Heirs and Spares
It was not easy to be the second son. The younger brothers of the French kings could choose either to rebel or reconcile, but neither option was straightforward.
Rumours flew across Paris in the summer of 1658 that the 19-year-old Louis XIV was seriously ill, perhaps near death. Senior courtiers rushed to form a new government around the king’s younger brother by two years, Philippe, duke of Anjou. Philippe himself – known at court simply as ‘Monsieur’ – did little in support of this potential coup and, by the autumn, Louis having recovered, was rewarded for his passivity with the gift of a large country house on the outskirts of Paris, the château of Saint-Cloud.