Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Court of Versailles

The Court of Versailles

Who are the favourite characters of the court of Versailles besides the king?

I would like to wander around the gardens and chateau of Versailles imagining
their real lives and what it must have been like to live there. The town of Versailles
increased after the king moved his court there in 1682.

There was tree planting in the town and many innovations.
In 1683 the king is believed to have had a secret marriage with Madame de Maintenon.

I often wonder about all of the people who lived at the court during the seventeenth century.
It was a very real time for them, even though now the ancien regime may often be dismissed
as being irrelevant.

Louis XIV achieved success and created wonders with his beautiful gardens
and chateau. He encouraged arts, literature, plays, theatre, music, dance (he was a great dancer himself for many years) and architecture.
The people of the court would have enjoyed the entertainments of the king, sometimes held in an
outdoor setting of the gardens, which would have been very beautiful and decorative for the festive occasion.

A brief synopsis of the characters of the court:

To my mind both Louise de la Valliere in the seventeenth century and Marie Antoinette in the eighteenth century stand tall:

Louise de la Valliere – beautiful, serene, her love for the king shone through.
She understood that
material values had no place in a spiritual love;

Marie Antoinette: naïve, innocent, impulsive, her inner beauty also shone through;

Princess Henriette from the seventeenth century:
a younger sister of Charles II of England
who was married to the king's brother at an early age known as Madame, Duchess of Orleans, often referred to as “Minette”: vibrant personality, friendly and popular, who
unfortunately died at a young age;

Madame de Montespan: vivacious, daring, innovative, challenging;
A great personality and rival for the king's affections;
Lisa Hilton has written a comprehensive book about Athenais de Montespan:
“Athenais, the Real Queen of France.” I enjoyed reading this book.

Great books to read:

“Farewell, My Queen” by Chantal Thomas, which gave a unique perspective of Marie Antoinette from the Queen's reader, an old lady who was subsequently based in Vienna and wrote in her letters of the reverential respect the servants had for Marie Antoinette.

“Antoinette” the play by Kathy Davis;

Antonia Fraser's book of “Marie Antoinette” is written from a sympathetic view point and gives a detailed account of the unfortunate queen's life;

“Royal Flush” by Margaret Irwin who gives a riveting account of the life of Princess Henriette of England which depicts the court of Louis XIV in all of its magnificent splendour.

I will return to this post at a later time as there are many fascinating characters
who lived at the court of Versailles and many great books written.

As was mentioned in “Royal Flush” Princess Henriette belived that it was one of the best times to be at the court i.e. during the time of Louis XIV's court in the seventeenth century.

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