The Right To A Stool

Traveling around France I often ask myself those kinds of questions, “Could the right to excrete be a fundamental human right?” No, I am not trying to start any kind of revolution, just looking for a bathroom. That’s all… that’s all…. But this is not what this article is about. The stool I want to discuss is a small, often collapsible, piece of furniture you see everywhere when walking around Chateau Versailles. This is not about us getting a little tired after a whole day on our feet. This is about the most coveted privilege that marks a XVII and XVIII century French woman, the privilege to sit down in the presence of her monarchs.

When a room, or even a whole palace, is crammed with gentry, the situation is delicate: Who is subordinate to whom? The farther away from the top, the more delicate it becomes. The middle level is the most contentious: I am not a prince, but heck man, my family is as good as yours! To save himself the trouble of ever-going mediation, Louis XIV came up with this brilliant solution, “the right to a stool!”

This is pretty visible, simple and almost as natural an act as any to ease your behind onto one of these. Duchesses had a hereditary right to it. All the others however had to earn it! And that was not simple at all. Madame Montespan, Louis XIV’s most fertile mistress, had been offered her right to a stool, as a golden parachute retirement package when Madame Maintenon had already replaced her in the heart of the king. Ah! But she refused! This is a different matter. She went into exile instead. Fine. But you see, eight-nine kids later, the woman could finally rest a little. 

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 Chateau Versailles, Chateau Versailles Furniture, Louis XIV, Madame de Montespan, Madame Maintenon, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s