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September 08, 2009

The Pox

April 27, 1774 Louis XV woke up and just didn't feel right. He shook it off and rolled out of bed, there were plans to hunt that day, as usual, and he was not going to miss that! He had felt feverish in the morning, but well enough to go out, but by the end of the hunt he was so sick that his doctors sent him back to Versailles!

His fever had worsened by the time he returned home, and he was sent straight to bed to rest while doctors planned their next move. Unsurprisingly they chose to bleed him, and they bled him a lot! This was the King after all, and such a quick illness needed a quick fix. 

After a stressful day, the loss of blood did not do the king any favors and his fever did not reduce for 2 days! On the 29th things took a turn for the worse.

Louis broke out into a rash and someone suggested smallpox. This however, could not be the answer because Louis had caught the pox when he was younger, therefore he had been immune to the disease his entire life.  He had always lived in comfort due to this fact, and had never considered the disease a threat. He refused this answer on that condition. But no matter what, he did have the pox and the doctors knew it.  His pox was so bad that the, "pustules overlap and form a single scab." *shudder*  After asking for a mirror he finally admitted that it was indeed smallpox, and added that no one his age would survive it.

All the while Madame du Barry was nursing him, but after this revelation Louis had her leave. His body continued to decline, and was said to have turned almost black over the skin, and gave a sickening smell. The King, although older in age, was active and strong. As a result of his previous health he lived through 11 days of the disease. This was when rumors of his recovery began, he made it through the worse and had beaten it! What the people spreading the rumors did not know was that although alive, he had not been conscious for a few days.

On May 10th he died, his body had been consumed for days by the disease. The rot that had already begun to occur was so bad that, "one of the workmen who placed [his body] in their lead coffin is said to have died from uncontrollable vomiting." Whether or not that is true it is a grim reminder of the severity of which this disease had affected that once strong bodied King.

10 comments

  1. Wow, I didn,t know all of these details- nor that you could catch the disease twice!

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  2. Oh my goodness, that's awful! What a way to go. :(

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  3. heh- sorry readers. I tried not to post this one too early in the morning ;)

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  4. One the workmen is said to have died of uncontrollable vomiting?? Dear me. If you ask me, that is as bad as or even worst then the pox.

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  5. No go in the timing department, Lauren. I was eating my Weetabix when I read your post... Of course, I suppose most people have had breakfast before nine.

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  6. To be honest it really is not fashionable to be up before 9am. At least not for anyone of good rank.

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  7. That's how I feel, but ever since the heathen masses overturned La Belle Paris, murdered the aristos and made being of the working class some sort of sign of bloody patriotism, I know many are up at at'em much earlier.
    Hey, I rented the 80's Scarlett Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews [?] and Jane Seymour and I am pretty sure that the accent he does when he's prissy Percy is the Cavendish Drawl. I think it must be.

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  8. I must be a real scumbag. I have to be up at 7a.m. to see my daughter off to school! lol :D Thankfully though, I was only sipping my cup of Earl Grey when I was reading this post. :)

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  9. Ooh, I just added the Scarlet Pimpernel to my Netflix list. Am very excited to see it now. :)

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