The Palace of Versailles became the seat of French monarchs in 1682. The former hunting lodge was converted into a symbol of the monarchy by Louis XIV, who dazzled guests with amazing gardens, large rooms, and fantastic artwork. Versailles, on the other hand, was a rigidly and carefully regulated realm in its own right.
Etiquette in the Court of Versailles, like flashy artwork or too ornate furniture, was frequently more odd than respectable. Today, we’re investigating the oddest etiquette regulations of the Court of Versailles.
Versailles court life in the 1600s was austere. Everything from clothing rules to a regular routine had an impact on daily living. And everyone was aware of their position in the hierarchy.
1. Open defecating
Some courtiers, however, did not believe in seclusion or even using a chamber pot when it came to bathroom matters. Urinating in public, such as in a hallway, is becoming something you might expect from a raucous talk show guest.
But one princess in Versailles did it wherever she chose. According to the Duke of Saint-Simon’s memoirs, Princess d’Harcourt just let loose in the hallway whenever nature called. Her motives for doing so are also bizarre.
She apparently thought her blood was so pure that she could discharge herself anywhere she went and whenever she felt the need. As in, like a horse. The servants also had to clean up after her. What a dreadful job!
Throughout his memoirs, the duke paints a bad picture of the princess. That palace must have smelled like a McDonald’s play area in a strip mall.
2. No knocking, only scratching
Knocking was likely the most common means for guests to announce their presence or gain admission centuries before the development of doorbells and Ring cameras.
Apart from diving through the nearest open or closed window, of course. However, in some regions of the world, knocking is considered impolite.
In France, for example, knocking was considered impolite. It was considered impolite to knock loudly on a door, and particularly impolite to knock on the king’s door.
Don’t bother him during his quiet time. He’s preoccupied with kingly matters. Courtiers grew their fingernails out to compensate. Instead of knocking, they would delicately scratch at the door, like a rat’s ghost, to signal their desire to enter.
And we can all agree that knocking is far less obtrusive and upsetting.
3. Heels in vogue
Paris was a fashion centre for all of Europe in the 17th century. Although heeled shoes began as horse riding equipment, they first gained popularity among royalty.
Heeled cavalier boots became popular in the 17th century, and people began to wear heels more frequently. Not wanting to be outdone by the lower classes, the nobility raised their heels significantly to demonstrate their status and privilege.
It took a long time for King Louis XIV to be inspired by his brother, Charles II, and begin wearing magnificent heels himself. He also had Jean Berain, his favourite designer, include high heels in the unique clothes he produced for the Paris opera.
Louis was a fan of heels, and both men and women began to wear them as a fashion statement. Heels were two to five inches high and embellished with buckles, ribbons, and whatever lavish decoration the aristocrats preferred during Louis XIV’s reign. High heels became a prized emblem of aristocracy among the Court at Versailles. Red heels, in particular, became the clear favourite. Most likely because red dye was pricey.
Red heels were fashionable and considered luxurious, making them a king’s favourite. As a result, he made it a rule that only select aristocrats could wear shoes like his. For days one and three, men had to wear a one-of-a-kind, exquisite suit.
On day two, they were dressed radically differently. Women, on the other hand, faced much more difficult criteria. They had to put on a hefty three-piece suit. The skirts were thick, long, and wider than three ells, or around 3.6 metres. Approximately the size of an adult Sasquatch.
4. Receiving guests on the bed
A high position in Versailles came with specific benefits. One of the benefits was the ability to receive visitors from the comfort of your own bed. Nobles were more likely to accept visitors directly from their bed chambers as parade beds became common towards the end of the 17th century.
These beds were a sight to behold, covered with exquisite carvings, silk draperies, and some of the most beautiful furnishings one could imagine. They smelled of money and privilege, and possibly a few other things as well.
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