Bechard is the chief villain of part 1 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’. He is one of Louis XV’s spymasters and head of the Shadows of the King, a secret organisation charged with defending the person and the interests of Louis XV. Unlike Abbé de Bernis, a rival to Bechard for the favour and influence of the king, he is entirely a fictional character. Bechard’s vision of the world is a grimly Hobbesian one. Hobbes, the great English political philosopher of the seventeenth century, argued that peace and stability in society could only be achieved under the rule of a monarch who wielded absolute power in order to hold in check men’s natural tendency to pursue their own individual self-interest, the consequence of which, in Hobbes’ memorable phrase, would be ‘a war of all against all’. In such a world, the rights and sufferings of individuals are inconsequential. For Bechard, society and the people in it must be tamed. The end justifies the means. Beyond this, however, Bechard himself is a deeply flawed individual. He is a religious fanatic, proud and viciously sensitive to anything he perceives to be a slight upon his reputation.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 3 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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