Dating to c.1660, this double-sided French marriage medal pendant is a historic jewel as well as a highly-wearable survival!
Measuring 1 1/8" tall with its original pendant bail and 23 mm in diameter, this important sterling-grade silver pendant commemorates the marriage between Louis XIV of France, also known as "The Sun King," to his first wife, Maria-Theresa of Spain (silver unmarked but tested). Wed on June 9, 1660 by arrangement, this medal features the bust of the 22-year-old King Louis XIV dressed on in classical robes with a laurel wreath "crown." The medal is inscribed with the motto "LVD.XIIII.G/FR.ET.NAV.REX" (Louis the Fourteenth, Ruler of France and Navarre). The obverse depicts his bride Maria-Theresa, also 22 years old, dressed in the fashion of the mid-17th century, and adorned with pearl earrings, a necklace, and other jewels sewn onto her gown. This side of the medal is inscribed "MAR.THER.D.G./FR.ET.NAV.REG" (Maria-Theresa, Queen of France and Navarre).
The popularity and legend which sprung up around King Louis XIV is well-documented, as he was one of the most powerful French monarchs, and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution. The French public adored them both, after their first year of marriage, Louis often abandoned his Queen for a string of notable mistresses. (It is rumored that Maria Theresa’s sweet tooth was her undoing, and soon caused her to put on weight.) Although the king continued to do his "marital duty" every night, his well-known infidelity greatly distressed the queen, and she became more and more withdrawn. Maria Theresa produced six children by the King, only one of whom survived to adulthood. Maria Theresa died on July 30, 1683, and was widely mourned by the Court and her kingdom.
This double-sided medal would have been produced as a souvenir of the 1660 marriage, and it is nothing short of a miracle that it has made it into the 21st-century in magnificent, untouched condition. This is the only example of this medal I have ever discovered in my 25+ years as a dealer, collector and scholar of early jewelry, and it is suitable for wear by a lady or a gentleman. This pendant weighs in at 6.47 grams, and looks stunning worn on a silver chain. The silver has built up a gorgeous patina, and both strikes of the medal are still crisp after 354 years! SO MAGNIFICENT!
If you love the best in early French jewelry or history, this pendant belongs around your neck and in your collection! It would also make a thrilling gift for anyone fascinated with the history of the French monarchy, and will be shipped in a gift box. Do not miss this beautiful example; layaway is not available on this item, but USPS Priority shipping is FREE!
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