Louis XI (1423-1483), the king of France, ruled the country for a period of 23 years, from 1461-83. His reign had been a long one, but death was the last word that he would allow to be uttered in his presence. He did not want to die. During the last days of his life he went into seclusion in an enclosed fort where only selected people could enter. Around the fort a deep trench was dug so that no one could gain access to it. All twenty-four hours, forty archers remained on duty, and forty horsemen patrolled the fort day and night. All kinds of luxuries were provided inside the fort so that the king would never become melancholic.
Louis XI was so eager to live as long as possible that he had given orders that the word ‘death’ should never be uttered before him. An expert doctor attended on him round the clock. This doctor drew a monthly salary of 10,000 gold crowns. In those days in Europe no military officer earned such a salary, even with several years of experience.
However, none of these precautions saved the king from weakness and old age. During his final days, he became so weak that he could hardly pick up his food and put it in his mouth by himself. But his will to live was indomitable. When he was told that tortoises lived for 500 years due to their possessing some life-giving properties, he dispatched three ships to Germany and Italy to bring them for him, in huge quantities. These tortoises were then kept in a big pond near him so that they might pass on the gift of life to him.
Finally, paralysis attacked him on 30th August 1483; death at last conquered him. The last words uttered by him were: “I am not as ill as you people suppose.”
All his efforts went in vain. Finally, the king of France had learnt that no one could conquer death. This teaches us the lesson: We cannot conquer death. We can just prepare for death.