Monday, September 12, 2022

Death of Henrietta Maria

 From Stephanie Mann:

I checked in earlier this week with Elena Maria Vidal, author of several historical novels and a biography of Marie Antoinette. She is working on the second volume in her "Henrietta of France" trilogy. (I participated in the blog tour last year.) I made contact with her since this is the anniversary of the death of Henrietta Maria, widowed Dowager Queen of Charles I. This website provides a narration of her last days and death:

10 September 1669 [According to the Gregorian Calendar in effect in France] - The Death of Henrietta Maria of France, Queen of England, Scotland & Ireland:

Gradually Henrietta was preparing for death… She had already made a general confession of all her sins, “with great application and very firm designs to apply herself to the care of her salvation.” Now she often said “that she saw clearly that is was necessary to think of leaving.” … She was fed up with doctors and medicines, she said: she would think of them no more, “but only of her salvation.” But still, at [her daughter] Henrietta Anne’s insistence, France’s leading physicians descended on Colombes… Their examination, on Saturday, August 28, was promising. All the Queen’s symptoms - the fainting fits, insomnia, recurring fevers, and chest infections - were “painful, but without danger of death,” pronounced Antoine Vallot, first physician to Louis XIV. He prescribed a regime of opiates and purges… Henrietta was reluctant, she knew from experience that laudanum “disagreed with her”: “the famous English physician, Monsieur de Mayerne, had warned her never to take any.” But Vallot persisted… So unwillingly, Henrietta agreed. All the next day, Henrietta was occupied with religious observances, it being Lady Day… That night she took her “usual remedy,” and on Monday morning she was purged “with a certain opiate designed for that purpose.” That day was also tiring, as the queen received “several visits” from friends and spent hours in “long spiritual conversations” with her confessor, preparing to receive Communion the next day. . . .When she retired to bed, she was rather feverish, so her physician, Antone d’Aquin, decided not to give her the laudanum after all. On Henrietta’s orders, the curtains were drawn around her bed and her courtiers departed. But Henrietta could not sleep, so around 11 p.m. she summoned d’Aquin and demanded the dose. Reluctantly, he gave it to her, mixed into a raw egg yolk. At once the queen fell asleep. But d’Aquin, sitting by her bedside and observing her shallow, sighing breaths and irregular pulse,realized that she was sleeping “too profoundly.” Desperately, he “endeavored by all means he could to walk her,” but “all the several remedies used in such cases” had no effect. Her valets de chambre were sent rushing to summon more doctors and Henrietta’s priests, who begged her to confess her sins or at least “to give some sign that she understood.” But they met only “a mortal silence…” “Seeing that there was no abatement of her malady,” Father Gamache gave orders for the queen to receive Extreme Unction. Through the dark night, the village curé of Colombes “came in haste” bearing holy oil, with which he anointed the queen’s eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands, and feet. Between three and four in the morning of Tuesday, August 31 [O.S.], “without violence, without the slightest convulsion, with great serenity, and a sweet expression of countenance,” the fifty-nine-year-old queen slipped away into death. (source: A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France, by Katie Whitaker)

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