Louis XIV —- The Enema King,
(note; this is not a joke, this is historical fact)
In the 16th to 19th century a clyster was an early form of enema administered with a device called a “clyster”, essentially a large syringe which was inserted … you know where. For millenia regular colon cleansing was a staple of medicine going back to ancient times. Even the ancient Egyptians hired a special physician called the “Guardian of the Anus” to administer colon cleansing to the Pharaoh. By the Middle Ages the administration of enemas became a staple among physicians, almost as popular as bloodletting. However the people of 17th century France would take the clyster to a whole new level.
In pre-revolutionary France clyster mania spread across the country’s upper class. Clysters were administered daily to maintain good health, sometimes being administered multiple times a day, and often containing various herbs and fragrances. They even became as fashion statement as ladies had regular clysters as a way to preserve beauty and youth. According to the Duc de Saint-Simon the Duchess of Bourgogne was known to take clysters during parties, often conversing with the king, “while her loyal maid crawled beneath her bejewelled evening gown to administer an enema.” For such public lavements special clyster syringes were designed with special butt concealment plates. Curved syringes were also created for those who wanted to self administer, forgoing the need of a servant.
One of the biggest fans of the regular colon cleansing was King Louis XIV. Known as “The Sun King”, Loius XIV installed absolute monarchy in France and was the most powerful man in Europe at the time. At first Louis XIV would enjoy a once and a while clyster, usually administered after dinner to aid digestion. However as his reign continued on the King was known to have around three or four clysters a day. His favorite lavement was a mixture of almond oil, honey, and lentitive electuary (a laxative). Being a king who had to manage a powerful empire with limited time, eventually Loius XIV began taking clysters while conferring with government ministers and advisers. Throughout his long reign King Louis XIV recieved in excess of 2,000 clyters.
Calmative Lavement for the King, 1652
30 grammes oil of almond
45 grammes honey
15 grammes lentitive electuary
Mix with warm water.