T Franse Hoff in Allarm / Toute la Cour de France en alarme
On May 12, 1706, all of Europe observed the fascinating spectacle of a solar eclipse. The same day, the Franco-Spanish forces were forced to lift their siege and naval blockade of Barcelona. Two weeks later, the Battle of Ramillies brought an overwhelming victory for the Anglo-Dutch army commanded by the duke of Marlborough. On land, at sea, and in the sky, all signs pointed to the imminent downfall of Louis XIV and his grandson Philip V, king of Spain.
Seen here are three etchings from a series of Dutch broadsides mocking Louis XIV’s distress. He is shown lamenting his fate, surrounded by his family, mistresses, and Jesuit confessor. Long gone are the days when the king himself commanded his troops on the front lines; he now follows the situation from Versailles and has to rely on the reports and advice of his entourage. In these prints, Philip is ready to renounce the Spanish throne, and Maintenon recommends unconditional peace. In reality, the Sun King recovered from this temporary eclipse, and the war raged on for another seven years.