Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete

Author: Various

Section XVIII. The Duc De Berri.

It is not surprising that the manners of the Duc de Berri were not very elegant, since he was educated by Madame de Maintenon and the Dauphine as a valet de chambre. He was obliged to wait upon the old woman at table, and at all other times upon the Dauphine’s ladies, with whom he was by day and night. They made a mere servant of him, and used to talk to him in a tone of very improper familiarity, saying, "Berri, go and fetch me my work; bring me that table; give me my scissors."

Their manner of behaving to him was perfectly shameful. This had the effect of degrading his disposition, and of giving him base propensities; so that it is not surprising he should have been violently in love with an ugly femme de chambre. His good father was naturally of rather a coarse disposition.

But for that old Maintenon, the Duc de Berri would have been humpbacked, like the rest who had been made to carry iron crosses.

The Duc de Berri’s character seemed to undergo a total change; it is said to be the ordinary lot of the children in Paris that, if they display any sense in their youth, they become stupid as they grow older.

It was in compliance with the King’s will that he married. At first he was passionately fond of his wife; but at the end of three months he fell in love with a little, ugly, black femme de chambre. The Duchess, who had sufficient penetration, was not slow in discovering this, and told her husband immediately that, if he continued to live upon good terms with her, as he had done at first, she would say nothing about it, and act as if she were not acquainted with it; but if he behaved ill, she would tell the whole affair to the King, and have the femme de chambre sent away, so that he should never hear of her again. By this threat she held the Duke, who was a very simple man, so completely in check, that he lived very well with her up to his death, leaving her to do as she pleased, and dying himself as fond as ever of the femme de chambre. A year before his death he had her married, but upon condition that the husband should not exercise his marital rights. He left her pregnant as well as his wife, both of whom lay-in after his decease. Madame de Berri, who was not jealous, retained this woman, and took care of her and her child.

The Duke abridged his life by his extreme intemperance in eating and drinking. He had concealed, besides, that in falling from his horse he had burst a blood-vessel. He threatened to dismiss any of his servants who should say that he had lost blood. A number of plates were found in the ruelle of his bed after his death. When he disclosed the accident it was too late to remedy it. As far as could be judged his illness proceeded from gluttony, in consequence of which emetics were so frequently administered to him that they hastened his death.

He himself said to his confessor, the Pere de la Rue, "Ah, father, I am myself the cause of my death!"

He repented of it, but not until too late.


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Chicago: Various, "Section XVIII. The Duc De Berri.," Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853 and trans. Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809 in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Various. "Section XVIII. The Duc De Berri." Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, edited by Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853, and translated by Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809, in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Various, 'Section XVIII. The Duc De Berri.' in Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from