“It seems to me that some changes are due in our park,” writes Louis XIV to his architect, Mansart, “the subject matter is too serious, we have to rejuvenate it… add something of childhood here.” Versailles was never a placed for children. The king himself had destroyed the Labyrinth of Aesop, probably because of the conflict of loyalties he was observing in La Fontaine (1). The Dauphin must have been indifferent to it. The illegitimate children were raised at Chateau Buc.
Not surprisingly the duke of Main and the count of Toulouse, the legitimized children of Louis XIV, played an important role in the ascent of their surrogate mom, Madame Maintenon. This was a symbiotic relationship, for Madame Maintenon was using her influence to promote the interests of her surrogate children.
The future incestuous Regent, duke of Orleans, was raised by the pedophiles in the entourage of his dad. But his influence on Louis XV was marginal. The first of the duke’s decisions vis-a-vis his charge seems to be justified: The five-year-old Louis XV had been promptly removed from Versailles for fear that the unhealthy climate may not agree with the sickly kid; and when he was finally back, running across the park, falling asleep on the floor of the Crystal Gallery, they have hastily married him off and the childhood was over.
Louis XV was a good dad, but he wouldn’t spoil his children with any infantile nonsense. Their chief entertainment was music lessons; Christmas gifts did not exist yet; so, besides the music and the already-mentioned Easter eggs, there was some occasional pocket-money and fire-works. One of his girls, there were eight, tried to run away to fight the English. Fortunately she didn’t get too far from the palace. Later on she became the Duchess of Parma, while the surviving four remained at Chateau, growing older and dumber with each year.
In spite of the post-1815 iconography, Marie-Antoinette was not the greatest of the moms. She couldn’t even find a decent baby-sitter. Ah, those pressures of ruling! The one who was officially in charge of her kids would not burden herself with more than two hours of care a day and then delegate the tasks to her subalterns. The idealized Capet Family exists only in the pictures and in the Tower.
(1) Jean De La Fontaine re-wrote the Aesop fables in XVI century and popularized them at the Court of Louis XIV. He was originally in the service of Nicolas Fouquet imprisoned by the Sun King; La Fontaine was one of the few people who remained loyal to Fouquet after his downfall.