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In the 17th century, there was only one place to see and be seen.
The Palace of Versailles.
The greatest legacy of Louis XIV.
The Sun King.
Louis XIV spent a whopping 72 years on the throne.
During his reign, he turned France from a country racked by civil war,
its dukes and nobles constantly at each other's throats,
into the most glorious and powerful state in Europe.
And he came up with a way of running a royal court
that's never been beaten.
Key to his success was this -
his Palace of Versailles.
I'm Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Britain's Historic Royal Palaces.
And I'm Helen Castor, a historian with an unhealthy interest
in court politics and intrigue.
Together, we're taking a look at the new French-produced drama
being shown on the BBC.
It's set during the building of Versailles.
This was a world where life revolved around endless court rituals.
Where fortunes rose and fell with the latest fashions.
And where the quickest way to royal favour was through the king's bedchamber.
Take it off.
Behind the facade, Louis XIV's survival
depended on his creation of Versailles.
It was his power base, his safe house
and the gilded cage in which he trapped his enemies.
Never before had a king
and his entire court lived together in a single palace.
This was a new type of building for a new type of ruler.
It was a huge risk. It could all have gone horribly wrong.
But if anybody could pull it off, it was Louis XIV.
Louis's Palace at Versailles sprang from
surprisingly humble beginnings.
Even the king's only brother, Philippe, was in for a shock.
I am about to drag this country out of the darkness into the light.
We must build our own destiny.
Right here a new France will be born and this palace will be her mother.
What palace?
That one.
Our father's hunting lodge?
The dilapidated hunting lodge and the tiny hamlet around it was
buried in the countryside, 12 miles from Paris.
The only link between Versailles and the capital was an old drover's track.
It had been used for bringing cattle to the markets of Paris.
In other words, Versailles was in the middle of nowhere.
The seat of power was Paris,
the royal residence was the Palace of the Louvre.
The nobles had their homes close by,
which meant they could attend on the king and still enjoy salon society
in the capital and vive la difference.
But Louis was passionate about outdoor pursuits.
He really enjoyed country life.
He began to spend more and more time at Versailles.
Louis expected his courtiers to join him.
But not everybody wanted to travel out into the sticks.
You really are out in the wilds here.
Defences are porous, non-existent.
The sooner we return to Paris, the better.
And even after the dukes and duchesses,
the counts and marquises that had made it out to Versailles,
there was nowhere decent for them to stay.
According to Madame de Sevigne, after one visit to Versailles
the courtiers were in a fury,
because they said the king didn't take care of any of them
and there were scarcely a hole to take shelter in.
The courtiers came up with a new witticism - a bon mot -
"Versailles..." they said, "..is a mistress without merit."
But the modest hunting lodge was about to have a makeover.
When I hosted a party a few years ago,
we did not have the room to accommodate my friends.
Most of them had to take rooms in town.
So I'm building some myself.
400 apartments, all told.
Louis incorporated this hunting lodge into his plans.
And it's still there, right at the heart of the later building.
Louis added additions that are still known as the "enveloppe",
literally enveloping the original building.
From sleeping a cosy 15 or so extra guests,
this first phase of construction provided room
at Versailles for 600 of Louis's closest friends.
And that was just the start.
But Louis didn't build Versailles to be nice to his chums.
He did it for the survival of the monarchy.
You might be forgiven for wondering why Louis XIV would go to
such lengths to keep his throne safe.
As a royal historian, it's hard to think of another ruler
who comes across as so supremely confident.
Louis inherited from his mother a passionate belief
in the divine right of kings.
The idea that kings were like little mini-gods who ruled on Earth.
In case anyone had missed the point, at Louis's birth,
he was given the name of "Dieudonne", "Given by God".
This is because, miraculously, he was his parents' first
surviving child after 23 years of marriage, a gift from God indeed.
Louis took these ideas very much to heart.
Louis's self-glorification knew no bounds.
He had himself painted in the guise of Roman emperors.
As Alexander the Great.
Even as the omnipotent Greek God, Zeus.
No hero was too glorious, no God too mighty to escape the comparison.
And Louis took as his personal emblem a symbol
he thought fitting for his dazzling godlike status.
The sun.
The sun is the centre,
the heart, the mother of the universe.
Without its warmth and light, all life is gone.
Man will cease to exist.
One could almost believe he was talking about you.
Louis was a master of propaganda.
But don't let all this grandstanding deceive you.
In some ways, it was a sign of weakness.
If he had been absolutely powerful and totally secure
on his throne, then he needn't have bothered.
Louis had learned that being king was a dangerous business.
Are you scared?
Of course you are.
If history teaches us one thing...
..it is this.
Terrible things happen to kings.
Louis's greatest fears were founded in the deep divisions
within the country he inherited.
In the 17th century,
France wasn't by any means the unified nation we know today.
Different regions had different laws, customs,
even different languages.
And vast parts of the country were controlled
not directly by the king, but by great noblemen.
The North and East, who defies me there?
The Duke of Cassel, sire, to my mind, commands great influence.
Half the nobility are in his debt,
his family have occupied those lands since before memory.
These nobles had huge independent powers in the regions they dominated.
They didn't even have to pay the king's taxes.
So the king was locked in a deadly power struggle,
constantly competing with the nobles.
Louis knew only too well how vulnerable he was.
And he'd known it pretty much since the day he was born.
During Louis's childhood,
the monarchy had tried to wrest control from the nobles.
The result was a bitter civil war.
In 1651, while Louis was staying in Paris, a riot erupted.
The violence came a little too close to home.
The mob broke into the palace and demanded to see the young king.
They marched into his bedroom where Louis pretended to be asleep.
The royal family managed to escape, but Louis was traumatised.
The incident had a profound effect on Louis.
From that moment on, he saw Paris as a crucible of danger,
where the people and the nobles could plot against him.
Never again would he let chaos and violence threaten his very being.
For Louis, the safest place from which to rule was not Paris,
but Versailles.
We must lay our own foundation here.
- Why here, Sire? - Because I will not be the king of Paris.
I know who I am.
I'm Louis XIV.
I'm king of France.
To prove who was in charge, Louis made himself an absolute monarch.
He declared he was the sole ruler of France
and set about reining in the power of the nobles.
This is your king's new law.
Stripping away the dignity of a true noble,
defiling the reputation of a man whose family forms the bedrock
of this country.
Now, once, not long ago, we knew where we stood.
But now we must prove ourselves. Now we must sing for our supper.
Now the King says, "I am France!"
But I say it is we who are France.
In this battle, Louis had some subtle new tactics in his armoury.
Louis's solution to the problem of his nobles shows just how good
he was at wielding what you might call soft power.
He watched and learned from the mistakes of other kings,
like Charles I of England, for example.
He had taken up arms to defend his Royal prerogative,
and look what happened to him.
But Louis wanted to wage war with refinement.
He planned to devastate his enemies with his hospitality.
He was going to overwhelm them
with fancy titles that didn't necessarily mean anything.
And above all, he intended to emasculate them
by making them do trivial jobs in his household,
here at his new country home of Versailles.
It's no bigger than a broom cupboard!
As a matter of fact, I believe it WAS a broom cupboard.
Welcome to Versailles.
Louis loved to play the host.
He kept his courtiers busy with gambling, feasting,
hunting and to top it all, fabulous parties.
Louis made sure his dazzling hospitality
would always be remembered.
Let's have a look at our massive book of pictures
of one of Louis's parties.
And here is Versailles, looking extremely splendid.
These specific drawings were of an entertainment called
"The Pleasures Of The Enchanted Island".
- That's a very alluring name, isn't it? - It is.
Although after six whole days and six whole nights,
I'm not sure how allured anyone would have felt!
It was an epic party based on an epic poem, The Frenzy Of Orlando.
The lead role was Roger.
Could it be possible that Roger himself was played by the King?
I think you might have spotted Louis's role
that he chose for himself!
Here, right in the middle, on his magnificently rearing horse,
is Roger.
I wonder who was in charge of casting?
Louis was a natural showman.
He had a reputation as a fine dancer.
And he never missed an opportunity to display his talents.
But here, the real star of the show was Versailles.
Ooh, look at this!
This is the marble courtyard in the heart of the palace, isn't it?
Decorated with orange trees on either side,
to make it look even more beautiful.
It's splendid.
Hundreds of candles all around the top.
Look at them standing on the ledges inside the windows.
It is truly... It was beautiful enough before,
but now it's transformed into an night-time spectacular.
And look, here's an orchestra. So this is a musical performance.
And they seem to be dancing on the stage.
Oh, it says it's a ballet! That's right.
And a ballet... Alceste.
"A tragedy in music", composed by Louis's own court composer,
Jean-Baptiste Lully, one of the greatest musicians of his day.
Only the very best for Louis.
The king was at pains to make sure his guests didn't miss a single
detail of his palace.
One visitor gushed that the festivities astonished
the spectators by their magnificence, novelty and pomp.
Now, this really is a scene, isn't it?
A night-time scene of fireworks and illuminations.
The palace in the background, the fountains in the foreground.
What do you think, Helen, was the point of this book of engravings?
This is a big PR exercise.
These are impressive pictures, even centuries later, in black-and-white.
But for the rest of Europe in 1664, this is how you do it.
So Louis compiled all the engravings,
gave them to ambassadors
who would then take them home to their own European king or
queen and say, "Look and learn! This is how they do it in France,
"this is the way to hold a party!"
And not just in France,
but specifically at Versailles.
Forget Paris, that was yesterday's news.
Louis wanted the eyes of the world
to be on the palace that he was building.
Once Louis had captivated his courtiers with the entertainments
at Versailles, he found other ways to keep them in thrall to him.
To keep everybody in their places,
Louis turned his life into a kind of public spectacle.
Every minute of every day was filled with these weird rituals,
some of them quite ridiculous,
which all of the courtiers had to follow, as if it were a religion.
All the noblemen at court are required to present
themselves at the appointed hour.
A-ah! Dukes before Marquis, I believe?
I'm with the Duke.
Only a few, however, will be given the privilege of entering,
observing and in some cases, participating.
Taking part in Louis's daily routines was a strictly
controlled business.
Only a chosen elite could share in his more intimate moments.
The most important ceremony was the King's levee.
His rising in the morning.
It was as essential to life at Versailles as the rising of the sun.
At eight o'clock sharp,
the curtains of the state bed were drawn back to reveal the king.
He may not have slept here, but he had to get back in time.
And then he was greeted by his valet.
Good morning.
Next, in came the king's physician, to check him over.
His chamberpot was carried out and, this is really nice,
in came the king's nurse that he'd had since he was a child,
to give him his good morning kiss.
Then came the privileged few who had the right to attend what was
known as the "Grande Entree".
They were all highborn nobles and they helped the king into his shirt.
It sounds menial, but it was a huge honour.
All you do is designed to be seen and admired.
Dressing, shaving, drinking and eating.
They are no longer actions. But a performance.
Everything you do is a display of wealth,
harmony and modesty.
And last, but by no means least,
Louis thought of himself as a god and now, he was worshipped like one.
Even the most powerful nobles were forced to bow and scrape.
But observing Louis's strict daily routine could reap rewards.
The clockwork timing of Louis's day meant the courtiers always
knew exactly where the king was and what he was doing.
And that meant they could engineer meetings with him,
opportunities to ask for the favours that only the king could give.
Like other monarchs,
the king had the power to transform a courtier's fortunes.
But Louis had his own special criteria for granting requests.
As Louis progressed for mass, courtiers would line his route,
pressing on either side, desperate for a word in the King's ear.
If they succeeded in catching his attention,
they might ask a favour for a friend.
But if Louis thought that that particular nobleman hadn't
spent enough time at Versailles,
he turned the request down with the words, "We never see him!
"I don't know him!" It was as if that noble had never existed.
The message was clear - courtiers had better sharpen their elbows
and fight their way to the front of the queue.
If they wanted to get ahead in life,
they had to put in the hours at Versailles.
The nobles were now too busy vying for the King's
attention to plot against him and they weren't allowed to go
back to their country seats, where they could have fermented rebellion.
It was all part of this strange cult of the Sun King.
It's as if Louis used his magnetism to trap his nobles
here in the gilded cage of Versailles.
Now Louis could get on with enjoying the pleasures of life.
And there was nothing he enjoyed more than the ladies.
He pursued one beauty after another - married and single,
highborn and low.
Not for nothing was his time in power known as the reign of love.
Here are some of Louis' leading ladies.
Now, kings of France often had two wives - one a wife for business.
In Louis' case, it was Maria Theresa of Spain.
It was her job to represent an alliance with another country
and to give him his official children or heirs.
But then, he would have a wife for fun - a mistress or,
in Louis' case, mistresses.
At any one moment, the chief of them
was called the maitresse declaree - the declared mistress.
I think it's very French that she had a sort of semi-official
job title!
Louise de La Valliere was Louis' first maitresse declaree.
The story of Louise de La Valliere
is intertwined with the story of
Versailles itself because Louis
was falling in love with her
at the same time as he was falling
in love with the idea of his palace.
They held trysts there
and the magnificent party
The Pleasures Of The Enchanted Isle
was held to celebrate their love.
Now, Louise's position as chief mistress was far from secure.
The other ladies of the court all had their eye on Louis
and he was all too susceptible.
When Louise came onto the scene, Louis was already having
rather a scandalous relationship with Henrietta of England.
She was - wait for this - his brother's wife
and his own first cousin.
Spring has sprung.
And there were plenty of other contenders vying for
Louise de La Valliere's prized role of chief mistress.
Enter Athenais de Montespan.
- How many have you had? - I do not recall.
In which case why would one more make any difference?
- Hard to say without partaking. - Why is that?
Surely, after a certain time, it's just a number, is it not?
That depends on the number.
Athenais was devastatingly intelligent and confident
and pretty and manipulative.
She made friends with Louise in order to get close to the King.
False friend.
I am boring and you are funny.
Perhaps, when he returns, you might put him in a good mood for me -
talk to him, make him laugh.
If he's in a good humour, I might just have a chance.
- Would you do that? - I suppose I could try.
Now, Louis didn't stand a chance.
He fell under the spell of Athenais.
Very soon, he just had to make love to her three times a day
and he was so keen that he would start to undress her,
even before her ladies had left the room.
And she was equally enthusiastic.
It was said that her powder lit very easily.
It wasn't long before Athenais usurped her so-called friend,
Louise, and took her place at the top table.
Athenais reigned supreme as official mistress for the next decade.
And it was during this time that Louis
fulfilled his dream of creating a palace not just fit for any
old king but fit for the Sun King.
Now, the gardens on this side will extend from here to here.
- Very good, sire. What is this large rectangle here? - A lake.
- You wish to put a lake in this area? - The area is the lake. - That is...
- A big lake, yes. - Sire...
A lake that size would dwarf any structure that looks out upon it.
That depends on the structure, does it not?
Nothing could stand in the way of Louis' grand plans.
He drained swamps, moved forests and diverted rivers to
make way for the world's most opulent royal playground.
Its size and splendour trumpeted Louis' wealth and power.
But a project worthy of such a prince required a workforce
to match.
The palace was under scaffolding for years at a time
and the gardens here looked pretty much like a quarry.
Up to 36,000 people were slaving away here and they were
labouring under conditions you could only describe as horrendous.
Builders toiled from dawn till dusk.
A common bricklayer earned five sous a day -
about the cost of a tiny piece of butter.
Accidents was so frequent that three hospitals were built to deal
with the casualties.
And even in his exalted position,
Louis could not quite escape the hardships that his workers endured.
You say you are France.
If you truly were, you'd know our suffering,
you'd feel it in your bones and you'd take the pain away.
Builders went on strike in a bid to improve their lot.
Their grievances are many, sire.
Many suffer from injuries sustained at their work
but are as yet untreated.
They claim that working conditions are too harsh,
- not enough attention's paid to their safety. - Is this true?
We lose half a dozen men per week, Sire. Many more are injured.
From the archives,
I've dug out a document that gives a real-life example of Louis
being brought face-to-face with the human cost of Versailles.
In the summer of 1668, there was
an accident involving some of the heavy machinery in use
at Versailles that's reported here in the Gazette of Amsterdam.
We're told that there was an accident and some debris fell
and underneath it were caught five or six workmen, "ouvriers",
who were "ecrases dessous".
- "Ecrases" - what does... - They were crushed.
- Crushed? - Crushed underneath, crushed to death. - Five or six of them?
My goodness.
Five or six, and that's all we're told - one sentence at this point.
But we get a little bit more detail, a few days later, when the King
was confronted by the mother of one of these poor dead workmen.
She managed to get close enough to ask the King
if she could have the body of her son back,
the newspaper says, with many insults directed at the King.
Now, whether that's exaggeration for journalistic effect
or what the King felt had happened...
Do you think it was quite shocking that she just got close enough
and dared to speak to him?
Absolutely, that someone of her status should be able to speak
directly to the King himself in terms that were not complimentary.
And it didn't go well for her.
We're told that she was put in prison,
where she still is locked up, the newspaper says.
So, hang on - Louis' machine has crushed to death this woman's son,
she has asked for his dead body, and for that, she's been put in prison?
She has. The human cost of his great enterprises is irrelevant to
Louis in comparison with his grand purposes.
The question is to what extent this is representative of something
bigger, more characteristic of Louis' rule as a whole.
Well, I guess you could say, this is an absolute monarch doing his job,
the needs of the state must come first,
he has the power to override the trivial needs of the individual.
But it does seem to me that there's something really cold
and uniquely determined about Louis himself.
I will not be pushed into the sea by a builder on a scaffold!
Louis' determination and his ruthlessness made him
many enemies but he had ways of keeping one step ahead
of anyone who might plot against him.
You might think that surveillance is a modern concept,
but Louis, who was insecure to the point of paranoia,
kept a watchful eye on everyone.
No-one understood better than Louis that information was power.
That is one of 948 journals gathered by our services
detailing every single member of your court.
Their height, weight, hair and eye colour.
Their daily movements, from your valet...
..to your cook's assistant, Madeleine DuBois.
And Louis even knew everyone's innermost thoughts.
Because all mail to and from Versailles was intercepted.
Historian James Daybell is guiding me through the lost world of 17th-century espionage.
This is so much more significant and atmospheric
- than licking the flap, isn't it? - It is, it is.
We really feel like this is a special thing to do.
Now, we're going to get our seal, which is a fleur-de-lis.
Peel it away slowly.
- Oh... - And there we are.
- That's not bad. - Very good.
So if we got this letter in the post, you would know that I had sent
- it? - Yes. - And that it hadn't been tampered with?
- And that it hadn't been tampered with, yes. - Theoretically!
So it's secure.
But at the court of Versailles,
we know that Louis's espionage masters were reading the letters.
How did they do that when they were sealed up with wax?
This is a dark art.
We have an example of a letter from a courtier close to the king
in which she warns a German cousin about this
opening of letters and she writes,
"Just because letters are poorly sealed does not mean anything.
"They have a material made of mercury and other stuff that can be
"pressed onto the seal, where it takes on the shape of the seal.
"After they've read and copied letters,
"they neatly reseal them and no-one can see that they have been opened."
So that method involves making a replica of the original seal?
Absolutely. And once you have that, you're then able to open
and reseal people's correspondence all the time.
That's pretty sneaky stuff.
James, what happened to the people whose mail was read, then, contrary to their knowledge?
Once he found that you were talking in a critical tone about his court,
his policies, his friendships, you would be out of favour.
And so many courtiers were destroyed in this way.
This surveillance state that he develops in the 17th century
is incredibly powerful and it's used to keep tabs on the courtiers
at the very heart of his power base at Versailles.
Disloyal courtiers wised up to Louis's tactics
and found other ways to convey their messages.
With all of this surveillance going on,
there was only one way to keep a secret.
You had to write it in cipher.
(Secret code!)
I have identified this as a Cistercian Codex
from the Low Countries.
Very rare, almost forgotten. Used, it appears,
as an alternative to Roman numerals.
So these are merely numbers?
Which correspond to letters.
But Louis beat the courtiers at their own game by employing
cryptographers to crack the codes.
The first message is very simple.
"Kill the men who bring this map."
The second one is more intriguing.
A riddle, in fact.
"The end is near.
"Make your peace with God."
To make sure his own messages remained secret,
Louis engaged the services of Antoine Rossignol.
Rossignol was the greatest cryptographer of the 17th century.
He came up with a code that was so complex, that after it
fell out of regular use, it baffled cryptographers for centuries.
It was called the Great Cipher.
All this secrecy sounds extreme, but it worked.
After all, Louis wasn't assassinated.
But the king's paranoia grew.
In this world of fear and intrigue, who could he rely on?
As so often, Louis didn't put his trust in the most powerful men in the land,
potential rivals all,
but those with whom he spent his most intimate hours.
His chosen servants.
And there was one servant who was forever by Louis's side.
His valet for over 40 years,
Alexandre Bontemps.
Bontemps was the first to see the king in the morning,
and the last to tuck him up in bed at night.
He was one of the few people allowed to go through the gate in the
golden balustrade into the king's private area of the bedchamber.
Bontemps himself slept just here, on a camp bed.
The first valet was the only person
allowed to sleep in the king's bedchamber.
Not even the queen could do that.
Constantly vigilant, attentive to every need,
he was like a faithful old hound.
Sire, we received word the Parthenay family will arrive this morning.
- Will my goddaughter, Charlotte, be with them? - Yes, Sire.
A little ray of sunshine.
Bontemps's devotion to Louis dominated his life,
almost to the exclusion of his own family.
When asked one day how his wife was doing,
he automatically replied, "I'll ask the King."
- You have a woman? - My wife lives in Paris.
- With you? - I live with the King.
- Now I am confused. - Wherever the King sleeps, I sleep.
This is as far as I go.
His bed must be very crowded.
Bontemps knew everything about the King's most private affairs.
All personal correspondence went through his hands,
and he acted as a go-between for Louis and his lovers.
It was said that Bontemps was most secret, most faithful
and entirely devoted to the King.
This was one of Louis's closest relationships.
Pull up a chair.
I said a chair, not a stool.
A chair with arms.
Only a king may sit next to His Majesty in a chair with arms.
You are more than a king.
You are my friend.
So, could Louis XIV and his trusty valet really have been friends?
- What do you think? - Kings were surrounded by servants all the time.
There was huge intimacy there. But real friendship?
The difference in status made that much more complicated.
It does seem, though, that Louis was more at ease
with his retainers than almost anyone else.
Ah, and there is the evidence of the Duke of Saint-Simon,
who says that the King loved his servants more than his own children.
In return for his devoted service,
Louis showered Bontemps with gifts of land, titles and lucrative posts.
Bontemps could even afford a townhouse in Paris
with his own staff of 12.
Louis didn't just elevate his personal servants, he made
a point of promoting ministers from more humble backgrounds.
And his decision to promote them at the expense of his nobles
brought about a change in the way that France was governed.
It began what the resentful Saint-Simon called
"the reign of the vile bourgeoisie".
Louis transformed life at court down to the smallest detail.
He even changed what people wore.
From the hats on their heads to the shoes on their feet.
Louis's own love of drama and splendour was reflected in HIS wardrobe.
This was power dressing... Louis XIV style.
I must tell you all,
I believe that very soon we shall have a revolution in our country.
The world knows France to be a master of the battlefield.
But one glimpse around this glorious place will tell you, soon it will be
our textile mercers and our master tailors who shall transform the world.
Our fashions will be revered just as much for their beauty,
elegance, refinement and grace.
The finest in the world.
To achieve his ends, Louis introduced a strict new dress code.
We are trying it on for size with the help of costume historian Mark Wallis.
How did Louis make his courtiers look the way he wanted them to?
By the royal edict,
you could not wear anything not made of French manufacturer.
If you were caught wearing something made from a different country,
it would be taken off and burnt. And fined of course, too.
He did something that never had happened before,
which was to invent a court uniform called the justaucorps a brevet.
Now, these coats are entirely new.
Made of blue cloth, covered in gold and silver, lined with red.
Only 50 men, the King, the royal dukes, the princes etc,
were allowed to wear this coat.
That really showed you were in with the in crowd.
And if you died, your coat would be handed on to the next person
- considered suitable enough to wear it. - So he's using the carrot and the stick.
They want to look like they're part of the club, they want to look good.
- And if they break the rules, they get fined. - Yes.
And of course, it suited Louis's ego. The more splendid his court
looked, the better he looked.
And was the envy of all Christian princes.
Thanks to Louis, France became the capital of haute couture,
something it's remained to this day.
And Louis found that forcing his courtiers to follow fashion
had other advantages.
So how much of an investment would an outfit like this have been?
So you have around your collar this bertha, as it's known.
This would be the equivalent, around your shoulders, of perhaps
a very expensive sports car. Perhaps even a yacht.
You also have lace upon your gown, down the front
and all around the hem of the skirt.
Again, just to show your wealth, or your husband's wealth,
and your extravagance.
Now, turning to Lucy, again with your coat made of silk, and of
course the gold galloon running down the front, vertically on your coat.
The wonderful detail.
Lots of buttons, made in France, of gold.
So, really, everything is the best.
Yet you've got to afford not just one outfit, you had to have
lots of different outfits for lots of different occasions.
All of which cost a fortune.
This one is nice.
We'll need more than just a dress, a filigree bracelet
and a necklace of diamonds, believe me.
- But how will we pay? - Oh!
Let me worry about that.
What happened if they couldn't afford it?
It was so expensive, it would bankrupt people.
So you'd borrow from the King, at a certain interest level,
and that gets you deeper in. You're in a royal circle of debt.
It's incredible how he managed it.
Like a spider in the great golden web.
It was typically clever of Louis to use fashion to show off his
courtiers' wealth, while at the same time stripping it away from them.
As one marquis said, "No-one at Versailles was really rich
"because they'd spent their fortunes on all this."
The ruthless side of Louis's nature was also evident
in his treatment of his closest relative - his brother, Philippe.
- Now, give it to me. - I knew it, the minute you get the chance,
you belittle me again.
- Brother. - The magic word, what is it?
Do not forget who addresses you.
You never were good at sharing.
Throughout history, the relationship between a king
and his younger brother has been tricky.
It's no fun being the spare when you want to be the heir.
And the relationship between Louis
and HIS younger brother was understandably tense.
Do you think it's hard to be a king?
Try being a king's brother for a day.
The differences between Louis and Philippe were clear
from very early on.
Here's Louis as a little boy,
and he's already dressed as a little king,
in his beautiful leather boots,
his red breeches with gold fringing, his hat with the white plume.
And, at first glance, you might assume this is his sister.
He looks like a girl with pink cheeks and wearing a dress,
but actually it's Louis's younger brother, Philippe.
Now, don't read too much into this.
Little boys in the 17th century were put in dresses
until they were old enough to be breeched at the age of seven,
put into a man's clothing or breeches.
But in this case, the boy's mother was determined that Philippe
should never present a threat to Louis.
To this end, she nurtured his feminine side.
She called him "my little girl", and she always encouraged him
to wear dresses.
This had a lasting impact on Philippe.
Philippe, Duc d'Orleans.
As an adult, Philippe sometimes chose to dress up as a woman,
and he loved ladies clothing.
One court chronicler said that he was always decked out like a woman,
"covered everywhere with rings, bracelets and jewels, with a long black wig.
"He also wore such high heels that he looked like he was wearing stilts."
- So good of you to come. - A pleasure.
You spent 50,000 on shoes.
Well, you haven't seen the shoes.
Madame de La Fayette said that
"the miracle of inflaming the heart of this prince was not reserved for any woman."
Philippe was married to Henrietta of England,
but his true love was the Chevalier de Lorraine.
A handsome, blond-haired nobleman of princely rank.
He lived with Philippe, and was a sort of male official mistress.
It was a crowded marriage.
Philippe flaunted his femininity.
Everybody knew that he had male lovers.
On the one hand, this was an embarrassment to Louis, but on
the other, it meant that Philippe served as a foil to the King.
They were two halves of a whole, a perfect double act.
Philippe's lack of manliness
only served to emphasise Louis's masculinity.
But, as it turned out,
and perhaps surprisingly for a man who loved shoes so much,
Philippe would upstage his brother in one crucial area.
Philippe dreamed of being a soldier.
In the 1670s, when France was at war with Holland,
he demanded to join the action.
I have a sword, armour and a horse.
Why the delay? When will I go to war?
- The King has not yet set a date. - What am I supposed to do until then?
In the spring of 1677, the French launched a rapid
attack on enemy-held towns in northern France.
Philippe was finally posted to the front line.
At the Battle of Cassel, he commanded the troops
and personally led the charge.
Eyewitnesses said that he charged like a grenadier.
Philippe fought so bravely that his troops were inspired to
perform miracles.
The result? A complete victory against the Dutch.
Afterwards, on the road back to Paris, people shouted,
"Long live the King, and Monsieur, who won the battle!"
Louis didn't like the sound of that.
Louis made sure that when the Battle of Cassel was painted,
it represented his version of events.
In this glorious painting, the battle rages, a gun is fired,
and a soldier falls.
And here, in the thick of the fighting,
is the king on his warhorse in his white-plumed hat.
But in life, not art, Louis wasn't even there.
The hero of the hour was Philippe. And where's he?
Here, stuck in the corner, in his brother's shadow.
Seen nursing a bump on the head at Versailles, Louis receives word
of his brother's victory.
"We report with joy the success of the king's
"infantry against the troops of the Spanish.
"Siege is now laid to the town of Cambrai."
At last, some good news.
"Most remarkable of all heroes present in the king's name,
"is His Majesty's own brother, Prince Philippe,
"the Duke of Orleans, who has shown bravery on the battlefield..."
- That's enough news for now. - "A true and everlasting hero..."
I said enough!
And so it was in real life.
Louis was so jealous of his little brother's achievement
that he never again put him in charge of an army.
No-one could outshine the Sun King.
If Louis was the sun, Philippe was the moon,
only allowed to shine in his brother's reflected glory.
At Versailles, everyone revolved around the Sun King.
Louis officially moved the seat of government
and installed his court here in 1684.
And for the remaining 30 years of his reign,
he only returned to Paris eight times.
It was a staggering transformation in the way
the French monarchy ruled.
Louis had created the ultimate power base,
5,000 souls living firmly underneath the royal thumb.
It's tempting to see all this crazy ritual and extravagance
as just another example of absolute power corrupting absolutely.
You'd think that this combination of luxury and cruelty
would lead to violent collapse.
But in Louis' case, it didn't.
The country was no longer torn apart by feuding nobles,
and France became renowned for its culture and sophistication.
On his deathbed, Louis pronounced,
"I depart, but the state will always remain."
Well, remain it did, at least for a while.
And what will surely always remain, is Louis' Palace of Versailles.


凡爾賽探秘 (The Real Versailles (BBC, 2016))

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不信中原不姓朱 發佈於 2016 年 8 月 12 日




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