Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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


"...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.  This chateau's symmetrical façade and comparatively smaller scale make it architecturally breathtaking.  It interests me 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.

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 with hurt pride, de Sevigne never allowed her beloved Roger to forget his betrayal.

The gods punished him.  Gossips accused Bussy of participating in debauched orgies during the Easter holy week, of all times. This so annoyed King Louis XIV, despite having 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 Sevigne.