Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pompe et Cérémonie

Versailles, 29th October 1713

The journey of Princess Elisenda's retinue through lands of France was remarkably quiet and uneventful, marked by splendor and ceremony. A couple of times, the Princess was even presented with a military parade --with the expectable, consequent delays.

--French diplomatic machinery has come into play, Your Highness --Claire commented--. They will try to impress you the most with such displaying of luxury, splendor and power that you finally get intimidated. This is their gamble.

Princess Elisenda was certainly intimidated though. In a provincial capital town for instance, she was presented with a parade showing more regiments than those existing in all the Catalan army! In spite of the empathic efforts of Claire (a sincere friendship had already started between both girls), Elisenda could not prevent a growing unease.

Their arrival in Versailles was even more of a lavish and bright event. She was received by the Grand Maître de Cérémonies, Thomas de Dreux-Brézé, who had her busy for nearly a whole day with a huge parade of Maison du Roi troops, followed by a horse exhibition and a tasty entretien in a paved garden virtually full of countless marquises, counts and earls --some of which didn't hesitate at all to blatantly drop not too honest propositions to her, almost in the very face of their wives! Elisenda quickly learned to be careful with those aristocratic ladies, who distracted the deadly boredom of their Versailles confinement by getting interested for any newcoming lady --and slaughtering her with their unmerciful harpy tongues.

That aside, nothing else. She was plainly unable to meet any prominent member of the House of Bourbon. A couple of times she distinguished Prince of Condé or Duke of Orléans amidst the crowd, but every time she tried an approach to any of them, the Grand Maître de Cérémonies managed to amiss require her attention. Elisenda soon understood this was not by any means a coincidence, the man had been instructed to intercept any her approaching attempt.

She was accomodated in Versailles itself, in a couple of rooms in a wing of the palace, where Claire could stay too. Such half-confinement was also undoubtedly premeditated, with the aim to see Elisenda's privacy restricted, as well as her chances of contacting foreign ambassadors --except for those deliberately orchestrated by her guests. This lasted a few days still, until Marquis of Vilana finally happened to find her. After affectionately embracing his former pupil, they both went discretely to a corner section of the vast gardens of Versailles, where they would talk calmly and plan upcoming negotiations with King Louis' ministers.


Jeroen72 said...

Seems they're pretty successfull intimidating and isolating her.

Soldadets said...

It's an actually uncomfortable, embarrassing situation, I admit.

However, I thought it would make more sense like this, given the provisionality of the Nation she's representing, as well as its lack of facilities such as embassies --especially in the very heart of the kingdom being their main enemy for the last 8 years...

Well, it might be even worse at Madrid, don't you believe? :D

Jeroen72 said...

True, true...