Friday, June 13, 2014
Louis XVI's brother, the Comte d'Artois was kind of a punk. A handsome, wealthy, spoiled, entitled, frivolous punk. He was fun, though, as long as things went his way. He and his friends were influential in establishing the horse racing craze that overtook the French Court and he was a regular at the track.
Court manners were lax at the races, to say the least. Pre-PETA, pre-regulation, sometimes people got reckless. I get the feeling that the track was a loosely managed anything-can-happen affair. For example, here was an Englishman named Fitzgerald who impressed the Queen by clearing an especially high jump. Naturally someone suggested that the feat be improved upon (à la the show Jackass that my kids used to watch) and someone came up with the brilliant idea that Fitzgerald jump his horse over another horse. Marie Antoinette tried to talk them out of it, but d'Artois "hotly insisted" and the attempt was made. Guess how that turned out. Not as bad as it could've, fortunately. Just some bumps and bruises, then off to the next adventure.