The Coronation of Louis XVI from the Gazette of France (1775)
These two articles from the official newspaper of the day describe the coronation of Louis XVI at Reims, the city to which French kings had traveled to be anointed and crowned for a thousand years. Note the seriousness with which all the King's movements are described and how solemnly this ritual was taken—even though it no longer held its original meaning—demonstrating the consent of all three orders of French society to be ruled by their new King. Actually, the new King had already begun to govern France ten months earlier, upon the death of his predecessor.
Friday, 16 June 1775
While traveling from Compiègne to Frismes—where His Majesty spent the night on 8 June–, the King received the most dazzling, the most sincere and already the most deserved proof of love from His Peoples. The King left Frismes on 9 June to go to the City of Reims, and He arrived there in a ceremonial coach, accompanied by Monsieur, Monseigneur the Count of Artois, the Duke of Orléans, the Duke of Chartres, and the Prince of Condé. After the Duke of Bourbon, Governor of Champagne, gave him the keys of the city, the King entered Reims escorted by the troops of the royal household and made his way through a People intoxicated with joy—which did not decrease but rather intensified as the procession moved along. His Majesty entered the metropolitan church, where he was greeted by the Archbishop-Duke of Reims—who was at the head of his Chapter—and listened to the Te Deum. After the Benediction, the King withdrew to the archbishop's palace where all the Nobles complimented Him. The next day, the King listened to the first Vespers in the Cathedral, and on Sunday, June 11th, around seven o'clock, His Majesty—with the greatest pomp—went back to the same Church and was crowned in the usual ways.
The Queen arrived accompanied by Madame [Elizabeth, the King's sister], and despite the fact that she remained incognito, she was delighted at the most vivid expressions of love the French Nation devoted to her. She attended all the august ceremonies of this sacred feast. A stand had been set up for Her, Madame Clotilde and Madame Elizabeth.
At that point some interesting details were removed and will be talked about in a more lengthy Report.
The King gave permission to the Marquess of la Tour du Pin to take the name of the Marquess of Gouvernet—who requested it in his Will. His Majesty also allowed the Count of Charce, his son, to take the name of the Marquess of la Tour du Pin.
Monday, 19 June 1775
The day following the Coronation of His Majesty, the King attended Mass in the Room of the Archbishop's Castle. After the Mass, the Court Ladies had the honor to present their respects to him. In the afternoon, the Queen and Madame went a few miles away from the City and watched the Count of Esterhazy's regiment of hussars on maneuvers. The Counts of Artois and Provence, wearing cavalry uniforms, charged at the head of the company; the Duke of Chartres, the Prince of Condé, and the Duke of Bourbon, also wearing uniforms, took part in these attacks as well. The Duchess of Bourbon and many Court Ladies and Court Lords were at this warlike show.
On the 13th, the King allowed the clergy to compliment him. The Marquess of Dreux, Master of Ceremonies, and Monsieur Nantouillet, Master of Ceremonies, led the Clergy to an audience with His Majesty. They were introduced by the Duke of la Vrillière, Secretary of State, and the Cardinal of Luynes spoke for them.
Then His Majesty attended the Mass at the Saint-Niçaise Abbey and, on his way back, he laid the foundation stone of the University of Reims. In the afternoon of the same day, the Knights, the Commanders, and the Officers of the Order of the Holy Spirit gathered at the King's—as he had ordered them—and His Majesty went to the Metropolitan Church in the ordinary walk, listened to Vespers, and with the greatest pomp became the Grand Master and Sovereign of the Order. When he returned, His Majesty delivered a speech and appointed the former Bishop of Limoges, the Archbishop of Narbonne, the Viscount of la Rochefoucault, the Count of Talleyrand, the Marquess of Rochechourat, the Marquess of Roche-Aymon, and the Viscount of Taladu, to be Knights of His Orders and to be Hostages of the Sainte-Ampoule. The Viscount of Taladu was also appointed to carry the rear of his coat, the day he became the Grand Master Sovereign of the order.
On June 14th, the King rode in a cavalcade to the Saint-Remi Abbey. His Majesty was accompanied by the Count of Provence, the Count of Artois, the Duke of Orléans, the Duke of Chartres, the Prince of Condé, the Duke of Bourbon and by many other Lords and great officers. He attended Mass in the Abbey and performed his Devotions through the Cardinal of la Roche-Aymon's hands. Then, in the Park of the Abbey, he touched 2,400 people who had the disease of scrofula and distributed charity to them. In the afternoon, the King took a walk in the park and from there went to the camp of the French and Swiss Guard units. The People, who were following His Majesty, showed their Master how delighted they were because of his presence.
The day of Corpus Christ, the King accompanied by the Count of Provence, the Count of Artois, and Princes of Royal Blood, followed the procession and attended the Great Mass and the salvation in the Metropolitan Church. The Queen, Madame, Madame Clotilde, Madame Elizabeth, the Duchess of Bourbon, and many Court Lords and Ladies were also present.
The next day, June 16th, His Majesty left Reims with the Count of Provence, the Count of Artois and the other Princes who had accompanied him. He arrived in Compiègne and stayed there until Monday, June 19th. On that same day he left Compiègne for Versailles. Madame Clotilde and Madame Elizabeth arrived in Versailles in the morning. The Queen, accompanied by Madame and the Court Ladies arrived there in the evening of the same day.
Monsieur Hare, a lawyer at the parlement, had the honor to present an Ode to the King, entitled the "Coronation of Louis XVI."
In the last Gazette, the following information was forgotten: the Prince of Lambsec was appointed by His Majesty to carry the rear of the Royal coat during the Coronation ceremony. This information, along with many others, will be added to the general Report.
Gazette de France, no. 48 (16 June 1775), 217; and Gazette de France, no. 49 (19 June 1775), 221.