Pranks and Fun of Louis XIII

Since childhood, Louis has found bad inclinations, not peculiar to his father or mother. He was callous and hardhearted. For example, the Dauphin loved to play hunting in the palace garden. He caught butterflies and tore off their wings, and from the caught birds he tore feathers and broke their wings. Once the compassionate Henry IV found his son behind this occupation and carved him himself.

Portrait of Louis XIII in 1611 by Purbus, Frans the Younger, (Palazzo Pitti)

Louis was eight years old when his father fell at the hands of a murderer. The affairs of the board went to the mother, Marie de Medici, and her favorite, the Italian Conchino Concini, known in history as Marshal d'Ancré. Mother almost did not deal with the young king and did not give him any education. The only person close to Louis, remained for many years, his uncle Albert de Luigne. He particularly pleased the dauphin with his deep knowledge in dog training and training falcons for hunting. Louis was so attached to him that he could not let go of himself even for a minute.

The king was declared an adult in 1614, but even after that the power remained in the hands of the Queen Mother Maria Medici and her favorite. The king, not knowing how to get rid of the hated D'Ankra, decided, on the advice of Lyuigne, to kill the marshal. The execution of the plan was entrusted to the guard captain Vitry. On the morning of April 24, 1617, Vitry, with three accomplices, met a favorite in one of the Louvre corridors and shot him point-blank with a pistol. There is a tradition that, having learned about this, Louis joyfully exclaimed: “This is the first day of my real sovereignty!” He told his mother to pass on that, as a good son, he would continue to respect her, but from now on he will rule the state. Marie de Medici retired to Blois. In fact, the king had neither the mind nor the desire to deal with the affairs of government himself. From d'Ankra, power passed to de Lyuigne. His death in 1621 opened the way to the throne of Cardinal Richelieu, who at first was a simple member of the royal council, but then very quickly moved to the post of first minister.

Portrait of Rubens, 1625

In his policy, Richelieu pursued two main goals: he tried to crush the power of the nobility and calm down the Huguenots. And both goals he fulfilled. In 1628, La Rochelle was taken away from the Protestants, for many decades considered the support of their power, and other fortifications were destroyed. Thus, the separatist aspirations of the Huguenots and their dreams of creating their own republic, independent of the king, came to end forever.

Cardinal Richelieu

Following the Huguenots, the French aristocracy found a ruthless adversary in the cardinal. Richelieu did not disdain anything: denunciations, espionage, rude fraud, insidious tricks unheard of before — everything went into action. The cardinal was a master, as they would say now, a multi-path. It was easy, as I would say now, to replay opponents: he destroyed conspiracies against him. Richelieu’s own intrigues ended up extremely bad for his enemies — with execution. Many brilliant representatives of the French aristocracy ended their lives on the scaffold in those years, and all the pleas before the king for their pardon were left unanswered.

Louis generally knew how to hate much, but he always loved carefully. He was cruel by nature and more than many other monarchs suffered the usual royal vice - ingratitude. The aristocracy trembled with horror and indignation, but in the end it had to bow to the power of the cardinal.

"Louis XIII, crowned by Victoria (to the siege of La Rochelle)", Philippe de Champagne

In private, Louis showed little inclination for pleasure — nature made him pious and melancholic. Like many Bourbons, he loved manual labor: he wove tenet, repaired gun locks and even forged whole guns, skillfully minted medals and coins, bred early green peas in a greenhouse and sent him to sell to the market, knew how to cook some dishes and excellently shaved (once amusing his skill at the beards of the officers on duty, he invented fashionable then royal beards).

In addition, the king adored music. From the age of three the dauphin played the lute, Louis considered her to be the “queen of instruments”. He also loved the harpsichord and masterfully turned with a hunting horn. He sang beautifully the first bass part in the ensemble, performing courtly songs and psalms. In 1610, Louis debuted in the court "Ballet Dauphin." He usually performed noble and grotesque roles in court ballets, and in 1615, in the Ballet Madame, acted as the Sun. Louis XIII also composed songs. His music sounded in the famous "Merlezonsky ballet" for which he composed dances, created costumes and performed several roles.

"Grand Parade Portrait of King Louis XIII", Philippe de Champagne

Women in the life of Louis XIII never played a big role. Back in 1612, after the conclusion of a friendly treaty with Spain, Maria Medici and Philip III agreed to seal the union by marriage between the two royal families. Then Louis was betrothed to infante Anna, although he and she were still children. The wedding took place in November 1615. Because of the young couple, the execution of marital duties was postponed for two years. Anna of Austria soon realized that marriage would not be happy. The gloomy and silent Louis persistently preferred her to hunting and music. He spent whole days either with a gun or with a lute in his hands. The young queen, who went to Paris with the hope of having a cheerful and joyful life, instead found boredom, monotony, and sad loneliness. After an unsuccessful wedding night, only four years later did the king decide again to get close to his wife. This time his experience was successful, but several pregnancies ended in miscarriages. Louis once again began to neglect the queen. For a while, it seemed that he would not leave an heir. But then almost a miracle happened, and in 1638, Anna of Austria, to the great joy of her subjects, gave birth to the dauphin Louis (the future Louis XIV). This important event had already at the end of the reign. Five years later, the king began to suffer from inflammation of the stomach and died still a relatively young man.

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