Archive for October, 2017


I’m hooked on Ovation’s Versailles.

No, it’s not a story about a small town in Ohio, although that would be good…hmmmm, might have to work on that.

It is a somewhat fictionalized but mainly on point serving of life in the court of France’s Sun King, King Louis XIV.

Louis was the one who turned the hunting lodge of his father into the Palace that Represents the Old Regime.

It comes on every Saturday evening at 10; I watch it on demand later the next week.

George Blagden is transformed into Louis in a magnificent way and does a stellar job of portraying the Sun King.

His not so long suffering wife, Marie Terese of Spain is played by Elisa Lasowski, tolerates the many mistresses of King Louis on screen just as the real Queen did in person.

One of Louis’ most important maîtresse en titre, or mistress, was Françoise Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marquise of Montespan, who is played to perfection by Anna Brewster.

Seriously, it is great TV.  And for a history fool such as I, it’s like a trip to Disney!

They have white-washed Montespan a tad, and they have white-washed the Affaire des Poisons.  Oh, they talk about it, but they, so far, have left Montespan out of the mix.

Even with the whitewashing…I’m hooked.

The Affaire des Poisons blew UP in the Fall of 1677 and was the beginning of the end for the powerful mistress of the powerful king.

Montespan, a courtesan of the highest degree, was with the Affaire des Poisons under a cloud of suspicion.  The king began to think the beautiful woman and mother of seven of his illegitimate children was capable of murder.

The King strayed from the beautiful Athenais many times, but rarely for any length of time.  He was a rake, a sexual aggressor, and had hundreds of affairs.  Lady Antonia Fraser said that if Montespan or his mistress de jour couldn’t get her clothes off fast enough, he’d have a go at a chamber maid while waiting.

Really, he was one horny dude.

His eye fell upon and stayed upon one Duchess of Fontanges, and Montespan was relegated to the position of superintendent of the Queen’s household while he dallied with the Duchess.

Before the romance could set, the Duchess was dead.  Most suspected she was poisoned by Montespan or one of her minions, but no proof was offered.

Montespan was early on assumed by many to have been a player in the Affaire des Poisons, but no one could prove that either.

Fontanges death earlier than  the Affaire des Poisons which involved the murder of a minister and others in the French Cabinet.

Montespan’s name was mentioned in testimony when the poisoning cases were brought, and it was evident that the Marquise had dealings with La Voisin, the chief player in the Affaire des Poisons.

Prior to this scandal, La Voisin, or Catherine Monvoisin, carried out rituals and would create a special potion which Montespan would put in the King’s food to make him fall in love with her.

To make this potion, they – the witch and Montespan would call on the devil, pray to him for the king’s love, and sacrifice a new born child.

The child’s body would be crushed, the blood drained, the bones mashed, and the mixture would be added to the love potion for the king.

Historians believe Louis’ food was infused with such for thirteen years! La Voisin was arrested after a lengthy police investigation.

The Paris police found the remains of 2,500 infants in her garden.

No longer able obtain the potion from the witch, Montespan needed another source.

Enter Etienne Guibourg, a priest.  Guibourg would perform a black mass over the nude body of Montespan in a blood soaked ceremony.

Rumor has it, child sacrifice was involved.

The potions worked, at least in Montespan’s eyes.  Supplanting the current and pregnant mistress, she became the mistress of the king in 1667 and remained in that position for years.

Publicly, the ensuing scandal after the AdesP forced Louis and Montespan apart.  Privately, he visited her daily in her rooms at the palace.

Her hold was just that strong.

After a few years, and in 1691, Madame de Montespan “retired” to the Filles de Saint-Joseph convent with a pension from the King, and as a thank you for her leaving peacefully and not killing him, her father was created Governor of Paris, her brother the duc de Vivonne and a Marshal of France.

In her long retirement, Madame de Montespan donated vast sums to hospitals and charities. She was also a generous patron of the arts.

The king’s final mistress and the woman who would become his second wife, Madame de Maintenon helped Louis to cover UP the Affaire des Poisons, Montespan’s crimes and prevent further scandal.  After all, Montespan was the mother of many of the King’s children.

The enormity of her crimes became her safeguard.  The scandal was just too big not to cover UP.

Montespan’s final years were ones of severe penance.  Her death was a sorrowful blow to her surviving children when she died in 1707.

Louis, however, refused to allow them to wear mourning in her honor.

Wonder why?


Tomorrow is Halloween and the PC police are out in force.

I say…

…them.  The PC Police that is!

I’ve gone as a white rapper, Larry the Cable Guy’s dad, a Goth Kid, and once in the 80s as the Blue Nun, complete with wine bottle and roller skates…and that was to a Sunday School class party at the Baptist Church!

Get over it people.

Tonto – go ahead,

Pocahontas, have at it.

Moana, knock yourself out.

It’s Halloween, have fun, watch for cars, have mom and dad check your candy, and be safe.

Oh and while we’re at it.

Buy full sized candy bars!!!

Fun size my Aunt Fanny!

Like I said, go where ya wanna go, be what ya wanna be.


Mind Your Manners…

…today is Emily Post’s birthday.

Well, sorta.  Folks aren’t really sure what exact day the etiquette maven was born, but October 25 is generally accepted as her birth date.

I’ve heard of Emily Post all my life, my dad was a big fan, and often mentioned when our manners were off point, that Miss Emily would not be pleased.

Dad was a stickler for good behavior.

Born Emily Prince in Baltimore, she was educated at home by her mom until she was old enough to head to a finishing school in New York where her parents had moved.

She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth as the saying goes.

There she learned how to dance, be coy, have proper manners, which fork to use, and how to say, “Do tell?”

Some of you will get that.

Her biographers refer to her as “…tall, pretty, and spoiled…a woman who grew UP in a world of grand estates, her life governed by carefully delineated rituals…”

Sounds all very Downton Abbey gone American.

But things weren’t always great.

She met and eventually married Edwin Main Post, a banker at a ball in a 5th Avenue mansion.  Married at 20, her husband took her on a honeymoon tour of Europe, and the couple came home to Washington Square.

They had two sons.

But, alas, Mr. Post was a cad, a rake, a playah!  He had an affinity for chorus girls and starlets, so Emily divorced him in 1905.

As soon as they were old enough, Emily packed the boys off to boarding school, and started a career in writing.

She was a blogger in pre-blog days.

She wrote for newspapers.  Her articles on architecture and interior design were hits along with her short stories and serials.

She also wrote five novels.

And tour books, she was big on tour books, some of which were quite humorous.

Her biggest contribution to modern American society was her voluminous work on etiquette.

She published her first book on the topic, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home in 1922; she was 50.

Dinitia Smith claims Post’s popularity stemmed from the fact that etiquette books were always popular in America.  After all, it was a nation of immigrants and the nouveau riche.  Smith claimed that “…men had to be taught not to blow their noses into their hands or spit tobacco onto ladies’ backs…”

Gee, and I was just worried about which fork to use!

Arthur Schlesinger said, “…etiquette books were part of the leveling-UP process of democracy.”  It was an attempt to resolve the conflict between the democratic ideal and the reality of class in America.

Post took the genre of etiquette books to a new level.  Hers read like short story collections.  They even had recurring characters; the Toploftys, the Eminents, the Rican Vulgars, and such.

Since her death at the age of 87 in 1960, her work has been continued by her progeny.

Several of her great-grand children are writers, bloggers, and manners experts.  The Emily Post Institute which she created along with her son Ned in 1946, continues to promote good manners and civility around the world.  Realizing and admitting that manners change over time, the institute assists presidents, potentates, and peons on what’s right and what’s not.  They also monitor and explain the evolution of society.

Since her first work on the topic in 1922, Ms Post’s name has come to define proper etiquette and manners.

I’m sure Miss Manners may dispute that, but that’s another argument for another day.

Oh, and just in case.  Start with the fork furthest out and work your way in.

Only One Choice

His hands trembled as he opened the door for her; she was nervous too.

As they sat at the table and the waiter welcomed them with chatter and the specials, he calmed a bit.

This was it, this was the night, he was sure he’d have the nerve to ask.

And she knew.

He gazed at her over the menu and knew there was only one thing he wanted; he couldn’t stop himself; he couldn’t wait.

“Marry me!” he said.


Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. Click on the link right here to find out more and link your own post. While you’re there, click on the blue frog button to find more stories from some wonderful storytellers.

This week’s prompt was menu.