Palace of Versailles
Overview
The Palace of Versailles (icon or v; vɛʁˈsaj), or simply Versailles, is a royal château
Château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

 in Versailles in the Île-de-France
Île-de-France (région)
Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the twenty-two administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area....

 region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles.

When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 moved from Paris, until the royal family
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.
Encyclopedia
The Palace of Versailles (icon or v; vɛʁˈsaj), or simply Versailles, is a royal château
Château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

 in Versailles in the Île-de-France
Île-de-France (région)
Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the twenty-two administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area....

 region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles.

When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 moved from Paris, until the royal family
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 of the Ancien Régime.

Origins

The earliest mention of the name of Versailles is found in a document dated 1038, the Charte de l'abbaye Saint-Père de Chartres (Charter of the Saint-Père de Chartres Abbey) (Guérard, 1840), in which one of the signatories was a certain Hugo de Versailliis (Hugues de Versailles), who was seigneur of Versailles. During this period, the village of Versailles centred on a small castle and church and the area was governed by a local lord. Its location on the road from Paris to Dreux and Normandy brought some prosperity to the village but, following an outbreak of the Plague and the Hundred Years' War, the village was largely destroyed and its population sharply declined (Bluche, 1991; Thompson, 2006; Verlet, 1985)

In 1575, Albert de Gondi, a naturalized Florentine who gained prominence at the court of Henry II, purchased the seigneury of Versailles. In the early seventeenth century, Gondi invited Louis XIII on several hunting trips in the forests surrounding Versailles. Pleased with the location, Louis ordered the construction of a hunting lodge in 1624. Designed by Philibert Le Roy, the structure, a small château, was constructed of stone and red brick with a based roof. Eight years later, Louis obtained the seigneury of Versailles from the Gondi family and began to make enlargements to the château (Batiffol, 1913; Bluche, 1991; Marie, 1968; Nolhac, 1901; Verlet, 1985).

Louis XIV had played and hunted at the site as a boy. This structure would become the core of the new palace.

Louis XIV

Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

's successor, Louis XIV, had a great interest in Versailles. He settled on the royal hunting lodge at Versailles and over the following decades had it expanded into one of the largest palaces in the world (Félibien, 1703; Marie, 1972; Verlet, 1985). Beginning in 1661, the architect Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau was a French Classical architect who worked for Louis XIV of France. He was born and died in Paris.He was responsible, with André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun, for the redesign of the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. His later works included the Palace of Versailles and his collaboration...

, landscape architect
Landscape architect
A landscape architect is a person involved in the planning, design and sometimes direction of a landscape, garden, or distinct space. The professional practice is known as landscape architecture....

 André Le Nôtre
André Le Nôtre
André Le Nôtre was a French landscape architect and the principal gardener of King Louis XIV of France...

, and painter-decorator Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun , a French painter and art theorist, became the all-powerful, peerless master of 17th-century French art.-Biography:-Early life and training:...

 began a detailed renovation and expansion of the château. This was done to fulfill Louis XIV's desire to establish a new centre for the royal court. Following the Treaties of Nijmegen
Treaties of Nijmegen
The Treaties of Peace of Nijmegen were a series of treaties signed in the Dutch city of Nijmegen between August 1678 and December 1679...

 in 1678, he began to gradually move the court to Versailles. The court was officially established there on 6 May 1682.

By moving his court and government to Versailles, Louis XIV hoped to extract more control of the government from the nobility, and to distance himself from the population of Paris. All the power of France emanated from this centre: there were government offices here, as well as the homes of thousands of courtiers, their retinues, and all the attendant functionaries of court (Solnon, 1987). By requiring that nobles of a certain rank and position spend time each year at Versailles, Louis prevented them from developing their own regional power
Regional power
In international relations, a regional power is a state that has power within a geographic region. States which wield unrivaled power and influence within a region of the world possess regional hegemony.-Characteristics:...

 at the expense of his own and kept them from countering his efforts to centralise the French government in an absolute monarchy (Bluche, 1986, 1991; Bendix, 1978; Solnon, 1987). The meticulous and strict court etiquette
Etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group...

 that Louis established, which overwhelmed his heirs with its petty boredom, was epitomised in the elaborate ceremonies and exacting procedures that accompanied his rising in the morning, known as the Lever
Levée (ceremony)
Lever , adopted in English as levée—initially the simple act of getting up in the morning—has traditionally been a daily moment of intimacy and accessibility to a monarch or leader...

, divided into a petit lever for the most important and a grand lever for the whole court. Like other French court manners, étiquette was quickly imitated in other European courts (Benichou, 1948; Bluche, 1991; Solnon 1987).

The expansion of the château became synonymous with the absolutism of Louis XIV (Bluche, 1986, 1991). In 1661, following the death of Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister of the government, Louis had declared that he would be his own chief minister. The idea of establishing the court at Versailles was conceived to ensure that all of his advisors and provincial rulers would be kept close to him. He feared that they would rise up against him and start a revolt. He thought that if he kept all of his potential threats near him, they would be powerless. After the disgrace of Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet, marquis de Belle-Île, vicomte de Melun et Vaux was the Superintendent of Finances in France from 1653 until 1661 under King Louis XIV...

 in 1661 – Louis claimed the finance minister
Finance minister
The finance minister is a cabinet position in a government.A minister of finance has many different jobs in a government. He or she helps form the government budget, stimulate the economy, and control finances...

 would not have been able to build his grand château at Vaux-le-Vicomte
Vaux-le-Vicomte
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne département of France...

 without having embezzled from the crown – Louis, after the confiscation of Fouquet’s state, employed the talents of Le Vau, Le Nôtre, and Le Brun, who all had worked on Vaux-le-Vicomte, for his building campaigns at Versailles and elsewhere. For Versailles, there were four distinct building campaigns (after minor alterations and enlargements had been executed on the château and the gardens in 1662–1663), all of which corresponded to Louis XIV’s wars (Bluche, 1986, 1991; Verlet, 1985).
First building campaign

The first building campaign (1664–1668) commenced with the Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée
Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée
Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée in English means Pleasures of the Enchanted Island. The Enchanted Island references Louis XIV and his court. This was a party given to start the building campaigns for the Chateau de Versailles in particular to acquaint those involved in its construction, his wife,...

of 1664, a fête
Fête
Fête is a French word meaning festival, celebration or party, which has passed into English as a label that may be given to certain events.-Description:It is widely used in England and Australia in the context of a village fête,...

 that was held between 7 and 13 May 1664. The fête was ostensibly given to celebrate the two queens of France – Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria was Queen consort of France and Navarre, regent for her son, Louis XIV of France, and a Spanish Infanta by birth...

, the Queen Mother
Queen mother
Queen Mother is a title or position reserved for a widowed queen consort whose son or daughter from that marriage is the reigning monarch. The term has been used in English since at least 1577...

, and Marie-Thérèse
Maria Theresa of Spain
Maria Theresa of Austria was the daughter of Philip IV, King of Spain and Elizabeth of France. Maria Theresa was Queen of France as wife of King Louis XIV and mother of the Grand Dauphin, an ancestor of the last four Bourbon kings of France.-Early life:Born as Infanta María Teresa of Spain at the...

, Louis XIV’s wife, but in reality honored the king’s mistress, Louise de La Vallière
Louise de La Vallière
Louise de La Vallière was a mistress of Louis XIV of France from 1661 to 1667. She later became the Duchess of La Vallière and Duchess of Vaujours in her own right...

. The celebration of the Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée
Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée
Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée in English means Pleasures of the Enchanted Island. The Enchanted Island references Louis XIV and his court. This was a party given to start the building campaigns for the Chateau de Versailles in particular to acquaint those involved in its construction, his wife,...

is often regarded as a prelude to the War of Devolution
War of Devolution
The War of Devolution saw Louis XIV's French armies overrun the Habsburg-controlled Spanish Netherlands and the Franche-Comté, but forced to give most of it back by a Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.-Background:Louis's claims to the...

, which Louis waged against Spain. The first building campaign (1664–1668) involved alterations in the château and gardens to accommodate the 600 guests invited to the party (Nolhac, 1899, 1901; Marie, 1968; Verlet, 1985).
Second building campaign

The second building campaign (1669–1672) was inaugurated with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668)
The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle or Treaty of Aachen was signed on May 2, 1668 in Aachen. It ended the war of Devolution between France and Spain. It was mediated by the Triple Alliance of England, the Dutch Republic and Sweden at the first Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle...

, which ended the War of Devolution. During this campaign, the château began to assume some of the appearance that it has today. The most important modification of the château was Le Vau’s envelope of Louis XIII’s hunting lodge. The enveloppe – often referred to as the château neuf to distinguish it from the older structure of Louis XIII – enclosed the hunting lodge on the north, west, and south. The new structure provided new lodgings for the king and members of his family. The main floor – the piano nobile – of the château neuf was given over entirely to two apartments: one for the king, and one for the queen. The Grand appartement du roi
Grand appartement du roi
This article is about the grand appartement du roi of the Palace of Versailles.As a result of Louis LeVau’s envelope of Louis XIII’s château, the king and queen had new apartments in the new addition, known at the time as the château neuf...

occupied the northern part of the château neuf and Grand appartement de la reine
Grand appartement de la reine
This article is about the grand appartement de la reine of the Palace of Versailles.Forming a parallel enfilade with that of the grand appartement du roi, the grand appartement de la reine served as the residence of three queens of France — Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche, wife of Louis XIV; Marie...

occupied the southern part. The western part of the enveloppe was given over almost entirely to a terrace, which was later enclosed with the construction of the Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles)
The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles and is renowned as being one of the most famous rooms in the world.As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France's third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles , construction of the Hall of...

 (Galerie des Glaces). The ground floor of the northern part of the château neuf was occupied by the appartement des bains, which included a sunken octagonal tub with hot and cold running water. The king’s brother and sister-in-law, the duke and duchesse d’Orléans occupied apartments on the ground floor of the southern part of the château neuf. The upper story of the château neuf was reserved for private rooms for the king to the north and rooms for the king’s children above the queen’s apartment to the south (Nolhac, 1901; Marie, 1972; Verlet, 1985).

Significant to the design and construction of the grands appartements is that the rooms of both apartments are of the same configuration and dimensions – a hitherto unprecedented feature in French palace design. It has been suggested that this parallel configuration was intentional as Louis XIV had intended to establish Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche as queen of Spain, and thus thereby establish a dual monarchy
Dual monarchy
Dual monarchy occurs when two separate kingdoms are ruled by the same monarch, follow the same foreign policy, exist in a customs union with each other and have a combined military but are otherwise self-governing...

 (Johnson, 1981). Louis XIV’s rationale for the joining of the two kingdoms was seen largely as recompense for Philip IV
Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV was King of Spain between 1621 and 1665, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and King of Portugal until 1640...

's failure to pay his daughter Marie-Thérèse’s dowry, which was among the terms of capitulation to which Spain agreed with the promulgation of the Treaty of the Pyrenees
Treaty of the Pyrenees
The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed to end the 1635 to 1659 war between France and Spain, a war that was initially a part of the wider Thirty Years' War. It was signed on Pheasant Island, a river island on the border between the two countries...

, which ended the war between France and Spain that began in 1635 during the Thirty Years’ War. Louis XIV regarded his father-in-law’s act as a breach of the treaty and consequently engaged in the War of Devolution.

Both the grand appartement du roi and the grand appartement de la reine formed a suite of seven enfilade
Enfilade (architecture)
In architecture, an enfilade is a suite of rooms formally aligned with each other. This was a common feature in grand European architecture from the Baroque period onwards, although there are earlier examples, such as the Vatican stanze...

 rooms. Each room is dedicated to one of the then known celestial bodies
Astronomical object
Astronomical objects or celestial objects are naturally occurring physical entities, associations or structures that current science has demonstrated to exist in the observable universe. The term astronomical object is sometimes used interchangeably with astronomical body...

 and is personified by the appropriate Greco-Roman deity. The decoration of the rooms, which was conducted under Le Brun's direction depicted the “heroic actions of the king” and were represented in allegorical form by the actions of historical figures from the antique past (Alexander the Great, Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, etc.) (Berger, 1986; Félibien, 1674; Verlet, 1985).
Third building campaign

With the signing of the Treaty of Nijmegen in 1678, which ended the Dutch War
Franco-Dutch War
The Franco-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the United Netherlands, which were later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance...

, the third building campaign at Versailles began (1678–1684). Under the direction of the architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart
Jules Hardouin Mansart
Jules Hardouin-Mansart was a French architect whose work is generally considered to be the apex of French Baroque architecture, representing the power and grandeur of Louis XIV...

, the Palace of Versailles acquired much of the look that it has today. In addition to the Hall of Mirrors, Hardouin-Mansart designed the north and south wings, which were used, respectively, by the nobility and Princes of the Blood
Prince du Sang
A prince of the blood was a person who was legitimately descended in the male line from the monarch of a country. In France, the rank of prince du sang was the highest held at court after the immediate family of the king during the ancien régime and the Bourbon Restoration...

, and the Orangerie. Le Brun was occupied not only with the interior decoration of the new additions of the palace, but also collaborated with Le Nôtre's in landscaping the palace gardens (Berger, 1985; Thompson, 2006; Verlet, 1985). As symbol of France’s new prominence as a European super-power
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

, Louis XIV officially installed his court at Versailles in May of 1682 (Bluche, 1986, 1991).
Fourth building campaign

Soon after the crushing defeat of the War of the League of Augsburg (1688–1697) and owing possibly to the pious influence of Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV undertook his last building campaign at Versailles. The fourth building campaign (1699–1710) concentrated almost exclusively on construction of the royal chapel designed by Hardouin-Mansart and finished by Robert de Cotte
Robert de Cotte
Robert de Cotte was a French architect-administrator, under whose design control of the royal buildings of France from 1699, the earliest notes presaging the Rococo style were introduced. First a pupil of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, he later became his brother-in-law and his collaborator...

 and his team of decorative designers. There were also some modifications in the appartement du roi
Appartement du roi
The appartement du roi is the suite of rooms in the Palace of Versailles that served as the living quarters of Louis XIV. Overlooking the cour de marbre, these rooms are situated in the oldest part of the chateau in rooms originally designated for use by the queen in Louis XIII’s chateau...

, namely the construction of the Salon de l’Œil de Bœuf
Appartement du roi
The appartement du roi is the suite of rooms in the Palace of Versailles that served as the living quarters of Louis XIV. Overlooking the cour de marbre, these rooms are situated in the oldest part of the chateau in rooms originally designated for use by the queen in Louis XIII’s chateau...

and the King’s Bedchamber
Appartement du roi
The appartement du roi is the suite of rooms in the Palace of Versailles that served as the living quarters of Louis XIV. Overlooking the cour de marbre, these rooms are situated in the oldest part of the chateau in rooms originally designated for use by the queen in Louis XIII’s chateau...

. With the completion of the chapel in 1710, virtually all construction at Versailles ceased; building would not be resumed at Versailles until some twenty years later during the reign of Louis XV (Nolhac, 1911; Marie, 1976, 1984; Verlet, 1985).
style="background:white; color:black"|Plans of the evolution of Versailles
The palace in 1668 The palace in 1674 The palace in 1680

Louis XV

After the death of the Louis XIV in 1715, the five-year old king Louis XV
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

, the court, and the Régence
Régence
The Régence is the period in French history between 1715 and 1723, when King Louis XV was a minor and the land was governed by a Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, the nephew of Louis XIV of France....

government of Philippe d’Orléans
Philippe II, Duke of Orléans
Philippe d'Orléans was a member of the royal family of France and served as Regent of the Kingdom from 1715 to 1723. Born at his father's palace at Saint-Cloud, he was known from birth under the title of Duke of Chartres...

 returned to Paris. In May 1717, during his visit to France, the Russian czar Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 stayed at the Grand Trianon
Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon was built in the northwestern part of the Domain of Versailles at the request of Louis XIV, as a retreat for the King and his maîtresse en titre of the time, the marquise de Montespan, and as a place where the King and invited guests could take light meals away from the strict...

. His time at Versailles was used to observe and study the palace and gardens, which he later used as a source of inspiration when he built Peterhof
Peterhof Palace
The Peterhof Palace in Russian, so German is transliterated as "Петергoф" Petergof into Russian) for "Peter's Court") is actually a series of palaces and gardens located in Saint Petersburg, Russia, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. These Palaces and gardens are sometimes referred as the...

 on the Bay of Finland west of Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 (Verlet, 1985).

During the reign of Louis XV, Versailles underwent transformation, but not on the scale that had been seen during the reign of Louis XIV. When the king and the court returned to Versailles in 1722, the first project was the completion of the Salon d'Hercule
Salon d'Hercule
The salon d'Hercule is on the first floor of the Château de Versailles and connects the chapel and the North Wing of the château with grand appartement du roi....

, which had been begun during the last years of Louis XIV's reign but was never finished due to the king’s death.

Significant among Louis XV’s contributions to Versailles were the petit appartement du roi; the appartements de Mesdames, the appartement du dauphin, and the appartement de la dauphine on the ground floor; and the two private apartments of Louis XV – petit appartement du roi au deuxième étage (later transformed into the appartement de Madame du Barry
Madame du Barry
Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry was the last Maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV of France and one of the victims of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution.-Early life:...

) and the petit appartement du roi au troisième étage – on the second and third floors of the palace. The crowning achievements of Louis XV’s reign were the construction of the Opéra
L'Opéra of the Palace of Versailles
The Opéra Royal de Versailles ' is the main theatre and opera house of the Palace of Versailles. Designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, with interior decoration by Augustin Pajou, the Opéra was constructed entirely of wood and painted to resemble marble in a technique known as faux marble.The house is...

 and the Petit Trianon
Petit Trianon
The Petit Trianon is a small château located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France.-Design and construction:...

 (Verlet, 1985).

Equally significant was the destruction of the Escalier des Ambassadeurs (Ambassadors' Stair), the only fitting approach to the State Apartments, which Louis XV undertook to make way for apartments for his daughters.

The gardens
Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style perfected here by...

 remained largely unchanged from the time of Louis XIV; only the completion of the Bassin de Neptune between 1738 and 1741 was the most important legacy Louis XV made to the gardens (Marie 1984; Thompson, 2006; Verlet 1985). Towards the end of his reign, Louis XV, under the advice of Ange-Jacques Gabriel
Ange-Jacques Gabriel
Ange-Jacques Gabriel was the most prominent French architect of his generation.Born to a Parisian family of architects and initially trained by the royal architect Robert de Cotte and his father , whom he assisted in the creation of the Place Royale at Bordeaux , the younger Gabriel...

, began to remodel the courtyard façades of the palace. With the objective revetting the entrance of the palace with classical façades, Louis XV began a project that was continued during the reign of Louis XVI, but which did not see completion until the 20th century (Verlet, 1985).


Louis XVI

Much of Louis XVI’s contributions to Versailles were largely dictated by the unfinished projects left to him by his grandfather. Shortly after his ascension, Louis XVI ordered a complete replanting of the gardens
Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style perfected here by...

 with the intention of transforming the jardins français to an English-style garden, which had become popular during the late 18th century (Verlet, 1985). In the palace, the library and the salon des jeux in the petit appartement du roi and the decoration of the petit appartement de la reine for Marie-Antoinette are among the finest examples of the style Louis XVI (Verlet, 1945; 1985)

French Revolution

On 6 October 1789, the royal family had to leave Versailles and to move to the Tuileries Palace
Tuileries Palace
The Tuileries Palace was a royal palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune...

 in Paris, as a result of the Women's March on Versailles. During the early years of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, preservation of the palace was largely in the hands of the citizens of Versailles. In October 1790, Louis XVI ordered the palace to be emptied of its furniture, requesting that most be sent to the Tuileries Palace. In response to the order, the mayor of Versailles and the municipal council met to draft a letter to Louis XVI in which they stated that if the furniture was removed, it would certainly precipitate economic ruin on the city (Gatin, 1908). A deputation from Versailles met with the king on 12 October after which Louis XVI, touched by the sentiments of the residents of Versailles, rescinded the order. However, eight months later, the fate of Versailles was sealed.

On 21 June 1791, Louis XVI was arrested at Varennes after which the Assemblée nationale constituante
National Constituent Assembly
The National Constituent Assembly was formed from the National Assembly on 9 July 1789, during the first stages of the French Revolution. It dissolved on 30 September 1791 and was succeeded by the Legislative Assembly.-Background:...

accordingly declared that all possessions of the royal family had been abandoned. To safeguard the palace, the Assemblée nationale constituante ordered the palace of Versailles to be sealed. On 20 October 1792 a letter was read before the National Convention
National Convention
During the French Revolution, the National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795 . It held executive power in France during the first years of the French First Republic...

 in which Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière
Jean-Marie Roland, vicomte de la Platière
Jean-Marie Roland, de la Platière was a French manufacturer in Lyon and became the leader of the Girondist faction in the French Revolution, largely influenced in this direction by his wife, Marie-Jeanne "Manon" Roland de la Platiere...

, interior minister, proposed that the furnishings of the palace and those of the residences in Versailles that had been abandoned be sold and that the palace be either sold or rented. The sale of furniture transpired at auctions held between 23 August 1793 and 30 nivôse an III (19 January 1795). Only items of particular artistic or intellectual merit were exempt from the sale. These items were consigned to be part of the collection of a museum, which had been planned at the time of the sale of the palace furnishings.

In 1793, Charles-François Delacroix
Charles-François Delacroix
Charles-François Delacroix was a secretary to Turgot, a deputy to the National Convention and a French Minister of Foreign Affairs between 3 November, 1795 and 15 July 1797. In 1799, he became the first prefect in the Bouches-du-Rhône and in 1803 in the Gironde. Delacroix interrogated George...

 deputy to the Convention and father of the painter Eugène Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

 proposed that the metal statuary in the gardens of Versailles
Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style perfected here by...

 be confiscated and sent to the foundry to be made into cannon (Gatin, 1908). The proposal was debated but eventually it was tabled. On 28 floréal an II (5 May 1794) the Convention decreed that the château and gardens of Versailles, as well as other former royal residences in the environs, would not be sold but placed under the care of the Republic for the public good (Fromegot, 1903). Following this decree, the château became a repository for art work seized from churches and princely homes. As a result of Versailles serving as a repository for confiscated art works, collections were amassed that eventually became part of the proposed museum (Fromegot, 1903).

Among the items found at Versailles at this time a collection of natural curiosities that has been assembled by the sieur Fayolle during his voyages in America. The collection was sold to the comte d’Artois
Charles X of France
Charles X was known for most of his life as the Comte d'Artois before he reigned as King of France and of Navarre from 16 September 1824 until 2 August 1830. A younger brother to Kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile and eventually succeeded him...

 and was later confiscated by the state. Fayolle, who had been nominated to the Commission des arts, became guardian of the collection and was later, in June 1794, nominated by the Convention to be the first directeur du Conservatoire du Muséum national de Versailles (Fromageot, 1903). The next year, André Dumont
André Dumont
André Hubert Dumont was a Belgian geologist.Dumont was born in Liège. His first work was a masterly Mémoire on the geology of the province of Liège published in 1832. A few years later he became a professor of mineralogy and geology and afterwards Rector of the University of Liège...

 the people's representative, became administrator for the department of the Seine-et-Oise. Upon assuming his administrative duties, Dumont was struck with the deplorable state into which the palace and gardens had sunk. He quickly assumed administrative duties of the château and assembled a team of conservators to oversee the various collections of the museum (Fromageot, 1903).

One of Dumont’s first appointments was that of Huges Lagarde (10 messidor an III (28 June 1795), a wealthy soap merchant from Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 with strong political connections, as bibliographer of the museum. With the abandonment of the palace, there remained no less than 104 libraries which contained in excess of 200,000 printed volumes and manuscripts. Lagarde, with his political connections and his association with Dumont, became the driving force behind Versailles as a museum at this time. Lagarde was able to assemble a team of curators including sieur Fayolle for natural history and, Louis Jean-Jacques Durameau
Louis Jean-Jacques Durameau
Louis-Jacques Durameau was a French painter.-Life:A son of Jacques Durameau and Marie Rocou , he was intended for an engraver by his father and trained in drawing at the studio of the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Defernex. He then entered the studio of Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre...

, the painter responsible for the ceiling painting in the Opéra, was appointed as curator for painting (Fromageot, 1903).

Owing largely to political vicissitudes that occurred in France during the 1790s, Versailles succumbed to further degradations. Mirrors were assigned by the finance ministry for payment of debts of the Republic and draperies, upholstery, and fringes were confiscated and sent to the mint to recoup the gold and silver used in their manufacture. Despite its designation as a museum, Versailles served as an annex to the Hôtel des Invalides pursuant to the decree of 7 frimaire an VIII (28 November 1799), which commandeered part of the palace and which had wounded soldiers being housed in the petit appartement du roi (Gatin, 1908)

In 1797, the Muséum national was reorganised and renamed Musée spécial de l’École française (Dutilleux, 1887). The grands appartements were used as galleries in which the morceaux de réception submitted by artists seeking admission to the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture
Académie de peinture et de sculpture
The Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture , Paris, was founded in 1648, modelled on Italian examples, such as the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Paris already had the Académie de Saint-Luc, which was a city artist guild like any other Guild of Saint Luke...

 during the 17th and 18th centuries, the series The Life of Saint Bruno by Eustache Le Sueur
Eustache Le Sueur
Eustache Le Sueur or Lesueur , one of the founders of the French Academy of Painting, was born in Paris, where he passed his whole life....

 and the Life of Marie de Médicis by Peter Paul Rubens were placed on display. The museum, which included the sculptures in the garden, became the finest museum of classic French art that had existed (Verlet, 1985).

First Empire

With the advent of Napoléon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 and the First Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

, the status of Versailles changed. Paintings and art work that had previously been assigned to Muséum national and the Musée spécial de l’École française were systematically dispersed to other locations and eventually the museum was closed. In accordance to provisions of the 1804 Constitution, Versailles was designated as an imperial palace for the department of the Seine-et-Oise.

While Napoléon did not reside in the château, apartments were, however, arranged and decorated for the use of the empress Marie-Louise
Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
Marie Louise of Austria was the second wife of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French and later Duchess of Parma...

. The emperor chose to reside at the Grand Trianon
Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon was built in the northwestern part of the Domain of Versailles at the request of Louis XIV, as a retreat for the King and his maîtresse en titre of the time, the marquise de Montespan, and as a place where the King and invited guests could take light meals away from the strict...

. The château continued to serve, however, as an annex of the Hôtel des Invalides (Mauguin, 1940–1942; Pradel, 1937; Verlet, 1985). Nevertheless, on 3 January 1805, Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII , born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was a monk, theologian and bishop, who reigned as Pope from 14 March 1800 to 20 August 1823.-Early life:...

, who came to France to officiate at Napoléon's coronation, visited the palace and blessed the throng of people gathered on the parterre d'eau from the balcony of the Hall of Mirrors (Mauguin, 1940–1942).

Bourbon Restoration

The Bourbon Restoration
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

 saw little activity at Versailles. Areas of the gardens were replanted but no significant restoration and modifications of the interiors were undertaken, despite the fact that Louis XVIII would often visit the palace and walk through the vacant rooms (Manse, 2004; Thompson, 2006). Charles X chose the Tuileries Palace over Versailles and rarely visited his former home (Castelot, 2001).

July Monarchy

With the Revolution of 1830
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

 and the establishment of the July Monarchy
July Monarchy
The July Monarchy , officially the Kingdom of France , was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848...

, the status of Versailles changed. In March 1832, the Loi de la Liste civile was promulgated, which designated Versailles as a crown dependency. Like Napoléon before him, Louis-Philippe
Louis-Philippe of France
Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. His father was a duke who supported the French Revolution but was nevertheless guillotined. Louis Philippe fled France as a young man and spent 21 years in exile, including considerable time in the...

 chose to live at the Grand Trianon
Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon was built in the northwestern part of the Domain of Versailles at the request of Louis XIV, as a retreat for the King and his maîtresse en titre of the time, the marquise de Montespan, and as a place where the King and invited guests could take light meals away from the strict...

; however, unlike Napoléon, Louis-Philippe did have a grand design for Versailles.

In 1833, Louis-Philippe proposed the establishment of a museum dedicated to “all the glories of France,” which included the Orléans dynasty and the Revolution of 1830 that put Louis-Philippe on the throne of France. For the next decade, under the direction of Eugène-Charles-Frédéric Nepveu and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, the château underwent irreversible alterations (Constans, 1985; 1987; Mauguin, 1937; Verlet, 1985). The museum was officially inaugurated on 10 June 1837 as part of the festivities that surrounded the marriage of the Prince royal, Ferdinand-Philippe d’Orléans with princess Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and represented one of the most ambitious and costly undertakings of Louis-Philippe’s reign. Over, the emperor at the king’s home – Napoléon at Louis XIV’s; in a word, it is having given to this magnificent book that is called French history this magnificent binding that is called Versailles (Victor Hugo).

Later, Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

 characterised, in less laudatory terms, the effort as the “hospital of the glories of France” (Balzac, 1853).

The
aile du Midi, was given over to the galerie des Balles, which necessitated the demolition of most of the apartments of the Princes of the Blood
Prince du Sang
A prince of the blood was a person who was legitimately descended in the male line from the monarch of a country. In France, the rank of prince du sang was the highest held at court after the immediate family of the king during the ancien régime and the Bourbon Restoration...

 who lived in this part of the palace during the Ancien Régime. The
galerie des Batailles
Galerie des Batailles
The Galerie des Batailles is a 120 metre long and 13 metre wide gallery occupying the first floor of the aile du midi of the Palace of Versailles, joining onto the grand and petit 'appartements de la reine'...

was an epigone of the Grande galerie of the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 and was intended to glorify French military history from the Battle of Tolbiac
Battle of Tolbiac
The Battle of Tolbiac was fought between the Franks under Clovis I and the Alamanni, traditionally set in 496. The site of "Tolbiac", or "Tulpiacum" is usually given as Zülpich, North Rhine-Westphalia, about 60km east of the present German-Belgian frontier, which is not implausible...

 (traditionally dated 495) to the Battle of Wagram
Battle of Wagram
The Battle of Wagram was the decisive military engagement of the War of the Fifth Coalition. It took place on the Marchfeld plain, on the north bank of the Danube. An important site of the battle was the village of Deutsch-Wagram, 10 kilometres northeast of Vienna, which would give its name to the...

 (5–6 July 1809). While a number of the paintings displayed in the
galerie des Batailles were of questionable quality, a few masterpieces, such as the Battle of Taillebourg by Eugène Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

, were displayed here. Part of the
aile du Nord was converted for the Salle des Croisades
Salle des Croisades
The Salle des Croisades are a set of rooms located in the Palace of Versailles.The rooms were created in the mid-19th century by king Louis-Philippe, and opened in 1843, at a time when France was seized with enthusiasm with its historical past, and especially the Crusades period. The rooms are...

, a room dedicated to famous knights of the Crusades and decorated with their names and coats of arms. The apartments of the dauphin and the dauphine as well as those of Louis XV’s daughters on the ground floor of the corps de logis were transformed into portrait galleries. To accommodate the displays, some of the boiseries were removed and either put into storage or sold. During the Prussian occupation of the palace in 1871, the boiseries in storage were burned as firewood (Constans, 1985; 1987; Mauguin, 1937; Verlet,1985).

Second Empire

During the Second Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

, the museum remained essentially intact. The palace did serve as the backdrop for a number of state events including the visit by Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

.

Versailles under Pierre de Nolhac

Pierre de Nolhac
Pierre de Nolhac
Pierre Girault de Nolhac , known as Pierre de Nolhac, was a French historian, art historian and poet.- Life :...

 arrived at the Palace of Versailles in 1887 and was appointed curator of the museum 18 November, 1892. Upon arrival at the Palace, he planned to introduce real historical galleries, organized scientifically, in contrast to the approach of Louis-Philippe, who had created the first galleries in a manner aimed at glorifying the history of France. At the same time, Nolhac began to restore the palace to its appearance before the Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. To achieve these two goals, Nolhac removed rooms, took down the artworks and gave the rooms some historical scenery. He explained in his memoirs, for example that "the first room sacrificed was that of the kings of France which had walls lined with effigies, real and imaginary, of our kings since Clovis". The revolution wrought by Nolhac produced a new awareness of the castle. Members of high society and nobility, such as the Duke of Aumale and the Empress Eugenie flocked to see new developments. Nolhac also working to bring in foreign personalities. On 8 October 1896, Tsar Nicolas II and his wife arrived at Versailles. Nolhac also organized events aimed at raising the awareness of potential donors to the Palace. The owner of the New York Herald, Gordon Bennett, gave 25,000 francs for restructuring the eighteenth century rooms. The development of private donations led to the creation of the Friends of Versailles in June 1907.

The van der Kemp period

Under the aegis of Gérald van der Kemp, chief conservator of the museum from 1952 to 1980, the Palace witnessed some of its most ambitious conservation and restoration projects: new roofing for the galerie des glaces
Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles)
The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles and is renowned as being one of the most famous rooms in the world.As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France's third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles , construction of the Hall of...

; restoration of the chambre de la reine; restoration of the chambre de Louis XIV; restoration of the Opéra (Lemoine, 1976). At this time, the ground floor of the aile du Nord was converted into a gallery of French history from the 17th century to the 19th century. Additionally, at this time, policy was established in which the French government would aggressively seek to acquire as much of original furniture and artwork that had been dispersed at the time of the Revolution of 1789 as possible (Kemp, 1976; Meyer, 1985).

Contemporary Versailles

With the past and ongoing restoration and conservation projects at Versailles, the Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...

 has enthusiastically promoted the museum as one of France’s foremost tourist attractions (Opperman, 2004). The palace, however, still serves political functions. Heads of state are regaled in the Hall of Mirrors; the Sénat and the Assemblée nationale meet in congress in Versailles to revise or otherwise amend the French Constitution
Constitution of France
The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth...

, a tradition that came into effect with the promulgation of the 1875 Constitution.
Public establishment of the museum
Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles
The Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles is a French public establishment , established in 1995, and working under the supervision of the French Ministry of Culture, in order to administer the Palace of Versailles.It is headed by Jean-Jacques Aillagon,...

 and Château de Versailles Spectacles recently organised the Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons
Jeffrey "Jeff" Koons is an American artist known for his reproductions of banal objects—such as balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces....

 Versailles exhibition. Jeff Koons said that "I hope the juxtaposition of today's surfaces, represented by my work, with the architecture and fine arts of Versailles will be an exciting interaction for the viewer.

Elena Geuna and Laurent Le Bon, curators of the exhibition present it as follow: "It is the city aspect that underlies this entire venture. In recent years, many a cultural institution has attempted a confrontation between a heritage setting and contemporary works. The originality of this exhibition seems to us somewhat different, as regards both the chosen venue and the way it has been laid out. Echo, dialectic, opposition, counterpoint... Not for us to judge!"

Grands appartements

As a result of Le Vau’s
Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau was a French Classical architect who worked for Louis XIV of France. He was born and died in Paris.He was responsible, with André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun, for the redesign of the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. His later works included the Palace of Versailles and his collaboration...

 enveloppe of Louis XIII’s château, the king and the queen had new apartments in the new addition, known at the time as the château neuf. The grands appartements, which are known respectively as the grand appartement du roi and the grand appartement de la reine, occupied the main or principal floor of the château neuf. Le Vau’s design for the state apartments closely followed Italian models of the day, as evidenced by the placement of the apartments on the next floor up from the ground level – the piano nobile – a convention the architect borrowed from 16th and 17th century Italian palace design (Berger, 1986; Verlet, 1985).

Grand appartement du roi

Le Vau’s plan called for an enfilade of seven rooms, each dedicated to one of the then known planets and their associated titular Roman deity. Le Vau’s plan was bold as he designed a heliocentric system that centred on the Salon of Apollo. The salon d’Apollon originally was designed as the king’s bedchamber, but served as a throne room
Throne room
A throne room is the room, often rather a hall, in the official residence of the crown, either a palace or a fortified castle, where the throne of a senior figure is set up with elaborate pomp— usually raised, often with steps, and under a canopy, both of which are part of the original notion of...

. During the reign of Louis XIV (until 1689), a solid silver throne stood on a Persian carpet
Persian rug
The Persian carpet is an essential part of Persian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. In 2008, Iran’s exports of hand-woven carpets was $420 million or 30% of the world's market...

 covered dais on the south wall of this room (Berger, 1986; Dangeau, 1854–1860; Josephson, 1926; 1930; Verlet, 1985).

The original arrangement of the enfilade of rooms was:
  • Salon de Diane (Diana
    Diana (mythology)
    In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy...

    , Roman goddess of the hunt; associated with the Moon
    Moon
    The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

    )
  • Salon de Mars (Mars
    Mars (mythology)
    Mars was the Roman god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter, and he was the most prominent of the military gods worshipped by the Roman legions...

    , Roman god of war; associated with the planet Mars
    Mars
    Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

    )
  • Salon de Mercure (Mercury
    Mercury (mythology)
    Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

    , Roman god of trade, commerce, and the Liberal Arts; associated with the planet Mercury
    Mercury (planet)
    Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

    )
  • Salon d’Apollon (Apollo
    Apollo
    Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

    , Roman god of the Fine Arts; associated with the Sun
    Sun
    The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

    )
  • Salon de Jupiter (Jupiter
    Jupiter (mythology)
    In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

    , Roman god of law and order; associated with the planet Jupiter
    Jupiter
    Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

    )
  • Salon de Saturne (Saturn
    Saturn (mythology)
    In ancient Roman religion and myth, Saturn was a major god presiding over agriculture and the harvest time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many Roman authors. In medieval times he was known as the Roman god of agriculture, justice and strength. He held a sickle in...

    , Roman god of agriculture and harvest; associated with the planet Saturn
    Saturn
    Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

    )
  • Salon de Vénus (Venus
    Venus (mythology)
    Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

    , Roman goddess of love and beauty; associated with the planet Venus
    Venus
    Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

    )


The configuration of the grand appartement du roi conformed to contemporary conventions in palace design (Baillie, 1967). However, owing to Louis XIV’s personal taste and with the apartment’s northern exposure, Louis XIV found the rooms too cold and opted to live in the rooms previously occupied by his father. The grand appartement du roi was reserved for court functions – such as the thrice-weekly appartement evenings given by Louis XIV for members of the court (Berger, 1986; La Varende, 1959; Marie, 1968, 1972; Nolhac, 1911; Verlet, 1985).

The rooms were decorated by Le Brun and demonstrated Italian influences, particularly that of Pietro da Cortona
Pietro da Cortona
Pietro da Cortona, by the name of Pietro Berrettini, born Pietro Berrettini da Cortona, was the leading Italian Baroque painter of his time and also one of the key architects in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture. He was also an important decorator...

, with whom Le Brun studied while he was in Florence. Le Brun was influenced by the decorative style da Cortona devised for the decoration of the Pitti Palace
Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti , in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio...

 in Florence, which influenced his style Louis XIV at Versailles. The quadratura style of the ceilings evoke Pietro Cortona’s Sale dei Planeti at the Pitti, but Le Brun’s decorative schema is more complex (Blunt, 1980; Campbell, 1977). In his 1674 publication about the grand appartement du roi, André Félibien described the scenes depicted in the coves of the ceilings of the rooms as allegories depicting the “heroic actions of the king” (Félibien, 1674). Accordingly, one finds scenes of the exploits of Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, Alexander the Great, and Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 alluding to the deeds of Louis XIV (Lighthart, 1997; Sabatier, 1999). For example, in the
salon d’Apollon, the cove painting “Augustus building the port of Misenum” alludes to the construction of the port at La Rochelle
La Rochelle
La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a bridge completed on 19 May 1988...

; or, depicted in the south cove of the salon de Mercure is “Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 BCE to 246 BCE. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos...

 in his Library”, which alludes to Ptolemy’s
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 BCE to 246 BCE. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos...

 construction of the Great Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the...

 and which accordingly serves as an allegory to Louis XIV’s expansion of the Bibliothèque du roi. Complementing the rooms’ decors were pieces of massive silver furniture. Regrettably, owing to the War of the League of Augsburg, in 1689 Louis XIV ordered all of this silver furniture to be sent to the mint, to be melted down to help defray the cost of the war (Berger, 1986; Dangeau, 1854–1860; Josephson, 1926; 1930; Marie, 1968, 1972, 1976; Nolhac, 1911; Verlet, 1985).

Le Vau’s original plan for the grand appartement du roi was short-lived. With the inauguration of the third building campaign, which suppressed the terrace linking the apartments of the king and queen, the salon de Jupiter, the salon de Saturne, and the salon de Vénus for the construction of the Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles)
The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles and is renowned as being one of the most famous rooms in the world.As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France's third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles , construction of the Hall of...

, the configuration of the
grand appartement du roi was altered. The decorative elements of the salon de Jupiter was removed and reused in the decoration of the salle des gardes de la reine; and elements of the decoration of the first salon de Vénus, which opened onto the terrace, were reused in the salon de Vénus that we see today (Marie, 1972, 1976; Nolhac, 1925; Verlet, 1985).

From 1678 to the end of Louis XIV’s reign, the
grand appartement du roi served as the venue for the king’s thrice-weekly evening receptions, known as les soirées de l’appartement. For these parties, the rooms assumed specific functions:
  • Salon de Vénus: buffet tables were arranged to display food and drink for the king’s guests.
  • Salon de Diane: served as a billiard room
    Billiard room
    A billiard room is a recreation room, such as in a house or recreation center, with a billiards, pool or snooker table...

    .
  • Salon de Mars: served as a ballroom.
  • Salon de Mercure: served as a gaming (cards) room.
  • Salon d’Apollon: served as a concert or music room.


In the 18th century during the reign of Louis XV, the grand appartement du roi was expanded to include the salon de l’Abondance (Hall of Plenty) – formerly the entry vestibule of the petit appartement du roi – and the salon d'Hercule
Salon d'Hercule
The salon d'Hercule is on the first floor of the Château de Versailles and connects the chapel and the North Wing of the château with grand appartement du roi....

 – occupying the tribune level of the former chapel of the palace (Verlet, 1985).

Grand appartement de la reine

Forming a parallel enfilade with that of the
grand appartement du roi, the grand appartement de la reine served as the residence of three queens of France – Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche, wife of Louis XIV, Marie Leczinska
Maria Leszczynska
Marie Leszczyńska was a queen consort of France. She was a daughter of King Stanisław Leszczyński of Poland and Catherine Opalińska. She married King Louis XV of France and was the grandmother of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X. In France, she was referred to as Marie Leczinska...

, wife of Louis XV, and Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI. Additionally, Louis XIV's granddaughter-in-law, Princess Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy, as duchesse de Bourgogne, occupied these rooms from 1697 (the year of her marriage) to her death in 1712.

When Le Vau’s enveloppe of the château vieux was completed, the grand appartement de la reine came to include a suite of seven enfilade rooms with an arrangement that mirrored almost exactly the grand appartement du roi. The configuration was:
  • Chapel – which was pendant with the salon de Diane in the grand appartement du roi
  • Salle de gardes – which was pendant with the salon de Mars in the grand appartement du roi
  • Antichambre – which was pendant with the salon de Mercure in the grand appartement du roi
  • Chambre – which was pendant with the salon d’Apollon in the grand appartement du roi
  • Grand cabinet – which was pendant with the salon de Jupiter in the grand appartement du roi
  • Oratory – which was pendant with the salon de Saturne in the grand appartement du roi
  • Petit cabinet – which was pendant with the salon de Vénus in the grand appartement du roi


As with the decoration of the ceiling in the
grand appartement du roi, which depicted the heroic actions of Louis XIV as allegories from events taken from the antique past, the decoration of the grand appartement de la reine likewise depicted heroines from the antique past and harmonized with the general theme of a particular room’s decor.

With the construction of the Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles)
The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles and is renowned as being one of the most famous rooms in the world.As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France's third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles , construction of the Hall of...

, which began in 1678, the configuration of the
grand appartement de la reine changed. The chapel was transformed into the salle des gardes de la reine and it was in this room that the decorations from the salon de Jupiter were reused. The salle des gardes de la reine communicates with a loggia that issues from the escalier de la reine, which formed a parallel pendant (albeit a smaller, though similarly-decorated example) with the escalier des ambassadeurs in the grand appartement du roi. The loggia also provided access to the appartement du roi, the suite of rooms in which Louis XIV lived, and to the apartment of Madame de Maintenon. Toward the end of Louis XIV's reign, the escalier de la reine became the principal entrance to the château, with the escalier des ambassadeurs used on rare state occasions. After the demolition of the escalier des ambassadeurs in 1752, the escalier de la reine became the main entrance to the château (Verlet, 1985).

From 1682, the
grand appartement de la reine included:

  • Salle des gardes de la reine
  • Antichambre (formerly the salle des gardes)
  • Grand cabinet
  • Chambre de la reine


With the death of Louis XIV in 1715, the court moved to Vincennes
Vincennes
Vincennes is a commune in the Val-de-Marne department in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. It is one of the most densely populated municipalities in Europe.-History:...

 and shortly after to Paris. In 1722, Louis XV reinstalled the court at Versailles and began modifications to the château’s interior. Among the most noteworthy of the building projects during Louis XV’s reign, the redecoration of the
chamber de la reine must be cited.

To commemorate the birth of Louis in 1729, Louis XV ordered a complete redecoration of the room. Elements of the
chamber de la reine as it had been used by Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche and Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie were removed and a new, more modern decor was installed (Marie, 1984; Reynaud and Villain, 1970; Verlet, 1985).

During her life at Versailles, Marie Leszczynska lived in the
grand appartement de la reine, to which she annexed the Salon of Peace to serve as a music room. In 1770, when the Austrian archduchess Maria Antonia married the dauphin, later king Louis XVI, she took up residence in these rooms. Upon Louis XVI’s ascension to the throne in 1774, Marie-Antoinette ordered major redecoration of the grand appartement de la reine. At this time, the queen’s apartment achieved the arrangement that we see today (Verlet, 1985).
  • Salle des gardes de la reine – this room remained virtually unchanged by Marie-Antoinette.
  • Antichambre – this room was transformed into the antichambre du grand couvert. It was in this room that the king, queen, and members of the royal family dined in public. Occasionally, this room served as a theater for the château.
  • Grand cabinet – this room was transformed into the salon des nobles. Following the tradition established by her predecessor, Marie-Antoinette would hold formal audiences in this room. When not used for formal audiences, the salon des nobles served as an antechamber to the queen’s bedroom.
  • Chambre de la reine – this room was used as the queen’s bedroom, and was of exceptional splendor. On the night of 6/7 October 1789, Marie-Antoinette fled from the Paris mob by escaping through a 'hidden door' into a private corridor connecting her apartment with that of the king.

Appartement du roi (King's Private Apartments)

The
appartement du roi is a suite of rooms set aside for the private use of the king. Originally arranged and used by Louis XIV in 1683, these rooms were used by his successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI for such ceremonies as the lever and the coucher.

Le petit appartement du roi

The
petit appartement du roi is a suite of rooms that were reserved for the private use of the king. Occupying the site on which rooms were originally arranged for Louis XIII on the first floor of the château, the space was radically modified by Louis XIV. His successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI drastically modified and remodeled these rooms for their personal use.

Le petit appartement de la reine

The petit appartement de la reine is a suite of rooms that were reserved for the personal use of the queen. Originally arranged for the use of the Marie-Thérèse, consort of Louis XIV, the rooms were later modified for use by Marie Leszczyńska
Maria Leszczynska
Marie Leszczyńska was a queen consort of France. She was a daughter of King Stanisław Leszczyński of Poland and Catherine Opalińska. She married King Louis XV of France and was the grandmother of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X. In France, she was referred to as Marie Leczinska...

 and finally for Marie-Antoinette.

Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors)

The galerie des glaces (Hall of Mirrors in English), is perhaps the most celebrated room in the château of Versailles. Setting for many of the ceremonies of the French Court during the Ancien Régime, the galerie des glaces has also inspired numerous copies and renditions throughout the world.

Chapels of Versailles

In the evolution of the château of Versailles, there have been five chapels. The current chapel, which was the last major building project of Louis XIV, represents one of the finest examples of French Baroque architecture and ecclesiastical decoration.

L’Opéra

L'Opéra was perhaps the most ambitious building project of Louis XV for the château of Versailles. Completed in 1770, the Opéra was inaugurated as part of the wedding festivities of Louis XV's grandson, later Louis XVI, and Marie-Antoinette.

Museum of the History of France

In the 19th century the Museum of the History of France was founded in Versailles, at the behest of Louis-Philippe I, who ascended to the throne in 1830. Many of the palace’s rooms were taken over to house the new collections and the large Galerie des Batailles (Hall of the Battles) was created to display paintings and sculptures depicting milestones battles of French history. The collections display painted, sculpted, drawn and engraved images illustrating events or personalities of the history of France since its inception. The museum occupies the lateral wings of the Palace. Most of the paintings date back to the 19th century and have been created specially for the museum by major painters of the time such as Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

, Horace Vernet
Horace Vernet
Émile Jean-Horace Vernet was a French painter of battles, portraits, and Orientalist Arab subjects.Vernet was born to Carle Vernet, another famous painter, who was himself a son of Claude Joseph Vernet. He was born in the Paris Louvre, while his parents were staying there during the French...

 or François Gérard
François Gerard
François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard was a French painter born in Rome, where his father occupied a post in the house of the French ambassador. His mother was Italian. As a baron of the Empire he is sometimes referred to as Baron Gérard.-Life:François Gérard was born in Rome, on 12 March 1770, to...

 but there are also much older artworks which retrace French History. Notably the museum displays works by Philippe de Champaigne
Philippe de Champaigne
Philippe de Champaigne was a Flemish-born French Baroque era painter, a major exponent of the French school.-Early life:Born in Brussels of a poor family, Champaigne was a pupil of the landscape painter Jacques Fouquières...

, Pierre Mignard
Pierre Mignard
Pierre Mignard , called "Le Romain" to distinguish him from his brother Nicolas Mignard, was a French painter...

, Laurent de La Hyre
Laurent de La Hyre
Laurent de La Hyre was a French Baroque painter, born in Paris.La Hyre was greatly influenced by the work of Italian artists who came to Paris. He became a pupil of Georges Lallemand and studied the works of Primaticcio at Fontainebleau, but never visited Italy...

, Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun , a French painter and art theorist, became the all-powerful, peerless master of 17th-century French art.-Biography:-Early life and training:...

, Adam Frans van der Meulen, Nicolas de Largillière
Nicolas de Largillière
Nicolas de Largillière was a painter born in Paris, France.-Early life:Largillière's father, a merchant, took him to Antwerp at the age of three. As a boy, he spent nearly two years in London. Sometime after his return to Antwerp, a failed attempt at business led him to the studio of Goubeau...

, Hyacinthe Rigaud
Hyacinthe Rigaud
Hyacinthe Rigaud was a French baroque painter of Catalan origin whose career was based in Paris.He is renowned for his portrait paintings of Louis XIV, the royalty and nobility of Europe, and members of their courts and considered one of the most notable French portraitists of the classical period...

, Jean Antoine Houdon, Jean Marc Nattier, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Hubert Robert
Hubert Robert
Hubert Robert , French artist, was born in Paris.His father, Nicolas Robert, was in the service of François-Joseph de Choiseul, marquis de Stainville a leading diplomat from Lorraine...

, Thomas Lawrence
Thomas Lawrence
Thomas Lawrence may refer to:*Sir Thomas Lawrence, British artist, President of Royal Academy*Thomas Lawrence , mayor of colonial Philadelphia*T. E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia"*Thomas Lawrence , U.S. politician...

, Jacques Louis David, Antoine Jean Gros and also Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Gardens of Versailles

Evolving with the château, the gardens of Versailles
Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style perfected here by...

 represent one of the finest extant examples of Garden à la française
Garden à la française
The French formal garden, also called jardin à la française, is a style of garden based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order over nature. It reached its apogee in the 17th century with the creation of the Gardens of Versailles, designed for Louis XIV by the landscape architect André Le...

in French Garden design.

Subsidiary structures

Located in close proximity to the château, these smaller structures served the needs of members of the royal family and court officials during the
Ancien Régime.

Cost

One of the most baffling aspects to the study of Versailles is the cost – how much Louis XIV and his successors spent on Versailles. Owing to the nature of the construction of Versailles and the evolution of the role of the palace, construction costs were essentially a private matter. Initially, Versailles was planned to be an occasional residence for Louis XIV and was referred to as the "king's house" (La Varende, 1959). Accordingly, much of the early funding for construction came from the king's own purse, funded by revenues received from his appanage as well as revenues from the province of New France (Canada), which, while part of France, was a private possession of the king and therefore exempt from the control of the Parliaments (Bluche, 1986; 1991; Chouquette, 1997).

Once Louis XIV embarked on his building campaigns, expenses for Versailles became more of a matter for public record, especially after Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing...

 assumed the post of finance minister. Expenditures on Versailles have been recorded in the compendium known as the Comptes des bâtiments du roi sous le règne de Louis XIV and which was edited and published in five volumes by Jules Guiffrey in the 19th century. These volumes provide valuable archival material pursuant to the financial expenditures of all aspects of Versailles from the payments dispursed to artists to mole catchers (Guiffrey, 1880–1890).

To counter the costs of Versailles during the early years of Louis XIV's personal reign, Colbert decided that Versailles should be the "showcase" of France (Bluche, 1991). Accordingly, all materials that went into the construction and decoration of Versailles were manufactured in France. Even the mirrors used in the decoration of the Hall of Mirrors were made in France. While Venice in the 17th century had the monopoly on the manufacture of mirrors, Colbert succeeded in enticing a number of artisans from Venice to make the mirrors for Versailles. However, owing to Venetian proprietary claims on the technology of mirror manufacture, the Venetian government ordered the assassination of the artisans to keep the secrets proprietary to the Venetian Republic (Bluche, 1991). To meet the demands for decorating and furnishing Versailles, Colbert nationalised the tapestry factory owned by the Gobelin
Gobelin
Gobelin was the name of a family of dyers, who in all probability came originally from Reims, and who in the middle of the 15th century established themselves in the Faubourg Saint Marcel, Paris, on the banks of the Bièvre....

 family, to become the Manufacture royale des Gobelins
Gobelins manufactory
The Manufacture des Gobelins is a tapestry factory located in Paris, France, at 42 avenue des Gobelins, near the Les Gobelins métro station in the XIIIe arrondissement...

(Bluche, 1991).

In 1667, the name of the enterprise was changed to the
Manufacture royale des Meubles de la Couronne. The Gobelins were charged with all decoration needs of the palace, which was under the direction of Charles Le Brun (Bluche, 1991).

One of the most costly elements in the furnishing of the
Grands appartements during the early years of the personal reign of Louis XIV was the silver furniture, which can be taken as a standard – with other criteria – for determining a plausible cost for Versailles. The Comptes meticulously list the expenditures on the silver furniture – disbursements to artists, final payments, delivery – as well as descriptions and weight of items purchased. Entries for 1681 and 1682 concerning the silver balustrade used in the salon de Mercure serve as an example:
  • Year 1681

II. 5 In anticipation: For the silver balustrade for the king's bedroom: 90,000
livres

II. 7 18 November to Sieur du Metz, 43,475
livres 5 sols for delivery to Sr. Lois and to Sr. de Villers for payment of 142,196 livres for the silver balustrade that they are making for the king's bedroom and 404 livres for tax: 48,861 livres 5 sol.

II. 15 16 June 1681 – 23 January 1682 to Sr. Lois and Sr. de Villers silversmiths on account for the silver balustrade that they are making for the king's use (four payments): 88,457
livres 5 sols.

II. 111 25 March – 18 April to Sr. Lois and Sr. de Villers silversmiths who are working on a silver balustrade for the king, for continued work (two payments): 40,000
livres
  • Year 1682

II. 129 21 March to Sr. Jehannot de Bartillay 4,970
livres 12 sols for the delivery to Sr. Lois and de Villers silversmiths for, with 136,457 livres 5 sol to one and 25,739 livres 10 sols to another, making the 38 balusters, 17 pilasters, the base and the cornice for the balustrade for the château of Versailles weighing 4,076 marc at the rate of 41 livres the marc including 41 livres 2 sols for tax: 4,970 livres 12 sols (Guiffrey, 1880–1890).

Accordingly, the silver balustrade, which contained in excess of one ton of silver, cost in excess of 560,000
livres. It is difficult – if not impossible – to give an accurate rate of exchange between 1682/82 and today. However, Frances Buckland provides valuable information that provides an idea of the true cost of the expenditures at Versailles during the time of Louis XIV. In 1679, Mme de Maintenon stated that the cost of providing light and food for twelve people for one day amounted to slightly more than 14 livres (Buckland, 1983). In December, 1689, to defray the cost of the War of the League of Augsburg, Louis XIV ordered all the silver furniture and articles of silver at Versailles—including chamber pot
Chamber pot
A chamber pot is a bowl-shaped container with a handle, and often a lid, kept in the bedroom under a bed or in the cabinet of a nightstand and...

s—sent to the mint to be melted (Dangeau, 1854–1860).

Clearly, the silver furniture alone represented a significant outlay in the finances of Versailles. While the decoration of the palace was costly, certain other costs were minimised. For example, labour for construction was often low, due largely to the fact that the army during times of peace and during the winter, when wars were not waged, was pressed into action at Versailles. Additionally, given the quality and uniqueness of the items produced at the Gobelins for use and display at Versailles, the palace served as a venue to showcase not only the success of Colbert's mercantilism, but also to display the finest that France could produce (Bluche, 1986, 1991).

Costs of Restoration Programmes

The restoration initiatives launched by the Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...

 have proven to be perhaps more costly than the expenditures of the palace in the Ancien Régime. Starting in the 1950s, when the museum of Versailles was under the directorship of Gérald van der Kemp, the objective was to restore the palace to its state – or as close to it as possible – in 1789 when the royal family left the palace. Among the early projects was the repair of the roof over the Hall of Mirrors; the publicity campaign brought international attention to the plight of post-war Versailles and garnered much foreign money including a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Concurrently, in Russia, the restoration of the Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace is an 18th-century Russian Imperial residence built by Paul I of Russia near Saint Petersburg. After his death, it became the home of his widow, Maria Feodorovna...

 located outside of Leningrad – today's Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 – brought the attention of French museum authorities, including the curators of Versailles (Massie, 1990).

Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace is an 18th-century Russian Imperial residence built by Paul I of Russia near Saint Petersburg. After his death, it became the home of his widow, Maria Feodorovna...

 was built by Catherine the Great’s
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg...

 son Paul
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

. The czarevitch and his wife, Marie Feodorovna, were avid francophiles, who, on a visit to France and Versailles in the 1780s, purchased great quantities of silk, which they later used to upholster furniture in Pavlosk. The palace survived the Russian Revolution intact – descendants of Paul I were living in the palace at the time the communists evicted them – however, during the Second World War, the furniture and artifacts housed in the palace, which had been transformed into a museum, were removed. In the process of evacuation the museum collections, remnants of the silks purchased by Paul I of Russia and Marie Feodorovna were found and conserved. After the war when Soviet authorities were restoring the palace, which had been gutted by the retreating Nazi forces, they recreated the silk fabrics by using the conserved 18th century remnants (Massie, 1990).

When the French authorities saw the results of Russian efforts and the high quality they were able to achieve, the French revived 18th century weaving techniques so as to reproduce the silks used in the decoration of Versailles (Massie, 1990). The two greatest achievements of this initiative are seen today in wall hangings used in the restoration of the chambre de la reine in the grand appartement de reine and the chambre du roi in the appartement du roi. While the design used for the chambre du roi was, in fact, from a design that had been used during the Ancien Régime to decorate the chambre de la reine, it nevertheless represents a great achievement in the on-going restoration at Versailles. Additionally, this project, which took over seven years to achieve, required several hundred kilograms of silver and gold to complete (Meyer, 1989). One of the more costly endeavors for the museum and the government of France's Fifth Republic has been to repurchase as much of the original furnishings as possible. However, because furniture with a royal provenance – and especially furniture that was made for Versailles – is a highly sought after commodity on the international market, the museum has spent considerable funds on retrieving much of the palace's original furnishings (Kemp, 1976).

In 2003, a new restoration initiative – the "Grand Versailles" project – was December , which necessitated unexpected repair and replantation, the project, which will be on-going for the next seventeen years; and with a state endowment of €135 million allocated for the first seven years, the project will address such concerns as security for the palace, continued restoration the bosquet des trois fontaines – representing two thirds of the total cost of the restoration, completed in June 2004 – and VINCI
VINCI
Vinci is a French concessions and construction company, formerly called Société Générale d'Enterprises. It employs over 179,000 people and is the largest construction company in the world by revenue. Vinci is listed at Euronext's Paris stock exchange and is a member of the CAC 40 index...

, which underwrote the €12 million restoration project for the Hall of Mirrors, which was completed in 2006 (Leloup, 2006).

We may never know the true amount spent on the creation of Versailles, and most current estime speculative. A recent estimate has placed the amount spent on Versailles during the Ancienme as US$2 billion (Littell, 2000). This figure in all probability is an under-evaluation of the money spent on Versailles. France's Fifth Republic expenditures alone that have been directed to restoration and maintenance at Versailles undoubtedly surpass those of the Sun King
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

.

War uses

After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, with the Siege of Paris
Siege of Paris
The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune....

 dragging on, the palace was the main headquarters of the Prussian army from 5 October 1870 until 13 March 1871. On 18 January 1871, Prussian King Wilhelm I was proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors, and the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 was founded.

After the First World War, it was the site of the opening of the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 in 1919, also on 18 January. Germany was blamed for causing the First World War in the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, which was signed in the same room on 28 June 1919.

The ravages of war and neglect over the centuries have left their mark on the palace and its park. Modern French governments of the post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 era have sought to repair these damages. They have on the whole been successful, but some of the more costly items, such as the vast array of fountain
Fountain
A fountain is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect....

s, have yet to be put back completely in service. As spectacular as they might seem now, they were even more extensive in the 18th century. The 18th-century waterworks at Marly
Château de Marly
The Château de Marly was a relatively small French royal residence located in what has become Marly-le-Roi, the commune that existed at the edge of the royal park. The town that originally grew up to service the château is now a dormitory community for Paris....

— the Machine de Marly
Machine de Marly
The Machine de Marly, also widely known as La Machine de Marly and The Machine of Marly, was a French engineering marvel completed in 1684. King Louis XIV needed a large water supply for his fountains at Versailles...

 that fed the fountains— was possibly the biggest mechanical system of its time. The water came in from afar on monumental stone aqueduct
Aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

s, which have long ago fallen in disrepair or been torn down. Some aqueducts were never completed for want of resources or due to the exigencies of war. The search for sufficient supplies of water was never fully realised even during the apogee of Versailles' glory as the seat of government, as the fountains could not be operated together satisfactorily for any significant periods of time.

The politics of display

Versailles became the home of the French nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 and the location of the royal court
Noble court
The court of a monarch, or at some periods an important nobleman, is a term for the extended household and all those who regularly attended on the ruler or central figure...

 – thus becoming the centre of French government. Louis XIV himself lived there, and symbolically the central room of the long extensive symmetrical range of buildings was the King's Bedchamber (La Chambre du Roi
Appartement du roi
The appartement du roi is the suite of rooms in the Palace of Versailles that served as the living quarters of Louis XIV. Overlooking the cour de marbre, these rooms are situated in the oldest part of the chateau in rooms originally designated for use by the queen in Louis XIII’s chateau...

), which itself was centred on the lavish and symbolic state bed, set behind a rich railing not unlike a communion rail. Indeed, even the principal axis of the gardens themselves was conceived to radiate from this fulcrum. All the power of France emanated from this centre: there were government offices here; as well as the homes of thousands of courtiers, their retinues and all the attendant functionaries of court. By requiring that nobles of a certain rank and position spend time each year at Versailles, Louis prevented them from developing their own regional power at the expense of his own, and kept them from countering his efforts to centralize
Centralization
Centralisation, or centralization , is the process by which the activities of an organisation, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, become concentrated within a particular location and/or group....

 the French government in an absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

.

At various periods before Louis XIV established absolute rule, France, like the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 lacked central authority and was not the unified state it was to become during subsequent centuries. During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 some local nobles were often more powerful than the French King and, although technically loyal to the King, they possessed their own provincial seats of power and government, culturally influential courts and armies loyal to them and not the King, and the right to levy their own taxes on their subjects. Some families were so powerful, they achieved international prominence and contracted marriage alliances with foreign royal houses
Royal House
A royal house or royal dynasty consists of at least one, but usually more monarchs who are related to one another, as well as their non-reigning descendants and spouses. Monarchs of the same realm who are not related to one another are usually deemed to belong to different houses, and each house is...

 to further their own political ambitions. Although nominally Kings of France, de facto royal power had at times been limited purely to the region around Paris.

Life at court

Life at Versailles was intrinsically determined by position, favour and above all one's birth. The Chateau was a sprawling cluster of lodgings for which courtiers vied and manipulated. Today, many people see Versailles as unparalleled in its magnificence and splendour; yet few know of the actual living conditions many of Versailles august residents had to endure. Modern historians have, on more than one occasion, compared the palace to a vast apartment block. Apart from the royal family, the majority of the residents were senior members of the household.

On each floor, living units of varying size, some 350 in all, were arranged along tiled corridors and given a number. Each door had a key, which was to be handed in when the lodging was vacated. Many courtiers would trade lodgings and group together with their allies, families or friends. The Noailles family took over so much of the Southern Wing's attic that the corridor leading to all the lodgings on that floor was nicknamed "Noailles Road" by courtiers of the time.

Rank and status dictated everything in Versailles; not least among that list was one's lodgings. Louis XIV envisaged Versailles as a seat for all the Bourbons, as well as his troublesome nobles. These nobles were, so to say, placed within a "gilded cage" (Duc de Saint-Simon). Luxury and opulence was not always in the description given to their residences. Many nobles had to make do with one or two room apartments, forcing many nobles to buy town-houses in Versailles proper and keeping their palace rooms for changes of clothes or entertaining guests, rarely sleeping there. Rooms at Versailles were immensely useful for an ambitious courtier as they allowed palace residents easy and constant access to the monarch, essential to their ambitions, and gave them constant access to the latest gossip and news.

The smell at Versailles was said to be "unique out of all the palaces in Europe" (duc Saint-Simon). There were no functioning toilets until 1768. By the time of the French Revolution in 1789 there were only 9, and those belonged to the King and his closest family members. The rest of the palace simply had to live with the constant smell of the privy-chambers clinging to their clothes, apartments and the general atmosphere. Although banned, chamber pots were constantly emptied out of the nearest window.

Musical events

Versailles has held several musical events in modern era.

On 21–22 June 1988, its courtyard played host to Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

 during their A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour, which was filmed. Footage from the show was used on the Delicate Sound of Thunder
Delicate Sound of Thunder
-LP / Cassette:Side 1# "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"# "Learning to Fly# "Yet Another Movie"# "Round and Around"Side 2# "Sorrow"# "The Dogs of War"# "On the Turning Away"Side 3# "One of These Days"# "Time"...

 video.

Tina Turner
Tina Turner
Tina Turner is an American singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years. She has won numerous awards and her achievements in the rock music genre have led many to call her the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll".Turner started out her music career with husband Ike Turner as a member of the...

 played here in 1990 during her Foreign Affair Tour
Foreign Affair Tour
Foreign Affair: The Farewell Tour was the fifth concert tour of American singer, Tina Turner. The tour supported her seventh studio album, Foreign Affair. The tour was Turner's first stadium tour and only reached European countries...

.

On 2 July 2005, the French Live 8
Live 8
Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa. They were timed to precede the G8 Conference and summit held at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland from 6–8 July 2005; they also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid...

 was held in the courtyard of Versailles.

On 29 June 2007, Air played a show at the Palace while on their Pocket Symphony
Pocket Symphony
Pocket Symphony is the fifth full-length album by French duo Air. The album was released in March 2007 and features collaborations with Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon....

 Tour.

In popular culture

Singer-songwriter Al Stewart
Al Stewart
Al Stewart is a Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician.Stewart came to stardom as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s, and developed his own unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of the great characters and events from history.He is...

 released a song entitled "The Palace of Versailles", a song detailing the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, The Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

, and the military coup
18 Brumaire
The coup of 18 Brumaire was the coup d'état by which General Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the French Directory, replacing it with the French Consulate...

 of Napoléon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, from the perspective of
"the lonely Palace of Versailles".

In the computer game Civilization IV
Civilization IV
Sid Meier's Civilization IV is a turn-based strategy, 4X computer game released in 2005 and developed by lead designer Soren Johnson under the direction of Sid Meier and Meier's studio Firaxis Games. It is the fourth installment of the Civilization series...

 the Palace of Versailles is a Wonder of the World, its name shortened to simply "Versailles".

The progressive metal
Progressive metal
Progressive metal is a subgenre of heavy metal originating in the United Kingdom and North America in the late 1980s...

 band Protest The Hero
Protest the Hero
Protest the Hero is a Canadian progressive metal band from Whitby, Ontario. Originally named Happy Go Lucky, the band line-up has remained the same since their formation in 1999. The band changed their name to Protest the Hero shortly before releasing their debut EP, Search for the Truth, in 2002...

 mentions the city in their song entitled
"Tapestry", from the album Scurrilous
Scurrilous
Scurrilous is the third studio album by Canadian progressive metal band Protest the Hero. It was released on March 22, 2011 on Vagrant Records in the US and Underground Operations in Canada. The word scurrilous is defined as "vulgar verbal abuse; foul-mouthed; coarse, vulgar, abusive, or...

 in the reoccurring lyric, "...this is our Versailles."

See also

  • The city of Versailles (commune)
  • Tennis Court Oath
    Tennis Court Oath
    The Tennis Court Oath was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789...

      in the Saint-Louis district
  • Versailles Cathedral
    Versailles Cathedral
    St. Louis of Versailles Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and national monument of France, in Versailles....

  • Potager du roi
    Potager du roi
    The potager du Roi , near the Palace of Versailles, produced fresh vegetables and fruits for the table of the court of Louis XIV. It was created between 1678 and 1783 by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, the director of the royal fruit and vegetable gardens...

     (Kitchen Garden of the King)
  • Buildings inspired by Versailles
    Buildings inspired by Versailles
    This is a list of Baroque palaces built in Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Some of them were inspired by the construction of the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV and its successive extensions...

  • Bureau du Roi
    Bureau du Roi
    The Bureau du Roi , also known as Louis XV's roll-top secretary , is the richly ornamented royal Cylinder desk whose construction was done at the end of Louis XV reign....

  • Chenonceau
  • French Baroque and Classicism
    French Baroque and Classicism
    17th-century French art is generally referred to as Baroque, but from the mid to late 17th century, French art is more often referred to as Neo-classicism, which implies an adherence to certain rules of proportion and sobriety uncharacteristic of the Baroque as it was practiced in Southern and...

  • French Rococo and Neoclassicism
    French Rococo and Neoclassicism
    18th-century French art was dominated by the Rococo and neoclassical movements. In France, the death of Louis XIV lead to a period of licentious freedom commonly called the Régence. The heir to Louis XIV, his great grandson Louis XV of France, was only 5 years old; for the next seven years France...

  • Subsidiary structures of the Palace of Versailles
    Subsidiary structures of the Palace of Versailles
    Five subsidiary structures located near the Palace of Versailles have a historical relation with the history and evolution of the palace. Of these five structure – the Ménagerie, the Pavillon de la Lanterne the Trianon de Porcelaine, the Grand Trianon , and the Petit Trianon – two have been...

  • Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles
    Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles
    The Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles is a French public establishment , established in 1995, and working under the supervision of the French Ministry of Culture, in order to administer the Palace of Versailles.It is headed by Jean-Jacques Aillagon,...


Further reading

  • Thompson, Ian. The Sun King's Garden: Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre And the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 1-58234-631-3).

Sources

Book Sources
Journal Sources

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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