Here’s a treat for everyone. This was one of BBC’s wonderful documentaries. I miss a lot of things about the UK, but I think I miss the fantastic nonfiction programming the most. They put on shows with–shocker–real history instead of fluff or stuff that isn’t in the least bit historical (I’m looking at you, History Channel).
This program focuses largely on Louis XIV, the Sun King, who of course built Versailles. Louis was extraordinarily important to ancien regime France. He essentially created the court culture, which was the culture of the ruling elite of the country. He chose to bring his nobility to him, to have them wait on him, and to have them squabble with one another over who got to hand him his shirt. In the meantime, they weren’t causing Louis any trouble. When he was very young, those pesky nobles had been causing all kinds of trouble. They called it the Fronde.
A hundred years later or so, at the time of the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Louis’s rules were still being strictly enforced. The king and queen were put on very public display and their every bodily function was accompanied by a list of rules and precedents. Marie-Antoinette hated the stuffy rules. She wanted to do things her way, meaning less formally. That got her in trouble all around, but that is another story altogether. The point is that even in the time of Jeanne de La Motte, Marie-Antoinette, and all our favorite characters, Louis’s presence was still very much felt.
This documentary is a very nice overview of Louis and his palace, which were intertwined both during his life and after his death.
Note: This is part one. You’ll have to click on part two when this video ends.