Rip Torn as Louis XV
After the dazzling, multifaceted talents and dynamic
energy of Louis XIV (September 5), his great-grandson and heir, Louis XV was
a major disappointment, Crippled by his self-indulgence, promiscuity,
laziness, and indifference to the political challenges within
France and the rest of Europe. Louis failed to rule effectively and
plunged the country into near bankruptcy and caused his nation to
despise the monarchy - the two factors that led to the French revolution.
Louis seemed to be aware of the forces of anti-monarchism threatening his
family's rule and yet failed to do anything to stop them. Popular legend
holds that Louis predicted, "After me, the deluge" ("Après moi, le déluge").
Louis is remembered more for his series of mistresses than by any aspect of his reign
- two of which, Madame de Pompadourand Madame du Berry
captured and fascinated the world's' s imagination and interest for nearly
Louis XV has been a principal character in
more than 30 films, many of which focused on his mistresses, Tthe most
memorable portrayals of Louis were by John Barrymore in Marie Antoinette (1938), Red Skelton
Du Barry was a Lady (1943), André Luguet in Madame du Barry (1954), and Rip Torn in Marie Antoinette (2006).
Louis' initial sexual escapades were homosexual, not because of sexual
preference but by his Regent's (Philippe II, Duke of Orléans) fear of
allowing any ambitious young girls from taking advantage of the young king's
sexual inexperience. The young boys with whom Louis shared his first sexual
experiences were rounded up and exiled. When Louis asked what had happened
to his friends, the young monarch was told that they were caught pulling up
fence posts in the royal park and were banished for their vandalism.
After this scandal, Louis was quickly married of to Maria Leczinska the daughter of the dethroned and exiled Polish king,
Stanislas Leczinski Although several years older than Louis
and relatively plain, Louis was attracted to her ripe, Rubenesque sexuality.
Unfortunately, Marie was sexually frigid and preferred cooking instead. Louis'
sexual frustrations eventually led him to a series of other women
Louis's first four mistresses
were the de Nesle sisters, only one of which,
Madame de Chateauroux, was attractive. However, like her sisters, she was a
self-centered golddigger. She
demanded a grand house in Paris, jewels, and a monthly income. Any children
that might be born were to be legitimized . Louis XV, deeply in love, accepted
all her demands. Although
Madame de Chateauroux
used and abused the king, she was probably
the great passion of his life. In August of 1744, the king became seriously
ill and it was apparent he might die. To prepare himself, he knew he had to
dismiss his mistress and ask the queen to his side. When the people realized
that she had been dismissed, they threw rotting vegetables at her carriage
and jeered at her.
But Louis recovered and for some unknown reason took up with the remaining de Nesle sisters
who were not only ugly,
untalented, selfish, and generally unbearable. The sisters never
bathed and the husband of one of them, the rather masculine Madame de Vintamille,
once remarked "'This bitch smells like
a monkey." Due
to their smell or Louis' increasing appreciation of beauty and class, the
de Nesle dynasty was eventually replaced by the brilliant and talented
Madame de Pompadour . Eventually her age, increasing weight, and
wrinkles led Louis to search for younger sexual partners
Pompadour became the
king s royal procuress, recruiting young bourgeois girls for her former
lover's pleasure and who were housed were placed in the king's private
whorehouse (Le Parc aux Cerfs).
Louis' aging sexual passions
were eventually directed exclusively towards his last official mistress,
Madame du Barry who was required to produce aphrodisiac dishes to
tempt the king's libido. However, du Berry also created a peach and almond
torte which she named after her lover, biscuit de peche, a la
royal (the King's Peach Torte)
Louis's obsession with
aphrodisiacs helped popularize mushrooms in French cooking because of the
belief that because of their phallic shape, the fungi were aphrodisiacs.
To ensure a continued supply, Louis created the first commercial
mushroom farms n which thousands of the fungi were grown in twenty miles of underground caves and tunnels
outside of Paris. The majority of mushroom dishes termed a la royal
commemorate Louis XIV's passion for the fungi.