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Versailles: The Making of a Palace

Charles Mauricheau-Beaupré surveys the broad sweep of history occupants of the Palace of Versailles have witnessed, and makes a case for its rehabilitation.

View of Versailles from the Avenue de Paris, ca. 1662 by Pierre Patel. This was how Versailles looked before Louis XIV began enlarging the château.I once amused myself by inscribing the title-page of a work on Versailles with Samuel Richardson’s sally about the origins of the palace, which he described as “sprung from a dunghill within an elderly person’s remembrance”. At the time when the young Richardson was apprenticed to the publisher, Wilde, this fairy tale, which does indeed begin among the dunghills of a village, was still within the recollection of “elderly persons”, such as St. Evremond. Louis XIII, “the mightiest of royal hunters”, in hot pursuit of a stag was often overtaken by the night at Versailles.

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