Adapted from the 1962 Danish short story, Netflix’s Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction is centered around a painter, Wolfgang Cazotte, who is determined to seduce the daughter of a military man, Ehrengard. The flamboyant painter prided himself on his seducing skill, and to further boost his confidence, even the Grand Duchess of Babenhausen was mesmerized by his touch and words. Afraid of being beheaded for daring to romance the Duchess, the painter kept his relationship strictly professional. The Duchess enjoyed Cazotte’s company, and they gradually became friends. Their discussions would often revolve around the nitty-gritty of seduction, suggesting that the Grand Duchess still secretly liked Cazotte.
What Was The Task Cazotte Was Assigned With?
The Grand Duchess wanted her son, Prince Lothar, to find a suitable bride for himself and therefore hired Cazotte to teach the young Prince the art of seduction. Even though women kept flocking around Lothar, he did not show any interest in them. Since the present Duke was not a direct heir, it was important that the Prince get married to inherit the throne. If he failed to get married, the Duke’s cousin, Marbod, would take over the throne upon the Duke’s death. Even though the task might appear frivolous, it was, in reality, extremely significant. Cazotte agreed to take on the task, but in return, he asked the Duchess to convince Ehrengard to have a portrait session. Cazotte was mesmerized by the young girl’s beauty, and the fact that she was not as easily impressed further intrigued him.
Prince Lothar was afraid of losing his freedom in marriage, but after winning his trust, Cazotte helped him realize the beauty that lay in romance. The Prince was gradually convinced, and he was ready to find his perfect match. Cazotte proposed that Lothar meet the youngest daughter of the royal family in Leuchenstein, Ludmilla. She had just turned eighteen and held the potential to be the perfect companion to Prince Lothar. Dressed as an ordinary assistant to Cazotte, Lothar was introduced to Ludmilla. While his flirting skills still needed some brushing up, Cazotte took charge and made sure that Ludmilla and Lothar got some time to spend alone together. Ludmilla was surprised when she learned about the assistant’s true identity, and the young couple became almost inseparable. Prince Lothar carried out his duty to the throne and married Ludmilla. Cazotte had successfully completed his task, but unfortunately, the Duchess could not convince Ehrenguard’s family to do a portrait. Her father was a stern man, and he was repulsed by the idea. Cazotte’s dream of painting the woman in white remained unfulfilled, but that was before another problem arose at the royal palace.
Why Were Lothar And Ludmilla Forced To Hide?
Ludmilla was to give birth within four months of her wedding. The news was scandalous, and the Duchess was aware that if Marbod found that the child was conceived before marriage, the Prince would be disinherited. Cazotte proposed that Prince Lothar and Princess Ludmilla be sent to a secluded place. He added that the general public must be made aware of the pregnancy to make it appear that the royal family is keeping everything transparent. During the announcement to the public, Cazotte suggested adding that the young couple would remain away from public eyes until the birth of the child to make sure that Ludmilla was well rested. The announcement would help them steer clear of any speculation, and they could return to the palace after nine months. This would convince the people of Babenhausen that the child was conceived after the wedding.
Accompanying the Prince and princess to the isolation was Cazotte, and he proposed that Ehrengard be appointed as a lady-in-waiting. She came from a family of warriors, and she was perfectly equipped to provide Princess Ludmilla with constant company. Of course, Cazotte had a hidden motive—he wanted to be close to Ehrengard. While Cazotte was confident that he would be successful in seducing her, the Duchess did not believe there was a future between Cazotte and Ehrengard. Cazotte and the Duchess struck a deal: if he managed to seduce her, he would be offered artist residency and lifelong employment at court, but if he failed, he would have to bed the Duchess. Since Ehrengard’s family has always been of service to the royal family, her father, Schreckentein, agreed to allow his daughter to accompany the princess. We also find out in Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction that Ehrengard was engaged to a soldier, Kurt. But this piece of information did not hinder the artist’s spirit.
How Did Ehrengard Bring Things Under Control?
Princess Ludmilla gave birth to a healthy child while living in isolation. But the news was kept a secret since it could lead to a tremendous scandal. The Duke’s cousin, Marbod, could sense that something was going on, but he was stopped from meeting the Prince and princess. Marbod and his wife went to a local tavern and inquired about the secrets that the royal family was keeping from their people. Months after bribing the taverner, they found out that a wet maid, Lisbeth, was appointed by the Duchess. Lisbeth’s husband could not bear the separation, and he hopelessly dwelled in the streets, accusing the royal family of forcefully taking away his wife. Marbod met Lisbeth’s husband, Matthias, and found out that there was a baby at the royal castle. The Marbods decided to write a letter to the Duchess, demanding to see the Prince and the Princess. And they instructed Matthias to bring the royal baby into his possession, and if he succeeded, he would get back his wife.
Meanwhile, the Duchess made up her mind to plan a picnic and fake Ludmilla’s pregnancy to kill the rumors. The Duchess and Cazotte had a lengthy conversation about the way he intended to pursue Ehrengard. Cazotte had decided not to make any physical advances toward her; instead, he was determined to capture her beauty from a distance on his canvas. He had been following Ehrengard to the forest lake every morning and secretly painting her most vulnerable self. He was confident that once Ehrengard saw the painting, she would be completely astonished and seduced. Ehrengard overheard the entire conversation; she was embarrassed and enraged. Not only had the painter secretly been watching her, but he was also describing his innermost intent in detail to the Duchess. Ehrengard felt betrayed, and the painting in Cazotte’s room and her nude sketches in his diary proved that he was not lying. Ehrengard walked to the woods to think of a solution, and she ran into Lisbeth’s husband. He was confused about whether or not to betray the royal family and run away with the child. He was drunk, and it was easy for Ehrengard to get the entire truth out of him. But instead of stopping him, she encouraged him to carry on the plan just as he was instructed.
During the picnic, Matthias sneaked into the castle and ran off with the baby. Meanwhile, the royal family gathered around a table to celebrate Ludmilla’s pregnancy. Mrs. Marbod was desperate to find the truth, and she proceeded to feel Ludmilla’s belly. Ludmilla had a pillow wrapped around her waist, and of course, the entire situation was unfavorable. Matthias interrupted the picnic as he ran with the infant in his arms. Ehrengard followed him, and the rest of the royal family went after them. Matthias carried the baby to his house, and Ehrengard charged at him. The Marbods were glad that the truth finally surfaced, but to their utter surprise, Ehrengard claimed that the child was hers. She weaved a tale of her and Cazotte being in a passionate relationship, hence the child. Cazotte was startled when Ehrengard asked him to check his coat pocket, where she had kept his diary. While Cazotte was of the belief that he could seduce Ehrengard, she proved that she was one step ahead of him. She knew all about his plans, and she publicly made him aware that none of those techniques would have worked on her. The Marbods left once they realized they had no proof that the child belonged to the Prince and princess.
During Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction‘s ending, Kurt invited Cazotte to a duel after finding out about the diary. But on the morning of the duel, Ehrengard rode on her horse and embraced her lover. Cazotte failed to seduce Ehrengard, and as a result, he had to sleep with the Duchess. Prince Lothar and Princess Ludmilla’s child was baptized, and the truth never reached the cousins. Ehrengard was given the Order of Saint Stephan for her dedicated service to the house of Babenhausen. Cazotte was a little remorseful that he was not awarded for helping the royal family, and he eventually ended up traveling to Rome. He continued to paint there, and he received better opportunities that helped him grow as an artist.
Cazotte was eventually referred to as “Casanova” for his popularity among female circles. It was a relief that Cazotte failed to pursue Ehrengard and that she stood her ground and controlled the narrative. Cazotte shot himself in the leg during the duel, and we can say that he got the rightful punishment for his voyeuristic behavior. Women in the 19th century were not empowered to take steps against men such as Cazotte without ruining their reputations. Ehrengard showed remarkable courage and loyalty towards the Duchess in taking the blame on her, though one is left to wonder how it is possible that Marbod never found out the truth. After all, according to her lie, Ehrengard was supposed to carry her child with her. We are left to assume that maybe Marbod did figure it all out, but he had no options since it had already been nine months, and he did not have any evidence against the royal couple.