The deathbed ceremonies of Louis XV, May 1774
in Death and the crown
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Louis XV fell ill with smallpox at the end of April 1774. His deathbed attracted crowds to Versailles and was followed through public announcements and rituals in Paris. This chapter compares the king's conduct on two previous occasions when he had thought he would die, at Metz in 1744 and after the Damiens attack in 1757, and concludes that Louis XV – not ill-defined factions – controlled the conduct of his deathbed in 1774.

Death and the crown

Ritual and politics in France before the Revolution


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