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La Palatine (B. Cortequisse)

La Palatine which describes itself as follows: "I have short body and thighs: total sum: I am a little ugly. If I didn't have a good heart, no one would put up with me anywhere… I decided to laugh first at my ugliness: it worked very well for me, and I often found something to laugh about ”was the one of the most endearing, the most natural, the most authentic characters of the Grand Siècle. She led a life of decency, religion, humanity, endowed with noble frankness.

A virtuous woman, she held her friends for the most precious good of the earth. Always straight, she used her frankness when she wrote in April 1719 "the very cordially hated" dies and Madame did not want to get involved in politics "leave that to the men, because for a long time France was ruled by a woman ... we see the result ”.

The Life of Madame La Palatine

Elisabeth Charlotte of Bavaria, nicknamed Madame or La Palatine, arrives at the Court little acquainted with the customs, but her brother-in-law Louis XIV befriends her and helps her with the presentations. little blow in the ribs ”.

The work is sometimes touching when the little Infanta of Spain, a charming, spontaneous and witty child who arrived in France to marry Louis XV, becomes attached to Madame; sometimes he is full of humor when Madame tells that a sermon preached makes her fall asleep in the middle of mass and therefore does not see the point of being present in church or when she is called upon to pose "the first ones. stones ”where she laughs at this ceremony while being realistic because she thinks“ that it does not matter to God that the first stone is laid by a mason or a prince, because we are all dust and ashes before God ”; she goes through moments of deep sadness when she has to face the plots fomented by the cuties of her husband and her discomfort gradually turns into hatred and rage or when her aunt Sophie "my almost mother" dies because Madame him wrote fifteen to twenty pages twice a week each time and the answer put her in a good mood; then we witness moments of disillusionment with regard to the customs of the Regency "there is something in the air which makes the youth of now so lazy ... I think the world has been turned upside down ... not one washerwoman of Versailles who does not imagine having enough spirit to govern the whole kingdom ”, the decadence of the court saddens her: there is no more respect, no more precedence, only rudeness and intrigue.

Near the end, her last words are to her tearful son "You cry son. Did you believe I was immortal? Don't you know that the Christian should only wish to live in order to learn how to die? "

Our opinion

This is how Bruno Cortequisse retraces the life of the Palatine by drawing in "the literary monument of the Grand Siècle" that was the 60,000 letters written by Madame as well as in the Memoirs of his contemporaries such as Madame de Sévigné, Madame de Motteville , Saint Simon, Sainte-Beuve without forgetting the Journal de Dangeau. We discover the other side of the splendor of Versailles, the real faces of the court, plots, slander, games and according to Madame "if we don't play, we are good for nothing!" No conversation, no spirit among the courtiers ".

It is a real pleasure to immerse yourself in this book with its removed tone, clean and unadorned, in particular the descriptions concerning the diseases of the Great King or the Dauphin, very much like a doctor's diary, crying out for realism and truth ... like was La Palatine.

La Palatine, by Bruno Cortequisse. France-Empire, June 2012.

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