Hall of Mirrors at Versailles:
Versailles - the Dream and the Court (continued)
Wandering around the great chateau and the Hall of Mirrors -
to relive and imagine the experiences of the
courtiers and people who once lived there.
The king, Louise de la Valliere, Madame de Montespan, Princess Henriette;
There in a long chamber before coming out of the chateau into the gardens
there is a long gallery of statuary of characters from earlier centuries -
generals, poets, soldiers, writers. I found this display of statues of characters
from another time fascinating.
To visit the gardens in all of their splendour, so much
magnificence and beauty all in one place!
Some writers have the talent to bring another place and time alive.
I particularly enjoyed reading Sandra Gulland's evocative novel of Louise de la
Valliere, “Mistress of the Sun.”
Louise, the love of the king's early years; a beautiful story to read.
The story of Louise is different. She found grace and beauty in a convent and wrote
religious writings after her time at Versalles.
Louise, who was young and innocent fell in love with the wordly king. Louise, who came from a provincial town of the Loire seemed out of place at Versailles, and yet, she was a magnificent horse woman. Also, a dancer. She got on well with the king in his early years. His love for Louise was and inspiration when the gardens at Versailles were created.
The book follows Louise's love and also her suffering during her time at the court of the king. It is a wonderful book to read. It was uncanny that the author could depict the life of Louise and her love for the king so graphically and describe her world and her feelings of love, so authentically,
from the little towns of the Loire valley, the places of Paris of the seventeenth century and the
magnificence of the court of Versailles in all of its splendour.
A difficult situation for the long suffering Queen Marie Therese of Spain who came as a young bride to marry Louis XIV. This wedding was supposed to act as a peace settlement between the two countries, which in a way it did. Subsequently, the king's second grand-son, the Duc d'Anjou
became King of Spain.
The king never did receive the dowry received in full which was promised at the time of the
marriage negotiations. This may have been a pre-text for one of his earlier campaigns. In his later
years it has been noted that he did regret some of his earlier campaigns.
The book reflects the purity of the love and innocence of Louise against a background of wantoness which does later seem to become apparent at the court when Madame de Montespan, a rival for the king's affections, also becomes a mistress of the king.
Being an idealistic person, Louise was not
happy with this situation; three queens in a coach as was once described of one of the king's journeys when Madame de Montespan, Louise de la Valliere and the queen, Marie Therese, were escorting the king during one of his campaigns in his early days.
It does seem unfortunate that Louise was not chaperoned at the court.
Being a lady of honour on
Princess Henriette's retinue it may have been appropriate for Louise to have been chaperoned. Being young and impressionable at the time that a position was found for her at court perhaps her
mother should have arranged this.
Louise later found her calling in a religious life and entered a convent,
subsequently writing religious works. Her children remained at court and Louise turned her back on a worldly existence as she then perceived the court of Versailles. Louise is one of the more appealing characters at the royal court from the time of the Sun-King.
Louise was a popular person at court and people did speak to her about her decision to enter a convent.
The beauty of the love of Louise and the king has been mentioned in previous books regarding the king's early years at Versailles and was described as beautiful in the book “Princesss of Versailles” by Charles Elliott, which told the story of Princess Marie-Adelaide of Savoy, who came to live at the court of Versailles in the king's later years and married his grand-son, the Duke of Bourgogne.
This book also was a fascinating tale giving wonderful descriptions of the royal court and insights into the life of the king. The Duke and Duchess of Bourgogne sold their jewellery in times of hardship.
At one time there was silver furniture placed in the Hall of Mirrors which would have been quite beautiful. Louis XIV had this silver melted down in later years to pay for the soldiers' wages.