Sunday, April 27, 2014

Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon

Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon was born Jan. 15, 1675 to Claude Duc de Saint-Simon, Peer of France, and his second wife Charlotte de l'Aubepine. His Mother stimulated in him a desire to make his way in the world and to acquire some value of his own. In 1691 while studying philosophy and learning to ride at an academy at Rocheford he noted that all the other young men of his age had been called to the siege of Mons. He determined to put the matter before his Father and  enter the Musketeers. It has been mentioned that the Memoirs he wrote from his years in battle and at Court were written at the Family's main Castle La Ferté-Vidame.. The home had been bought by his Father (Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon) shortly after being awarded his Dukedom. This is generally conceded to be the period after the fall of La Rochelle around 1629.

The Memoirs of Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon, constituted a primary source (one of several) I relied on while writing my mystery set in the Court of Louis XIV. Most of the Court are mentioned in these writings. While working one day, I came upon an unusual mention of an incident that would fit perfectly into my work at some point. I will let St. Simon tell it...

"Two days after the defeated garrison had marched out, the King went to Dinant, to join the ladies, with whom he returned to Versailles. I had hoped that Monseigneur would finish the campaign, and that I should be with him, and it was not without regret that I returned towards Paris. On the way a little circumstance happened. One of our halting-places was Marienburgh, where we camped for the night. I had become united in friendship with Comte de Coetquen, who was in the same company with myself. He was well instructed and full of wit; was exceedingly rich, and even more idle than rich. That evening he had invited several of us to supper in his tent. I went there early, and found him stretched out upon his bed, from which I dislodged him playfully and laid myself down in his place, several of our officers standing by. Coetquen, sporting with me in return, took his gun, which he thought to be unloaded, and pointed it at me. But to our great surprise the weapon went off. Fortunately for me, I was at that moment lying flat upon the bed. Three balls passed just above my head, and then just above the heads of our two tutors, who were walking outside the tent. Coetquen fainted at thought of the mischief he might have done, and we had all the pains in the world to bring him to himself again. Indeed, he did not thoroughly recover for several days. I relate this as a lesson which ought to teach us never to play with fire-arms.

The poor lad,—to finish at once all that concerns him,—did not long survive this incident. He entered the King's regiment, and when just upon the point of joining it in the following spring, came to me and said he had had his fortune told by a woman named Du Perehoir, who practised her trade secretly at Paris, and that she had predicted he would be soon drowned. I rated him soundly for indulging a curiosity so dangerous and so foolish. A few days after he set out for Amiens. He found another fortune-teller there, a man, who made the same prediction. In marching afterwards with the regiment of the King to join the army, he wished to water his horse in the Escaut, and was drowned there, in the presence of the whole regiment, without it being possible to give him any aid. I felt extreme regret for his loss, which for his friends and his family was irreparable."

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