ARTICLES: The park of the deer

The park of the deer   

by Lorenzo Crivellin

This topic is one of the most delicate and difficult to understand. It is extremely modern because nowadays Madame de Pompadour is still discredited as everyone thinks that she was the inventor and the manager at the same time. She was unjustly blamed as the charge was absolutely false.

After five years of cohabitation the love between the King and Madame de Pompadour weakened due to her basic coldness, which had to confront the opposite attitude of the King.

Louis XV possessed a double mentality, he was totally aware of being the King of France but he considered himself also a simple, normal person. Whether in financial or affective field, he strongly looked for a private life. Therefore he decided to equip a “pied a terre”, an alcove for his lovers; following the fashion of the period, he built a house, an elegant cottage for his sexual encounters. Furthermore the King and the Queen stopped their sexual intercourse, because of her age (the Queen was older than her husband) as well as for a lot of other reasons. Could the King stay chaste for the rest of his life? It was impossible because he was offered a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately the influence of the Jesuits was really strong, they didn’t accept the King’s mistress because they considered her presence a scandal, and they demanded an impeccable attitude, an example for every Christian. After the death of both the Queen and Madame de Pompadour, they even tried to arrange a marriage for the King with some ugly, crowned woman just to build up a ‘clean’ façade.

The girls were hosted in succession in this elegant residence, and were “offered” to the King by the families or found by gentlemen of chamber. It was quite discreet but embarrassing and sometimes the situation slid towards cowardice. Why so?

At that time a man responsible for a pregnancy had to marry the girl. But obviously the King couldn’t. Therefore he arranged marriages for the girls who were taken to live at the Park of the Deer afterwards. If they got pregnant they were sent away with a life annuity without legitimisation for the baby: it is estimated that he had more than a dozen of children (maitressesroyales: Les Bâtards de Louis XV ).

I wrote about cowardice because there was the episode of a girl cheated by the man that she used to meet in this place: he told her to be a Count with the real intention of marry her. The girl discovered the sad truth after having given birth to a baby so decided to get closed into a convent.

This is the point, Madame de Pompadour had to bear this offensive situation. She had to solve the problems in order to hide any scandal, as well as to manage the troubles of the Kingdom. While the King, of course, amused himself. She had to prevent any girl from becoming the new favourite mistress, not because of fear of loosing her role but to avoid what she would confront with the Countess of Barry in the future. Due to this Countess the Monarchy totally lost the affection and support of the French people, leading the country to the revolution.

Madame de Pompadour didn’t manage to resolve everything so, after her death, the world that she had known and loved collapsed.

Lorenzo Crivellin