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The Master of VersaillesThe enchanting chateau of the king's youth became the official residence of the court and government of France on May 6, 1682. By providing enough space to house the courtiers, the chateau and its outbuildings helped to domesticate the nobility. Under the king's ever watchful eye, great lords no longer plotted—they remained with the army or at court, ready to please and serve. Intimidating, majestic, and fully informed by his spies, the king controlled everything. If he was heard to say of you, "I know him not," you were doomed forever.






Diana Room

Louis XIV’

Billiards rooms




Mars Room ceiling (during Louis XIV’s reign

Filled with silver furniture)



The Sun MythLouis XIV chose the sun as his emblem. The sun was associated with Apollo, god of peace and arts, and was also the heavenly body which gave life to all things, regulating everything as it rose and set. Like Apollo, the warrior-king Louis XIV brought peace, was a patron of the arts, and dispensed his bounty. The regularity of his work habits and his ritual risings and retirings (levee and couchee) were another point of solar comparison. Throughout Versailles, decoration combines images and attributes of Apollo (laurel, lyre, tripod) with the king's portraits and emblems (the double LL, the royal crown, the sceptre and hand of justice). The Apollo Salon is the main room of the Grand Apartment because it was originally the monarch's state chamber. The path of the sun is also traced in the layout of the gardens.





Levee8.30 am: 'It is time, Sire', declares the First Valet de Chambre, waking the king. The levee, or ceremonial rising, thus begins. Doctors, family and a few favoured friends successively enter the King's Bedchamber where he is washed, combed, andÑevery other dayÑshaven. The Officers of the Chamber and the Wardrobe then enter in turn for full levee, during which the king is dressed and has a breakfast of broth. The most important officials of the kingdom are admitted; it is estimated that the usual number of people attending numbered one hundred, all male.




Council11 am: Returning to his apartments, the king holds council in his cabinet. Sundays and Wednesdays are devoted to Councils of State; on Tuesdays and Saturdays, finances are dealt with; Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, another Council of State might replace a Dispatch Council (domestic affairs) or Religious Council, or perhaps the king will decide to focus on his building programme. Five or six ministers usually advise the monarch who speaks little, listens a great deal, and always decides.


'L'Etat, c'est moi'Louis XIV immersed himself completely in what he called 'the trade of kingship', identifying himself totally with the state in the famous phrase, 'I am the State'. Devoting himself to his people, he put himself constantly on public show—Versailles was open to everyone, not just courtiers. Access to the monarch was governed by court ceremonial, and the immutable rites of the Sun King's day drove the entire 'court mechanism'. Elsewhere, the wheels of the new administration established during the early part of the reign ran smoothly: at the centre, king and council decided; in the provinces, intendants executed his orders.






Supper10 pm: A crowd fills the antechamber of the King's Suite to witness this public supper. The king is joined at table by the princes and princesses of the royal family. Once the meal is over, the king returns to his bedchamber to say 'goodnight ladies' then retires to his cabinet where he can indulge in conversation with his close acquaintances.


Louis’ sister-in-law wrote this about his dining:

“I have often seen the King eat four plates of soup

Of different kinds, a whole pheasant, a partridge,

A large plate of salad, two thick slices of ham, a

Dish of mutton in a garlic-flavored sauce, a plateful

Of pastries and then fruit and hard-boiled eggs. Both

The King and Monsieur are exceedingly fond of

Hardboiled eggs.


The Duc de Bourgogne(the Dauphine’s son) had his two

Brothers had been taught the polite innovation of using a

Fork while eating but when they were invited to the King’s

Table at supper, he would havae none of it and forbade them

To use such a tool. He would never have had occasion to

Reproach me in that matter, for I have never in my life used

Anything to eat with but my knife and my fingers




The Most Christian KingMonarch by divine right, the king was God's lieutenant on earth. During his coronation, he swore to defend the Catholic faith. To honour this oath and preserve the religious unity of his kingdom, Louis XIV launched the struggle against Jansenists at the Port-Royal monastery, and persecuted Protestants. Forced conversions and the emigration of 200,000 Protestants ultimately led him in 1685 to rescind of the Edict of Nantes (which had decreed religious tolerance).


Promenade or Hunting2 pm: The king always announces the afternoon programme in the morning. If he has decided on a promenade, it might be taken on foot in the gardens or in a carriage with ladies. On the other hand, hunting activities the Bourbons' favourite pastime will take place on the grounds (if the king goes shooting) or in the surrounding forests (riding to hounds).



800 hectares (2,000 acres) of grounds

20 kilometres (12 miles) of roads

46 kilometres (27 miles) of trellises

200,000 trees

210,000 flowers planted every year

132 kilometres (80 miles) of rows of trees

23 hectares (55 acres): surface area of the Grand Canal

5.57 kilometres (3.3 miles): perimeter of the Grand Canal


20 kilometres (12 miles) of enclosing walls

50 fountains

620 fountain nozzles

35 kilometres (21 miles) of water conduits

3,600 cubic meters per hour: water consumed during Full Play of Fountains

11 hectares (26 acres) of roof

51,210 square meters of floors


2,153 windows

700 rooms

67 staircases

6,000 paintings

1,500 drawings and 15,000 engravings

2,100 sculptures

5,000 items of furniture and objets d'art

150 varieties of apple and peach trees in the Vegetable Garden


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