Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Philippe and the Italian Vice

I titled this post and then got stuck. Because what do I know about homosexuality in 17th century France? It was illegal. That's pretty much all I know.

But the Louis XIV's little brother, Philippe Duc d'Orleans, called "Monsieur", was notorious for having male lovers and wild parties. When he was little, his mom dressed him up like a girl for a while, apparently to imprint on him that he shouldn't rival his big brother in any way.

He had at least one woman mistress and did father some legitimate children for the good of France....though there were rumors that Louis XIV fathered those kids, too. His branch of the family married into all the European monarchies, including back into the French monarchy (he and his brother were both great-grandfathers to Louis XV) and one of his male line descendants was king of France for a few years during one of the restoration periods after the French Revolution.

The European Monarchy family tree doesn't branch much.

Oh, and his first wife was his first cousin, Henrietta of England, the daughter of Charles I. You know, the probably-too-Catholic guy who got his head chopped off by Oliver Cromwell. And the fact that England got rid of the king for a while? I'm sure it made France verrrrry nervous.

During the Restoration Period in England, France signed a treaty (negotiated at least in part by Henrietta) to help return England to the Catholic Church. And yet, the English people were welcoming in French Protestants who told them all about the terrible treatment at the hands of the French Catholics and had a notion that, uh, maybe a Catholic English King would be very, very bad for them. So voilà, the Glorious Revolution and the importation of William and Mary from the Netherlands.

It's all connected. Largely by this guy:

Philippe, rocking the bow tie.
  • A parenthetical, gossipy part: (Louis XIV only had the one surviving legitimate heir, who never got to be king because he died before his father, but luckily fathered a boy, who fathered the boy who would become Louis XV.  Louis XIV slept with everything in skirts and had quite a few legitimated children, plus a bunch more. He was trying to start something with his sister-in-law at the moment that he started something instead (or also?) with Louise de la Vallière, his first official mistress. It's thought that his nephew was actually his son). 

So anyway, Henrietta died fairly young and Philippe remarried and had some more children.

But his lifelong partner is said to be the Chevalier de Lorraine, a nasty piece of work and a member of the de Guise family, which was a powerful Catholic family in the Wars of Religion. At first, they were, you know, "just friends", but as Lorraine controlled a lot of Philippe's life and the people he hung out with -- handsome young men -- Henrietta convinced the king to imprison him. Eventually, Philippe talked his brother into letting him out. They were accused (probably falsely) of poisoning Henrietta when she died.

Lorraine was imprisoned again later for seducing one of Louis XIV's legitimated sons. That's just going too far, apparently.

Oh, and Philippe was an officer in the army and led his troops to great victories until he got bored and decided to redecorate his tent instead. I'm not sure how true that is, because it sounds like a huge problematic stereotype. He later won more honors in war and Louis XIV even got a bit nervous about his brother being in charge of the army.

And here is as far as Wikipedia will take me on this issue.

Since the novella I've been writing and editing has a gay couple, I'm delving deeper into the attitudes and laws than this. I've just got a book on inter-library loan, (Homosexuality in early modern France : a documentary collection / edited by Jeffrey Merrick, Bryant T. Ragan, Jr. ) which I will now of.

I'm not so dedicated a scholar-author as to research the issue as if I were writing a thesis on it. In fact, I'm a fairly lazy scholar.

I'm not lazy, I'm efficient.

As a footnote: One of the current pretenders to the French throne is an Orleanist. Another is a Bourbon (the pre-revolutionary line, which also had a restoration after the Revolution). Another is a descendant of Napoleon. And there's some other guy trying to become the French king who is the descendant of a German who, along with 20 or so other men, claimed to be Louis XVII, the lost dauphin.
Though they're more and more sure the lost dauphin died. They had his embalmed heart or something? And from everything I've said thus far, you know that the Lost Dauphin was also Philippe's descendant.

Pretty much everyone is descended from Philippe. Except maybe the British kings. Though they're cousins, somehow, when you go back up to James I and Mary Queen of Scots. Oh, my head aches.

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