Tim and Louis IV or V–or II

Okay, here’s the skinny on the French king and his purgative soup. (I had to wait all day for Tim to get up and be awake enough to discuss it.)

It’s a quote from the annals of one of the Kings of France, “Louis IV or V–or II.” Tim didn’t read the annals themselves but he read quotes from them in Moliere or Rabelais or some other French writer.

The quotation, to the best of Tim’s recollection–“You realize I haven’t thought of this for 40 years”–goes like this:

“Le roi a pris a son reveil” – The king has taken his rising (formal way of saying, “has arisen”)

“en bouillon purgatif” – (with) a purging broth

“de quelle il fut purge” – by which he was purged

“jusqu’à neuf fois dans maniere louable” – up to nine times in a praiseworthy manner.

The rising of any king in the morning was an occasion; the king’s secretary was speaking to courtiers and physicians gathered around the king’s bed. The purgative was believed to contribute to one’s health. Tim was comparing the solicitation of the medical staff around his bedside to that shown King Louie.

“You mean,” I asked Tim, “the first thing the king did every morning was drink this stuff and throw up?”

“Pretty much.”

“Clearing out his system.”

“Clearing out his system. I think that’s pretty close.”

“And you have had that stored away in your memory for 40 years.”


So now you know. Tim reminds me of Dad after dementia re-formatted his mind, reciting a lengthy passage from Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem “The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay” by memory when he couldn’t remember his childhood, his career as an anthropologist, or what he took in his coffee.


About Jessica Renshaw

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3 Responses to Tim and Louis IV or V–or II

  1. ted says:

    Then it’s probably Louis XIV, the Sun King. He loved purges, he was given thousands of purges during his life, all on record. For a horrendous account of his health in other ways, see:
    You would NOT want to live in the 17th century, even as the most powerful ruler in Europe.

  2. Jessica says:

    No wonder Tim followed that description with, “I wouldn’t want to be king.”

  3. Seems to me that if the purging was “clearing out his system” all that stuff would be coming out the other end. But, never mind…!

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