In an earlier post, I mentioned the false allegations that 1) Louis XIV only bathed twice in his life, and 2) that he had 2000 enemas. Louis XIV did bathe, and although he had a monthly enema and bleeding (believed to expel bad humours), he certainly could not possibly have had 2000.

Gary McCollim, whom I often quote here, has this to say:

Your blog had a note on 30 March about an article claiming that Louis XIV only bathed twice in his life. Stanis Perez who has written a book entitled La Santé de Louis XIV (Champ Vallon, 2007) says that this story is often repeated and is not true (p. 241). The king often bathed on orders from his doctors whenever he was sick. As a youth he often went swimming in the rivers. An bath was installed at Versailles in 1672. I could go on, but the story never dies. His grandfather Henri IV, however, was known to smell like a goat because he rarely bathed but this too might be a false story.

The Enema, by Abraham Bosse

As to the number of enemas the king had, once a month he pris médecin. This meant a bleeding and an enema, what was called a lavement. Lavements were regularly prescribed for various illnesses. As to the number 2000, he would have to have lived 166 years to have one once a month or to have been ill many, many times. Whether he held court or received people or not, he continued his regular activities on these days. Everyone at court knew that the king was taking his medicine on these days.

Saint-Simon tells a story that the duchesse de Bourgogne, the favorite of the king and Maintenon, actually had an enema inserted while she was in the presence of the king and Maintenon. Maintenon was shocked, according to Saint-Simon, but the story left me with the impression that this was some sort of thrill for the youth of that day to see how long they could……. Kind of like kids today and glue sniffing or whatever.

I’ve read the story of the duchesse de Bourgogne before, and the logistics of the act perplex me. I’ve also read an account of a woman who liked her lover to give her enemas rather too often. Clearly, there is more to this than we know!