1. The Beggars Were Magically Cured Each Night, Hence the Court’s Name
Begging was deeply frowned upon in 17th century France. The wealthy residents of Paris did not want to be accosted by the site of the poverty they ignored through their legislation and actions. There was a massive divide in wealth during the period, and the wealthy did not care to be reminded of it. The King himself took steps to eliminate the sight of the beggars in the city. It is worth noting he didn’t want to fix the poverty, he just didn’t wish to see it.
There were several noteworthy exceptions to the general disdain for beggars. War veterans, orphans, the ill and the disabled were seen as legitimate charity cases, and their begging was not frowned upon the same way as that of non-disabled adults. The wealthy Parisian citizens were far more likely to open their purses to help those they viewed as valid charity cases.
These exceptions were common knowledge to the beggars, so it became commonplace for beggars to prepare for their day of work by applying makeup or other devices to appear sick or disabled. Limbs were bound with a cloth to fake amputation; makeup was used to replicate skin conditions or diseases, among other effects. At night, after the day’s begging was done, the beggars would return home and seem to miraculously heal of their ailments as limbs were freed and diseases disappeared. The name, Court of Miracles, is a reference to this practice as grievously afflicted men and women healed magically every night.
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:
“The Slums of Paris Had Their Own Intricate Systems of Laws Ruled By Thieves and Prostitutes” Cleo Egnal, Ranker. n.d.
“Let There Be Light: Paris’ first police chief exposes the unholy work afoot in the ‘crime capital of the world'” Holly Tucker, Vanderbilt Magazine. September 2017.