The Palace of Versailles Revealed

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Duration : Three 90-minute lectures

Part 1 - Introduction to The Palace of Versailles

Part 2 - Louis XIV and the Golden Age

Part 3 - Marie-Antoinette & the French Revolution

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In 1638, Sun King Louis XIVth began a massive reconstruction of the Palace of Versailles, transforming it into Europe's most astonishing royal palace. For centuries afterwards, princes and kings all over Europe and the world would copy its structure and design in their own lavish constructions, in an attempt to emulate the size, grandeur and splendour of the Sun King's royal abode. During this Premium Program, we will explore the Palace of Versailles in-depth, from its glory days under Louis XIV, to its slow decay under the following kings, and its final undoing and disaster in the French Revolution.

Lecture 1 : Introduction to the Palace of Versailles

During the first lecture, we will take a look at the palace architecture and gardens on the grounds of the Versailles Estate.  We will discover the grounds as they were during the age of the three kings that lived there  (Kings Louis XIVth, Louis XVth and Louis XVIth) and explore the three main sections of the estate : The Main Palace, the Grand Trianon Palace, and the Petit Trianon Palace.  At the Main Palace, we will discover the apartments built by Louis XIVth and the lavish interiors which were home to the king's family and court,  Hear all about the outrageous court etiquette put in place by Louis XIVth, the Sun King, and see the spectacular Hall of Mirrors, built to impress.-- and intimidate -- important guests.  In the gardens of the main palace, we'll discover  the Grand Trianon, a private palace built by Louis XIVth himself, to escape the frenzy of court life (that he had himself created) in the company of his mistress, Mme de Montespan.  And just down the path, the Petit Trianon, a tiny palace also built for the same reason, and where Marie-Antoinette spent the last tranquil years of her life before the tragic explosion of the French Revolution.

 

Lecture 2 : Louis XIV and the Golden Age

For centuries, Versailles has been known as one of the world's most spectacular royal palaces – but not only for the beauty of its gardens or the size of its royal monuments. During its heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Versailles court was an epicentre for some of Europe's most talented performing artists and a stage for some of its most magnificent festivities. 

 

During the second lecture, we'll explore the Palace of Versailles under Louis XIVth, known across Europe for its exacting etiquette rules and elaborate daily routine.  King Louis XIV and his successors used music, dance and theatre to strengthen their power and spread their fame throughout the world. Hear how Louis XIV, the Sun King, installed a complex system of etiquette-based rules to keep his noble subjects under his subjugation – in so doing, making daily life at court a performance in and of itself.  Jear all about the brilliant musicians, dancers, composers and actors that sang the glory of their royal patrons and immortalized their fame for centuries to come : Molière and Lully, Rameau and Voltaire, Rameau and Gluck, to name a few... Also discover the magnificent festivities celebrated at the palace by Louis XIVth and his successors, including the 7-day celebration of the Plaisirs de l'île enchantée   to the marriage of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI more than a century later.

 

Lecture 3 : Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution

During the last lecture, we will continue along the palace timeline into the lives of Louis XIVth's successors : Louis XV and Louis XVI.  Hear how the monarchy's image began to fade and weaken, tarnished by the many scandals during Louis XV's reign and the inexperienced tactics of his successors, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.  We'll focus especially on Marie-Antoinette, who was first loved by all upon her arrival from Austria, and then slowly shunned by all as time went on. Witness the unfortunate turn of events near the end of the century, beginning with the Fall of the Bastille on July 14th, and hear how the magnificence of Versailles palace and  court was extinguished all at once in the fire and the terror of the French Revolution.