Look Out Below!!!!!

King Louis XVI’s magnificent palace at Versailles stood 12 miles west of Paris, but even palaces have their icky bit side, especially in the 1700’s. The private bathroom is a relatively modern convenience. Most residents of Versailles used chamber pots for nighttime nature calls. And in the morning servants tossed the contents out of the windows. The raining excrement led to a wise recommendation to always carry a leather umbrella when strolling around Versailles. Queen Marie Antoinette was splattered more than once.

Princess d’Harcourt relieved herself in her skirts as she strolled along the palace corridors and courtyards trailing a mess for the servants to mop up.  One foreign visitor commented with disgust at the, “people laying their nastiness in such quantities that it was equally offensive to the sight and smell.”

The palace’s only flush toilets, or “English places” as they were called, were installed in the King’s and Queen’s chambers. The height of luxury, the bowls were crafted from porcelain and the seats from mahogany. Servants kept them spotless. So immaculate, in fact, that the King’s cat often curled into a ball and slept in the cool, clean bowl. Once Louis XVI sat down to take care of business without noticing the cat.  No sooner had the purpose of the King’s mission begun than the terrified cat attacked the King from below, sending him leaping into the air and charging through his chamber yanking bell pulls all the way.

© Jill Rubalcaba 2014