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Why were dogs at the head of Louis XIV's retinue?

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Louis XIV - the "Sun King" was not only the longest-reigning ruler of France, who impressively expanded Versailles. He was also a lover of ballet, splendor and... animals. The monarch helped popularize poodles at the French court. He had his own favorite named Filou, which means "cheater" in French. Court animals during the reign of Louis XIV were treated truly royally! - They were adored and pampered, bathed, shorn, and hairdressed. They played a less graceful but important role as "flea catchers," which, given the lousy state of hygiene in the 17th century, was extremely desirable by courtiers.

Louis XIV had a taste for hunting and the dogs that accompanied him on these expeditions. The monarch's beloved "sporting dogs": Bonne, Nonne and Ponne even lived to see their own self-portraits, immortalized on canvas by artist Alexandre-François Desportes. The aristocrat's pets had their own carnival, known as the Cabinets des Chiens. Every morning, the "Sun King" had his confectioners prepare delicacies for his dogs, which he then personally fed. He located his favorites in chambers close to his bedroom, just like the royal mistresses. He ordered the removal of the billiard tables from the game room and arranged the beds for his dogs there. They were specially designed: made of veneered walnut and ebony and padded with scarlet velvet.

When Louis XIV died, he was accompanied on his final journey, in addition to the aristocratic elite of Europe at the time, by his beloved hunting dogs kept by royal hunters....

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