Another Side of Cinderella: Life in the Court of Louis XIV by Jessica Cale @JessicaCale @RomAuthorsAtLrg
Another Side of Cinderella: Life in the Court of Louis XIV
The story of Cinderella is known around the world and has been told in many variations for thousands of years. The story that we are familiar with, however, was developed in the seventeenth century by Charles Perrault, secretary to King Louis XIV under Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Called Cendrillon, ou La petite Pantoufle de Verre, it tells the story much as we know it, with the exception of Cinderella attending multiple balls instead of just the one. The moral of the story would have been particularly true of his time and position: no matter how beautiful, clever, or polite you are, these qualities won’t get you anywhere without the favor of a patron.
The court of Louis XIV was extremely competitive. There were thousands of courtiers vying for his favor and going to extreme lengths to secure it. The Palace of Versailles was still being expanded at this time to accommodate more of them, and those who could not stay at the palace secured rented lodgings in the village of Versailles not far outside the palace. Life at court was at turns boring, uncomfortable, and dangerous, but ultimately exhilarating.
Activities were kept to a tight schedule that included witnessing the king’s levée, the elaborate ritual of observing his waking and dressing that took place every morning, hearing the daily mass, and attending plays, concerts, hunting excursions, balls, gaming nights, and the hours when the king was “at home” to his court, which largely involved watching him play billiards until the dancing began.
All of this would have taken place in constrictive and prohibitively expensive clothing and uncomfortable shoes. For those who were allowed by the rules of precedence to sit, there were very few places to do so and none of them comfortable. Supper was not often eaten until eleven o’clock in the evening and there were very few opportunities to eat during the day, so the average courtier hoping to gain the king’s favor would find themselves uncomfortable, faint from hunger, and no doubt tired of all the merriment they were expected to enjoy on a daily basis. Those who rented lodgings could not expect to see them in the daylight hours, and would only use them for the precious few hours of sleep they were able to steal each night.
Being a courtier was expensive and very difficult with endless rules of etiquette and precedence to remember at all times, and favor was never guaranteed. Those who were fortunate enough to win the king’s ear (or bed) became targets for rivals hoping to usurp their place. These rivals could go to extreme lengths as they fought to increase their own standing, including but not limited to the use of magic and poison that was discovered in the Affair of the Poisons, a murder scandal that took place in France between 1676 and 1682. While wit, charm, and grace would be useful to a courtier, few of them could hope to achieve their aims without patrons of better standing.
Both Perrault and his Cendrillon play significant parts in my book, The Long Way Home. In this story, barmaid Alice Henshawe saves the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, who becomes her real-life fairy godmother when she takes her to Versailles as her handmaiden. There, Alice meets Perrault as he is working on his story and becomes the inspiration for it. She is quickly adopted as a court favorite and is affectionately called Cendrillon. Her sudden transformation from a maid to a courtier reflects the story, certainly, but after she is accepted at court, all bets are off. After all, Perrault’s Cendrillon never had to deal with a poison plot or a fairy godmother given to fits of madness.
Elizabeth Charlotte Duchesse d’Orleans, Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency.
W.H. Lewis, The Splendid Century.
Anne Somerset, The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV.
Guy Walton, Louis XIV’s Versailles.
You can read Perrault’s Cendrillon here: ttp://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault06.html
The Long Way Home
(The Southwark Saga, Book 3)
By Jessica Cale
Release Date: February 29th, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance, Adult Fairytale, Romantic Comedy, Action/Adventure
A paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes…it’s not easy being Cinderella.
After saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.
Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.
When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?
“Really brilliant writing that's so engaging with such endearing characters! I especially love the way Jack and Alice are both so devoted to each other! I was totally absorbed in this exciting and fascinating world Jessica Cale created from the very first paragraph to the last! I read this all in one sitting, staying awake late to finish, just had to!” – Romazing Reader
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About the author
Jessica Cale is the award-winning author of the historical romance series, The Southwark Saga. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in North Carolina.
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