The Court of Miracles and the Court of Versailles


 

To find the Court of Miracles in Paris today, you need to travel a little north of Notre Dame to Metro Station Sebastopol. There, between the boulevards Sebastopol and Forum des Halles, is where you can still see the traces of the place in the names of the streets, la Petite and la Grande Truanderie. Notre-Dame de Bonne Nouvelle is also a good landmark for the location. The name of this area comes from the idea that with the nightfall all the daytime cripples of Paris are miraculously cured there, for there is no need to keep pretending once you got safely back home.

 

Not a charitable interpretation, but an accurate one. The thing of it is that the future Louis XVII was very sensitive to the needs of the little orphans and was known to save all of his pocket-money for the little shiverers, for such was their job, to dress in skimpy clothes and shiver. This job is now taken over by the French scouts, they too wear shorts in all-weather outside of the commercial centers when they ask for donations around Christmas time. Hell, I did so myself when serving in the National Guard. Thank God, it was in California and not somewhere on the East Coast, all for the right cause, but the strategy was the same.

 

The only King of Thieves who was ever caught by the French government happened to be the rather courtly Cartouche. He was too flashy, too much given to publicity stunts. His favorite area of operations was the road from Paris to Versailles. On one occasion he stole over one million livres from John Law’s banking company. He made extravagant presents to beautiful women, issued passports to nobility, not to be harassed by his gang when on the road; he stole the sword from the Regent, then returned it with the compliment, calling Phillip d’Orleans the First Thief of France. He even got to meet the dauphin, the little Louis XV!

 

When they finally got him, he wouldn’t say anything under duress, no doubt waiting for his buddies to come to his rescue, and he had several thousand people in his band, many, like himself, former soldiers. This army would squash the two hundred of the guard protecting the scaffolds, but there was nobody in the crowd on date of his execution. So Cartouche asked the judges to postpone the event for a few days and suddenly he talked, oh yes, he turned everyone in. He had people in high places! At the Royal Court he had them as close to the throne as in the entourage of Louise-Elisabeth, the daughter of the Regent, and even the First Valet of the Regent was one of his informants. Sometimes there is no honor among thieves. The irony of history is that during her trial and before her execution, Marie-Antoinette was kept in the same tower of Conciergerie as our romantic bandit.

 

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About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
This entry was posted in Cartouche, Conciergerie, Phillip d'Orleans, Regency, The Court of Miracles, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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