Versailles Series 2, Episode 7 – the one with Louis in a nunnery

I must remember, it is 1674. I have absolutely NO CLUE why I thought it was 1670… maybe one of the cast members in an interview? No Idea. But four years later on from Henriette’s death puts us firmly in 1674.

We left Louis and William of Orange together in an abbey, didn’t we? And here we are again, in a room by candlelight, Louis and William facing off at opposite ends of a table as their men stand by, Louis still filthy and William looking very clean. Then Louis smiles. Something amuses him?
Louis: Yes. Seeing my one true enemy face to face after all these years.
William: Ever since I was a child I dreamt of meeting you.
Louis: And beating me on the field of battle.
William: Of course.
So follows an exchange about who will win and who is the most awesome ruler of a country. But the subtext is clearly to see who will lose his cool first, who will crack under the verbal swordplay. it is very much a manly display of manliness and it’s apparent Louis has an advantage because he’s the more experienced older leader. But William lets Louis know that half of Europe is joining in alliance against France – Prussia, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire. That’s some serious firepower. Louis is totally unimpressed and asks William why he came here. William will share, but only In private, so everyone clears from the room, with Louvois hanging about to take William’s sword. Louis, however, says it is fine, which is telling. Such honour and gentlemanliness in battle, even in negotiation. Louis does not expect William to breach etiquette and actually stab him when he is unarmed. But when William starts to speak, Louis shushes him. “Do you hear that? The silence that accompanies power.” William pauses, then says, “I hear nothing.” And Louis just smiles, a little condescendingly, studying the other man and I believe William has failed some kind of test with Louis’ overt passive-aggressive suggestion that William cannot hear it because he is not powerful.

Now they talk of William’s proposition: to join forces, as the two most powerful countries, and take over the world. Has William discussed it with his existing allies? Louis asks. Oh, of course not. Louis smiles. “I call that treachery.” William is not fazed: “Tactics.” Louis: “Greed.” William is a bit UGH… is Louis interested or not? Louis says casually: “Let me tell you what happens next. You are feeling confident. You will launch a counter attack, perhaps even retake a few towns. My forces will then rally, and you will start to lose. Thousands will be massacred. Your people will start to question your new leader. And you-” he walks behind William, touches his shoulder “-will have sleepless nights. ‘Did I do the right thing? Will I meet the same end as poor de Witt? Have I lead my country to ruin?’ And at that moment, you will send a messenger begging for a truce. And I shall say no. I shall brush you off like a speck of dirt from my cuff.” During Louis’ monologue and just for a moment, William looks quite a bit shitty and very much a young boy playing at war, but then he smiles, says “you underestimate the value of allies. Not just in one’s ranks. How else do you suppose I found you?”

GLORIOUS INTRO

Okay, that was SUCH a stupid rookie move by William. Admitting he has a spy in Louis’ camp? We all know how that’s going to end.

We leave war to return to another kind, at Versailles. Isabelle is laid out in a coffin, and Colbert is there, looking so sad, and the queen walks in, offering her condolences. Colbert is grateful. Then Montespan appears and is all “sorry for your loss, wish I could have done more to help her.” And Colbert replies calmly, “you did nothing to help her.” And he is so right.

The queen walks and talks with Bontemps. They both know Montespan was at fault for Isabelle’s death but Bontemps says she is not a murderer: there is no evidence. The queen wants Montespan out of the palace before Louis’s return and she doesn’t care how. Also, no more salons and all nobles are to be confined to their rooms. UUUUUUGH. Bontemps may be saying, “As you see fit, your Majesty,” but he is thinking ‘oh, ffs. Shit’s gonna hit the fan.’

We are now in one of those salons, with Sophie and Gaston at a table drinking wine. *historical note: for all its shiny glitz and glamour, the life of a noble followed a rather boring path. For those honoured to attend the lever, they were up early to complete that, then had all the time on their hands either floating around after Louis, or left to their own devices until the evening coucher. Then it was the salons. Music, dancing, flirting, eating, drinking and gambling. Gossiping. That was basically it. So, Gaston says he’s done Sophie a favour, and now she must do one for him. He touches her hand and we all know what that means. Sophie, such a good girl, is disgusted. Gaston gets creepy and attempts to blackmail her, just like all the others. She totally claps back with “and I’ll point the finger at you,” and “I believe my word holds a lot more weight right now. Shall we put it to the test?” Then Bontemps walks in, announces all the salons are closed by order of the queen, everyone groans and that is that. Gaston and his creepy I-wanna-shag-you is shut down.

Back at the abbey and Louis is still looking as though he’s been dragged through a hedge backwards, and a nun is offering him wine as William proposes a toast. Louis keeps staring at the nun…. srsly, Louis, can you not keep it in your pants for A NUN? He refuses wine, and William is all “I shall join you in your abstinence.” Then Louis launches into a riddle: “I can end life. I can give life. I bring truth. I bring lies. I’m heard but not seen. Who am I?” William thinks Louis is toying with him, wants to know why he refuses an alliance. Louis replies: “Alliances are based on trust. You are in the process of betraying your current allies. What is to say you won’t do the same to me?” Then we go to the soldiers and generals in a hall, who are eating. There’s a little baiting of the Dutch, and William’s general has a go at Thomas that his chronicle of the war will be heavily embroidered. “On the contrary…. truth is my beacon.” Then launches into a cleverly worded put down that has Louvois a little amused and the Dutch a bit angry. I think he overdoes it, tbh. And maybe I think Louvois knows it too..? Then we return to William and Louis, with Louis poking at the wound that is William’s betrayal of the former leader de Witt, the man who was like a father to William. I really like Louis’ command of their conversations – it shows how much of a leader he is, how much a king. William appears very much younger, not only in appearance but also in the way he holds himself, his impatient speech, his mannerisms. William says Louis is a tyrant. Louis replies calmly, almost amused: “an enlightened tyrant.” then sets to baiting him about poor lynched/beheaded/de-fingered/body-parts-eaten de Witt, until William angrily stands and demands, “Hold your tongue!” Ahhhh. Louis smiles. William’s reputation for reserve and self control are most def. not on display here. It pleases him. “First rule of diplomacy, my friend. Never show anger.”

Nighttime at Versailles and Bontemps, the queen and Colbert are interrogating the Chevalier, Colbert repeating the words that the Chevalier promised to look after her. The Chevalier’s calm reply, “it is not my fault if she chose to drink her weight in wine then take a swim in the fountain,” enrages Colbert and he gets to his feet, yells, “‘a safe pair of hands!’ You said!” And the Chevalier spits back with “everyone knows I am not a safe pair of hands!” At Colbert’s kicked-puppy look he adds more calmly, “you should never have brought her to Versailles.” And poor Colbert, he cannot take it, so he nods to the queen who grants him leave. Then the queen starts on a fishing expedition, to try and pin the blame on Montespan. The Chevalier won’t have it… but then the queen implies that his honesty would improve his financial position. And to his credit, he tightly replies, “I fear I am unable to help you with your enquiries, your Majesty.” Just as he is about to leave, she shuts down his little silk/drug trade. “Grubby commerce has no place here.” He leaves and the queen tells Bontemps to bring Marchal to her. But hey, the King gave him the boot. “That does not prevent him from being in the service of the queen.” YAY!  Marchal is to return!

“Cover up, dear. The British are having a conniption”

Now we are with Montespan in her bath, telling Scarron that she thinks the queen is using tactics to try and to drive a wedge between her and Scarron’s friendship. Scarron says “you stole the king from her!” But Montespan does not believe that: “I took what she already lost. And that is what torments her.” Scarron looks frustrated and flustered and Montespan rises form the bath, looks at her oddly. Does Scarron have feelings for him? And Scarron gets quite a bit fluttery, saying she came to court to please Montespan, she stays to please the king, and OMG stop putting words in my mouth! Montespan asks again: “do you have feelings for him?” And Scarron does the classic avoidance, saying she is a widow, many years older, why would he look at her, blah blah. And Montespan is so much controlled fury because we all know Scarron never answered the question. Then Scarron sighs, wraps a towel around Montespan and does a smarmy “I am first and foremost your friend, and always will be,” which totally does not satisfy Montespan one tiny bit.

We are now in Liselotte’s rooms with Philippe sat up in bed, reading. Liselotte walks in and tries to look all ingénue as she takes off her robe and lets it drop and Philippe blankly looks up, licks his finger, then slowly turns another page. The UGH look on Liselotte’ face says it all (hon, you didn’t try hard enough, trust me) and she stomps into bed, then removes a statue of the Virgin Mary from between the sheets. “What on earth is this?” Philippe casually says it could bring them luck…. to conceive, obvs. She tosses another one on the bed and sighs. “Sounds like a silly superstition to me. But even if it is true, you still have to… you know. Do it.” And then the conversation goes like this:
Liselotte: Look. I know this isn’t easy for you. You are in bed with a woman you do not care for. But it’s not easy for me, either. I am in a country I do not know, with people I do not know and customs I do not understand. I am in bed with a man who does not love me and will never love me.
Philippe: (gently) It is not my fault that I do not love you. Love is not just this thing that you can summon.
Liselotte: It is not my fault that I am upset. The fact is we are both here against our wishes and we need to make the best of a bad job.
Philippe: (takes her hands) You are a good person. I am not. I’m selfish and childish.
Liselotte: (small smile) You should like yourself a bit more. There’s a lot to like, believe me.

*historical note: So, while this is a lovely moment for the both of them, all this talk about love in 17th century France is weird and out of place. For nobles, especially princes and princesses, love had absolutely no role in a marriage. Marriage was purely for alliances between families, to gain power, wealth, lands. Allies when it came to war. Children were married off to secure any one of these things and women – ESPECIALLY princesses – were groomed from an early age to know their role: marry well, as their family wanted, secure heirs and that would be just awesome. And as a princess, Liselotte would be fully aware of her place. She would expect respect due to her position, and this is what vexed her at the start of the marriage, because Philippe’s mignons did not show respect and Philippe showed little interest in defending her. The Chevalier was a frequent ring leader with this, and it wasn’t until after many years, when they had ‘made peace’ with each other, that the air of hostility calmed.

*Another historical note: it was quite well documented by Liselotte herself that Philippe could not bed her without certain ‘accompaniments’ – rosary beads and other tokens draped about his body and resting on his nether regions. There is a lovely account of it here.

Now, Liselotte has been thinking about Philippe’s ‘problem’. … the ‘rabbit that stays underground’, the ‘volcano that remains dormant.’ Oh. The penny drops for Philippe: “my inability to have an erection.” Lulz. And apparently the solution is to fantasise. Close ones eyes and “think of something that arouses you. Think of sweaty soldiers on the battlefield.” Liselotte then slides her hand to Philippe’s crotch and gently kisses him.

OKAY THEN. Because here comes the Chevalier, looking exhausted from a rough day being interrogated as he removes his cravat, walks slowly to the closed door… and then hears sounds of enthusiastic coitus from within the bedroom. And his face is just….. destroyed. DESPITE the fact that he is an experienced creature of court and HE KNOWS Philippe must have an heir. Despite the fact he knows sex does not necessarily mean you’re doing it because you have feelings for that person. It is perfectly fine for HIM to shag about, but NOT Philippe. He does not seem to understand that Philippe is doing it out of duty. He is actually quite a bit selfish with this and I wonder if this is deliberate on the writers’ part, to give Philippe a ‘traditional and hetero’ relationship that is wildly in conflict with the romance that is two men. Anyways, I am annoyed and we must move on to the next scene.

Liselotte has post-shag face, offers a ‘bravo’ to Philippe, who sits back in bed. Apparently he thought of several soldiers covered in mud. “Imagination is so much more fun that reality, isn’t it?” She laments. Then she sees something is bothering Philippe. He says: “it’s a wide rift, isn’t it? Between the world as we want it to be, and the world as it is.” And Liselotte looks at him, a little sadly, gently strokes his foot as they just lay there, deep in their thoughts. And I HAVE CONFLICT because as lovely as these scenes are between Philippe and Liselotte they are wild fiction and I have mucho eye rolling at the history that has been stomped on with heavy riding boots. Kinda like what Marchal does with people he does not like.

Right, so we are now back with William and Louis as they discuss what each of them want. Louis has already taken the tiny town William offers; he wants Maastricht. No, Bonn, William returns. Louis insists but apparently Maastricht is Spanish and not his to give. Louis is all “I want it. Give it to me” like the king he is and William now must speak to his advisors and that makes Louis smile. “Do you not trust your own judgement?” To which William gets a bit huffy and says he came to negotiate and all Louis offers is impossible things and OMG you treat me like a child! By Louis’ faint smile that is exactly what he is thinking. Then a nun interrupts – the rooms are ready. Louis basically says William needs to lighten up a bit, offers some fashion advice (“a touch more orange?”) and walks off.

Now we are in Louis’ room that looks a little dark but clean and he wants to know what the nun’s family name is, because he can tell her voice is of noble birth. She turns, says, “You don’t recognise me, do you?” And Louis says her face familiar. “Just my face?” says the nun and starts to strip off and yeah, okay, Louis does look a little uncomfortable at this. “Recognise me now?” Quite possibly, as the nun is now down to her undergarments and cropped hair and Louis is all “what are you doing?” as she steps close and then he undoes her ties and suddenly, wah-HEY, topless nun. “Does his Majesty like that?” I dunno, do men recognise boobs but not a face? She straddles him and they lay back on the bed and a kiss is about to happen UNTIL she draws a dagger out and holds it to his throat.

OMG. Stabby topless nun. Enraged stabby topless nun who has to tell Louis a story as he chokes under her: “Once upon a time a young woman arrived at court, and like all women she fell under the spell of the master of the house. So the master lured her into his bed, only to replace her with another. But by then…. (starts to whisper) she had a thing inside of her. The master denied his paternity and the child… lucky thing… died before it ever saw the light of day. You say that you care and protect your subjects but you don’t! (yells) You destroy them!” Louis is still under her, knife to his throat, and gets out again, “what do you want?” and she screams back at him, “My life. MY LIFE!” and drops the knife, starts to cry. Louis whispers, “I’n sorry,” but she crawls off him (still topless) and turns away, collapsing to the floor. As a shocked Louis slowly sits up, her back straightens and she says softly, “I used to be the duchesse de Longlet.” The penny drops for Louis and he stands as she adds, “I want to be home again.” Louis puts a blanket over her shoulders, says “very well”, and it looks like she is returning to court.

*historical note: Louis had a lot of women. A LOT. There are many undocumented partners, from staff and maids and nobles. And very likely undocumented babies, too.  Plus, deflowered women who took up a chaste life of prayer and God’s work, to save their mortal souls and atone for their sins (just like Louis’ first mistress, Louise de la Valière).  However, the duchesse de Longlet is a fictional name.

Bontemps walks with Marchal through the palace, asks how he feels about returning to court which is a nice segue from the last scene. “I feel nothing,” is Marshal’s cryptic reply and it is probably the most truest statement for me right now. He is shown into the queen’s rooms and she slowly stands. Why does she always look as though she’s eaten a sour lemon? Never any smile or humour whatsoever. She asks if he is a God-fearing man. Yeah…. Marchal does not fear ’cause he is BADASS AS HELL. “You don’t believe?” is the queen’s next question. Marchal replies: “I don’t know.” So the queen launches into a ‘well, while you were gone…’, mainly father Pascal and the inappropriate letter, and how she does not believe it was suicide. She likes the fact that Marchal has ‘certain methods’ that the new chief of police does not. Then Bontemps comes in and tells the queen that the French have been pushed back from Amsterdam, and the king’s whereabouts are unknown.

Back to the abbey and Louis enters the room, now all clean and well dressed. Louvois wants to know what has been said, and Louis replies that the proposed alliance only benefits William, despite le Orange saying it would benefit both of them. Louvois says there are limits to the support of the French people and Louis gets a bit shitty: “I am building an empire. I have no intention of sharing it.” Right on. Then Louis and William sit to discuss more war stuff over food and wine. William asks why Louis goes to war, and Louis says because he is king. Then William totally trolls Louis about how much better Philippe is at war, how he will overshadow Louis, etc etc and the reason it’s so easy to get info is because so many people are wiling to turn against him. Like Rohan. Nup, William corrects Louis. “He did not turn against you. You TURNED him against you. You made an enemy of your best friend. It is quite the talent you have.”

*historical note: I’ve mentioned this before about Rohan, but I’ll say it again. he wasn’t Louis’ bestie and all this kidnapping stuff didn’t actually happen. There’s a nice article here where you can read all about it.

Louis glances at the nun and we know he is thinking about what William said. William can see that, and pokes about in that wound a bit more, taunting him about who this spy in the midst could be – a general? a minister? a brother? – until Louis walks off to ‘take the air’. We see a brief moment where Louis looks stressed and angry and then William follows and tells him the answer to the riddle Louis posed the other day. Words. The answer is “words” and recites the riddle again. “How clever of you,” Louis says calmly and walks off. But just like an annoying yappy terrier, William follows, taunting him with how much people hate Louis, how much his nobles hate living under his roof, how Philippe is just waiting to take control. In reply, Louis returns to the negotiations, saying he will give back some towns, that William will persuade the Spanish to give Maastricht to Louis. But William is quite a bit shitty that Louis has STILL not answered his question of why he went to war. Louis’ answer? Gimme 16 million gilders and he will agree to an alliance. And be a man, make a decision and don’t think about it. They are kind of in each others’ faces now and William says he thinks Louis went to war to escape the hell that Versailles has become. Louis replies calmly that he shall “bear that in mind,” then turns and again walks off. Amusingly, William hurriedly catches up and matches his stride to Louis’ in a subtle show of ‘don’t you walk away with me, I am your equal.’ Funny William. Srsly, he is acting more like one of those annoying men who see you on the street then follow you around paying you compliments, thinking it’s their right to get a response from you. I half-expected William to screech: “bitch! You’re ugly anyways!” and storm off.

WANT this goblet. And the candlestick.

We are back in Versailles, in Montespan’s rooms, and she is in bed downing wine, looking a bit drunk and OMG I SO WANT that goblet.

We then cut to Liselotte and Philippe in bed – Philippe is asleep and Liselotte is wide awake. The camera goes to a private salon where the Chevalier sits, playing cards by himself (look at that room!!) and Liselotte shuffles in, asks if she can join him. He replies coolly and quite dispassionately: “I’ve almost finished.” She persists, like the little persistent bunny she is, asking what he is playing. “It’s called cards,” is the reply. She answers: “perhaps you can teach me.” And then the camera cuts to his face and ….. he is looking terrible. Just…. eyes red and bags under his eyes, that drug vial in his hand. And he says tightly and slowly, “What exactly do you want?”
Liselotte: To see whether we couldn’t find a way… to… (trails off) not necessarily be friends, but live together without bitterness.
the Chevalier: (whispers) A truce.
Liselotte: yes.
The Chevalier: (smiles humourlessly) what are your terms?
Liselotte: Mutual understanding. You accept that he is sharing a bed with me out of duty and you accept that I do not seek to drive a wedge between you.
The Chevalier looks incredibly sad, incredibly hurt and I really want to just give him a hug, even if he is a massive Drama Queen and their relationship is, in many instances, unhealthy and controlling.
The Chevalier: (slowly) I find your terms one-sided. What about understanding me?
Liselotte: You continue to see each other, enjoy each other’s company.
the Chevalier: But without sharing a bed.
Liselotte: Until I’ve fallen pregnant.
the Chevalier: That could take years.
Liselotte: Possibly.
the Chevalier: (visibly distressed) You don’t understand. Meeting in the salon is a sign of friendship. Sharing a bed is a sign of love. If he no longer wishes to share his bed with me, then it follows… that he no longer loves me.
Liselotte: (Puts her hand over his) He loves you. But you are making it very easy for him to hate you.
The Chevalier: (looks at her in silence, then gently places his hand over hers) No doubt you are full of good intentions. But in case you haven’t noticed…(voice wavers) good intentions count for little here.
Liselotte: (pulls back, studies him for a moment, then whispers) I pity you.
The Chevalier: Why?
Liselotte: Because you’re scared.

Then she gets up and walks off and the Chevalier is left at the table, alone, emotionally raw and completely lost as he starts to cry and I WANT SEASON 1 CHEVALIER BACK where he was proud and confident and had an aura of danger and manipulation.

OKAY. This was harrowing. Let us forget for just one second that this would NEVER HAVE HAPPENED TO THE REAL CHEVALIER. He was *takes a deep breath* a war hero. A decorated knight. A man of nobility with all the restraint and poise and vengeance that that entails. He would not have admitted this AT ALL to anyone, least of all Philippe’s new wife who’s been there barely a few months (?)  and already she is taking Philippe’s time and his bed. And saying she pities him… RIGHT.  So, looking at this from a writing POV, I can see quite clearly the abyss with which the writers are throwing the Chevalier into. And it is a theatrical, dramatic abyss, full of angst and despair and torn loyalties. One of the strongest, most fascinating men in French history, who comes from a long and distinguished line of nobles, has been reduced to tears, crying over a lover who is shagging a wife for dynastical purposes. And let us not forget, he thinks Philippe and Thomas are getting it on too, yet it is with Liselotte he is most upset. As he says, “sharing a bed is a sign of love,” and holy crap, that is SUCH a strong piece of dialogue. I love that. And so I have to imagine someone not-The-Chevalier saying it, some completely fictional character because this man is not the Philippe de Lorraine I know.

Moving on. Back to something equally fictional. The abbey where Louis and William are still holed up. By the way, this meeting never ever took place in history, have I mentioned that? And William presents Louis with a magnificent carved box that I find much more interesting than what’s inside: an ugly green Javanese face mask called Leyak. Apparently she’s a widow witch. “In the daytime she appears as an ordinary human being. But by night she flies around in search of a pregnant woman to suck her baby’s blood.” Oh, charming. Lovely. Then William starts chipping away at Louis again, saying that he is scared, that the “edifice you have constructed will collapse and take you along with it.” What if Louis wasn’t chosen by God, and is just a mere mortal? What if the poison in the castle kills all who live in it, including its maker? JESUS, that William can nag and nag and nag, can’t he? Louis says he’s a fool but William is not so foolish as to believe he has divine powers. And AGAIN William taunts him with having a spy in the midst, reckons that’s what’s bothering Louis. And now William is going on about Montespan, saying how much power she has over Louis…. oooh, this is a sore spot because we know that Louis knows this on some level, just does not want to acknowledge it. And as William trolls (“she must be some woman. Perhaps it is with her I should be negotiating,”) Louis finally loses his shit, smashing the mask into the fire with a “I do not care for your gift!” William looks shocked, then sneers: “I fear his Majesty is unwell.” Louis replies calmly: “His Majesty is in need of sleep. I very much enjoyed our discussions.” Then he calmly walks out. Well, it seems William has found Louis’ achilles heel and it is no surprise. The writers have been suggesting that from the start, with the theatre dream, Louis’ blind refusal to listen to any dissenting voices when it comes to Montespan. The looks he gives her. The look he shared with Scarron. Bontemps suffer-in-silence face.  Nice foreshadowing and build up.

So while an exhausted Louis staggers back to his room and falls onto the bed, Thomas is skulking about the abbey, meeting with the Dutch general where they exchange cryptic words. Then Louvois strolls past, the Dutch hurries off and Thomas draws and blade… WAT. Noooooo. But Louvois breezily walks on and remains delightfully unstabbed. GOOD. I don’t think I could handle another one.

We are back with a sweaty Louis in the throes of a dream. His mother speaks: “I can see paradise. But you must build it for yourself.” He gets up, staggers to the door as he hears whispers of conversation, sees Montespan by the window. “Please hold me,” she says. “they’re coming to kill us.” He is shaky, confused, then she moves to him, her eyes turn black like a demon for a moment and she reaches out, touches Louis’ face. “How did you find me here?” he asks and she replies, “we are always meant to be together, remember?” He sighs, smiles and just before she is about to kiss him, she does that Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail thing, where her skin turns old and veins pop out. He backs off, horrified and suddenly, Henriette is behind him, looking angelic in a crown of flowers and a flowing nightdress, urging him to look away. Montespan is all, ‘hold me, they’re coming for us” but Henriette draws him away. “I no longer recognise you,” she says. He is trembling and crying: “I no longer recognise myself. You don’t understand. I was born to be king.” What is he scared of? “That I am nothing. The whole thing, a mirage.” Then he asks who murdered her. “Was it my brother? Was it William?” No to those. “Who killed you? I must know.” And we know the answer: Henriette confirms it: “You did, Louis.” Then with closed eyes, Louis walks us through a nightmare, of a boy running from a shadow, scared and alone, until he gets to a cliff and there is nowhere else to run. He is clearly deathly scared in this recital, shaking, sweaty, and finally the boy in the dream has to turn around…. and the shadow is gone. He slowly opens his eyes and music plays in the background, women singing/chanting in the style of church hymns. Wonderful mood soundtrack, symbolising Louis’ redemption and ‘getting of religion’. Becoming pure again. Louis struggles to understand what this dream means and the conflict is all over his face (Jebus, George Blagden is goooood!) As he shakes and turns to look behind him, he sees the prayer corner and alter in his room, Jesus stretched out above it, surrounded by candles, and suddenly the music swells and the candles begin to light, one by one, until his room is bright.

Suddenly Louis’ eyes open and he is back in his bed, still dressed, the pillow soaked and sun streaming in the window. Best. Sleep. Eva. The nun is creepily sat by his bed and she smiles. She has been there all night, heard him talking in his sleep. He tells her he had a nightmare and was lost in the wilderness of his mind. “You seem changed,” is her reply and I wonder how on earth she can tell that by just sitting next to him like some stalker. But hey, this is a century where visions and dreams were given a lot of importance. Oddly, she looks at him as if she still wants to get her gear off, Louis says “I am free,” and says she will come with him to Versailles. Ahhhh, nup. She saw how he suffered last night, and she will remain in the abbey and pray for him. He kisses her hand, thanks her for her prayers and off he goes.

Next scene and Louis walks into the hall to meet his men, looking clean, regal and in control. The Dutch have not yet risen. “Come. We are leaving.” Louvois asks: “and what of the discussions?” Louis: “There were no discussions. And no meeting.” He looks pointedly at Thomas and I guess this is the 17th century equivalent of the old amnesia or dream sequence plot line. Don’t write it down = it never happened. Louis strides out, issuing orders. The army will remain under the command of Maréchal Condé. Louis is returning to Versailles, as he has “certain matters to attend to there.” He spots William and they meet in the middle of the gardens (such beautiful symmetry, symbolising harmony and control).  

Louis thanks William for “holding up a mirror to me. I shall remember our discussions with fondness. Despite the distance between us, there is something we shall share only with each other. ” William asks: “And what is that?” Louis replies, “Our solitude.” William looks a bit thoughtful as Louis turns to leave, then wants to know what his decision is on the alliance. Louis turns and he is again, regal and in control. Every inch a king. “No. You believe you have weakened me. In fact, you have given me back my strength. I’ve rediscovered my taste for war. And for victory.” William looks a bit perturbed, not expecting that. Then we see Louis on his horse, galloping home, his guards with him. Louis-on-a-horse is my happiness, not gonna lie.

And there ends Episode 7. Merci!

13 thoughts on “Versailles Series 2, Episode 7 – the one with Louis in a nunnery

  1. Hi Jules, love your reviews as always, funny and educational. I had a few questions that don’t really pertain to this episode per se but to the time period/court. You mentioned in ep 3 or 4 I think, that Louis was already losing his hair from syphilis. If it was known he had it (and not just him, I gather alot of nobles did) were women not put off by that? Or is it something known to history now but hush hush then? It seems by the 17th C people would have known that was not something you wanted to ‘catch’.
    The other thing I have wondered about thru season 1 and reading of 2 is the habit everyone seems to have of just walking into someone’s rooms. I can see why the king would, to keep people on their toes, but for some examples; Philippe walks into Montespan’s bedroom, the Chevalier into her dressing room, a guard into Philippe’s room to summon him for the King’s Circle. No knocks or scratches, just ‘oh hey’. Is this consistent with etiquette, or lack thereof?

      1. Bonjour, B. Like many diseases through history, syphilis – or the pox – existed but was called something else (Just as TB was known as consumption, for example). And today the symptoms and consequences can be observed and measured from reading historical accounts and medical records of the time. One of the first epidemics of “the French disease” (as it was known), was in Naples 1495 when King Charles VIII led his French army into Italy. It was also called grande verole, or the “great pox”. In the 16th century, the term ‘lues venera’ (‘venereal pest’) was coined by a teacher who studied the mercury treatments, then ‘syphilis’ by poet and medical personality Girolamo Fracastoro who wrote three books about “Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus” in 1530. Apparently the character in the books – Syphilus – was cursed with a disease by Apollo because the man refused to worship him.

    1. Hi Karen!

      For many centuries, sexually transmitted diseases were seen as a single disease, until modern doctors began to differentiate between them in the 19th century. Having ‘the pox’ has always been seen as socially stigmatising, and many countries blamed their neighbours (and often their enemies) for it – the UK and Germany called it ‘the French disease’, the French called it ‘the Neapolitan disease’, Hindus blamed Muslims and pretty much everyone blamed the Europeans. Whatever it was called, syphilis was known as a ‘social disease’, spread through having sex, and reached epidemic proportions during various times in history. in the 16th and 17th centuries, people tried to shut down brothels and bath houses, and the condom was originally designed to contain the spread of infection through the brothels. There was much debate about the morality of it all, too. So, it was quite common, and as we now have a different level of cleanliness and awareness, I’m pretty sure people in the past overlooked a lot of what would put us off today 🙂 I know Louis’ mistresses were ordered to ignore any signs of disease or pox on the royal body… I just can’t imagine the women enjoying it if there are growths and pustules and smells. Very unpleasant 🙁 Also, some could carry the disease for years and display no outward symptoms. It was particularly rife in the army, where soldiers would go out celebrating and engaging in all sorts of debauchery, then spreading it amongst themselves.

      As to the etiquette of knocking without entering…. visually, it looks good, just striding into a room 🙂 But you have to remember that a bathing room or bedroom or boudoir is set further back into a set of apartements, so to get to it, you would have to knock on the main ‘entrance’ door, then a servant would allow you entry (depending on who you are), then you would go through a series of small rooms – salon, antechambre, inner salon – to get to the bedroom. So by that stage, the entrant would have passed servants and an entourage of ladies or gentlemen. The king would have immediate access to all rooms, then the king’s guards would be acting upon the king’s orders, so they would also have entry. Then the princes/princesses of France, then further down in rank. The Chevalier de Lorraine was a prince of the blood, so he was higher in rank than Montespan, a mere marquise (even if she was the king’s mistress). However, having said that, the script writers probably just didn’t worry too much about it and went for dramatic licence 🙂

  2. Excellent reviews!

    When can we expect the rest of season 2? Totally agree with your theories on the Chevalier – totally taking the character down a direction I wouldn’t have thought. This seasons runs the risk of being too focussed on the over-kill and drama and away from the character. Really loving Phillipe’s sarcastic wit shining through. Curious at to what Sophie’s key role will be this season following her marriage.

    Keep us posted!

    1. Bonjour and merci, Kristy! I am behind on my reviews because other work has wrenched the steering wheel from my hands. Hopefully I will get Ep8 out in the next week!

  3. I’ve finally finished watching Season 2 and am enjoying (actually devouring) your reviews. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to know that someone feels the same way I do about what the writer’s have done to our beautiful Philippe, Chevalier de Lorraine. I was so disappointed after all these months of waiting, to not see him in Episode 1 at all. (But be still my sarcasm loving soul, Cassel made Episode 1 wonderful. I don’t know who is writing for him, but bravo!)

    Then there was Episode 2 – and there was our Chevy, in all his magnificent, sassy glory! He more than made up for his absence in Episode 1 and I was thrilled to finally see him. The outside scenes with him and Philippe were breathtaking. The lighting – THAT ROBE – I loved it. (And I really think Evan should get to take that robe with him when the series is over. I mean, who else could ever wear that like Chevy? Give him the robe and a wig so he can bring Chevy out from time to time. I can’t help but think that Evan will miss him as much as we will.)

    The sad thing is, I do believe Episode 2 was the only time that I did see him. What the hell happened? One episode of the character we all fell in love with and 8 more of nothing but sad faces, tears, pouting, whining and jealously. What were the writers thinking? I don’t understand it at all. And this is nothing against Evan – if that’s what they gave him to play, he nailed it. His performance was as spot-on and wonderful as always – but damn it was hard to watch – painfully hard at times. It’s like the writers castrated the character and for the life of me I don’t understand why. After every episode I said “OK, who ARE you and what have you done with Chevy?” After Episode 6 I actually pulled out my Season 1 DVDs and watched a few episodes just to see, what I consider to be, the REAL one again. Of course this is just my feelings and my opinion, which I know count for absolutely nothing. I just think the writers could have handled the character differently. I’m hoping that we see more of Season 1 Chevy in Season 3.

    All that being said, I will forever love this show and will doubtless watch every episode numerous times. It is one of the best things on TV and the cast is just phenomenal. Every character is fascinating to watch. (And oh the heartbreak over losing some of my favorites this season!! )

    I know I’ve spent most of my comment raving about the Chevalier de Lorraine, but it’s just because I love the character so much – and this from a person who has been crazy about ONE television character in my whole life. I’ve NEVER been a fangirl or felt this way about a TV show. It is really so out of character for me. I told a friend of mine I wondered if they were broadcasting subliminal messages or something, it’s been so bizarre…..LOL! And then I say – Oh well, I’m going with it….”let’s be mad together”……

    Thank you for the wonderful reviews Jules. I’m looking forward to reading the ones for Episodes 8, 9 and 10. And then the long wait begins yet again…..

  4. Enjoying your reviews so much! I too am watching the French episodes and while my high school French is tres rusty, I’m getting the gist of it, I think. Your reviews are helping so much with the finer points!

  5. I love these reviews! they are amazing and I can’t wait for the next one (I will likely continually read these to tide myself over during the long wait for series 3)

  6. Merci for another emotional review. Sometimes I am more involved in the plot by reading your comments than actually watching the episode 🙂
    My opinion about this one? A ‘duel’ between Louis and William – delicious, naked Monsieur – delicious, Liselotte & Sophie – delicious, weeping Chevalier – no, thank you. I know there are people who are enchanted by this scene, because it shows the human side of the Chevalier, his vulnerability and broken heart. I am delighted with Evan and his acting, but not the Chevalier. Or rather his writers. I hope season 3 is written by someone else… Do you know by chance?

  7. When I watched this yesterday I was touched heavily by The Chevalier’s tears! Does he truely love Philippe after all?
    In spite I was still upset by what he did to Philippe again, I felt devastated when he cried.
    I actually half expected Liselotte to prove her point by sending her husband in to set things right.

    Much, much respect for both Evan & Alex!
    I actually wanted to skip the parts with Louis – the jealous idiot, just accept Philippe is the better commander on the battlefield! – just to watch those two.

    And much respect to the character of Liselotte, in the series as well as in real history!
    The way she tries to compromise with the Chevalier is epic!
    And in real life, the love and care she gave Philippe and his children, must be worth a medallion!

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