This monument to Henry IV was built about two hundred years after his death. The restored post-Napoleon monarchy needed its own heroes: inside the bronze statue were placed medals listing many accomplishments of the King of France and Navarra; but, rumor has it that at the foundry a bust of Bonaparte was also sneaked into the statue’s arm.
Henry and the four Louis, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, were passionate hunters; that is, Henry IV and Louis XIII hunted out of necessity: the monarchy was weak and meat was expensive; chicken, for example, was a hell of a luxury; so, the first two did it out of necessity, the other three out of habit. Henry took Louis to the swamps of Versailles, Louis took the other Louis, the other took the next and so forth. Napoleon didn’t hunt.
How the idea of megalomaniac building project in the swamps come about? According to Voltaire, there was another king! Very briefly. “On 17 August, at six in the evening Fouquet was the King of France; but at two in the morning he was already nothing.” Voltaire exagerates. I do too. So did the all-powerful Minister of Finance, Nicolas Fouquet, inviting the twenty-two-year-old Louis XIV to his swampland residence at Vaux. This is a new palace with a park; there is music, theater, fireworks, women… Two weeks later D’Artagnan arrests Fouquet. Confiscated are all the furniture, tapsseries, statues, trees, and the blueprints! And most importantly, among the confiscations are the architect, the artist and the gardener.
What happened? Perhaps Fouquet shouldn’t have been showing off so much.
Louis: Where is the money?! Nicolas: Which money?
Well, there is money there. A lot of it. Too much. And there are certain things we shouldn’t do for money when we are seriously involved. So don’t offer. Unless she takes it; so, there is a gamble! Fouquet was a gambling man. But she didn’t take it. And Fouquet went to jail for life.
The funny thing is Louise de La Valliere was not even beautiful. Too fragile. A little timid. A little limping. Uneven teeth. A little bit handicapped after falling from a horse? But Diana the Huntress represents a new institution of the King’s Favorite and you better learn your ettiquet if you want to stick around. Dangeau writes their love letters — so sweet: she is too timid, the king makes too many spelling mistakes; so, Dangeau writes them for both the king and his mistress. So strange, why would the old man, Nicolas Fouquet, want to offer Louise 250000 pistoles? Just checking….