Jump to: navigation, search

How Historically Accurate is season 1 of Versailles?

326 bytes added, 07:51, 16 December 2016
History and Key Events
==History and Key Events==
[[File:The-BBC-confirmed-the-news-to-fans-tonight-619209.jpeg|thumbnail|Versailles Season 1 image.]]
The story begins with Louis having a vision to build a great and grand palace at Versailles. The palace is depicted as a symbol for France and in the first season Louis attempts to instill in his nobility that the palace is to represent all of France and his role in building it is essentially to unify the country (Figure 1). Although the palace is known today for its grand opulence such as the Hall of Mirrors and other structures, the intent was to make this building project help centralize the state itself. Rebellion by nobles during the reign of his father was a major problem in France, weakening the country. The series rightly indicates that the construction of the palace was in part used as a way to control the government and put it more in the hands of the kingby moving resources to Versailles. Paris had been rife with plots against the royal family, likely prompting Louis to move the court at a distance that allowed him to have better control of the government while not being trapped by the demands of the ever rebellious nobles. One major plot developments development is Louis asks his nobles to produce papers to prove their nobility. Louis XIV is known to have instigated a major program that verified the lineage of the nobility.<ref>For more on Louis' early part of his reign and vision to build Versailles, see: Berger, Robert W. 1985. <i>Versailles: The Chateau of Louis XIV.</i> Monographs on the Fine Arts 40. University Park: Published for the College Art Association of America by the Pennsylvania State University Press.</ref>
Another key event in the early episodes is his war in Holland and the Spanish Netherlands. While initially very successful, Louis was persuaded to make peace with the Dutch after the war threatened to become much larger and involve other major European powers. Louis could not afford, early in his reign, to fight a long and protracted war, particularly given his potential problems with the nobles and financial situation, where the construction of Versailles also became a drain on the treasury.<ref>For more on Louis' early wars and finances, see: Young, William. 2004. <i>International Politics and Warfare in the Age of Louis XIV and Peter the Great: A Guide to the Historical Literature.</i> New York, NY: Universe.</ref> By 1671, the war rekindled and this time France marched into Dutch territory along with English support. The war continued until 1678, by which time Louis had gain territorial concessions from the Spanish Netherlands. The series did not give much detail about this prolonged conflict, where much of the focus was more on Louis' domestic problems with his nobles. Nevertheless, Louis is shown as trying to make alliances and treaties with the English and even African nobles visiting so that French trade could be placed in a more superior position, something that the war with the Dutch also allowed. These events were largely true and Louis did try to position French trade interests in the growing African and Atlantic trade networks.<ref>For more on trade and alliances under Louis, see: Nolan, Cathal J., and Cathal J. Nolan. 2008. <i>Wars of the Age of Louis XIV, 1650-1715: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization.</i> Greenwood Encyclopedias of the Modern World Wars. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, pg. 210.</ref>
One focus of the episodes is the rivalry between Louis and his brother Philippe, Duke of Orléans. Tension between the brothers was brewing because Louis would not let his brother join the war against the Dutch. Eventually Louis relents and Philippe proves to be a valiant warrior. Philippe was, in fact, a well known leader and proved to be a successful commander, earning the respect of his men for his bravery. While it is not clear what the The rivalry was between the brothers, it is known that Philippe was a proven war leaderin the series may be more fiction than fact.<ref>For more on Phillipe, see: Barker, Nancy Nichols. 1998. <i>Brother to the Sun King--Philippe, Duke of Orléans. </i> Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.</ref>
Perhaps the most prominent plot in the series revolved around a group of nobles and others conducting a conspiracy to make the king loose power and control over the country. This involved poisoning of some of the characters, shooting prominent families on the road to Versailles, where even Philippe's wife and Louis' lover Henriette, who was the sister of the King of England Charles II, was killed in one of these attempts. This part of the story does differ from likely historical accounts, as it is not clear Louis ever faced any major threats to his kingdom from internal unrest despite having some troubles from the nobles as he centralized the state early in his reign. There were various plots, including a series of poisonings called the Affair of the Poisons, that lasted from the 1670s-1680s, but the reasons for this did not relate to plots by nobles.<ref>For ore on the Affair of the poisons, see: Somerset, Anne. 2004. The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV. 1st U.S. ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press.</ref> The Huguenot, or French Protestants, also attempted to conduct a campaign against the king, although Louis' major persecution of them only began in the 1680s, a period after when the first season took place. The Huguenot's came closer to threatening the French crown long before Louis' reign in the 1610s-1620s.<ref>For more on the Huguenot revolts, see: Trim, David J. B., and Walter C. Utt, eds. 2011. <i>The Huguenots: History and Memory in Transnational Context ; Essays in Honour and Memory of Walter C. Utt. </i> Studies in the History of Christian Traditions 156. Leiden: Brill.</ref>
[[File:Chateau de Versailles 1668 Pierre Patel.jpeg|thumbnail|Figure 1. The Palace of Versailles in 1668 during the period represented in the series.]]

Navigation menu