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Une Chapelle pour le Roi

On May 16, 1770, Maria Antonia, Archduchess of Austria, wed Louis Auguste, Dauphin of France, in an official ceremony held in the Royal Chapel at Versailles.

Louis XV "preceded by the princes and M. le Dauphin, who offered his arm to the Dauphine, made their way to the chapel in a great procession, followed by seventy lords and ladies of the court.  The entrance to the chapel and the whole august ceremony made a more glorious sight than I would have believed possible.  The couple were on kneelers at the foot of the altar, with the king at his prie-dieu and set well back; thirty-five ladies of the court and the attendants made for a superbly attired cortege to both sides."  From the journal of the Duc de Croÿ, 16 May 1770

To learn more about the Wedding of Louis and Antoinette, please read my blog piece, The Marriage of Marie Antoinette.

Louis XIV ordered the construction of the Royal Chapel as a way to remind the world of a monarch's divine right to rule.  With great pomp and ceremony, the chapel was dedicated on June 5, 1710.  The Archbishop of Paris officiated the event.  During Louis XIV's reign, the Royal Chapel was the site of grand spiritual and musical spectacles.  Fifty-five years after the death of the Sun King, the Royal Chapel would be the site of most anticipated and discussed spectacle in eighteenth century France: the official wedding cermony of Marie Antoinette and Louis.

Those fortunate enough to attend the royal wedding would have spent a small fortune on their attire.  Ladies in attendance wrote of their silken slippers encrusted with pearls and heavily embroidered gowns

The male courtiers in attendance were as sumptuously attired as their female counterparts, in suits shot through with gold and silver threads, sleeves dripping lace, and diamond-encrusted shoe buckles. 


 Did you know...
  • The Royal Chapel was built for Louis XIV by the genius architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
  • Louis XIV allowed spiritual and musical performances to take place in the Royal Chapel.  These entertainments continued until the Revolution.
  • A forty-foot lantern, once affixed to the roof of the chapel, was removed in 1765.
  • Each morning, Louis XIV would exit his apartment via a secret door, traverse the Hall of Mirrors, and make his way to the Royal Chapel, where he would attend mass.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once astounded Louis XV by playing an impassioned, impromptu concert on the Chapel Organ.
  • Robert Clicquot designed and constructed the organ mechanisms. 
  • Many living in eighteenth century Versailles considered the chapel an unsightly blemish on the palace landscape.  Jacques-Francois Blondel, a professor of architecture, criticized the structure's discordant pale and red bricks.
  • Marie Antoinette's official wedding ceremony was held in the Royal Chapel, with Monseigneur de la Roche Aymon, the Archbishop of Reims officiating.
  • More than 5,000 people crowded the drawing rooms and great gallery on the day of Louis and Antoinette's official wedding ceremony, hoping to catch a glimpse of the dauphin and his new dauphine.
  • Marie Antoinette was once caught reading a romance novel in the Royal Chapel.  She'd attempted to hide the book behind her Hymnal.
  • The Savonnerie carpet currently on display on the floor of the Royal Gallery, is the same one that Louis XIV knelt on during his procession into the Chapel.
Organ in the Royal Chapel at Versailles
  
If you haven't virtually toured and explored Une Chapelle pour le Roi on the Official Chateau de Versailles website, you really should.  It's fantastic.

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