2023 Author: Alex Livingston | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 11:39
Few people know this, but they are used to keeping gods with them cats as pets, it first spread to France in the early 18th century. Long-haired cats were the most popular, especially the Turkish Angora: many nobles, as well as the royal family itself, boasted at least one example. In this article we will tell you about the history to say Louis XV and her beloved cat.
Cardinal Richelieu with some of his cats.
The first example of Turkish Angora was introduced in France in 1620 by Nicholas Fabri de Peiresc, who had bought it in Rome from the Italian explorer Pietro della Valle. The Angora bought one in France such great fame which in England, at least until the nineteenth century, were known simply as "French cats".
The white specimens were obviously the favorite ones at the court of Versailles: Louis XV's wife, Queen Marie Leszczyńska, owned one, while Marie Antoinette came to own six and Cardinal Richelieu even fourteen.
A widespread popular legend tells that following his arrest, during the French Revolution, Maria Antonietta he gave precise instructions for his beloved cats to be brought to safety in America; it also seems that once there they were let loose and gave rise to the Maine Coon breed.
Brillant, Louis XV's Angora cat.
Louis XV, king of France from 1715 to 1774 owned both dogs and cats but his passion for the latter was much stronger. At the age of 12, he personally took care of his cat Charlotte when she gave birth to 4 kittens. According to a story by the Marquis of Calvière, however, the young king wanted to hold the puppies in his hand long enough to cause the death of 3 of them within 24 hours.
Upon reaching adulthood, he became particularly fond of an Angora cat named Brillant, specially given to him by the Turkish ambassador. This cat was granted special privileges: it usually perched on the fireplace of the cabinet du Conseil, the luxurious hall of the palace of Versailles where the meetings of the King's Council were held.
Brillant's chief care officer was Louis Quentin, Marquis of Champcenetz, and he is the protagonist of an anecdote reported by Jean-Nicolas Dufort de Cheverny that makes us understand how much the king cared about his cat.
The king owned a white Angora cat incredibly large, very quiet and friendly; he used to sleep in the cabinet du Conseil on a crimson damask cushion in the center of the mantel above the fireplace. The King always returned to the pétits appartements at half past midnight. It was not yet midnight, and Champcenetz said to us "Do you know that I can make a cat dance for a few minutes?" We laughed and bet on it.
Champcenetz took a flask out of his pocket, stroked the cat and poured a little Eau De Mille Fleurs [distillate based on white wine and cow urine]. The cat went back to sleep and we all thought we had won the bet; but suddenly, feeling the effects of the horrible liquid, he jumped to the ground making a penetrating noise. He ran across the King's table, growling, limping and hopping as if in the middle of a ballet. We were all laughing out loud at that show, when suddenly the King appeared out of nowhere: we all went back to our seats, trying to recover a serious expression.
The King asked what was so funny. "Nothing, Sire, we were just telling a story," Champcenetz said. Just then the cat resumed its strange dance, running away like a madman. The King watched him carefully. “Gentlemen,” he asked, “what's going on? Champcenetz, what have you done to my cat? I want to know it".
The question was very serious, and Champcenetz hesitated only for a moment before briefly summarizing what had happened as the cat continued its dance. He reported the story smiling, and looking the King in the eyes to understand how he would react. But the King frowned and said, “Gentlemen, that's the end of it. But if you want to have fun again in the future, I trust you won't do it at my cat's expense”. And he said it so firmly that no one else ever tried to make the cat dance. It only happened that time.
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