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Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal
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Author:  Artois [ Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

“Fat, dullard, clumsy, awkward, lazy, porcine, rude, slow.” All terms to describe the Duc de Berry in the 18th century up to and including the 21st century. Marie Antoinette has been slandered as well; if only we could get rid of that, “Let them eat cake” disaster. She has been, “Mme Deficit” and the “Austrian whore.” Painful and incorrect as they may be, it was much worse for Louis. He was a ‘God-given’ King, a head of state, a leader, a protector. Admittedly these are not qualities he easily displayed. History did not permit him to develop and display his substantial problem-solving talents; his determination to better the lives of all French citizens; to utilize his keen intelligence to identify, address and resolve France’s problems; Timing is everything; it wasn’t in Louis’ favor. Unfortunately, he did not survive “la deluge” his grandfather predicted and helped create.

Contrary to popular belief, the education of Berry and his younger brothers was not substantially inferior to that of Bourgogne, the Dauphin, thanks to the Grand Dauphin, the boys’ father. He closely supervised the education of his children, made them work hard and personally examined them on their progress every Wednesday and Saturday. Louis-Auguste was a precocious child, excelling particularly in mathematics, physics and geography. In 1768, when Auguste was fourteen years old, Le Blonde dedicated his Elements d’Algebre to his royal pupil, writing in the preface, “The pleasure you found in the solution of the majority of problems it contains and the ease with which you grasped the key to their solution are new proofs of your intelligence and the excellence of your judgment.” Louis also developed an abiding love of Latin and enjoyed reading his favorite author, Tacitus. Louis’ writings provide a clue as to why he was so consistently undervalued by his contemporaries and historians. He was naturally timid, but also took very seriously his tutors’ stress on the royal need for ‘retenue’, sometimes meaning ‘reserve’ and sometimes ‘restraint.’Auguste’s timidity was shared to a lesser extent by Louis XV and Louis XIV and may be said to be a Bourbon characteristic much like Marie Antoinette’s ‘Hapsburg lip’. As Louis XIV was told about his son, the Grand Dauphin: “Though timidity, common in children who posses judgment, prevents them from speaking, this silence stems from ‘retenue,’ not stupidity.” These tendencies were reinforced by the injunction in 1770 of Louis-Auguste’s confessor, the Abbe Soldini, “:Never let people read your mind,” This echos two dispatches from the Austrian Ambassador, Merci-Argenteau, that year: “His somber and reserved character have so far rendered him impenetrable.” And, “one cannot predict the impressions that are made on a prince so taciturn and evasive.”

This evasiveness combined with embarrassment and retenue to produce a fourth special kind of silence. This was not just the silence that can be mistaken for stupidity though it often was, but silence where the situation., or very often a direct question required an answer but he found it convenient to hold his peace. He amazingly held his peace, or his retenue was in high gear on July 14, 1789, when his daily journal, used to record the day’s events, contained one word, “rien”, (nothing)

Marie Antoinette knew when a change in Louis was coming. He developed an insouciance about affairs of state. His hunting increased sharply and he was apathetic about even the most mundane things, As Merci wrote to Joseph II: “Against such ills as the King’s low morale.offers few resources and his physical habits diminish these more and more; he becomes stouter
and his return from hunting are followed by such immoderate meals that there are occasional lapses of reason and a kind of brusque thoughtlessness which is very difficult for those who have to endure it.” On May 19, 1787, Merci noted that Louis went to his wife’s apartment every night and wept Xat the critical state of the kingdom. This in marked contrast with Louis’ extreme reluctance to discuss politics with Marie Antoinette before 1787.
Dependence is frequently associated with depression. Most of Louis’ characteristics starting in 1787 – irresolution, dependence on Marie Antoinette, sentimentality, kindness – are all indicators of depression. Mme de Tourzel, who succeeded the exiled Mme de Polignac as governess to the royal children, notes that the King and Queen returned from Easter communion “in a state of extreme depression. This state of mind was habitual in the Royal Family.” In March, 1787, Louis became seriously ill with a high temperature and the coughing of blood. Both Elisabeth and Marie Antoinette believed that this illness, which lasted several weeks, was as much mental as physical in cause. Marie Antoinette writes on March 19, “You already know how much I have been worried about the King’s health; it was all the more disquieting because it is really the overflowing of his cup of sorrows which has made him ill.”

If ever anyone had a cup of sorrows it was Louis. A gentle man and a gentleman, he felt himself drowning in the ‘deluge ‘Louis XV not only predicted but also helped to create. Louis XVI was the only Bourbon king never to have a sobriquet like the Just, the God-given, the Great. His withdrawn character made him seem colorless, boring, dull.. Before his execution, he commented to Malsherbes, “I would rather let people interpret my silence than my words.” He should have been known as Louis the Silent. But this would give validity to the myriad historians and biographers who continue to treat him as ignorant or unconcerned about the crises he faced. Yet with some patience and understanding aided with letters and journals of those with whom he communicated one can dispel the dark clouds of misunderstanding that have overshadowed this man’s place in history. Only then can one formulate a valid opinion about the life and accomplishments of Louis the Silent.

Source: "Louis XVI", Hardman, John, Yale University Presss, 1993

Author:  marieantoine [ Fri May 01, 2009 12:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

thanks for posting this
:)

Author:  jimcheval [ Fri May 01, 2009 1:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

Artois wrote:
Marie Antoinette has been slandered as well; if only we could get rid of that, “Let them eat cake” disaster. She has been, “Mme Deficit” and the “Austrian whore.” .....he felt himself drowning in the ‘deluge ‘Louis XV not only predicted but also helped to create.

An interesting passage indeed, though it's surprising that an historian who would comment on the first misattribution would repeat the second. It was Mme. de Pompadour who most probably made the statement (having produced two eighteenth century cookbooks with a title that puns on it, I have a special interest in the phrase :) ):

http://books.google.com/books?id=tWcDTh ... 2&as_brr=1

Also, it's worth noting that Louis XVI was regarded as sickly and unpromising from the start,
http://books.google.com/books?id=77sNAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA34&dq=%22Louis+XV%22+%22duc+de+Bourgogne%22&as_brr=1
and when he and his older brother fell ill, no one expected him to survive. Instead, his brother died:
Quote:
Louis-Auguste had a difficult childhood because his parents neglected him in favor of his bright and handsome older brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne, who died at the age of ten in 1761. The sorrow his parents felt at the death of their elder son made it difficult for them to give Louis-Auguste the attention and affection he needed
(WIkipedia)

Like several rulers in history - both Queen Elizabeths, for instance - he was never supposed to be king, and in fact truly does not seem to have been made to be.

Otherwise, the famous chestnut about his writing 'rien" has already been explained as indicating he had killed no game that day and in fact had no relation to public events at all.
http://books.google.com/books?id=mKr_P0JnmykC&pg=RA4-PA550&dq=%22Louis+XVI%22+wrote+rien&as_brr=1

Which in itself might be critiquable, but his wasn't a diary in the more general sense. It was probably even less so than the livres de raison, which often were more accounting books and only sometimes (luckily for history) included passing annotations on current events.

Author:  marieantoine [ Mon May 04, 2009 3:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

jimcheval wrote:
Artois wrote:
Also, it's worth noting that Louis XVI was regarded as sickly and unpromising from the start,
http://books.google.com/books?id=77sNAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA34&dq=%22Louis+XV%22+%22duc+de+Bourgogne%22&as_brr=1
and when he and his older brother fell ill, no one expected him to survive. Instead, his brother died:
Quote:
Louis-Auguste had a difficult childhood because his parents neglected him in favor of his bright and handsome older brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne, who died at the age of ten in 1761. The sorrow his parents felt at the death of their elder son made it difficult for them to give Louis-Auguste the attention and affection he needed
(WIkipedia)

Like several rulers in history - both Queen Elizabeths, for instance - he was never supposed to be king, and in fact truly does not seem to have been made to be.

Otherwise, the famous chestnut about his writing 'rien" has already been explained as indicating he had killed no game that day and in fact had no relation to public events at all.
http://books.google.com/books?id=mKr_P0JnmykC&pg=RA4-PA550&dq=%22Louis+XVI%22+wrote+rien&as_brr=1

Which in itself might be critiquable, but his wasn't a diary in the more general sense. It was probably even less so than the livres de raison, which often were more accounting books and only sometimes (luckily for history) included passing annotations on current events.



how very sad :angry7:

Author:  COMTESS DE PROVENCE [ Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

i agree,very sad :( :(

Author:  Marie Josephe [ Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

Does anybody else think that is Louis were brought up differently, with the love of his parents and a better self confidence, he could have an even more effective ruler. I mean when his reforms failed he just sort of sunk.

Author:  Lilly [ Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Louis XVI - Up Close and Personal

Marie Josephe wrote:
Does anybody else think that is Louis were brought up differently, with the love of his parents and a better self confidence, he could have an even more effective ruler. I mean when his reforms failed he just sort of sunk.


Yes, I do think that had Louis' upbringing been different - he would have had a much better chance. He would have had more self-confidence had loving and encouraging parents raised him. His lack of confidence and constant second guessing his own decisions is a character flaw which translates to weakness. A stronger man such as Louis XIV - who was raised by a mother who adored him - would have never put up with what Louis XVI allowed people to get away with. Louis XV crippled the chances of a successful reign by not preparing his Grandson for his role as King - especially when he knew the state of affairs France was in.

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