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Fit For a King

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Jeremy Black examines the claim that Louis XV may have used contraception.

A fascinating hitherto unnoticed letter suggests that Louis XV of France may well have used contraceptives, British contraceptives at that, which he obtained with the help of the British Embassy. The letter was sent from Paris on April 26th, 1749 by Colonel Joseph Yorke the British Secretary of Embassy there. Yorke, the third son of the first Earl of Hardwicke, had served as aide-de- camp to the Duke of Cumberland during the recent War of the Austrian Succession, and he sent his report of Louis XV's amatory investment to the latter. The letter can be found in Cumberland's papers now held in the Royal Archives. It is printed as in the original. There was no subsequent mention of the episode in Yorke's correspondence.


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