Louis XIV Advent calendar

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Advent is now here. We have compiled a special numismatic calendar this year.

Twenty-six wonders of the Sun King to discover before Christmas.

A new item, quote, surprise, anecdote, or other interesting content to discover each day between now and Christmas.

Louis XIV Advent calendar
Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 24

Louis d’or au soleil

To conclude this sunny Advent calendar, a splendid coin was necessary. The louis d'or au soleil has been struck from 1709 to 1714, at the end of the long reign of Louis XIV. It has been created by the Engraver General, Norbert Roëttiers.

On the obverse, the king is aging (71 years old) but the majesty remains. On the reverse, a cross drawn with 8 letters L and, at the core, the sun continuing to shine brightly.

Coin France

Louis XIV, Louis d'or au soleil, Louis d'Or, 1711, Amiens

Here comes the end of this Advent calendar.

We hope you liked it and we wish you a merry Christmas.

 

29 Novembre 2020
30 Novembre - Louis d'or "à la mèche longue"
Jules Mazarin by Le Nain
Ultima ratio regum
Lis d'or 1656
Jean de la Fontaine
1/4 écu à la cravate
J'ai failli attendre
Charles-Francois Félix de Tassy
Lulli
Louis d'Or aux insignes
Maison Royale de Saint-Louis
Liard de France
Stag Hunt at Versailles
Académie des Inscriptions et Médailles
Louis XIV by Juste d'Egmont
Louis d'or au buste juvénile tête laurée
C'est le premier chagrin qu'elle m'ait causé
Marquise de Sévigné
Molière Medal
Louis d’or aux 4 L
Madame de Montespan par Mignard
Nicolas de la Reynie, lieutenant générale de police de Paris
II sols de Strasbourg
Jean Varin et Louis XIV enfant
Louis d’or au soleil

 

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 23

Jean Varin

Jean Varin was a coin and medal engraver under the reign of Louis XIII then Engraver General under Louis XIV's one. He revolutionized the numismatic by being the first to generalize the use of the screw press technique at the expense of the hammered coinage.

Painting : "Jean Varin and childish Louis XIV" by François Lemaire (1654).

Coin France

Louis XIV, Écu à la mèche courte, Ecu, 1643, Paris, AU(55-58)

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 22

30 sols de Strasbourg

In 1681, Louis XIV conquers the city of Strasbourg. However, the city retains the right to strike its own currency: coin of 30 sols de Strasbourg and its divisions, coins of 15, 10, 4 and 2 sols. This right lasts until 1690. By decree the currency can be used in the whole Alsatian region. Here, this coin of II sols has been struck in an uncharted year (1685), a rarity.

Coin France

2 Sols, 1685, Strasbourg, EF(40-45), Billon, KM:246, Gadoury:98

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 21

Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie

In the 17th century, due to a great disorganization of police services, Paris is one of the most dangerous city in Europe. The "Cour des Miracles", major place of crime, prospers. In order to manage this issue, Louis XIV launches a police reformation council driven by the chancellor Pierre Séguier from October 1666 to February 1667. In March 1667, Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie becomes the first lieutenant general of Paris police.

France Medal

Louis XIV, Pierre Séguier, 1663, Warin, AU(55-58), Silver

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 20

Favorites

During its long and lavish reign, Louis XIV had many favorites. There has been the first one, the young Louise de La Vallière, who finally retreated to a convent. Then the Marquise de Montespan, the most flamboyant, embroiled in the scandal of the Affair of the Poisons. And lastly, Madame de Maintenon, his morganatic wife after the queen death.

Painting: "Marquise de Montespan" by Pierre Mignard (17th century).

France Medal

Louis XIV, Le Duel Aboli, 1662, Mauger, AU(50-53), Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 19

Louis d’or aux 4 L

This louis d'or has been created by the engraver Joseph Roëttiers. It has been struck in 1694. In that year, the Sun King is 56 years old. On the obverse, you may read LVD. XIIII. D. G, a sun engraving, then FR. ET. NAV. REX.

"Louis XIIII, by the grace of God, king of France and Navarre".

Coin France

Louis XIV, Louis d'or aux 4 L, Louis d'Or, 1694, Montpellier

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 18

Staging

The 17th century in France was a century of theater, with famous authors. Let's mention the dramatists Corneille and Racine and, of course, the king of comedy: Jean-Baptiste Poquelin under the alias of Molière. His sharp view on human beings, his style, sometimes caustic, always humorous and his undeniable talent have made him successful.

Painting: "Molière" by Pierre Mignard (1665)

“Beauty without intelligence is like a hook without bait.”

Molière, Tartuffe

 

France Medal

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin de Molière, Arts & Culture, Domard

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 17

Correspondence

Madame de Sévigné is a correspondent who lived at the Sun King's court. Thanks to the "Lettres" (Letters) she wrote between 1671 and 1696 - year of her death - we learn a lot about how was the life at court and about contemporary small and big events. 

Painting: “Marquise de Sévigné” by Claude Lefèbvre (circa 1665)

"Life is short, and you are not so young, no need to hurry."

Letter from Madame de Sévigné to Comte de Bussy-Rabutin, August 13 1688

 

France Medal

Galerie des Grands Hommes, Marie Rabutin de Sévigné, History

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 16

Death of a queen

Due to a poorly treated abscess which turned into sepsis, queen Marie-Thérèse of Austria died in July 30th 1683 at Versailles. She was 45 years old.

She was unloved and the king cheated on her time and again. Louis XIV would have said when she died: "C'est le premier chagrin qu'elle m'ait causé" (This is the first sorrow she caused me).

France Medal

Louis XIV, Mort de la Reine, 1683, Mauger, MS(60-62), Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 15

Louis d'or au buste juvénile laurée

This type of louis named "au buste juvénile laurée" (juvenile bust with a laurel wreath) has been created by the engraver Warin. It has been struck for the first time in 1658. In that year, the Sun King is 20 years old.

On the obverse, a bust of young Louis XIV, with long hair, crowned by a laurel wreath. On the reverse, a cross drawn with letter L and, at the core, the mint letter. Here the letter A for Paris mint.

Coin France

Louis XIV, Louis d'or au buste juvénile, tête laurée, Louis

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 14

Coronation

Church of Notre-Dame de Reims, June 7th 1654

"The prelate (Bishop of Soissons) placed the Charlemagne's crown on the king's head (...). The crown was heavy and the officiant told Louis XIV to press it on his head, and he (the king) answered: «It fits well, and with God's help, it will never come off it.»" Extract of "The coronation of Louis XIV" by Hervé Pinoteau.

Painting : Louis XIV by Juste d'Egmont.

Below, a restrike of a silver commemorative medal.

France Token

Louis XIV, Sacre à Reims, 1654, Restrike, MS(63), Silver

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 13

A Royal Academy

The "Académie des inscriptions et médailles" is founded in 1663 by the prime minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. The academy is responsible of the mottos, French or Latine, engraved on monuments, medals and coins. In 1701, it becomes the "Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres" and its mandate is expanded.

France Medal

Louis XIV, établissement de l'Académie des Inscriptions et

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 12

Versailles

Sober hunting lodge under the reign of Louis XIII, Versailles became a somptuous castle under the reign of Louis XIV after colossal works started in 1661. In 1682, the king and his court left the Louvres behind and settled in the castle of Versailles. In that year, the Sun King is 44 years old.

Illustration : "A Stag Hunt at Versailles", attributed to Jean-Baptiste Martin.

France Medal

Louis XIV, Le Château de Versailles, 1680, Mauger, AU(55-58)

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 11

Phrase

The liard de France was worth 3 deniers, or 1/80th livre tournois (decimal system has been adopted much later, in 1795). Let's say it was a small weight: less than 4 grams of copper. That's why the phrase "ne pas avoir un liard" (literally: not owning any liard) was commonly used in the 17th century when you were broke.

Coin France

Louis XIV, Liard de France au buste juvénile, deuxième type

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 10

Saint-Cyr

At the behest of Madame de Maintenon whom he (discreetly) married in 1683, Louis XIV has founded the "Maison Royale de Saint-Louis" in 1686. This residential school for young and poor girls originated from nobility has been settled in Saint-Cyr. Its residents were known as the "Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr". The institution didn't make it through the French Revolution but its buildings host now the prestigious military academy of Saint-Cyr.

France Medal

Louis XIV, Maison Royale de SAint-Cyr, 1687, Mauger, AU(55-58)

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 9

Louis d'or aux insignes

Coin shown here today is named "Louis d'or aux insignes". This one has been struck in 1704 in Paris. In that year, the Sun King is 66 years old.

Two varieties of this type of coin are known. On one, Louis XIV wears a long hair wig, on the other one, as here, he wears a short wig. On the reverse, you may read "IMP. CHRS. REGN. VINC.": "The Christ reigns, conquers and commands".

Coin France

Louis XIV, Louis d'or aux insignes, Louis d'Or, 1704, Paris

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 8

Baroque music

Jean-Baptiste Lully was born in 1632 in Florence (Italy)  and passed away in 1687 in Paris.  Neat courtier and talented composer, he became superintendent of the royal music and music master of the royal family in 1661. Here the "Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs", composed for Molière's play "Le bourgeois gentilhomme".

 

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 7

Surgical strike

Early 1686, Louis XIV does not feel so good. Indeed, an unfortunate and painful anal fistula prevents the king from horse riding and he has to travel by sedan-chair. Fortunately, Charles-Francois Félix de Tassy, his surgeon, invents a surgical device that helps him to cure the king one year later. Following this happy ending, there are big celebrations throughout the kingdom.

France Medal

Louis XIV, Festin à l'Hôtel de Ville de Paris, 1687, Mauger

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 6

Impatience

"I have almost waited."

The quote is often credited to Louis XIV, waiting for a coach. Nevertheless, that's more an assumption than a fact.

However, in her "Memories", the Duchess of Orléans relates that he didn't tolerate delays.

France Royal

États de Bretagne, Vannes, Louis XIV, 1693, Medal, VF(30-35)

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 5

Rare & Stylish

The écu "à la cravate" (with a tie) is a creative and unusual coin. Indeed, at that time, the king is traditionally dressed as an ancient figure. On the contrary, on this one, Louis XIV is trendy: with a wig, wearing an elegant tie and bearing a thin moustache. If the écu à la cravate is (relatively) common, its divisions, as here the 1/4 d'écu, are rare.

Coin France

Louis XIV, 1/4 Écu à la cravate, 1/4 Ecu, 1679, Aix, AU(50-53)

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 4

Impertinence

If the Sun King was an art lover and if he made them glowing during his reign, some artists were less estimated than others.

Due to the delightful fabulist Jean de la Fontaine's literary impertinence and his strong friendship with the abhorred Fouquet, the king didn't valued him.

Here, the fabulist's portrait by Henri Millot (1699).

"This lesson, courtly reader, is for you.
If at the court you wish to please the ear,
Be no base flatterer, nor speak sincere."

"The lion's court" - Jean de la Fontaine

 

FRANCE Arts & Culture

Jean de la Fontaine, Medal, MS(60-62), Gatteaux, Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 3rd

Rarity

The Lis d'or has been only struck in 1656 and 1657. It's gold, it's shiny, and it's rare. This new coin, hard to counterfeit, has been issued to fight the use of forged Louis d'or. Unfortunately, the population did not embrace it and the manufacturing stopped in two years. The Lis d'or was definitely out of circulation in 1679.

FRANCE Arts & Culture

Jean de la Fontaine, Medal, MS(60-62), Gatteaux, Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 2nd

Motto

Cardinal Richelieu, prime minister of late Louis XIII, valued the latin expression "Ultima ratio regum" a lot. It literally means "The final argument of kings". When all diplomatic actions are depleted, you may use the force. Louis XIV appropriated it and engraved it on his cannons.

FRANCE Arts & Culture

Jean de la Fontaine, Medal, MS(60-62), Gatteaux, Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

December 1st

Cardinal Mazarin

When Louis XIII dies, the young Louis XIV is still a child. His mother, Anne of Austria, is the Regent. She is supported by Cardinal Mazarin who is Prime Minister. It's a shady period and the Fronde, led by the "Grand Condé", is brewing. Here, Mazarin's portrait by Mathieu Le Nain.

FRANCE Arts & Culture

Jean de la Fontaine, Medal, MS(60-62), Gatteaux, Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

November 30

Louis d'or "à la mèche longue"

This louis d'or has been struck in 1652 and the young king depicted on it is 14 years old. The coin design has been created by the engraver Jean Varin. On the obverse, you may read "LVD. XIIII. D. G. FR. ET. NAV. REX.", which means "Louis XIIII, by the grace of God, king of France and Navarre".

FRANCE Arts & Culture

Jean de la Fontaine, Medal, MS(60-62), Gatteaux, Bronze

Louis XIV Advent calendar

November 29

Historical landmarks

Louis XIV is born in 1638 and is crowned king of France in 1654, at 16 years old. In 1660, he marries Marie-Thérèse of Austria,  Infanta of Spain. She becomes then queen of France and Navarre.

FRANCE Arts & Culture

Jean de la Fontaine, Medal, MS(60-62), Gatteaux, Bronze

Illustrations:

“Louis XIV et la famille royale” by Jean Nocret (1670) (Public Domain)

"Portrait équestre de Louis XIV" by Rene Antoine Houasse (circa 1679) (Public Domain)

Selection published on 30/11/2020
Article themes:
Christmas History