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Alexis Lévrier

The Fake Deaths of the Sun King, or the Impossible Control of Information

Le Temps des médias n° 30, Printemps 2018, p. 32-46.

DrapeauFrancais

From the very beginning of Louis XIV’s seven-decade-long reign, fake news about the state of his health have repeatedly circulated. Such a recurrence of spurious information can partly be explained by the general suspicion against the two official newspapers of the time, La Gazette and Le Mercure Galant. However, by trying to read between the lines of official press, foreign journalists and gossip-mongering nouvellistes often contributed to creating even more fraudulent information. Hence rumors, sometimes downright outlandish, virally circulated from word of mouth or via the press amidst the French Court, spread from Paris to other foreign capitals, and acquired the status of alternative facts.

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