers got into a fist fight and then emptied their bladders. In the second, Philippe emptied a bowl of broth over Louis. More about that here.
Is Fabien Marchal real?
Unfortunately not…. but there was someone who has a lot in common with him. This man was called Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie and he can be considered to be the founder of the first modern police force and the person Fabien is based on. Monsieur de la Reynie played a big role in the events we can expect for Season Two.
Did Louis XIV have a female doctor?
The Sun King had quite a lot of doctors at his disposal, but none of them was female. Female doctors were simply not a thing back then.
Did Louis XIV let his soldiers built Versailles?
He did. France had a small standing army and when there was no war, the soldiers helped with the building of Versailles or things as canals. The Bassin des Suisses at Versailles was built by Louis’ Swiss Guard for example.
Did Louis nearly die of a fever?
Yes he did. Louis caught a very mysterious fever during a siege of which none of his doctors really knew what it was. Louis’ condition was rather serious for quite a while. Louis got this fever already years before he got it in the show.
Was the Chevalier de Lorraine arrested for plotting against the King?
The Chevalier did indeed get arrested, but not because he plotted against the Sun King. Unlike in the show, the Chevalier was in no danger to be actually executed, but he got arrested and afterwards exiled. More about that here.
Was Minette sent to England for a Treaty?
Yes, but unlike in the show, her role in it was quite small. She had nothing to negotiate anymore, because all of that had been settled before she even arrived there. Her mission was more or less to distract from the fact that there was a Treaty and to bring the signed Treaty to France.
Did Philippe set up the rules of etiquette?
He did not, but he always made sure they were observed. Certain rules of etiquette were around already before the times of Versailles, but Louis XIV created a whole lot more. The King’s Lever was not an invention of Philippe, but something that was done already at the times of their grand-pa.
Was Minette poisoned?
Most likely not. Her death was sudden and surprising, but it most likely had more to do with her bad health. Minette suffered for years of strange pains in her side and belly, which might have led to her death. When someone died in the 17th century and there was no obvious explanation, as in that person was ill for everyone to see for quite a while, poison was the first thing that was suspected. In the case of Minette, the stories of how she apparently got poisoned are vast. The most common one is that the Chevalier de Lorraine did it, other versions blame the Dutch. More about it here.
Did Lord Rohan kidnap the Dauphin?
He did not. Lord Rohan is actually the Chevalier de Rohan and not a Lord. He was sent away from court and lost most of his money, which led him to become part of a plot that involved kidnapping the Dauphin, killing the King and plundering Versailles, but the plan got discovered before it could be executed.