In January 1763 a French aristocrat, Christophe-Louis Pajot de Villers, hosted a private showing of a Rousseau opera in the ballroom of his Paris home. It was attended by more than 30 minor royals, aristocrats and wealthy members of the bourgeoisie. The performance concluded at around 10pm and guests prepared to leave. Behind the curtain, de Villers’ coachman, Nicolas Dandeli, mounted the stage, shouted “Tiens, la voila la comedie!” (Hey, here’s a funny show!) and offered a parting gesture:
“The coachman… decided to undo his trousers and turn his back to the curtain, with the intention of displaying his bare rump to those who were still in the room. At this point, Capolin, a negro aged thirteen years, raised the curtain so that those remaining in the hall saw the nude posterior of the coachman, who was bent over in such a way that his rear end stuck out towards the audience. He even slapped his backside loudly with his hands to call attention to himself. As a result, all of those still in the room saw, much to their astonishment, an act of tremendous impudence, which so greatly revolted them that they left the room immediately, complaining of the terrible scandal.”
The outraged de Villers immediately summoned the commissioners, who dragged Dandeli off to prison. He remained there for several days while the commissioners took a series of depositions. He was released after de Villers – apparently unable to tolerate not having a coachman – withdrew his complaint.
Philip, the future king of Castile, was born on June 22nd 1478. The following day Margaret of York, the child’s godmother, carried baby Philip into the market square in Bruges, where a large crowd had gathered. According to a Flemish chronicler Margaret proudly stripped the baby and showed him to the crowd:
“…She took his testicles in her hands and spoke: ‘Children, see here your newborn lord Philip, from the emperor’s side’. The crowd, seeing that it was a son, was overwhelmingly happy, thanking and praising our beloved God that he had granted them a young prince.”
Margaret’s display was a response to rumours, circulated by agents of French king Louis XI, that baby Philip was actually a girl. Philip became King of Castile shortly before his 28th birthday but died suddenly just three months later. His obsessive and unstable wife Joanna, who at the time of Philip’s death was pregnant with their sixth child, became even more erratic. She refused to surrender Philip’s body for burial, keeping it in her apartments for several months. According to some chroniclers, she sometimes opened Philip’s casket to kiss and stroke his corpse.