chapter  6
19 Pages

THE COURT DRAMATIST

Nevertheless, through this turbulent time, entertainment occupied the young Louis. In 1652 the Venetian Ambassador observed that the King (aged fourteen) had no taste for his council but that ‘games, dances and comedies are the King’s sole pursuits’1 and Choisy contrasted the efforts of Mazarin with the indolence of his master who ‘amused himself at the reviews, at the dances, at the ballets; […] he lived as a private person without troubling himself with anything’.2

Some suspected that the apparent frivolity of the monarchy was cultivated by Mazarin as a cloak for the severer aspects of his own ambitions. The cardinal ‘invited gaiety to approach the throne … to render his power less invidious’.3 Whatever his enthusiasm for such amusements there was an element in the upbringing and personality of the King which integrated his pleasures closely with his sense of identity and mission. The shrewd memorialist Madame de Motteville noticed that despite the King’s devotion to his divertissement there was a certain preoccupation: ‘I often noticed with astonishment that in his games and amusements the King never laughed’.4