Histoire du roi Louis le Grand, par les médailles, emblèmes, devises, jetons, inscriptions, armoiries, et autres monuments publics
Medals were a privileged medium for propaganda wars. In 1672, insolent and injurious medals struck by the Dutch were cited as one justification for the French invasion of Holland. Two decades later, anonymous counterfeiters cheekily supplemented the original content of Ménestrier’s (unofficial) medallic history of Louis XIV with a number of anti-French medals. The two shown on this page refer to diplomatic events of fall 1689, when Louis XIV restored the territory of Avignon to the Papal States and concluded a peace treaty with Ottoman Algiers (important for French commerce in the Mediterranean).
The first medal crudely depicts the king’s infirmity and humiliation. The second accuses Louis XIV of being a friend of the Turks and a sworn enemy of Christians, a charge frequently made after 1683, when the king refused to help the Habsburg emperor defeat the Ottoman army at Vienna. Viro immortali (To the immortal man) alludes mockingly to the inscription on a grandiose monument to Louis XIV that had been erected in 1686 on the Place des Victoires in Paris.