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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red heels

It's amazing where information turns up.  I recently blogged about 18th century French Court Dolls - and a book by M. François Theimer.
In it he states that red heels were introduced to France by Louis XIV and were reserved for court nobles but the rule was less strictly applied under Louis XIV and extended even to a number of those close to the royal sphere.
Further he says that while the true origin of this custom remains vague there is a commonly recounted legend with intriguing origins and some confusion as to whether it was Louis or in fact his brother Philippe d'Orleans who was the genesis.
The legend recounted has Philippe who enjoyed a penchant for disguise attending a masquerade with friends. Dressed in pastels, the only real difference between him and his companions being the height of his shoes as he was not tall. He was however recognised and denied the pleasure of being incognito and so moved on to the Marche des Innocents near the abattoirs. He and his companions went from tavern to tavern (18th century pub crawl) crossing and recrossing the area where livestock were butchered their heels becoming quite stained with blood. (Why only their heels I have no idea but then it's a legend.)
Returning to Versailles in the morning he found himself late for an audience with his brother the King who did not appreciate being kept waiting and so only stopped to change his waistcoat and jacket.
The day went on normally and in the evening his dress changed completely to gamble with the King he was astonished to see not one, not two but three or more gentlemen wearing shoes with red heels.  When asked their significance he was asked had he not worn red heels that morning to meet the King.
And so the legend goes.

3 comments:

  1. I like the legend, although it seems improbable - dried or even very thick blood isn't red. Maybe Philippe made the story up haha, but I'm glad it's survived to today. I think stories like this keep our views of the past "human."

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  2. Errors: "In it he states that red heels were introduced to France by Louis XIV and were reserved for court nobles but the rule was less strictly applied under Louis XIV"...latter should be Louis XVI. "...some confusion as to whether it was Louis or in fact his brother Philippe d'Orleans who was the genesis...He and his companions went from tavern to tavern (18th century pub crawl)"...should be "17th century"

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  3. I do like a good legend. I couldn't see how only the heels would have been stained and yes unless he was freshly come from the slaughter they would have been brown.
    And yes Estetyka you are spot on. My fingers had trouble with the XIV and the XVI last night and I nearly did the same again just now. And yes it was indeed a 17th and not 18th century pub crawl.
    I never know whether to go back and fix mistakes after someone alerts me to them or to leave them stand with the comments.
    Any views on that one folks???

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