As the 17th century France was already a very enlightened society, it had its own press as well. Besides the famous “La Gazette” established yet by Cardinal de Richelieu, which published mostly political news, there was the “Mercure Galant”, an amazing edition, writing about various sorts of things: news, Court life, fashions, marriages, deaths & gossips. As well it published poems, stories, riddles and other intellectual works to entertain its readers. A curious fact: the magazine published its articles in French, Italian & Spanish, as all these three languages were much in use in the cultural environment of the epoch, while Louis XIV knew Italian & was able to speak a bit of Spanish.
Here is a little abstract from the October 1678 edition, narrating about a diverissement in S. Cloud:
“The King made the decision to spend some days in S. Cloud before leaving for Fontainbleau. Monsieur (Louis’s brother), who had given orders concerning lodging of the whole Court, returned there on the 6th of this Month to see if everything had been executed well. He visited the Appartements and couldn’t help praising Sr. Billon’s precision, to whom the supervision of this wonderful House had been provided. Then His Highness proceeded to the Gallery, which he did not see after it had been completed & furnished. It made him so satisfied that he longed for the arrival of Their Majesties (The King & the Queen). They arrived on the 10th in the Royal Carriage together with Monseignor le Daupin, Mademoiselle & Madame la Comtesse de Bethune. Other Carriages were unable to come in time because of bad roads. After having admired Artworks of the famous Mr. Mignard, who made the Gallery of S. Cloud one of the most beautiful in Europe, (I will make a special article on this topic next time), they played cards several times until the hour of Supper, that was worthy of the King’s magnificence.
There was an oval Table with twenty five Couverts (a ready dish set for 1 person). As it was rather large & as the Officers of the Table couldn’t put plates in the middle, they filled it with flowers every dish change & did it in such a proper, elegant & pompous manner that one could hardly design all this beauty. The Service of Meat Appetizers consisted of fourteen big dishes, forming a train. At the same time there were twenty-four little plates, served straight to Couverts. Fruits corresponded to the Occasion. … Figures made from flowers changed every Meal. Sometimes they were put on a golden plaited Machine, a wonderful invention, sometimes in silver Baskets as well as in Vases or in Boxes, made from the same material, and sometimes they were mixed between each other. … During all other days there was a Bal every evening before the Supper in a neuf Salon situated near the Gallery. Everything was well-arranged & the Palace seemed to have never been so spacious for dancing & for so great Society. … The bad weather was a reason why they strolled little in charming gardens of S. Cloud, but it did not prevent the King from departing for Versailles to check the construction works & to visit the Maison des Invalides…”
Vive le Roy! 🙂 🙂 🙂