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 What was this 'petit' operation'? 
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
I don't know if anyone has quoted the recent book by Antonia Fraser, but I will do so here. As Pimprenelle said on the first page, there was no operation, and likely there was no phimosis, either. This was mere wondering in the minds of people who were trying to understand the reasons behind the lack of consummation.

"On 24th of May, the King's Journal recorded: 'Walked alone on foot with Emperor'. Five days later there was another walk, just the two of them. Whatever the Emperor said to his brother-in-law on these two occasions can only be deduced, but it is clear that he broke to him not so much 'The Facts of Life' as 'The Facts of a King's Life'.

In the end it was not in fact a case of phimosis, the overtight foreskin mocked by Les Nouvelles de la Cour. Even if that had been a factor contributing to the King's disinclination to complete the sexual act, it need not continue to do so. In the latter half of 1775 there had in fact been considerable discussion of the possibility of an operation, as Marie-Antoinette had reported to her mother, the birth of the Duc d'Angouleme in August no doubt contributing to the urgency. But by 15 December she confided to Maria Teresa: 'I doubt very much that the King will decide to undergo it [the operation].' The new Savoyard ambassador, the Comte de Viry, heard similarly of the King's reluctance. Marie-Antoinette reported that the doctors disagreed, hers being in favour, and the King's own doctor - 'an old blatherer' - opposing it on the grounds that it would do as much harm as good. In the meantime, she would hold her peace on the subject.

In January 1776, Moreau, a surgeon of the Hotel-Dieu hospital, was pronouncing the operation unnecessary and a few months later Marie-Antoinette was increasingly sure that the surgeon was right. One year later, on the eve of the arrival of the Emperor, the Prussian envoy, Baron Goltz, heard that the King had definitely declined to undergo the operation, either because of the possible harmful consequences or because he had become indifferent to the whole matter. Once again the birth of the Duc d'Angouleme had made the problem of the succession less urgent from the purely Bourbon point of view, while remaining just as crucial to the Habsburg interest.

So there never was an operation.* Joseph II described the true situation in graphic terms to his brother Archduke Leopold: 'Imagine, in his marriage bed - this is the secret - he has strong, perfectly satisfactory erections; he introduces the member, stays there without moving for about two minutes, withdraws without ejaculating but still erect, and bids goodnight. It's incredible because he sometimes has night-time emisions; it is only when he is actually inside and going at it, that it never happens. Nevertheless the King is satisfied with what he does.' As Louis XVI confessed to the Emperor, all this was done in the name of duty, never for pleasure.

'Oh, if only I had been there!' wrote the Emperor furiously to the Archduke. 'I could have seen to it. The King of France would have been whipped so that he would have ejaculated out of sheer rage like a donkey.' Joseph concluded with a reflection on his sister's lack of 'temperament' in this respect, meaning lack of sexual appetite leading to lack of sexual initiative. It underpinned her virtue in which from personal observation he strongly believed; it was a virtue that arose 'less from forethought than an inborn indisposition' towards it. The King and Queen of France were 'two complete blunderers'. In short, there was nothing wrong with Louis XVI, other than laziness, apathy, and the inevitable consequences of this situation being 'ill handled'.

It was in this way, thanks to the outspoken orders of the Emperor, that Louis XVI did at last stop being 'two thirds of a husband to Marie-Antoinette, seven years and three months after their marriage. The crucial nature of the Emperor's intervention in this sensitive but hitherto insoluble matter was made clear by the fact that both King and Queen wrote to the Emperor thanking him and 'attributing it', the consummation, to his advice. The King also wrote again in December 1777. As the Emperor told Leopold, this advice had been quite basic.

What the Emperor called 'the great work' was accomplished shortly before the King's twenty-third birthday. On 30 August, no longer an unhappy woman, an ecstatic Queen was able to write to her mother about her feelings of joy - 'the most essential happiness of my entire life' - beginning eight days ago. This 'proof' of the King's love had now been repeated and 'even more completely than the first time'. There is something touching about Marie-Antoinette's first instinct, which had been to send a special courier to her mother; she had held back first for reasons and then to make absolutely sure.

Nothing was now so threatening, not even the third pregnancy of the Comtesse d'Artois in two and a half years. The Queen had in mind a Temple of Love to be built in the grounds of the Petit Trianon. Under the circumstances, the Temple seemed a happy augury of the future, rather than the unhappy reminder it might once have been.
"

* A fact confirmed in a negative sense by the detailed record of the King's unremitting hunting activities in his Journal. A painful operation of this sort (anaesthetics not being available) would have involved several weeks' convalescence out of the saddle at the very least; but there is no such cessation.


Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:53 pm
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
I was disappointed to see, on checking Louis XVI's page on Wikipedia, that the little paragraph on their consummation difficulties was attributed generally to phimosis and resolved via circumcision:

Quote:
The reasons behind the couple's initial failure to have children were debated at that time, and they have continued to be so since. One suggestion is that Louis-Auguste suffered from a sexual dysfunction, perhaps phimosis, a suggestion first made in late 1772 by the royal doctors. Historians adhering to this view suggest that he was circumcised (the common cure for phimosis) to relieve the condition seven years after their marriage. Louis's doctors were not in favor of the surgery — the operation was delicate and traumatic, and capable of doing "as much harm as good" to an adult male. As late as 1777, the Prussian envoy, Baron Goltz, reported that the King of France had definitely declined the operation.

Note the incorrect terms of 'sexual dysfunction' and the presentation of the phimosis case as a widely-accepted theory.

As the real reasons are forever under debate, I've rectified it as best it could be:
Quote:
The reasons behind the couple's initial failure to have children were debated at that time, and they have continued to be so since. One suggestion is that Louis-Auguste suffered from a physiological dysfunction,[8], most often thought to be phimosis, a suggestion first made in late 1772 by the royal doctors.[9] Historians adhering to this view suggest that he was circumcised[10] (the common cure for phimosis) to relieve the condition seven years after their marriage. Louis's doctors were not in favor of the surgery — the operation was delicate and traumatic, and capable of doing "as much harm as good" to an adult male. The argument for phimosis and a resulting operation is mostly seen to originate from Stefan Zweig.[11]

However, it is agreed amongst most modern historians that Louis had no surgery[12][13][14] - for instance, as late as 1777, the Prussian envoy, Baron Goltz, reported that the King of France had definitely declined the operation.[15] The fact was that Louis was frequently declared to be perfectly fit for sexual intercourse, confirmed by Joseph II, and during the time he was purported to have had the operation, he went out hunting almost every day, according to his journal. This would not have been possible if he had undergone a circumcision; at the very least, he would have been unable to go out hunting for a few weeks after. Their consummation problems have now been attributed to other factors, around which controversy and argument still enshroud today.

With, as you can see, various sources.

I have of course, done my own extensive research on this topic, and have my own theory - but that's for another day! At least, for now, the truth has been protected. :)

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Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:01 am
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
I perfectly agree that is is highly unlikely the King agreed to such an operation. Inspections by court physicians of the Royal member declared it to be normal. It is far more likely the discomfort was caused by MA not being "ready", so to speak, or not having been made "ready" by the unenthusiastic Louis. They were seemingly an apathetic pair, but once Louis really did the deed, as he said he quickly got a taste for it. Alas I don't think the same can ever be said of his wife.... :wink:

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Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:45 pm
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
I think, personally, he had no problem. The problem was, at least, something related to adiposogenital dystrophy, particularly in physiological terms. And then on both sides, the stirring of 'uneducated' and detrimental mentality further exacerbated their difficulties in consummation. He 'found the keyhole' (reference to libelles) as early as 1773, in my opinion (from what I can derive from several accounts), but his actions then were as Joseph II recorded.

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Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:58 am
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
I'm sorry but I'm sceptical abut Joseph II's report.

I can't see the King of France opening up to a man he hardly knows in that way, about such a personal matter and making himself look such a fool. I think this is Joseph II's megolamania. After all Louis had Louis XV as grandfather!! He must have gleaned some idea of the "chose"!

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Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:25 am
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
True, and it must have been exaggerated. Yet I doubt Joseph would have lied about Louis's relating of his 'movements' in intercourse - or about any deformity. Nor would Louis have lied, really, about anything like that; rather, he'd have avoided discussing it in the first place. After all, looking at Louis as a whole, especially then, he was extraordinarily insecure at times.

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Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:58 am
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
Insecure? Not with his ministers for example. Sometimes even domineering! Insecure on first meeting someone maybe, but more like plain awkward. He was an unusual man, doing things like spying on people arriving at Versailles along the avenue de Paris. He had a fairly superior level of intelligence. I cannot see him confiding in Joseph II like this on such a subject. But like the Girault de Coursac maintain, I do think he may have had a go at his wife to her brother, because soon after Joseph II writes her the famous list of wifely prerogatives!

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Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:27 pm
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
I have to disagree, sorry. Yes, he was especially firm towards the 80's, but was nonetheless at times insecure emotionally at times. Oh well.

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Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:12 pm
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Post Re: What was this 'petit' operation'?
He became depressed after 1789 I think. I cannot call him insecure, sorry too. :lol: , except maybe as a child under Le Vauguyon's negative tuition

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Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:43 am
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Post Did Louis have an operation?
Please forgive me if this question has already been discussed. I did but a cursory search for an identical query and coming up with nothing, decided to make my own.

Basically, my question is a simple, factual one. Did Louis XVI undergo an operation of some sort to relieve the pain of consummating the marriage with Marie Antoinette?

I think Antonia Fraser dismisses the possibility in her biography, but other sources declare the operation to be an unquestionable fact. Different sources buffer me with different arguments, half of which are just countering arguments that I wasn't even aware of, and so on and so forth. Long story short: I don't know which to believe, and I was wondering what the general consensus was.

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Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:37 pm
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Post Re: Did Louis have an operation?
It's highly unlikely, because had a surgery occurred we would have definitive records to paraphrase Baron de Batz, Therese or Pimpernelle.

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:29 pm
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