Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fashion in the Early 17th Century - Men

In the early part of the century Men's dress was not too attention-provoking. Up until the 1630s the "pie-crust" ruffled collar was still in fashion and was a carryover from the 16th century as well as longer hair that would reach a bit below their shoulders. Moustaches were worn a bit thick that that curled at the tips. Heeled shoes were worn as well as boots with spurs, think The Three Musketeers. Pointed beards were also worn occasionally. Men also wore breeches instead of the hosiery that was worn in the 16th century. Broad hats that curved on one side were worn that were sometimes plumed More earthy colors were worn in the early 17th century and although many ribbons were adorned on the shoes with geometrically styled doublets that resembled a stiff vest, men's fashion was less fussy or ornate than what their sons and grandsons will wear later on in the century. Capes that were hip length and flung over to one shoulder were worn on occasion as well. Early 17th century men were obviously much more limited than future counterparts on breaking away from fashion conventions. Masculine fashion was geared toward the active man rather than the overly-stylish one.

Your average pair of shoes at this time:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Louis XIV's Mistresses - Madame de Montespan

Around 1668, Louise de Valliere -- as referred to in the previous blog post-- was no longer the king's favorite. Francoise Athenais, who had been one of Henriette od England's maids-of-honor had secretly fallen in love with the king yet she swiftly and soon publicly replaced her in the king's affections. Francoise was connected to a very noble family, The House of Rochechouart, and was known for her outgoing charm that the family was known for possessing. She was definitely very beautiful having golden blonde hair and blue eyes. Her hair was very thick and in order to please the king, always kept it up in the latest styles that were admired and copied by ladies of the court. She did marry in 1663 to a nobleman, the Marquess of Montespan whom she didn't pay much attention to and had two children with one of which, a son, survived to adulthood. As the Marquise de Montespan, she still continued her passionate affair with Louis XIV and bore him seven children who once born were whisked away to the country to escape the prying eyes of courtiers. The children were later presented to the court while their mother even carried on other affairs behind Louis XIV's back. She was known to have been with the famous French chef Francois Vatel and even Louis XIV right hand man Marquise de Lauzan who was banished from court once the affair was brought to the surface. Banishement, even though you cam back was political suicide and the person was permanately out of favor with Louis XIV. All the while Madame de Montespan got away with her secret affairs while she still carried on a strong relationship with Louis XIV. Madame de Montspan was a fashion icon, politically aware in a time where women were barred from politics and a great conversationalist.

However, her time under the rays of the Sun King did not last forever even though Louis XIV was very faithful to her he became interested in other young ladies of the court since Madame de Montespan was getting much older and larger. Yet, it wasn't just her beauty that had lost its value in later years but her connection to witchcraft that soon left her in disgrace. She knew that the king's love was waning and is said to have secretly put "magic" powders and liquids in his food that were supposed to create a love potion in order for Louis XIV to keep his eyes on her only. Louis XIV late complained of headaches after consuming a certain drink every morning that was given to him and soon recognized he had been consuming a love potion. Louis XIV was disgusted and Madame de Monstespan was shamed and soon put into exile. The king forgave her and visited her daily after that yet he had already found a new love and now valued her for conversation rather than for a relationship. Montespan soon retired in a convent away from the court where she once was known as the "true" Queen of France, the Sun Queen basking in the court of the Sun King.

Madame de Montespan
and her children

Young Francois-Athenais

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Louis XIV Mistresses - Louise de Valliere

In an age where women were subject to men and became their property under marriage the rules for extra-marital affairs were strange as well. Men usually married in their late teens to early twenties to a young lady much younger than them and were married until death since Catholic law prohibited divorce. Well-established men and women, especially kings and princes, married for political reasons rather than for love. This of course would sometimes be accepted in an honorable manner by both parties yet many times arranged marriages wallowed in disaster for as long as the marriage lasted. Louis XIV married his wife Marie Therese in 1660 at the age of 22 only to keep peace with Spain he did not find her attractive in the least an dreaded the marriage. Marie-Therese spoke very little French, she was his double first cousin and said to not be beautiful at all. She was extremely short and not nearly as sociable and warm as what was expected of a French woman. However, Marie Therese would be his until her death in 1683 having seen wars, financial difficulties and especially the infamous affiars that her husband would be well-known for.

When Louis XIV was much younger, before Marie Therese, he fell in love with Marie Mancini the niece of Cardinal Mazarin. She loved him very much and they maintained a very strong relationship until he was forced to marry Marie-Therese and pressured about producing a legitimate heir. Louis XIV was forced to break off their romance due to pressure from the authorities at the French court but after the installation of the new Queen and attempts at his "royal duty" with her, he was off in search of other interesting women at court that were not only beautiful but possessed an engaging personality that his wife lacked. In 1661, Louis began to become more familiar with Louise-Francoise who was the maid of honor to the king's sister in law Henriette of England. Louise-Francoise de Valliere who grew up very poor
but of a noble, well known family was prized by her family due to her good looks and charm. She was a blonde with blue eyes that was said to resemble an angel in which her family hoped would catch the eye of the King of France so that maye their family might once again gain the prestige they once had. Louis-Francoise did catch Louis' attention and became his mistress from 1661 to about 1668/9. She was his secret lover that was originally put in place to distract the king away from the very beautiful Henriette of England however the two fell in love and had six children (2 of them are pictured above with their mother) however four survived infancy as was quite common during that time. Louis XIV was known to have a devouring taste for women and it did not take long for his attention to be diverted towards other women. Soon, the king became enchanted with Francoise-Athenais de Montespan who was a lady-in-waiting to Louise. Louise became heartbroken when the affair became a bigger deal than a mere mutual attraction. Louise was becoming replaced and was being used as a decoy to hide their relationship from the prying eyes of the court. Louise-Francoise could take but so much humiliation and decided to join a convent and suffer there privately rather than in the public view of the the French court at Fountainbleu. Louise, entered a convent and was even forgiven by the Queen who blessed her habit's black veil during Louise's final appearance in court. Louise was hesitant to leave the life and let go of the man she loved so much yet it was now Francoise-Athenais' to bask in the rays of the Sun King at the dazzling French court.

Queen Marie Therese of France

Marie de Mancini - Louis XIV's first love

Louise-Francoise de Valliere - Louis XIV's first mistress

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Louis XIV

Louis XIV, one of the famous kings of France is well known for the way he changed fashion for men, his mistresses and of course his great palace of Versailles that was the official court residence in 1682. Little do people know but a man, this guy, began the high heeled shoes business. They're a feminine object now but it is said he wore them to counter his short stature. However, other courtiers began to wear them as well and well he was short all over again. He was known for having a very stern, and well bombastic kind of personality. Well wouldn't you if courtiers were always praising every thing you did as perfect even though you didn't do everything perfectly. Courtiers weren't insane they just wanted to be seen and recognized by the King so they could gain titles, material things etc from him. In Louis XIV court it was very important to be recognized by Louis XIV himself or else you were shamed at court, it was royal suicide for the King to not know you or ignore you. Louis XIV also built the grand palace of Versailles that was once a hunting lodge that used under his father's reign Louis XIII. Louis expanded it over a period of about 10 years vis a process of four different building campaigns. The end result was terribly expensive but absolutely beautiful and is still a monument to his reign today. Before Louis XIV, nobles were angry and divisive amongst each other causing the Fronde. It obviously began with much more detail than that but Louis XIV lived through this war in his childhood and feared the rising of and power of the nobles. In order to keep them under control, he made it so where nobles would have to be in presence at all times and eventually live there in order to keep up with the ceremonies and basic court ritual in order to not be snubbed by the King. And of course no one wants to be snubbed by the King, so they leave their mansions and live with the King in Versailles in order to be presented with the all time greatest honor of such prizes as holding the King's candle to bed. Or even better, watching the King eat, while you silently starve because you are not allowed to eat at the royal table. Nobles do eventually eat and party but not without the strict etiqutte codes that Louis XIV updholds in order to keep the palace running smoothly as possible. With the help of the prooper etiquette and ceremonies, all of Versailles and its inhabitants revolve around Louis XIV better known as The Sun King.

Louis XIV as a little boy

Aa a young man somewhere in the late 1660s or early 1670s

As an older man between 1710-1715 with his son, grandson and great grandson and the baby's governess Madame de Ventadour. Louis XIV would lose both of his heirs except the young child who would be only 5 years old in 1715 on the death of Louis XIV when is made King or at least heir to the throne. He reaches his majority in about 1723.

(more great history on Louis XIV to come soon mistresses, finances, wars, children, more etiquette etc)