Friday, 28 November 2014

Château d'Amboise

Having been in the hands of nobility ever since the 8th century the Château d'Amboise was confiscated by the Crown in the 15th century by Charles VII. The château received its fair part of royal attention and was both expanded and glorified in such a degree that even Francis I was comfortable there. Catherine de Medici and her husband, Henri II, raised their children here and Leonardo da Vinci was once a guest.

It is quite possible that the château could have remained in power if it had not been for the Amboise Conspiracy during the French Wars of Religion which effectively cooled the French King's taste for it. They can hardly be blamed since about 1200 were hung from the walls until the stench became so unbearable that the royal family left. Having been unoccupied for years the château was given to Gaston d'Orlèans (brother of Louis XIII) but returned to the Crown upon his death. Louis XIV used the castle as a prison during the Fronde and when that matter was settled it was handed over to Nicolas Fouquet - until his disgrace - and then to the Duc de Lauzun.

Louis XV had no real admiration for the château either and gladly bestowed it on his minister, the Duc de Choiseul. Sadly, most of the original castle were destroyed during the First Empire.


Council Chamber

House of Broglie

Area of Origin: Piedmont

The House of Broglie was established in France since 1643 when they moved from their original Italy to France.

Upon the family's removal to France the head of the family, François-Marie de Broglie (who already held the title of Comte) decided to join the French army. He was successful and was eventually made lieutenant general - a title which he bore to his death in 1656.
François-Marie's son and heir, Victor-Maurice, followed his father's footsteps and was fortunate enough to serve under some of the most famous military leaders in French history including Turenne and Condé. He, also, made his way up the ladder being first made aid-de-camp in 1676, then lieutenant general like his father in 1688 and finally reached the top as a Marshal of France in 1724.

Despite both François-Marie and Victor-Maurice's remarkably successful military careers the family would still have to wait until 1742 until becoming elevated to the rank of Ducs. The title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was added by the Holy Emperor Francis I in 1759 which meant that all younger members of the family were addressed as "Prince".

Blason de Broglie
The Family Crest

Francois-Marie, who was head of the family when they moved to France

Victor-François de Broglie.jpg
Victor-Francois, who was granted the title of Duc

The Family Estates:

Château de Broglie
Now converted into a hotel but the castle is still in the family's possession

Your Royal Library

There are plenty of books on this particular subject and in case you do not want to scroll through the Reading the Realms-section - or just want a clear view - here is a list of books that just might interest you.

The Kings, Queens and Courtiers:

  • Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Lady Antonia Fraiser
  • Louis XIV by Dunlop
  • Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon
  • Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France by Christine Pevitt Algrant
  • Louis the Beloved by Olivier Bernier
  • Madame de Sévigné's Letters
  • Brother to the Sun King: Philippe, Duke of Orleans by Nancy Nichols Barker
  • First Lady of Versailles: Marie Adélaide of Savoy, Dauphine of France by Lucy Norton
  • The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: Madame de Maintenon by Veronica Buckley
  • The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury
  • Madame du Barry: the Wages of Beauty by Joan Haslip
  • The King's Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madame du Coudray by Nina Rattner Gelbart
  • A Day with Marie Antoinette by Helene Delalex and Francis Hammond
  • Marie Thérèse: the Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter by Susan Nagel
  • Love and Louis XIV by Lady Antonia Fraiser
  • The Real Queen of France: Athénaïs and Louis XIV by Lisa Hilton
  • The Man who Outshone the Sun King by Charles Drazin
  • Louis XIV: a Royal Life by Olivier Bernier
  • Philippe, Duc d'Orlèans: Regent of France by Christine Pevitt
  • Princesse of Versailles: The Life of Marie Adelaide of Savoy by Charles W. Elliot
  • La Grande Mademoiselle at the Court of France by Vincent J. Pitts
Lady Antonia Fraiser's "Marie Antoinette: the Journey" - my favourite book on Marie Antoinette

The Palace & Gardens

  • Versailles: A Private Invitation by Francis Hammond and Guillaume Picon
  • The Sun King's Garden by Ian Thompson
  • Vaux and Versailles by Claire Goldstein
  • From Marie Antoinette's Garden by Élisabeth de Feydeau
  • The Gardener of Versailles by Alain Baraton
  • Versailles: a Biography of a Palace by Tony Spawford
  • Gardens of Versailles by Beatrix Saule
Secret Versailles
"Versailles: A Private Invitation" offers an inside glimpse of the palace
Fashion & Jewellery
  • Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart
  • Fashion Victims by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
  • 18th century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh
  • Dress in France in the 18th Century by Madeleine Delpierre
  • The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London by Hannah Greig
  • Embroidered with White by Heather Toomer
  • Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber
  • Eighteenth Century French Fashion in Full Colour by Stella Blum
  • Dressed to Rule by Philip Mansel
  • Fashion Prints in the Age of Louis XIV by Kathryn Norberg and Sandra Rosenbaum
Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries by Avril Hart
A part of a series of fashion history

Court Life & Events
  • The Queen's Necklace by Frances Mossiker
  • The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV by Anne Somerset
  • The Triumph of Pleasure: Louis XIV & the Politics of Spectacle by Georgia J. Cowart
Another book in my inventory! The Affair of the Poisons gives an insight into a far darker side of Louis XIV's court

Furniture & Art
  • French Painting in the Seventeenth Century by Alain Mérot
  • Furnishing the Eighteenth Century by Dena Goodma and Kathryn Norberg
  • Paris: Life and Luxury in Eighteenth Century France by Charissa Bremer-David
  • French Interiors of the 18th Century by John Whitehea
  • Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly
  • Between Luxury and Everyday by Katie Scott
  • Making Up the Rococo: Francois Boucher and his Critics by Melissa Hyde
  • 17th and 18th Century Arts: Baroque Painting, Sculpture, Architecture by Julius Held and Donald Posner 

French Society
  • The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV by W. H. Lewis
  • Royal Censorship on Books in 18th-Century France by Raymond Birn
  • Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth Century Paris by Thomas Crow
The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV
A wider look at what France looked like during Louis XIV

  • Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
  • Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas
  • Dancing to the Precipice by Caroline Moorehead
  • The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
  • To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker
  • Days of Splendour, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey

Everything Else:

  • The Libertine; the Art of Love in 18th-century France by Michel Delon
  • The Road from Versailles: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the Fall of the French Monarchy by Munro Price
  • The Devil in the Holy Water: the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon by Robert Darnton
The Libertine
"The Libertine"

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Pouf

Marie Antoinette was responsible for introducing the Pouf to the French court in 1774 when she appeared at Louis XVI's coronation with such a hairstyle. Immediately, it spread like wildfire.

The Pouf was ideal to express the wearer's mood, celebrating an event or even the political view; there was no limit for the creativity that could be put into the hairstyle. The hair would be arranged high above the head in rolls of the wearer's natural hair intertwined with false hair. Once the rolls were safely fastened decorations could be added. Gemstones, ribbons, pearls and feathers were popular but for special occasions more was needed. Most of you have probably heard of the time when Marie Antoinette wore a small ship in her hair to commemorate the French rescue of the American colonies which did indeed happen.

Marie Antoinette was herself quite a fan of ostrich-feathers, as can be seen from the portrait above. Besides the feathers she is also wearing diamond jewellery, gauze and long rows of pearls are intertwined with the Queen's hair. Normally, the feathers would be snow-white but on special occasions they could be dyed to match a gown.

Marie Antoinette's English friend, the Duchess of Devonshire, was a keen follower of the trend. The famous portrait of her shows the Duchess showcasing the hairstyle which has been topped off by a large hat.
Back in France Leonard and Rose Bertin seemed locked in a rivalry of who could create the most outrageous hairstyles. Admittedly, Leonard had the upper hand in the beginning of the trend's life span.

Some of the more elaborate poufs. Notice that the lady to the left is actually wearing a hat topped with a lot
of feathers. The lady to the right has decided to use jewellery as well.

The Pouf Sentimental
This kind of pouf was first seen on the Duchesse de Chartres at the opera in April 1774 and as the name suggests was adorned with symbols relating to events in the wearer's life. The Duchesse's hairstyle was immense. 14 yards of gauze were wrapped around a tower as well as two figures representing the baby Duc de Beaujolais in his nurse's arms with an African boy (a particular favourite of the Duchesse) at her feet. A parrot and a plate of cherries were also added.

Leonard - favourite hairdresser of Marie Antoinette - was behind this masterpiece and he was to become a seemingly endless source of inspiration to the court ladies.

The Duchesse de Lauzun made another spectacle when she appeared showing a roaring sea complete with little ducks swimming near the shore where a hunter was aiming at them as well as a mill at the top. The miller's wife was with an abbé while the miller was leading a donkey. Needless to say, the price of these Poufs Sentimental could be quite steep.

A pouf sentimental to celebrate the defeat of the British
Over time the height of the Pouf rose to astonishing heights but you will find more on that subject in a later post.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tête de Mouton

Literally meaning "sheep's head" the "tête de mouton" was a discreet hairstyle which gained popularity around the 1750's and remained in style throughout the 1760's. The hairstyle was close-fitted unlike the much more elaborate hairstyles otherwise known at court. The hair would be curled and arranged in neat rows and set close to the scalp. Possibly it was Marie Leszczynska's subtle lifestyle that inspired the hairdo and she is indeed portrayed with her hair in that style in official portraits.

Marie Josephe de Saxe
Normally, the curls would be powdered with white powder before being attached to the head. For those who were not blessed with thick, luscious hair it was common to add false hair (human or animal) to add volume. Even though the style was closely fitted at first there was some who took it to whole new heights which meant that the hoods of the females' capes had to be suspended with wires to keep from destroying the style.

As shown on the portrait above it was quite common to decorate the hairstyle with different sorts of accessories - after all, it would not do to be too simple. Artificial flowers, pearls and gemstones were lavishly added to the hairstyle and most women would try to match the colour of their gown with that of their hairstyle's accessories. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Boudoir

Marie Antoinette would use this adorable little cottage to sleep in when she stayed at her hamlet overnight; this use gave the cottage the name of the Boudoir or "the Queen's little house". There are only two rooms in this cottage: a bedroom and a wardrobe. Occasionally, Marie would invite one of her friends (females only) to stay there with her. The cottage even has its' own little garden. Besides a few minor alterations during the Second Empire the cottage is the same as in 1789.

The Queen's House & Billiard Room

The largest and most imposing of the buildings in the Queen's hamlet consists of two smaller, rustic cottages connected by a covered passageway. It was here that the Queen's private chambers were and were she would spent most of her time; the upper floor includes an antechamber, a "Chinese cabinet" and a large drawing room. The ground floor had a dining room and a gaming salon. The Queen's House is reached through a spiral staircase.
The passageway is decorated with flowerpots carrying Marie Antoinette's personal monogram. There was also a library in the Queen's House which was thought to have belonged to the architect Richard Mique.

View from the garden

The Billiard house

The Warming Room

The Warming Room was once a whole little section of buildings dedicated to dining. A large kitchen, a bakery, a pantry and several small offices were located here. Whenever the Queen hosted dinner parties for her friends it was here that the food would be prepared before being served either in the Queen's house (located conveniently nearby) or at the mill. Fortunately, linen and silverware were stored here too, so everything was ready.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Dovecote

The Dovecote is the last remaining building of the four that formerly stood here. The remaining three were a ballroom, a barn and a hen-house. The Dovecote is situated next to the carp-lake and in Marie Antoinette's time it would have been surrounded by hens brought in from the western part of France in 1785.

The Dovecote is reached by a stonebridge

The Guard's House

The Guard's House was the home of a Swiss Guard by the name of Jean Bersy who occupied the house with his family. It had been considered imprudent to leave the Queen and her prominent guests unguarded in such an "isolated area". Since the house was the home of a guard the Queen and her friends did not use it for their holidays.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Dairy

There used to be a preparation Dairy and a refreshment Dairy but the former was destroyed during Napoleon's reign; it was here that the products were churned and skimmed.
Marie Antoinette would go to the refreshment Dairy to taste the products from the farm's cow, mainly cheese and milk. The main furniture were marble tables inlaid with china. Overall, the entire décor is typical of the simplicity of the Petit Trianon: no golden finery, no chubby cherubs and no crystal chandeliers. It would also have been a plus to the hygiene that it was easy to clean.

The plain interior

The Marlborough Tower

The Marlborough Tower was used as an observatory and from the top of the tower it was possible to communicate with the palace through light signals! It was from here that the boat-rides would take off; ever since Louis XIV's time it had been popular to go on boat rides along the canals in the park and some courtiers even had their own boats. The royal family's fishing equipment was stored here as well.

Tour Marlborough (2).jpg

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Baroque Art: The Queen

Charles Beaubrun

Jean Nocret

Charles Beaubrun

Joseph Werner

The Queen with her eldest son
Charles Beaubrun