Sunday, 29 March 2015

Louis, the Grand Dauphin

Louis was born on 1 November 1661 as the son of Louis XIV and Marie Thérèse at Fontainebleau. His childhood was spent in the same way as every other royal child in France: until the age of 7 Louis was in the care of women.

When he was transferred to the care of men, the Duc de Montausier was made his governor. That proved to be a terrible mistake. The Duc de Montausier used very harsh methods of disciplining and teaching his young charge and the young Louis was simply not cut out for that sort of treatment. His tutor, Bossuet, thundered ahead and ended up instilling a lifelong resentment of books and learning in the young Dauphin.

Louis was not as intelligent as one might have wished and was terrified of his father whom he seldom saw privately. Louis XIV never really allowed his son to have any real influence, not even as the heir to the throne grew into his adolescence. Louis was given five siblings but they all died in their early years; the one he knew the longest died when Louis was 11 years old. To prevent Louis from being deprived of the company of children his own age, it was decided that Marie Louise d'Orlèans - the young daughter of Philippe and Louis' cousin - were raised together.

At the age of seven Louis was betrothed to Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria whom he married by proxy in January 1680. The couple met for the first time in the early days of March that year.

As he grew into his twenties Louis engaged in his passion for the arts and amassed one of the greatest collection at Versailles. Over all, Louis was a leisurely man but he hardly had a choice in that. Louis XIV allowed his son to sit in on the council meetings but that was as far as his influence went. Instead, the Grand Dauphin was remarked to be quite lazy and it was noted that he could spent an entire day sitting in an armchair tapping his cane.

Despite being rather idle, Louis was interested in the military campaigns of his father. In 1688 he was sent to the Rhineland where he succeeded in taking several vital bridges. He became especially popular among the soldiers when he visited the wounded in person immediately after the battle. Two years later his wife died. The two had never been close but had still produced three sons.

Louis caused quite a scandal when he married his mistress in 1695 rather than waiting for his father to arrange a new marriage. She was never acknowledged as Dauphine though. For the remnant of his life he expanded his already extensive collections and added to the château de Meudon that his father had bought for him. In the spring of 1711 Louis caught smallpox which killed him on 11 April.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Philippe I, Duc d'Orlèans

Philippe was born on 21 September 1640 to the astonished Louis XIII and Anne of Austria - the couple had been childless for over a decade when Louis was born and the birth of Philippe only cemented the good luck that suddenly shone on the marriage.

During most of his childhood Philippe was known as "le Petit Monsieur" since there was already a man (his uncle) who held the title of Monsieur. It would appear that Philippe was a handsome child and intelligent too. There was something odd, however, to the way he was brought up. Since Anne of Austria had annulled Louis XIII's will it was her and Cardinal Mazarin who ruled - and Anne had personal charge of the children. She would often encourage Philippe to dress in clothing usually used for little girls!

But maybe Philippe was not completely forced into girls' clothing. His fondness for female attires continued well into his adolescence and he would often be seen attending balls wearing gowns. Philippe is one of the most famous (or rather infamous) homosexuals at the court of Versailles. Rather than trying to suppress what was seen as an abominable sin Anne of Austria - and later Louis XIV - used Philippe's sexuality to secure Louis' hold on the throne. If Philippe's homosexuality was widely known it would as good as deny him the crown in the case of Louis XIV's death. So, Philippe was welcome to carry out with his affairs - which he certainly did.

It might seem as if the King's younger brother had all the freedom he could wish for but that was not quite so. Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin made sure that Philippe was completely dependent on the crown - and with it, his brother. Even if he had wanted to (which there is no evidence to suggest) he would not have been able to challenge his brother's throne.

After the Fronde had ended it was decided that Philippe should live in the Tuileries with his own household. When Louis XIV came of age, Philippe himself placed the crown on his brother's head. Whether he envied his brother or not is not for us to say but he certainly loved the pomp of it all. Through all his life Philippe maintained a fondness for ceremony and etiquette.

By the age of 18 the first rumours began to emerge of Philippe's liaisons with other men - but with women as well. So, perhaps Monsieur was bisexual rather than homosexual?

Either way, Philippe was to marry and marry he did. On 31 March 1661 he was married to Henrietta of England but the marriage was never a happy one and it certainly did not help that Henrietta was openly flirting with Louis - and later seduced Philippe's own lover! Besides their difficulties the couple still managed to produce four children of which two daughters survived into adulthood. The following year the couple made the Palais Royal their home rather than the Tuileries. The couple was never close and lived separately when Henrietta died in 1670.

Though the court mourned the death of Henrietta, Philippe did not and Louis was eager to see an heir produced for the Orlèans-line. Another marriage was arranged for Philippe this time to Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate; the couple married in 1671. Unlike Philippe's first marriage this one got off to a good start. For the first few years the couple enjoyed living together and they produced three children of which two survived - including the much-longed for son. After the birth of their last child the couple mutually agreed to be no longer sleeping together.

In some aspects it would seem odd that a man such as Philippe would be eager for the battlefield but he was. Not only was Philippe pleased to be back on the battlefield in 1676 but he was skilled as well which he had already proven in previous campaigns. Actually, Philippe's skills as a commander and soldier was praised so highly that even his brother became jealous.
Back home Philippe emerged himself in his love for the arts (he was a patron for many upcoming artists including Lully) and would spent most of his time at his favourite residence of Saint-Cloud.

Philippe was a wealthy man in his own right due to intelligent management of his estates and decent investments. When his immensely wealthy cousin - known as Mademoiselle - died without an heir, he inherited her fortune as well. As for Philippe's own family it was peaceful. Both of his daughters from his first marriage became Queens and he maintained a close relationship with his other two children.

In his later years Philippe fell out with Louis over a matter concerning Philippe's son, the Duc de Chartres. At a dinner with Louis at Marly Philippe told Louis a couple of truths and pointed out that the Duc de Chartres had not received the favours promised when he married on the King's bidding. Louis was absolutely shocked. Philippe returned in anger to his beloved Saint-Cloud to spent time with none other than the Duc de Chartres. It was here that Philippe suffered a stroke on 9 June 1701 which became the death of him.

The Carousel of 1662

The Carousel of 1662 was not held at Versailles but between the Louvre and the courtyard of the Tuileries - now called the Place de Carousel - on 5, 6 and 7 June. The event celebrated was the birth of the Dauphin and the 25-year old Louis XIV wanted to make the most of it. The news of the grand spectacle had spread like wildfire through Paris and 10-15.000 people were gathered to watch. Temporary stands had been erected for the people to sit on which made up an amphitheatre in the Roman style designed by Vigarani.

A view of the Carousel (French school)

The King's mother, Anne of Austria, the Queen Marie Thérèse and the other ladies of the court were placed on dais which had been built especially for the Carousel. It was decorated in purple velvet emblazoned with golden fleur-de-lis. Two other stands had been erected for the princes of the court and the visiting ambassadors. After all, the Carousel was not merely a celebration, it was a display of power.



The Carousel was a display of equestrian spectacle with riders wearing elaborate costumes. On the first day a parade went from the Hôtel de Vendôme to the courtyard of the Tuileries and along the way the people were awed by the 1297 participants of the parade - of which 655 were mounted on horseback.


The theme for this year was a tribute to the most exotic countries at the time - five was chosen - and each was represented by a quadrille. In turn each quadrille was headed by a member of the court and each quadrille had its' own colour scheme.

Louis XIV headed the Romans as their Emperor clad in red and black. The King's own costume was described by an album published on the Carousel in 1669:
"dressed like a Roman in a long coat embroidered with silver and gold ... a silver helmet covered with gold leafs ... from which there rises a plume of ostrich feathers..."
Even the King's horse was dressed to impress with a caparison covered in diamonds and red and gold tassels.

Louis XIV in the Grand Carrousel masque,1662 representing the roman emperor but dressed in 17th century style with a chiselled armour with gems and pearls, boots of silver brocade and a silver helmet with a golden crown of laurel and crimson feathers./ Louis XIV en el Grand Carrousel, 1662 representando el emperador romano pero a la moda del siglo 17 con armadura cincelada con gemas y perlas, botas de brocado plata y casco plateado con una corona de laurel dorada y cascada de plumas escarlata.
Louis XIV as the Emperor of the Romans

"Romans" in the Grand Carrousel 1662.
Pages following the King

Monsieur, headed the Persians and wore white and red. Most of his entourage were decked out in elaborate turbans.

Brother of Louis XIV, head of the "perses", Grand Carrousel in the Tuilleries,1662. He carried a device of the moon under the motto "uno sole minor" as a counterpart of Louis who carried the sun under the motto "ut vidi vinci" imposing himself as the centre of everything./ Hermano de Luis XIV, cabeza de los persas, Grand Carrousel, Tullerías. Llevó una luna bajo el lema "uno sole minor" en contrapartida del rey quien llevaba un sol bajo el lema "ut vidi vinci", imponiéndose como centro de todo.

The Prince de Condé was the figurehead of the Turks in blue and black.

Prince de Condé as the emperor of the turks in the Grand Carrousel in 1662. He carried the islamist crescent moon with the motto "Crescit ut Aspicitur". His costume was made of silver embroidered red satin with diamonds and turquoises and half moons hanging./ Príncipe de Condé como emperador de los turcos en el Grand Carrousel. Llevaba la media luna islamista con el lema "Crescit ut Aspicitur". Su traje era de satén rojo bordado en plata con diamantes y turquesas y medias lunas colgando.
The Prince de Condé

The "turks" driven by the Prince. De condé in the Grand Carrousel, 1662.
Riders in the quadrille of the Prince de Condé

The Duc d'Enghien (son of Monsieur) led the Indians in a display of yellow and "flesh colour".

Duc d'Enghien as the dirigent of the Indiens.
The Duc d'Enghien

Grand Carrousel 1662."Indian" drummer and trumpeter

The Duc de Guise headed the American Indians which were covered in brightly coloured feathers but had otherwise rather simple costumes. The Duc himself wore a silver helmet with a chimera on top.

Duc the Guise in the Grand Carrousel as the king of America, 1662
The Duc de Guise

"American" drummer and  in the Grand Carrousel of 1662. The bonnets of the horsemen were made of shell and Coral.
Musicians in the Duc de Guise's quadrille

If Voltaire is to be believed then this was the first occasion that Louis XIV wore the sun as his personal emblem.

Different sorts of competitions were planned including one in which the goal was to spear a head (not an actual head, don't worry) of a doll dressed as an Oriental warrior. Also, a ring tilt was prepared where the riders would take turns trying to pass a lance through a hanging ring.
The winners were the Marquis de Bellefonds - who won the head tilt on the first day - and the Comte de Sault, who won the ring tilt on the second day. The Comte de Sault was honoured by being presented with his trophy by Anne of Austria herself. The other winners were granted their prizes by the Queen. One of the prizes given out was an ornate box with a small portrait of the King framed with diamonds.

The five quadrilles would perform mock charges at each other where they fired small, scented balls in bright colours to amuse to spectators. Not only the courtiers were clad in lavish costumes. Their followers wore helmets shaped as dragons, fish and parrots. Others wore long capes in the style of tiger skins or like monkeys.

Carrousel devant le Palais des Tuileries : [estampe] - 1

This was to be Louis XIV's first show of splendour and would also prove to be the only one held in Paris.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

BONUS: The Ministers' Housing

Most of the floor plans of Versailles are taken from the château itself but this one is from the Ministers' housing which was located right outside the Court of Honour - fenced off by the main gate. This is where important ministers were housed, so that they would not be too far off in case the King needed them. However, they were not important enough to get an apartment within the château itself!

The apartments on the left:

Blue Section: The General of the French Guards
Turquoise Section: Monsieur de Pons
Green Section: Minister of Foreign Affairs
Purple Section: Divided between the Minister of War and the "Maître d'Hotel" of the Queen

The apartments on the right:

Yellow Section: The General of the Swiss Guards
Orange Section: Minister of the Navy
Red Section: The Comte de Saint-Florentin
Pink Section: The Intendant of Finance

Monday, 23 March 2015

BONUS: The South Wing of Louis XIV (1. floor)

The apartments:

Blue Section: The Governess of the Children of France
Turquoise Section: The Ladies of France (Dames de France)
Green Section: Unknown
Lime Section: The Duchesse de Luynes, First "Dame du Palais" to the Queen
Yellow Section: The Duc de Villeroy, Captain of the Guards
Orange Section: The Prince de Rohan
Peach Section: The Duc de Duras
Pink Section: Monsieur d'H.
Red Section: Madame de C. or Madame de G.
Old Rose Section: The Marèchal de Birac
Mauve Section: The Comte de P.
Light Grey Section: The Comte de Trèmes
Grey Section: The Grand Prieur (amounting to the King's personal confessor)
Lavender Section: Madame de la Rôche-sur-Yon
Sky Blue Section: The Comte d'Evreux

Saturday, 21 March 2015

BONUS: South Wing - Ground Floor

The south wing was nicknamed "the Princes' wing" since the King would often grant Princes apartments in this particular part of the palace. This is how the ground floor looked like during Louis XIV's reign - I would hazard that this would have been the late 1690's or early 1700's.

The apartments:

Blue Section: Difficult to make out from the document but it belonged to a Duchesse
Turquoise Section: Monsieur and Madame du Maine
Green Section: Apartment of Mademoiselle
Lime Section: Monsieur le Duc
Yellow Section: Madame la Duchesse
Orange Section: Comte de L..ry
Apricot Section: Duchesse de M., Lady of Honour to the Queen
Red Section: Monsieur de Champagne or Chevreuse
Pink Section: Duc d'A.
Old Rose Section: Duc de Fleury
Beige/camel Section: Marèchal d'H.
Light grey Section: Cardinal d'Auvergne, Grand Almoner to the King
Charcoal Section: Duc d'Harcourt
Lavender Section: Mademoiselle de Clermont, Superintendent of the Queen's Household

A: Duc de Villars Brancas
B: Duc d'Aumale, First Gentleman of the Chamber

Friday, 20 March 2015

BONUS: North Wing of Louis XIV's Time - First floor

The most dominating change from Louis XIV's Versailles to that of Louis XV is that addition of the Opera which is clearly lacking from this one.

The first floor of the north wing was used to house high ranking courtiers and the occasional relative of the royal family.

The apartments and their holders (from the top left):

Blue Section: The Prince de Dombes
Turquoise Section: The Comte d'Eu
Green Section: Cardinal Rohan
Lime Section: Mademoiselle de Sens, First Lady of Honour to the Queen
Yellow Section: The Duc de Charost, Captain of the Guards
Orange Section: The Duchesse de Bèthune
Apricot Section: The Duc de Saint-Simon
Rose Section: M. de Cassé
Pink Section: The Comte de Tallirand (later spelled Talleyrand)
Purple Section: Somewhat unclear but I could make out the Comte de Bet.
Lavender Section: The Marèchal de Villars

A: Belonged to the Officers of the Guards
B: For the chapel's clerics

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Fall of Fouquet

Nicolas Foquet had been Minister of Finance since 1653 and had actually managed to turn the utterly confusing state of affairs into something positive. During his "rule" as Minister of Finance he competed with Mazarin as to whom might be considered the most powerful man in France - after the King, of course. But the higher you climb, the harder you fall and the fall of Fouquet shook the French aristocracy to its' core.

Nicolas Fouquet was nothing if not ambitious and when Mazarin died in 1661 there was nothing standing in the way of Fouquet being named head of government. Nothing save Louis XIV. The Sun King might have had his usages of Fouquet but it was the man's very ambition that unsettled the King. Louis XIV had always been wary of courtiers who rose above themselves and with Mazarin's death the time had come to cool Fouquet's ambitions. Instead of making Fouquet head of government Louis took the mantle himself.

While Louis himself undoubtedly had his own suspicions regarding Fouquet, there were plenty of courtiers willing to add their voices to choir. Colbert was quite likely one of them.

One would think that a man with Fouquet's intelligence would suspect that something was amiss but rather than stepping back Fouquet upped his game. After being turned down as head of government, Fouquet decided that he might as well show that he was still a man to be reckoned with. First, it should be said that Fouquet was a man of immense wealth. One of the things he did that definitely brought attention to him was to buy the port of Belle-Île-en-Mer. That would in itself not be considered odd if it had not been for the fact that he fortified the port. This gave him literally a save harbour in case the King turned against him.

Secondly, he turned to his estate of Vaux-le-Vicomte. He lavished funds on his home and brought in hitherto rather unknown artists such as Louis le Vau and Charles le Brun. For his gardens he hired André le Nôtre. Their combined effort transformed Vaux-le-Vicomte into the most splendid château of its' day.

Fouquet's fate was sealed in August 1661 (although it is very likely that his demise was already happening) when the court and Louis XIV was invited to the newly-finished Vaux-le-Vicomte. There, Fouquet gave a show of such lavish entertainment (complete with fireworks) that would be remembered as one of the finest celebrations in 17th century France. But Louis XIV was far from pleased. The young King was furious at being outdone in the art of magnificence and the awe of his courtiers only furthered the King's wrath.

Arrest of Fouquet
There was a problem though. Louis XIV was still a young monarch - at 22 years - and not only was Fouquet very wealthy, he also controlled the tax collectors. If they turned against the King the income needed to run not only the court but the very country would be threatened. Still, Louis would not allow this to go on. Consequently, a plot was drawn up to ensure Foquet's downfall.

The first move was to trick Fouquet into selling his office as procurer général (the head of the tax collectors, among others) which efficiently removed the protection Fouquet had so far had. Then the King announced that he would visit Nantes and when the King went somewhere, so did his councillors. Upon leaving the council room, Fouquet was arrested by the infamous d'Artagnan and taken away on 5 September.

There was to be a trial if the case should even hope to be accepted by the public. But had the public known how that trial was carried out much might have been different. In total, the trial dragged out for three years and during it there was no legal course that could not be overturned. The courtiers were shocked to learn how far Louis XIV was willing to go to assure Fouquet's downfall and some even dared to speak out. Colbert tried to prevent case acts from reaching the public but it had little effect since they were printed in the Netherlands after all. It had no effect.

The trial

No doubt the King had wished for Fouquet to be sentenced to death but instead he was banished. Louis XIV was utterly disappointed and changed the sentence to imprisonment for life. In December 1664 Fouquet was transferred to the fortress of Pignerol. It was said that his cell bordered on that of the Man in the Iron Mask.

Fouquet remained in Pignerol until his death which was reported in 1680.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Madame du Barry's Bedchamber

Madame du Barry's bedchamber became not only the place where the royal mistress would rest herself but also the refuge of her royal lover. Whenever Louis XV found himself in the need of a break he would visit this chamber. 
The staircase next to the chimney leads up to what is now a storage room for Louis XVI's library.

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Look-Book: Louis XVI - Gentlemen

1774-93, France
1775, France
1775-80, UK
1780, Spain
1780-90, France
1780-90, Danish or Norwegian
1780's, France
1785, France
1785-90, France
1786, Russia
1780, France

Look-Book: Louis XVI - Ladies

1770-89, Norway
1770-90, England
1775, England
1779-80, Norway
1780, England
1780, Denmark
1780, England
1780, England
1780, France
1780, France
1780, France
1780-90, Norway
1780-81, Scotland (back)
1780-81, Scotland
1780-82, Netherlands
1780-85, Spain
1780-99, Amsterdam
1780's, England
1785-87, France
1785-87, France
1786, Italy
1786, Scandinavian
(probably Danish)
1787, Norway