Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Courtiers' Lodgings: The Queen's Favourites

Royal favour was one way of gaining an apartment at Versailles; one example is the lodgings given to the Princesse de Lamballe and the Duchesse de Polignac - close friends of Marie Antoinette. These changed over the years according to both the personal relationship between the three women and the positions they received from their royal friend.

Madame de Lamballe

Upon her marriage to the Prince de Lamballe, Marie Thérèse Louise had shared an apartment with her husband and father-in-law, the Duc de Penthièvre. In this arrangement, she had a bedchamber to herself.

In July 1780, the Princesse de Lamballe was housed in a magnificent apartment on the first floor of the Aile du Midi. No less than 15 rooms were allocated to the royal friend; the location of the apartment meant that she had an excellent view of the garden and the Orangery. Her rooms were as follows: (a) billiard room, (b) passage, (c) toilet, (d) boiler, (e) bath, (f) library, (g) cabinet, (h) salon, (i) gaming room, (j) first antechamber, (k) second antechamber, (l) bedchamber, (m) toilet, (n) cabinet and (o) wardrobe.

Note the small chamber adjoining the first antechamber. It was used as a bedroom for a female servant. By 1780, she had to leave these rooms because the Duc d'Angôuleme had need of a new apartment. She was then housed on the ground floor of the same wing but, unfortunately, I have not been able to find a floor plan of that particular apartment.

Madame de Lamballe's apartment, 1780

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Madame de Lamballe

Madame de Polignac

In comparison to Madame de Lamballe, Yolande's favour rose later on in the 1780's which is shown clearly in the gradually larger apartments she received. In 1780 - same year that Madame de Lamballe was moved - she occupied a small apartment. This also happened to be on the ground floor.

Madame de Polignac's apartment, 1780

However, they did not share the ground floor for long. Already in 1781, Madame de Polignac was moved to the Minister's Wing (extending from the Corps Central on the side of the Aile du Midi). Here, she shared a larger apartment with her husband.

The Apartment of the Duc & Duchesse
de Polignac, 1781

Once Yolande was appointed to the post of Governess of the Children of France, she was moved back to the Aile du Midi - traditionally, the where the Governess lived since it was near the apartments of her charges. The apartment she received was smaller than the one she had previously occupied but it came with the adjoining entresol. This is the apartment Yolande occupied in the last years of Versailles as the seat of the monarchy.

(a) antechamber, (b) dining room, (c) salon, (d) bedchamber), (e) wardrobe and (f + g) bathrooms 


The entresol counted rooms for her servants as well as her library and a boudoir. Her husband had benefited from her promotion as well; he occupied an apartment to the left of hers but it appears to have been a temporary structure since it no longer exists.

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Madame de Polignac

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