4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
, 23 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Versailles: A Biography of a Palace (Hardcover)
Versailles is the historic Camelot of France.a wonderful estate of buildings and magnificent gardens created by successive Kings who each paid huge ransoms for the privilege of living and ruling in such grandeur. The royal residence in the l600s was at St Germain-en-Laye where a red brick Renaissance chateau gave marvellous views over the Paris basin.
It was from here that Henri 1V rode to stag hunts and where the ten-year-old Louis xv1 - successor and grandson - rode into the sylvan landscape of Versailles. Little by little the young King began to buy up plots of land and by his early twenties he had a country house built, a house that, years later was to become the palace and court of great renown.
Such was the beginning of a royal project that was to bring admiration, glamour and prestige to the kings and queens and anger that led to the Revolution. Versailles, the biography of a Palace, by Tony Spawforth was interesting but the Cote d'Azur Men's Book Club found it too anecdotal and lacking in enough detail to give it life. We read that a river was diverted 50 miles to form a lake yet the amazing feat is dealt with in a matter of fact way, no glue to stick in the memory. Some members felt the author did not do enough research and some tired of the frequent leaping about between different time periods.
King Louis X111 commissioned a simple country house and seven years later rebuilt the house and transformed it into a medium sized chateau with a red, white and blue colour scheme. Was he simply patriotic or a budding painter?We are not told. The Louvre was the traditional Paris home of royalty and the move to Versailles inflamed the passinate anger of the citizens, first in Paris and then throughout the country.
Gossip became fact and fact turned into legend and the arrogance and exotic lifestyle of the court invited retribution. During the bloodletting, the hapless King made his way to the guillotine to shouts of "Vivre L'Roi".
Mr Spawforth is a professor of ancient history at Newcastle University and he can be congratulated for tackling such a big project but if praise be due it is also for the stimulation the book provided in delving into the history of French culture and finding the truth that was hidden behind the walls of the King's bedchamber.Intriguingly, Marie Antoinette's bedchamber boasted a lift and a hidden room.
Versailles has its place in history and is still a major tourist attraction.One views its beauty and wonders at the exquisite workmanship,majesty and landscape that was to cost France her monarchy with the result that the citizens seized the crown.Versailles Vase
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