Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Closer Look - Château de Bussy-Rabutin - de Sévigné - Essay

Château de Bussy-Rabutin, Burgundy France

"...a vain and flattery-obsessed woman who sucked up outrageously to the King..."

A Closer Look - Château de Bussy-Rabutin - de Sévigné

In my class on the history and architecture of Burgundy France, we studied the Château de Bussy-Rabutin, a 12th century fortress castle, rebuilt in the 14th century, with Renaissance galleries added in the 1520s.  The chateau's symmetrical façade and comparatively smaller scale make it architecturally breathtaking.  How interesting that the chateau belonged to Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy, who was a cousin of Chantal de Sévigné, acclaimed in France as the First Lady of Letters.  In my library is a collection of de Sévigné's letters, which I have read numerous times.

Due to boredom, Comte de Bussy published a mocking portrait of his celebrated cousin, in which he criticized her miss-matched eyes and described a vain and flattery-obsessed woman who sucked up outrageously to the King and Queen.  The two cousins loved each other and eventually reconciled, but due to hurt pride, de Sévigné never allowed her beloved cousin Roger to forget his betrayal.

The gods punished him.  Gossips accused Bussy of participating in debauched orgies during the Easter holy week.  During Easter!  This so annoyed King Louis XIV, despite the fact that he himself sired many children by his mistresses, he banished Bussy to live in exile at his chateau in Burgundy, a boring existence away from court, which made Le Comte miserable.

The chateau is known for its very fine portrait gallery, which includes a portrait of de Sévigné.


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