The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version
The Duc De Berri
It is not surprising that the manners of the Duc de Berri were not very elegant, since he
was educated by Madame de Maintenon and the Dauphine as a valet de chambre. He was
obliged to wait upon the old woman at table, and at all other times upon the Dauphine's
ladies, with whom he was by day and night. They made a mere servant of him, and used
to talk to him in a tone of very improper familiarity, saying, "Berri, go and fetch me my
work; bring me that table; give me my scissors."
Their manner of behaving to him was perfectly shameful. This had the effect of
degrading his disposition, and of giving him base propensities; so that it is not surprising
he should have been violently in love with an ugly femme de chambre. His good father
was naturally of rather a coarse disposition.
But for that old Maintenon, the Duc de Berri would have been humpbacked, like the rest
who had been made to carry iron crosses.
The Duc de Berri's character seemed to undergo a total change; it is said to be the
ordinary lot of the children in Paris that, if they display any sense in their youth, they
become stupid as they grow older.
It was in compliance with the King's will that he married. At first he was passionately
fond of his wife; but at the end of three months he fell in love with a little, ugly, black
femme de chambre. The Duchess, who had sufficient penetration, was not slow in
discovering this, and told her husband immediately that, if he continued to live upon good
terms with her, as he had done at first, she would say nothing about it, and act as if she
were not acquainted with it; but if he behaved ill, she would tell the whole affair to the
King, and have the femme de chambre sent away, so that he should never hear of her
again. By this threat she held the Duke, who was a very simple man, so completely in
check, that he lived very well with her up to his death, leaving her to do as she pleased,
and dying himself as fond as ever of the femme de chambre. A year before his death he
had her married, but upon condition that the husband should not exercise his marital
rights. He left her pregnant as well as his wife, both of whom lay-in after his decease.
Madame de Berri, who was not jealous, retained this woman, and took care of her and her
The Duke abridged his life by his extreme intemperance in eating and drinking. He had
concealed, besides, that in falling from his horse he had burst a blood-vessel. He
threatened to dismiss any of his servants who should say that he had lost blood. A
number of plates were found in the ruelle of his bed after his death. When he disclosed
the accident it was too late to remedy it. As far as could be judged his illness proceeded
from gluttony, in consequence of which emetics were so frequently administered to him
that they hastened his death.