Saturday, 6 April 2013

Wedding of Louis Auguste and Marie Antoinette

One of the greatest ceremonies held in the Royal Chapel of Versailles was the wedding of the French Dauphin Louis Auguste and the Austrian Archduchess Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette arrived at Versailles on May 16 1770 and the wedding was scheduled to take place immediately. Since there was no Queen of France at the time she was led into the Queen's apartments which she would occupy from her very first night - she never slept in the bedroom of the Dauphine. In the Queen's bedchamber she was being prepared for the wedding. Her wedding dress was an impressive sight (more on this in "Fashion") - it was tradition that the bride's family would provide the most elaborate wedding gear.
When the bride was fully dressed she made her way to the King's study at one o'clock in the afternoon where the Dauphin was waiting for her. He took her hand and they left the room together.

The wedding procession (the bridal couple first, followed by the King and the princes of the blood) went through the Grand Apartments where the entire court was gathered to watch the couple pass. As dictated by tradition the young couple knelt at the prie dieus in the Chapel in front of the Archbishop of Reims. The ceremony began and the fifteen-year old Louis placed the wedding-ring on the thin finger of the fourteen-year old Marie Antoinette - in front of 6000 aristocrats.
Then came the official signing of the marriage registry. First, Louis XV would sign (simply using his first name as was custom) and then the groom and bride - Marie Antoinette accidentally plotted the paper while adding the "-ette" to her name (she was not used to this French version of her name).

The bridal couple went to the Dauphin's apartments where Marie Antoinette was given her wedding gifts by her husband: a lavishly decorated chest packed with the most out-standing jewellery. It was now the beginning of the evening and the couple went to the brilliantly illuminated Hall of Mirrors for the official reception. A display of fireworks had been planned but had to be cancelled due to a storm. The night ended after a celebration in the opera house of Gabriel with the official bedding of the couple.
The couple was led into the Queen's apartments where the Archbishop of Reims blessed the bed. Louis XV then handed a night-shirt to his grandson and Marie Antoinette was given hers by the Duchesse de Chartres. The bride and groom would  then climb into bed before the entire court and the curtains would be closed after which the couple was left alone.

The non-consummation of the marriage did not affect the planned festivities that went on until May 30! When the fireworks could finally be displayed it ended in a tragedy. 132 people were killed when the fireworks were fired on the Place de la Concorde.

Here are some depictions of the wedding:

The bridal couple at the Chapel

The Dauphin and Dauphine during the celebrations
Engraving of the wedding ceremony
Seating plan for the wedding dinner celebrating the marriage of Louis-Auguste and Marie-Antoinette.
Seating plan of the wedding of the Dauphin and Dauphine

Marriage contract of Marie Antoinette  and the Dauphin whose signature “Louis Auguste” is below that of his grandfather Louis XV as “Louis”; her signature is marked by a blot.
The marriage registry - notice the plot at
Marie Antoinette's signature 
Marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from 1839

Wedding ceremony in "Marie Antoinette" (1938)

Wedding reception as depicted in "Marie Antoinette" (2006)

No comments:

Post a Comment