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 The King's Eyesight 
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Post The King's Eyesight
It is not clear to me if the the king suffered from myopea ( is that how you spell it?) all of his life or just for a part of it . Does anyone know ? Also , would anyone have any info on how severe it was ? Muchos Gracias :)


Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:25 pm
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Post Re: The King's Eyesight
I only know that it is spelled Myopia... Unfortanely I don't know if Louis XVI had the problem.. :(

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Thu Nov 23, 2006 4:23 pm
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Yes indeed louis XVI had problems of sight... of myopia exactly.
And because of this problem much of people made fun of him, because they had the impression that louis XVI looked in the vacuum, and they concluded from it that he was stupid. Of course it was completely false... :?

Marie-Antoinette had too a light myopia... :D

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Thu Nov 23, 2006 6:01 pm
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Indeed, both of them had myopia... which makes the eyes look so misty...

Now, how far were they shortsighted ? Neither Antoinette nor Louis wore glasses in public. It would be an external sign of weakness. And she was too coquette, following Chantal Thomas !

She made wonderful embroderies. This precise work requires a good sight. I think Antoinette wore glasses when she was alone and sewing, writing or reading...

What about Louis ? In one of her letters to her mother, Antoinette refers to his myopia. She explains that Louis shot several beasts while hunting. And she adds that "this proof that his sight is not so short".

That's why I believe that both queen and king were shortsighted, but not terribly.

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Thu Nov 23, 2006 6:14 pm
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As a myopic myself I know that it's quite possible to do close work like embroidery and reading without glasses. In fact for short sighted people the lense makes close objects smaller and it's often more comfortable to take your glasses off to work on things within your range of vision. I rarely wear my glasses or contact lenses for reading or sewing.

Anything at a distance is where you need help, for me if something is more than a metre away I will put my glasses back on so I can see it clearly.

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Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:58 pm
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Pimprenelle wrote:

What about Louis ? In one of her letters to her mother, Antoinette refers to his myopia. She explains that Louis shot several beasts while hunting. And she adds that "this proof that his sight is not so short".


Being myopic myself understand that to be, of course he could shoot the animal if he could see it. (LOL).
He just could not tell if the beast was spotted or stripped. If it was big enough to see he could shoot, but blurry enough to not know if it were male or female. I hope that makes sense.

I read he could not recognize people from across the room and this helped to make him shy.

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Fri Nov 24, 2006 3:45 pm
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I read it too about Marie Antoinette. Maybe she looked haughty simply because she did not recognize you ! But are these legends... ?

Anyway, she defintitely was shortsighted. Her slighlty bugligng eyes could be the result of not cured myopia.

Thank you both, melly and Adrienne, for your explanations. Having the opposite problem, I don't know what it is to be shortsighted, I always have to put glasses on for reading, sewing and surfing.

But, Adrienne, your so interesting remark may explain why they did not find glasses in Marie Antoinette's cell. No doubt, she simply did not need them for reading.

They said she had a last long look at the mob, standing on the scaffold. Do you imagine what she actually saw, with the distance ? Nothing but a confuse crowd pierced by shoutings...

By the way, how could she see this child sending her a kiss ? Is it a lengend too ?

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Fri Nov 24, 2006 4:06 pm
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Pimprenelle wrote:
I read it too about Marie Antoinette. Maybe she looked haughty simply because she did not recognize you ! But are these legends... ?



In my youth I only wore glasses "when I wanted too see", as I put it. Driving, movies things like that.

I was always having people tell me I was a snob, or stuck up, as they saw me somewhere and would wave at me and I did not wave back and I would swear I honestly never saw them. When I read this about the Queen I wondered if she really saw well.

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Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:34 pm
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Her myopia is wonderfully described in Chantal Thomas' Farewell My Queen. It must be terrible for a queen, whose function is to greet people, not to see those she had to greet !

Her myopia is attested by several scholars, however, others forget about it. It is sad, for I think this could indeed explain some of her behaviours.

Well, proud she was, shortsighted or not ! I'll never deny it... but I guess we could add some kind of "self-defence" in it, our "extra-cautiousness".

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Fri Nov 24, 2006 7:15 pm
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Being extremely myopic myself, I can only conclude that Louis and Antoinette could only have suffered from light to medium myopia: people with a strong myopia can't see well enough to walk around without eyesight correction. Let alone shoot deer or embroider detailed patterns...:shock:

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Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:47 am
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I agree! Without my glasses life would be horrible! I wonder if people suffered from headaches a lot more in those days. I know when I don't have my glasses on or they're too old I can't terrible headaches and sore eyes. :(

Were spectcles any good in those days? Did they make them especially for your eyes, or was it more like those ones you can get at the Chemist.

I wonder though if it's possible Louis actually had the opposite problem, far sightness, where he could see things at a distance, but not when they were up close. If he had trouble recognising people at court, it was probably myopia though. :?:

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Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:52 am
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Yes, glasses were around at the time. I've seen 18th century pictures of individuals wearing a pair.


Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:08 pm
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Post Re:
Pimprenelle wrote:
By the way, how could she see this child sending her a kiss ? Is it a lengend too ?


I've wondered about this too. Does anybody know if it's just a legend?

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Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:56 am
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Post Re: The King's Eyesight
Ha! I can imagine Louis XVI wandering around, squinting and having to feel and see with his hands. :mrgreen:


Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:11 am
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Post Re: The King's Eyesight
I have never heard of that legend before, so I cannot say.

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Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:36 am
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