The behind-the-scenes story of the world’s most famous palace, painting a picture of the way its residents truly lived and examining the palace’s legacy, from French history through today
The story of Versailles is one of historical drama, under the last three kings of France’s old regime, mixed with the high camp and glamour of the European courts, all in an iconic home for the French arts. The palace itself has been radically altered since 1789, and the court was long ago swept away. Versailles sets out to rediscover what is now a vanished world: a great center of power, seat of royal government, and, for thousands, a home both grand and squalid, bound by social codes almost incomprehensible to us today.
Using eyewitness testimony as well as the latest historical research, Spawforth offers the first full account of Versailles in English in over thirty years. Blowing away the myths of Versailles, he analyses afresh the politics behind the Sun King’s construction of the palace and shows how Versailles worked as the seat of a royal court. He probes the conventional picture of a “perpetual house party” of courtiers and gives full weight to the darker side: not just the mounting discomfort of the aging buildings but also the intrigue and status anxiety of its aristocrats. The book brings out clearly the fateful consequences for the French monarchy of its relocation to Versailles and also examines the changing place of Versailles in France’s national identity since 1789.
Many books have told the stories of the royals and artists living in Versailles, but this is the first to turn its focus on the palace itself---from architecture and politics to scandal and restoration.
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As well as having a rich broadcast history, TONY SPAWFORTH is the author and editor of numerous books on the ancient world. He is currently professor of ancient history at Newcastle University in England.From School Library Journal:
Starred Review. This fascinating, immensely readable book will be welcomed by both general readers and those interested in French culture. Using an impressive array of sources, Spawforth (ancient history, Newcastle Univ.; The Complete Greek Temples) re-creates the history of Versailles and its inhabitants, focusing not merely on architectural details but on the many human stories hidden within its lengthy past. Meticulously tracing the growth and changing usages of the palace from the days of Louis XIII to the ill-fated departure of Louis XVI in the upheaval of the Revolution, he offers vivid insights into a vanished world of royal and aristocratic splendor as he describes the clothing, rituals, habits, ceremonies, and entertainments of a social set obsessed with the "fetishes of rank." No detail appears to have escaped his purview as he looks at the court's dress codes, standards of service, etiquette rituals, and sanitary facilities. Even more important are the glimpses he provides into the lives of those servants and townspeople who made life at Versailles possible, individuals such as the "water waiter" who oversaw a kind of underground economy by redistributing leftovers from royal tables. This book thoughtfully analyzes how Versailles has been both a living community and a symbol of many things—royal magnificence, despotism, extravagance, isolation, and, finally, national pride. Most intriguing is the little-known story of what became of Versailles after the Revolution and the key role played by conservators like Pierre de Nolhac in preserving and reconstructing its history. Highly recommended for large public libraries.—Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., N.J.
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Descripción St. Martin's Press, 2008. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX0312357850
Descripción St. Martin's Press, 2008. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería 0312357850