The show Versailles includes no shortage of scandals, but the most shocking thing about it is many, if not most, of the salacious details it portrays about daily life in the court of Louis XIV are true. The Sun King led a sensuous and unorthodox life filled with mistresses, drama, and intrigue.
When it comes to the life of Louis XIV, the facts are almost stranger than fiction. From a baby of African descent being born at Versailles to a wild carriage race between the queen and the king's mistress, life for the French royals was never boring. And why should it have been? The court was filled with beautiful and ambitious women, and men who had won their place in history as war heroes. With so many beautiful and striving people in one place, things were bound to get scandalous under the reign of Louis XIV.
Nicolas Fouquet Became The Richest Man In France Before Going To Prison For Stealing From The King
Born into a wealthy family in 1615, Nicolas Fouquet was 17th-century France's version of Icarus. He was the son of a self-made nobleman and spent his life continuously moving up the political and social ladder. But by 1661, his time was up.
For decades, Fouquet held high-ranking positions that allowed him to funnel away money that otherwise would have gone directly to the king. He quickly became the richest man in France, his wealth even surpassing that of Louis XIV. However, his lavish displays of wealth were his undoing, and the extravagant party he threw in August 1661 proved to Louis XIV that Fouquet had become too wealthy for his own good.
The king had Fouquet arrested and brought to trial for embezzlement. Three years later, he was found guilty, but managed to escape the usual death sentence. He instead faced banishment from France, but Louis XIV worried what a man with such powerful information could do in a foreign land. In the end, Fouquet went to the Pignerol prison until his death on March 23, 1680.
Some Members Of The Court Believed The Duchesse d'Orleans Was Poisoned
Historians believe King Louis XIV's sister-in-law, Henriette Anne of England, Duchesse d'Orleans, most likely died from natural causes. In the months leading up to her sudden and unexpected death, Madame complained of pains in her side and was generally in poor health.
After returning from a diplomatic trip to England and traveling with Monsieur to Saint-Cloud, her health quickly worsened. She regularly drank chicory water, and on June 29, 1670, she asked her husband to bring her a glass. Upon drinking it, she almost instantly cried out in pain and claimed she had been poisoned. Suffering from an intense pain in her side, she was taken to her room where she died before the next morning.
While lying in agony, Madame reportedly insisted multiple times she had been poisoned. However, the remainder of the chicory water was given to the hounds, and none suffered any side effects. Despite the lack of evidence, a rumor quickly spread that it was Madame's husband, Philippe, who had killed her. A second rumor began soon after, claiming Philippe's lover, the Chevalier de Lorraine, had actually poisoned Madame. He presumably had acted out of revenge, since Madame was partially responsible for him having spent time in the worst prison in France.
In the end, an autopsy of Madame by well-respected surgeons revealed colic, gastroenteritis, and signs of gangrene on her organs - all natural causes.