L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Louis III de Bourbon-Condé, duc de Bourbon, duc de Montmorency, duc d'Enghien, 6th prince de Condé, comte de Sancerre, comte de Charolais, seigneur de Chantilly, Prince du sang - unknown artist, circa 1690
Louis de Bourbon (10 November 1668, Paris - 4 March 1710, Versailles), French "Prince of the Blood" and member of the reigning House of Bourbon at the court of Louis XIV. His parents were Henri Jules de Bourbon, duc d'Enghien, and Anne Henriette of Bavaria; he was thus the grandson of le Grand Condé. One of ten children, he was his parents' only surviving son and styled as the duc de Bourbon from birth. He succeeded his father as prince de Condé, only a year before his own death.
In 1685 at the age of seventeen, he was married to Louise Françoise de Bourbon - known at court as mademoiselle de Nantes - the eldest legitimized daughter of Louis XIV and the king's mistress, Madame de Montespan. Many at court were shocked by the proposed union of a full-blooded prince du sang and a royal bastard and, indeed, by the king's ongoing programme of engineering prestigious marriages for his extra-marital offspring. But the head of the House of Condé, le Grand Condé, agreed to the shockingly unequal match in the hope of gaining favor with the bride's father.
Made a chevalier du Saint-Esprit in 1686, a colonel of the Bourbon-Infanterie Regiment later that same year, a maréchal de camp in 1690, and a lieutenant general in 1692, Monsieur le Duc, as he was called at court, and his wife had nine children, all of whom lived well into adulthood. This was rather unusual for the time, and all the more so since their father was never anything like a fine specimen of health or good breeding. Macrocephalic, while not quite a dwarf, he was extremely short, and had a complexion with a markedly yellowish-orange cast to it. Of his parent's ten children, only he and four of his sisters had survived past the age of five, and his sisters were so petite that they were referred to at court as poupées du sang "dolls
of the Blood" or, less kindly, as "the little black beetles" because, in addition to their lack of stature, some of them were dark of complexion and/or bent.
Their father, also quite short and considered "repulsive" in appearance had been, in addition, mentally unstable throughout most of his life. Violent, he had frequently beaten his good-natured, sympathetic wife and terrorized his children. It is said that his son and heir also suffered from mental illness toward the end of his life. He died at the age of forty-one, only eleven months after his father, following an attack of apoplexy.
Stephen O'Donnell, painter and singer/performer. A mid-career fine artist, I have been showing professionally since 1995. Married to author and graphic designer Gigi Little, with whom I occasionally perform a mother and daughter singing act, Madeleine and Penny Prévert.