Behind the Facade: Life at the Chateau of Versailles in the 18th Century
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Derrière la façade brings the palace of Versailles in the eighteenth century back to life in a way previously known only to its inhabitants. Exhaustively researched, excitingly revealed, Derrière la façade is the behind-the-scene history of the world’s most famous palace.
By the eighteenth century, Versailles had become a model of the ideal royal residence in Europe. But behind the golden portals, its occupants were well aware of its less-glamorous aspects. The glittering halls, infested with rats, became a tattered theater of power in which the actors played their parts until the last curtain—and the guillotine—fell. William Ritchey Newton shows us everyday life within the labyrinthine palace where thousands of courtiers were crammed into just 226 apartments without running water, with just a few latrines (chaise percée), and with little or no heat. To earn the honor of living under the king’s roof, one had to face the squalor of the private apartments. Newton divides the days and reveals the discomforts in topical chapters: “Lodging,” “Eating at Court,” “Water Supply,” “Heating and Lighting,” “Cleaning,” and “Laundry.”
William Ritchey Newton : William Ritchey Newton is an American historian and a specialist on Versailles. He is the author of L’Espace du roi, La cour de France au Chateau de Versailles 1682–1689 (Fayard, 2000), and La Petite Cour: Services et serviteurs à la Cour de Versailles au XVIIIe siècle (Fayard, 2006). He lives in Springfield, Tennessee.