Friday, November 23, 2012
Je Vous Donne
Originally, the Petit Trianon was built by Louis XV for Madame de Pompadour who died before it was complete. His next official mistress, Madame Du Barry, became the first to enjoy it. It was there that he became ill with the smallpox that would, after a hasty carriage ride back to Versailles, end his life. (Louis XV had a dread of death and often said to courtiers experiencing cold symptoms, "That's a churchyard cough you have there." There's something about that line that grabs me.)
Marie Antoinette used the Petit Trianon as a place to escape from stifling Court life with it's Levée to Coucher etiquette-dictated performance on the stage of Versailles. Although he didn't stay overnight, her husband occasionally spent time there, as well. If the Marquise de Bombelles is to be believed, Louis XVI was even able to loosen up a bit. The Marquise wrote, in a letter to her husband, that she'd had to fend off the flirting King at the Trianon. I'd like to think that's true and that he had some moments of confidence and lightheartedness. Socializing didn't come easily to him, but he did have a certain innocent charm about him.
Louis XIV had purchased the land from the nuns of Abbey of Saint-Genevieve, in 1662, and the villagers who lived on it were relocated. Ironically, with the building of Le Hameau, peasants were re-introduced to the land by Marie Antoinette and it all came full circle - sort of. Now, it's basically a museum, not a peasant to be found.