Monday, 18 March 2013

The King's Levée

The levée - or the rise - was the ceremony that took place every time the King or Queen woke up. When Louis XIV ruled France he had the two ceremonies: the grand levée and the petit levée.
At the grand levée the entire court would witness the King's rising from his bed from the gallery outside his room. At the petit levée it was only favoured courtiers who would watch the King wake and dressing. It was not uncommon that the King had been up for several hours before the levée where he would go out hunting and then come back to his bed for his levée.

One of the most famous levée ceremonies was that of Louis XIV when etiquette was at its highest. This is how the Sun King's day began:
Louis XIV was woken up at eight o'clock by his chambre valet. Then the ceremonies would begin ...

The Grand Entrée began first by the Grand Chamberlain leading in the courtiers with the right of entrance (it was possible to buy a right of entrance). The King was still in his bed, wearing a shirt and a wig. After being presented with Holy Water, the First Master of the Bedchamber and the First Servant would pull of the King's shirt - each grabbing a sleeve. The King's Grand Chamberlain would then present him his day shirt. This was the time when courtiers had a brief moment to make a well-rehearsed petition. The gentlemen would then retire to the adjoining room.

Then it was time for the Première Entrée and the courtiers with lesser rights could enter. It was about this time that the King would dress - Louis XIV preferred to do it himself. So, being handed a dressing-gown and while a mirror was being held up for the King, he would shave himself. Now other courtiers could enter
and the room would be pretty crowded when the King out on his stockings and shoes. After praying at his bedside the King would go into the cabinet where he would announce what he wanted to do that day.

So there you have it; the King's levée. My God, if I had to go through this every day, I would go insane ...

Louis XIV's levée ceremony's 


  1. What is an example of a well rehearsed petition and what type of person would buy a right of entrance?

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    1. a petition would usually be a favour and it would be well-rehearsed since it would hardly make an impression on the king otherwise. Since the right of entrance was extremely coveted it would be bought by anyone who could afford it - and few could

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