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.