Charles II castigated for a courtly faux-pas

[Savile, Henry]. "Memorandum that his R. Highesse called the Dauphin Monsieur". Handwritten document, possibly addressed to Henry Savile.

[France, ca. 1680?].

Folio (297 x 193 mm). Complete manuscript memorandum in French on 4 pp., sheets folded into fourths and with docket title in English and a summary of corrected ways of addressing the French royal family on lower portion of final leaf. A few corrections to the text, and with several key passages underlined by a contemporary reader. Written in a perfectly legible hand; a few marginal tears, some wrinkling, otherwise well-preserved.


An extraordinarily long-winded manuscript "memorandum" explaining why Charles II caused 'embarrassment' by addressing the Dauphin of France merely as "monsieur", and henceforward must address him as "mon frère et Cousin", and in closing his letters as "votre tres affectionné frère et oncle". The present document was presumably directed from the court of Louis XIV to that of Whitehall and makes reference to the English envoy to France, Henry Savile (1642-87), who may have been the intended recipient: "Le Roy tres Chrestien [Louis XIV] ayant donné part a S. M. [Charles II] du marriage de M. le Dauphin avec la princesse Electorale de Baviere, on fut d'abord embarassé, de quelle manière S. M. traiteroit M. le Dauphin enpartant de Luy, dans la response qui devoit estre envoyée au Roy tres Chrestien. Et après plusieurs allées, et venues, il fut conclu, que S. M. traiteroit M. le Dauphin de mon frere simplement, le qui fut executé et la Lettre envoyée a Mr. Saville pour estre rendue au Roy tres Chrestien, dans laquelle Lettre S. M. enpartant du Dauphin, se traitte de mon frere, ce que la Reyne observa aussy. D'ou il est aysé d'inferer, que la qualité de mon frere est deue a Mr. le Dauphin puis que le fait, et l'exemple decidéra ordinairement les disputes de cette nature [...]".

From the dates of Savile's employment (1678-82) and the mention of the recent marriage of the Dauphin (1661-1711) to the "Electoral Princess" of Bavaria in 1680, we can date the document to ca. 1680. The crypto-Catholic Charles II enjoyed good relations with his blood-cousin Louis XIV, but the present document illustrates the deep tensions inherent in courtly etiquette and address - further complicated by the fact that European sovereigns traditionally referred to each other as 'brother' and 'sister' due to their equal rank on the world stage. In this case, the writer even explains how the Dauphin should be addressed by Charles as 'nephew', because he is the son of Charles's 'brother', King Louis XIV. The writer suggests that offence has been taken on the part of the Dauphin because Charles had elsewhere addressed the Duc d'Orléans (younger brother of Louis XIV, and in some sense a rival to the Dauphin) as "mon frère".

Full transcription available on request.

Stock Code: BN#57471 Tag: