Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Reign of the Sun King

I thought it was time for a few more posts about Louis XIV and Versailles:


The Reign of the Sun King:

The sun set its golden shadows over distant hills
and the reign of the Sun King ceased to be;-
A reign spectacular for its magnificence and splendour:-

All this time the Sun King seemed to live his life upon a stage:-
a court revolving round a golden age;
the Grand Siecle;

Philippe d'Orleans,
son of Monsieur and the second Madame, Liselotte, a princess of the Palatinate,
governed as the Regent from 1715.
He is reputed to have introduced champagne to the royal court.


Louis XIV,
a king so young who came to the throne,
who made the court of Versailles his home;
So much drama in his young life,
The Fronde,
Fleeing palaces in stealth by night
Seeking safety in his flight;
An arranged wedding-
Infanta Marie Therese,
his wife:

Glinting in that golden sun
bedecked upon a glittering horse
And all of Paris seemed to shine
On that spring day of June summer time;

A new beginning from the old
And all the crowds cheered so bold:

“Louis, Louis”
A magnificent king,
the crowds seemed to sing
And were wont to say
Looking at the king that day;

So caring, kind, colourful and good,
A king, sometimes not always understood.

He strove for excellence and all good things
In dance, music, art and d├ęcor;

A king and court from before
Gives grace and understanding
Now, for history and the arts-
A model-
which echoes still in time.
Thinking of a glorious past
herein are treasures which do last.

Conceived on a night of a storm;-
the day Louis XIV was born
the fountains of Paris
flowed free with wine
People looking forward to a better time

Three days to spread the good news
to the south
With all good wishes for his health;

At St Jean de Luz
A wedding so fine;

Celebrations
and decorations-
Ostentations
the reasons why
occasioned by
the birth of a son,-
Louis's only royal one:

Quadrilles of horses trotted in time
Spectators formed in illustrious line
in the magnificent June springtime;
Tuileries and Louvre arena surrounds
and the stories do abound;
A roundabout of a Carousel
as later on the Bourbons fell
Imagining a lost Dingle Dell
Looking for dreams
in a Wishing Well:

For, as in an old-time nursery rhyme
the king, as Emperor
was dressed to shine,-
Looking back,
perhaps a sign
In a glimpse of time;

Pageantry-
wonderful to see
A spectacle-
remembered still:

And as the people went back to work
Recalling a Prince dressed as a Turk
rebel prince in his surrender
Holding aloft the Moon in Splendour
Gracing his presence
 displaying its crescent
in the shadow of the sun
Louis XIV's Apollo had won-
The Sultan- Prince of Conde;
And as the people went upon their way
prone merrily to say:
“What a wonderful display!”
Remembered for ever a day:
For later on,
a consul,- general
Napoleon
Did throw his hat into the ring
The status of Emperor did bring
With Josephine as his queen-
could this ever be foreseen?

Napoleon's army,
Had this ever been rehearsed
A dance across the universe?
Not until Waterloo reversed;

And I cannot forget
As a montage of images
from a film set
The Sun, The Moon
and the distant Stars
Reflecting a Universe
Saturn to Mars-
Did shine upon this princely court
Imagery which astronomy taught;
Themes which had always been
now could often be seen-
At Marly, a beautiful place
Versailles- The Sun's ace
Sun shadows and arrows
Sun-flowers bright yellow
Hornbeam which seemed
In nature so green
and mythical garden scenes:

“Le Roi Soleil” danced to music on a make-believe stage
Lived his life on a gilded stage
Created his world a golden age;
And now his life is reflected in song
A make-believe stage of a real age
This seventeenth century stage;

People turn the pages of time
Splendours and wonders achieved so fine
Passion in art and beauty sublime:

Brought up on stories of Alexander the Great,
Looked back to a time past
Of the Greeks and Romans
As though seeking truths and answers from stories
of long ago.


It is believed that Louis XIV did not allow himself to
be influenced in his decision making by women as regards
the governing of the country. However, the gardens may have
been a different matter at various times, depending upon who
was in favour and who the king was in love with. The gardens of Versailles
were designed with Louise de la Valliere as an inspiration for the king.

His priests may have influenced him in later years regarding the revocation
of the Treaty of Nantes, which reversed the freedom of religion which had
been put in place by Louis XIV's grandfather, Henri IV, which granted freedom
to the Huguenots. As a consequence many talented artisans did leave the country
which may have affected the economy.

Louis XIV's reign was a triumph in many respects with industry, arts and culture,
the tapestries of the Gobelins, the gardens and fountains of Versailles,
fashion, etiquette, manners (Louis XIV always dressed well, which befitted his royal role and acted with dignity and decorum)
engineering, science and technology.
He may have become a little subdued in later years and a little more religious
minded as he became older. He attended chapel services every day.

It was sad when his reign was nearing its end.
He was aware of speculation in the foreign press.
He did a great deal for the country and ruled at a time when it was not an unusual
occurrence for countries to be at war with one another.

A life of wonder,
full of joy,
He created beauty at Versailles.

The early years of the reign of the Sun King are recalled as the happiest times with the fetes
and celebrations, the gardens his joy.

In later years, with sorrow and sadness, the court of Versailles was not the happy place of
earlier times.

When Princess Marie-Adelaide of Savoy came on the scene the court of Versailles reflected some of its earlier gaiety and merriment of previous times with the many balls whch were given in honour of the new princess, who would eventually marry the king's grandson, the Duke of Bourgogne.

I wonder whether the king reflected upon the golden age of Elizabeth I of England.
He did enquire once of the plays of Shakespeare, however, Princess Henriette was not informed or did not seem to be aware of the great
playwright at the time. This was after one of her visits to England.

Louis XIV wrote his own madrigal or motet once though through of lack of encouragement from
a friend, he threw it away. This is described in Louis XIV by Vincent Cronin, a recommended
book, which details the achievements of his reign with a view to the arts, beauty and architecture.

There is a reference in the introduction of “The Sun King's Garden” by Ian Thompson that the gardener, Le Notre,
has been likened to Shakespeare. Very little known about him but his works well known. The gardens of seventeenth century Versailles were a show piece of the Sun King's domain and
remain a beautiful show piece even still today. The Sun King and his gardener, Le Notre, became friends and shared a wonderful vision for the gardens of Versailles which became a reality with the beautiful gardens and fountains which were created.








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