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Royal Bodies, Royal Bedrooms: The Lever du Roy and Louis XIV’s Versailles

Article Citation: 
Cahiers du dix-septième: An Interdisciplinary Journal XII, 1 (2008) 99–118
David M. Gallo
Article Text: 

There is no doubt, as there was none in the minds of his contemporaries, that Louis XIV was exceptionally skilled at using the whole panoply of ceremonial at Versailles, what the Duc de Saint-Simon called the mécanique of the court. Norbert Elias’ work, The Court Society, pioneered a detailed study of Louis XIV’s carefully calculated strategy “of regulation, consolidation and supervision...” 1which became, in that king’s hands, “a highly flexible instrument of power.” 2

Fundamental to Elias’s thesis is the assertion that even Louis XIV, the Roi-Soleil, who is often taken as the supreme example of the omnipotent absolute monarch, proves on closer scrutiny to be an individual whose position as king was enmeshed in a specific network of interdependencies. He could preserve his power only by a carefully calculated strategy which was governed by the peculiar structure of court society in the narrow sense, and more broadly by society at large. 3

Elias uncharacteristically understood Louis XIV in the light of recent re-thinking about the nature of French absolute monarchy. Far from viewing 1661 as “the dramatic crushing of all opposition by an absolute monarch,” 4 Elias affirmed that the personal rule of Louis XIV began in 1661 at a time of great weakness. 5 At first glance, the simplest strategy would seem to be for Louis to implement the old Roman adage, divide et impera. But he did not and could not simply do this. The king knew from the experience of the Fronde that he was “living under the pressure of a possible threat from below;” 6 consequently, he must himself exert pressure to maintain his rule and to “prevent a unification of Court society against him.” 7 His genius, according to Elias, was that he succeeded to perfection in an "exact assessment of the power relationships at court and a careful balancing of the tensions within it,” 8 thereby creating “organizations which both maintain the tensions and differences and facilitate their supervision.” 9 In his view, it was Louis XIV’s carefully calculated strategy, unfalteringly implemented during the course of his nearly fifty-five year long personal reign, which succeeded in maintaining his position and in instilling in the French nobility the need for it.

Maintaining and enhancing power required the king to use any and all means at his disposal. An instrument in his arsenal in the exercise of power, “of regulation, consolidation and supervision — one among others — is the court and its etiquette as understood by the King.” 10 Ceremonial and etiquette functioned, for Louis XIV, as an important instrument of rule and the distribution of power. He wielded this weapon in his métier du roi with an intensity reflecting his joyful awareness that “he was made for it.” 11

Elias perceived that “each act in the ceremony [the King's lever or coucher, for example] had an exactly graded prestige-value that was imparted to those present, and this prestige-value became to an extent self-evident.” 12 Louis’s use of these ritual actions “served as an indicator of the position of an individual within the balance of power between the courtiers, a balance controlled by the King and very precarious.” 13 Under his watchful eye, “the direct use-value of all these actions,” although “more or less incidental,” 14 took on a secondary value of immense importance. “What gave them their gravity was solely the importance they conferred on those present within court society, the power, rank and dignity they expressed.” 15 “In effect, etiquette everywhere allowed latitude that he [the King] uses as he thinks fit to determine even in small ways the reputation of people at court. (...) He used the competition for prestige to vary, by the exact degree of favor shown to them, the rank and standing of people at court, to suit his purposes as ruler, shifting the balance of tensions within the society as his need dictated.” 16 Elias sums up Louis XIV’s deliberate “tactic” in this way:

He must carefully channel the tensions, cultivate petty jealousies and maintain, within the groups, a fragmentation in their aims and therefore in the pressure they exert. He must allow opposed pressures to interpenetrate each other and hold them in equilibrium; and this requires a high degree of calculation. 17

Of course, Elias realized that “Louis XIV had certainly not created the mechanism of ceremonial. But thanks to certain opportunities open to his social function he had used, consolidated and extended it (...)”18

For all this, Elias’ sociological analysis of the functioning of the lever du roi as a prime example of Louis XIV’s conscious plan did not address the history of the system’s evolution. 19 The Duc de Saint Simon, an otherwise valuable eyewitness, provides innumerable examples of the operation of etiquette, but one cannot tell from his work when specific practices actually began. The reader must assume that at some time during Louis XIV’s forty-plus years’ residence at Versailles the code of manners became so complete that by the 1690’s (when Saint-Simon arrived at court), hardly any action by the king in the presence of others, from lever to coucher, was not regulated by the code of manners. 20

The fact remains that the chronology of court ritual has never been clearly established. The question of the intentionality of this development on the part of Louis XIV, that is, “. . . just how it came into being — step by step as must have been the case — has never been elucidated in historical terms.” 21

Peter Burke, in his book on the “fabrication” of Louis XIV, stated that, while valuable, Elias’ analysis (as well as Saint-Simon’s memoirs), did not address the

…history of the creation and development of the rituals. We should not assume that they were there all the time, difficult as it now is to imagine Louis XIV without them. The question of their origin is at once obvious and neglected, easy to ask and difficult to answer. What might be called the “invention” of the Versailles tradition remains obscure. Did the domestic rituals begin when Louis took up permanent residence in the palace in 1682? What happened during earlier visits to Versailles, or later visits to other palaces? Did the king create the rituals himself, or were they the work of his advisers or his masters of ceremonies, or did they really follow tradition? Were they created for political reasons? 22

Although many of these questions await a definitive response, sources do exist which describe Louis XIV’s lever as it unfolded at different times during his reign, and in the layout of the king’s various apartments, at the Louvre and later at Versailles. The development and transformation of the lever indicate an important shift in the public presentation of the French monarchy in the latter part of Louis XIV’s reign, with implications for its future.

The day-to-day ceremonial life surrounding the king of France was part of a tradition going back well before the Sun King. As early as 1533, the King’s Bedchamber under François I at Fontainebleau was a public room. 23 With ample space at his disposal, this monarch found relatively simple accommodations necessary: a salle or Great Chamber in which he ate; a chambre in which he lived and slept; behind the chamber à cabinet into which he could withdraw from the public eye. As Baillie notes,

Even if he did not spend a great deal of his time in it, the fact that this Closet was behind and not in front of the Bedchamber inevitably led to the Bedchamber becoming an ante-room to the Closet and so more public than private in character. This is made extremely clear by the fact that the gallery he built to link the old with the new castle and which he used for balls and entertainments leads straight from the entrance vestibule of the new Château into his bedchamber. 24

It seems clear that by 1533 two trends characteristic of later French royal tradition were in place. First, a multiplication of rooms with a specialized purpose; there were both public rooms for eating and sleeping, and less public, though accessible, rooms for a modicum of privacy. Yet despite this differentiation of rooms, the second trend was the distinctive feature of French royal tradition — the public character of the chambre. The king’s rooms where the most intimate functions occur were, in effect, wide-open and accessible. François Ier respected and continued the tradition whereby French monarchs were available and continued to be accessible to all. 25 Louis XIV gave clear witness to this tradition in his Instructions for the Dauphin:

There are nations where the majesty of kings consists, in large part, in never letting themselves be seen, and that could seem reasonable to those minds accustomed to servitude, governed only by fear and terror; but that is not the genius of our French nation, and, from as far back as our histories can instruct us of it, if there is one particular character of this monarchy, it is the free and easy access of subjects to the prince. 26

The architecture of most royal châteaux, and of the King’s Apartments into the reign of Louis XIV is evidence of this

In the reign of Henri III, a tradition already existed at the Louvre for the king's ceremonial rising. An English eyewitness account of the lever du roi27 provides a glimpse into Henri III’s morning ritual as it was in 1584. Upon arising, the king received a dressing gown and slippers from a valet de chambre, and then proceeded to another room where he was dressed by other valets in attendance. 28 After a brief breakfast of bouillon, Henri allowed entry to those in attendance on him in the morning: first, secretaries reporting to the king, and then the nobility present. 29 Entry to the King’s Bedchamber in the morning was limited to his officers, councilors, secretaries, and intimate servants. Only in another room after his rising did he receive members of the nobility. The tradition of two distinct stages — one private, one public — was the pattern of Louis XIV’s lever in the early part of his reign.

The first complete description of the lever du roi of Louis XIV is from June 1655, recounted by Marie du Bois, the 17 year-old king’s valet de chambre and a participant in the ceremony. 30 This took place in the King’s Apartment at the Louvre, which in 1655 comprised, among other rooms, two bedchambers. Henri IV had converted a small room off the main bedchamber into another one replete with an alcove. At the Louvre, both Louis XIII and Louis XIV inherited a dual sleeping arrangement31 , one private32 (Chambre de l’Alcôve) and one public 33 (Chambre de Parade).34 The first stage of the young king’s rising unfolded first in the smaller bedchamber (Chambre de l’Alcôve), the room in which Louis actually slept. 35 As soon as he awoke, Louis began the day with prayer. 36 Religious responsibilities fulfilled, his preceptor then entered the private bedchamber (Chambre de l’Alcôve) and began the daily lesson, a study of Scripture or the history of France. 37 His first study session took place while he was still in his bed, for only after this is any mention of getting out of it. 38 As he did so, only the two valets of the bedchamber (valets de chambre) on duty for the day and the ordinary usher (huissier) entered and took their places. 39 Once out of bed, Louis sat upon his chaise percée, which was located in this same chamber; he remained there, readers are informed, for a half an hour, more or less. 40

The second stage of the lever took place in the large bedchamber, the Grande Chambre. Leaving his private Bedchamber (Chambre de l'Alcôve), the young king encountered various princes and high nobles in attendance upon him for the public lever.41 Still in the relative informality of his dressing gown, he went straight into the waiting crowd, speaking to each one with warmth and familiarity, giving them much pleasure. 42 Once seated in his armchair, the king began his toilette, washing and wiping his hands, mouth and face. He then removed his night bonnet and knelt down beside his bed in the alcove, along with the clerics of his household and everyone else in the room to pray in silence, this time in public. 43 Prayer finished, the king went back to his armchair and was combed and dressed. 44

Some evidence exists concerning the arrangements of the King’s Apartments in the early 1660’s. A certain Guillet de St.-Georges described it thus:

Next to the same room [Chambre à Coucher du Roi], M. Errard had painted, decorated and gilded a little Oratory for the King, and M. Coypel, following the simple ideas of M. Errard, painted two little pictures after having made himself all the sketches for them. 45

This “little Oratory” was the small room (Oratoire du Roi,) which formed a square to the south-east of the Chambre d’Alcôve (the side of which measures about 2.3 meters). Contemporary accounts state that while the King's Chambre d’Alcôve was beautiful, it always remained rather badly lit, because of its size and lack of windows. A visitor wrote around 1660:

They have not yet rectified the Chambre du Roy, where even in the noonday sun one can only grope one’s way in. This darkness is all the more annoying in that it disfigures the most beautiful Bedchamber in the world, and that of the greatest King on earth, no less. 46

The visit of the Cavaliere Bernini in 1665 provides the only known description of the actual décor of the royal apartments.

Going on, he [Bernini] entered the King’s bedchamber; the King was in bed having just had his foot bled. The bed was covered in amaranth-colored velvet with heavy gold embroidery, like the wall covering of the room and the anterooms. (...) There was no rail around the King’s bed, but on the dais there were many silver vases filled with tuberoses. 47

At the time Chantelou is describing this room, as he mentions above, there was no balustrade surrounding the bed. Apparently it was placed there at a later time, since one is indicated on the plans of 1692. 48 Perhaps the lack of a balustrade here serves to underscore the private nature of this Chambre d’Alcôve, in contrast to the larger public bedchamber which did contain the balustrade.

The daily morning ritual of Louis XIV’s youth at the Louvre preserved the tradition in the use of the two bedrooms constructed by Henri IV. This is ritually and visibly consonant with Ernst Kantorowicz’s theory of the “King’s Two Bodies,” a formulation that opened a new perspective on the corporative image of a medieval monarch. In short, Kantorowicz theorized that the king possessed two bodies: a “natural body” (private, or real), belonging to one man — François, Henri, Louis — the man who lived and died, bound by space and time; and a “mystical body” (symbolic, or imaginary), which was a kind of eternal spouse of a series of natural bodies, existing beyond time and space. In effect, this mystical body was the continuity, majesty and power of the State, the “king who never died” in France. In the first decades of his reign, Louis XIV ritually and spatially enacted this tradition as he arose each morning using the two bedchambers of the King’s Apartments. In the first bedchamber, the king performed the first part of his lever in relative solitude and privacy, surrounded by a few familiar servants and away from the pressing crowd for study and attention to physical needs. The second bedroom brought him from the private to the public: from bodily privacy to presence and communication with the court at large; and second, from the bedchamber of Louis’ actual physical slumber to another meant for the display of the king to his court.

Louis XIV’s assumption of personal rule in 1661 did not at first change this tradition. The lever du roi between 1663 and 1682 underwent significant elaboration from a number of points of view, but showed an underlying continuity with this earlier tradition as evidenced in the initial enlargement of Versailles. A modern reconstruction of the 1668 project for the King’s Apartments shows a public bedchamber (Grande Chambre, or Chambre de Parade) as well as a private bedchamber (Petite Chambre),49 following the traditional two-bedchamber arrangement of the lever.50 Yet the ritual during this time did start to change. First, an annual publication called L’État de la France clearly named the personnel surrounding the awakened king and who later dressed him. Each article of the king’s clothing was also clearly named, and each piece of clothing was received from specifically indicated members of the two major services involved in dressing the King — the Bedchamber (Chambre) and the Wardrobe (Garderobe). For example, the First Valet of the Wardrobe (Premier Valet de Garderobe) gave the king his understockings; one of the Valets of the Bedchamber (valets de chambre) gave him his underdrawers, etc. 51 The king even created a new officer in 1669, the Grand Master of the Wardrobe (Grand Maître de la Garderobe) to ensure that his service “might be done with all the care, propriety and greatness appropriate to the dignity of our person.” 52 Second, access to the king is also more clearly delineated — lists are given of those household officers permitted entrance to the king’s bedchamber. 53 As the numbers in attendance on the king grew to include members of his family, the usher of the king’s bedchamber (huissier de chambre) took on a new importance as the arbiter of entry, to discern both the relative quality of persons who presented themselves for the ceremony and also to maintain order and decorum. 54 In sum, the lever du roi of the 1660’s and 1670’s changed in the following ways: clear procedures were established and roles of all involved were clearly delineated, that Louis XIV be served with ever-increasing efficiency; in the process, all the necessary personnel were brought closer to hand, their entry and station during the lever clearly indicated. 55 As the number of people surrounding the king and seeking to gain access to him increased, so did the necessity of establishing and maintaining order.

The lever du roi at Versailles after the king’s installation there in 1682 maintained the tradition of two bedchambers, but only for two years. In 1684, Louis XIV abandoned the Grand Appartement du Roi56 where he had lived and slept and installed himself in rooms around the heart of the château, the Cour de Marbre.57 From 1684 to 1701, the king slept and rose in one bedchamber, yet was dressed in the larger adjoining room, the geographical heart of the chateau, called the “King’s Salon ” or “the Salon where the King dresses” (Salon du Roi, or Salon où le Roi s’habille). Significantly, this salon was not a bedchamber. The distinction between the two bedchambers for the king (Chambre de Parade and Chambre à coucher) found in the Louvre and in the earlier constructions at Versailles thus disappeared after 1684. The one official Bedchamber of the State Apartments, the Salon de Mercure, took its place as only one of a series of reception rooms where the king mixed with his court. In November 1684, the first ceremonies took place in the new Chambre du Roi.58 After 1684, even though he did not yet sleep there, the king performed the major rising ceremonies in the center of the château. The final movement of the king’s bedchamber in 1701 to the site of the King’s Salon (Salon du Roi), and thus to the very heart of the château, brought this development to its logical conclusion.

The ceremony after the move to one bedroom took on the fixed, “classic” form observed by the Duc de Saint-Simon, who arrived at court in the 1690s. All the conditions were right for this to happen: the king resided in a fixed place for a large part of the year: 59 the Court was large, anchored at Versailles, and included the king’s growing immediate family (Sons and Grandsons of France) as well as the collateral branches (Condé, Conti); all the king’s servants from the Great Officers of the Crown60 down to the gentilshommes and valets of the Chambre and Garderobe, were concentrated in one place. Not surprisingly, sources show minute regulation began once this “critical mass” had been gathered together in a fixed setting. A conservative estimate of the number of people allowed in the king’s bedchamber while he was still in bed (based on published lists of participants in the 1687 text of the lever), was upwards of forty, not counting the unnamed officers necessary for the service. 61 Perhaps this partly explains why the decision was taken in 1701 to move the entire Bedchamber down one room to the heart of the château: the king’s salon (Salon où le Roi s’habille) was a larger and better lit room (having three windows opening onto the Cour de Marbre). The 1684 Bedchamber was then combined with its former antechamber to form an enlarged room, soon known from its décor as the “Bull’s Eye Antechamber” (Salon de l'Oeuil de Boeuf).62 Thus, the tradition of the two bedchambers, each seen to house the slumber of one of the “two bodies” of the earlier, traditional understanding of French royalty, finally gives way at Versailles under the Sun King. The two bedchambers become one by 1684, and finally in 1701 the entire lever du roi is performed in the one Chambre du Roi, Louis XIV’s bedroom as it exists today. The king completed the symbolism inherent in the design of Versailles from the first, performing both private and public functions in the same room — he rose, dressed, received ambassadors, ate and retired in that room facing east and the sunrise. Louis XIV’s “one body” was like clockwork, and all time in his presence was ceremonialized time.

The chronological development of Louis XIV’s lever du roi supports the conclusions suggested by earlier historians of royal ritual in France. Ralph Giesey, a student of Ernst Kantorowicz, stated that at Versailles, Louis XIV

… literally abandoned his private self in favor of an actual incarnation of sovereign power. Seen in a different way, this process ended in a personalization of this incarnation, formerly a fictional entity (or mystical, ideal and unvarying), to which successive kings had to fit themselves. 63

Stanford professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès wrote that under Louis XIV, the development of court ceremonial witnessed to the “fusion” of the “King's Two Bodies.”

The private body is seen to be taken over by the imaginary body; the two form but one glorious body. This glorious body, which functions like a clock, brings about at the court a ceremonial mechanized in the extreme. 64

The ritual development and the fusion of the two bedchambers at Sun King’s lever du roi at Versailles provides visible evidence for the creation of a closed system within which “the King wore neither attributes nor clothing considered exclusively royal, but only the magic of his royal attitude and the force of his personality, operating according to a severely codified comportment.” 65 Willy-nilly, the two kings born into this system had to play the essential, starring role. The fact that Louis XV played it grudgingly and Louis XVI ineptly (and, one might add, Marie-Antoinette disastrously) would be fraught with consequences for the monarchy. Entering its final century, it no longer depended on the varied public rituals of its long tradition and history. After Louis XIV, the monarchy was centered on the attributes of the physical body of the king, now publicly and ritually joined to the unique, transcendent and immortal “mystical body” of the kings of France, forming but one glorified body: 66 new, permanently visible, ever on display.

College of Mount Saint Vincent


1Norbert Elias, The Court Society, (New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1983), 130.

2Ibid., 90.

3Ibid., 3.

4Roger Mettam, “Richelieu, Mazarin and Louis XIV,” History Today, 33 (August 1983), 42.

5Which Louis XIV readily admitted in his Instructions for the Dauphin.

6Elias (1983) 129.

7Ibid., 120.

8Ibid., 120.

9Ibid., 130.

10Ibid., 130.

11Ibid., 127.

12Ibid., 85.

13Ibid., 85.

14Ibid., 85.

15Ibid., 85.

16Ibid., 89.

17Ibid., 122.

18Ibid., 89.

19See especially Ralph Giesey, “The King Imagined,” The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture: The Political Culture of the Old Regime, ed. Keith M. Baker (Pergamon Press, 1987).

20Ibid., 56.

21Ibid., 45.

22 Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 90.

23After the rebuilding of Fontainebleau in 1533, the King’s Apartments consisted of a salle, or room in which the King dined; a chambre in which he lived and slept; a cabinet into which he could withdraw from the public eye. (See H. M. Baillie, “Etiquette and the Planning of State Apartments in Baroque Palaces,” Archeologia, 101 [1967], 180–182).

24Baillie, “Etiquette and the Planning of State Apartments,” 180.

25 “Philippe le Bel, the most powerful king in Europe, is described as walking round Paris and talking to any one who wished to approach him. ‘Familiarity has never harmed a King of France’, was one of the dicta of Chancellor de l'Hôpital...” (Baillie, “Etiquette and the Planning of State Apartments,” 182).

26 “Il y a des nations où la majesté des rois consiste, pour une grande partie, à ne se point laisser voir, et celà peut avoir ses raisons parmi des esprits accoutumés à la servitude, qu'on ne gouverne que par la crainte et la terreur; mais ce n'est pas la genie de nos Français, et, d'aussi loin que nos histoires nous en peuvent instruire, s’il y a quelque caractère singulier dans cette monarchie, c'est l'accès libre et facile des sujets au prince.” Quoted in Yves Bottineau, “Aspects de la Cour d’Espagne au XVII siècle: l’étiquette de la chambre du roi,” Bulletin Hispanique, 74 (1972), 152 [translation mine].

27The material in this section is drawn from an article by David Potter and P. R. Roberts, “An Englishman’s View of the Court of Henri III, 1584–1585: Richard Cook’s ‘Description of the Court of France’,” French History, II, 3 (1988), 332–340. According to its editors, Cook’s account, “The description of the Courte of Fraunce,” must have been drafted some time between November 1583 and September 1584.

28 “When the Kinge is readie to rise which is ordynarilie between sixe and seaven he calleth unto one that lyeth nere unto him to give him his night gowne & a payre of little buskyns lined with verie soft & fyne leather, & when he retireth himselfe into another chamber where divers valets doe attende to make him readye, & beinge there sette downe before the fyer, one of these valets of his chamber bringeth him his dublet, another gartereth his hoase, the thirde whilest he is thus makinge himself readye kennethe [sic] & trymmeth his heade & the fourthe plucketh on his shoes.” (Potter and Roberts, “An Englishman’s View of the Court of Henri III, 1584–1585…,” 339).

29 “When the secretaries have done the usher is commanded to open the dore of the presence, & whilest the nobilitie doe enter…” (Potter and Roberts, “An Englishman’s View of the Court of Henri III, 1584–1585…,” 339).

30Mémoires de Marie du Bois, Sieur de Lestourmière et du Poirier, Ed. Louis de Grandmaison, Bulletin de la Société Archéologique, Scientifique et Littéraire du Vendômois, Nouvelle Série, Tome I, 1933, 317.

31Louis de Hautecoeur, Le Louvre et les Tuileries de Louis XIV, (Paris, 1927), p. 51. Plans at the Archives Nationales (AN O1 16671, plan 4) indicate this as well.

32And smaller: 5 meters wide, 6 meters high – about 16’ by 21’.

33And larger: 10 meters wide, 6 meters high — about 34’ by 21’.

34Louis de Hautecoeur, Le Louvre et les Tuileries, 51. See also Robert Berger, Versailles: The Château of Louis XIV (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1985), 47.

35 “…Chambre de l’Alcôve, où il couchoit.” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

36 “Sy tost qu’il s’éveilloit, il récitoit l’office du St.-Esprit et son chapelet…” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

37 “…cela faict, son précepteur entroit et le faisoit studier, c’est-à-dire, dans la Ste-Escriture ou dans l’Istoire de Frances.” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

38 “…cela faict, il sortoit du lit…” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

39 “…alors nous entrions, les deux de jour seullement et l’huissier d’ordinaire…” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

40 “…sortant du lit, il se mettoit sur sa chère percée, dans sa mesme chambre de l’alcôve, où il couchoit; il y demeuroit une demie heure plus ou moings.” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317). Primi Visconti relates in the 1670’s that Louis XIV, fort honnête, put himself in this position at the coucher du roi only out of tradition.

41 “…Après, il entroit dans sa grande chambre, où d’ordinaire il y avoit des princes et grands seigneurs, quy l’attendoient pour ester à son lever.” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

42 “Il estoit en robe de chambre et alloit droit à eux, leur parloit sy familièrement, les ungs après les autres, qu’il les ravissoit.” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

43 “Après, il se mettoit dans sa chère et se lavoit les mains, la bouche et le visage. Après s’estre essuié, il destachoit son bonnet, quy estoit lié autour de sa teste, à cause de ses cheveux, qui estoit dessoubs. Il prioit Dieu dans sa ruelle de lit, avecque ses aumosniers, tout le monde à genoux et neul sy osé d’estre debout, ny de causer, ny de faire aucung bruit; l’huissier de la Chambre les eût mis dehors.” (Du Bois, Quartier de Valet de Chambre, avril-juin 1655, 317).

44Since it is not specified who combed the King, presented him with his clothing or helped him with it, it can be assumed that the officers of the King’s Wardrobe (the Garderobe) remained with him for that purpose.

45 “A côté de la même chambre, M. Errard fit encore peindre, orner et dorer un petit oratoire pour le Roy, et M. Coypel, sur les simples pensées de M. Errard, peignit deux petits tableaux après en avoir fait lui-même toutes les études.” (Vie de Lesueur, I, 7. Quoted in Hautecoeur, Le Louvre et les Tuileries, 56).

46 “On n’a pas encore remédié à la chambre du Roy, où en plein midi même on n’entre qu’à tâtons. Obscurité d’autant plus fâcheuse qu'elle défigure la plus belle chambre qui soit au monde et du plus grand Roi de la terre.” (Quoted in Hautecoeur, Le Louvre et les Tuileries, 56).

47Paul Fréart de Chantelou, Diary of the Cavaliere Bernini’s Visit to France, Trans. Margery Corbett, Princeton, 1985, p. 41. Chantelou, one of the maîtres d’hôtel of Louis XIV from 1647 on, acted as Bernini’s guide on this occasion. Part of the French version, quoted by Hautecoeur: “de velours amarante en broderie d'or fort relevée, comme était la tapisserie de la chambre et des antichambres.” Hautecoeur goes on to say that “the King liked strong scents; it was not only in the parterres of Versailles or of the Louvre that he wished to breathe heavy and pungent perfumes.” (Hautecoeur, Le Louvre et les Tuileries, 56–7.)

48Hautecoeur, Le Louvre et Les Tuileries, 57.

49Jean-Claude Le Guillou, “Le Grand et Le Petit Appartment de Louis XIV au Château de Versailles, 1668–1684: Escalier, Étage, Attique et Mansardes — Évolution Chronologique,” Gazette des Beaux Arts, CVIII, 1411 (1986), 7–8.

50The developments of the next decades are documented almost exclusively in this work, published by the same editor, N. Besongne, in 1663, 1665, 1669, 1672, 1674, 1676, 1677, 1678, 1680, 1682, 1683, 1684, 1686, 1687, 1689 and 1694. From its sketchy, early editions in the 1640’s, it became, by the 1680’s, a multi-volume work, containing chapters on the structure of government and society as well as the ceremonial of the King’s lever and coucher. Edited by a cleric of the King’s ecclesiastical household, and thus by a long-term eyewitness of these ceremonies, L’État de la France is essential for establishing the chronology of the Sun King’s daily ritual.

51L’État de la France, 1663, p. 74.

52AN O¹13 fº 348r, Minutes et Transcriptions authentiques… éxpédiés par le Secrétaire de la Maison du Roi (…), 1669.

53These were extended to those holding office who were not en quartier (on their tour of duty) and who wished to be present. In addition, those who had formerly held an office giving entry could apply to keep their entreés once out of office. (There are brevets giving such permission preserved in the Archives of the Secretary of the Maison du Roi — AN O¹13).

54 “…ils demandent, à plusieurs fois, pour les personnes de condition qu’y s’y presentment, jusqu’à ce que le Roy ait prit sa chemise: Ensuite l’Huissier laisse entrer toute la Noblesse à son choix: & selon le discernement qu’il fait des persones plus ou moins qualifiées…” (L’État de la France, 1672, p. 82).

55The King’s doctors, surgeons and barbiers were not specified and required as of the 1677 texts. Even the King’s tailors were required to be in the wardrobe while the King dressed, should there be need for alteration or repair of his clothing. (“en cas qu’il y eût quelque chose à coudre ou racômoder aux habits.” (L’État de la France, 1676, 107–108).

56Which then became what it called today, the Grands Appartements or State Apartments.

57Reasons for this are not clear. Perhaps the death of Queen Marie-Thérèse on July 30, 1683, rendered the private connection (and the symmetry) between the King’s bedroom and her bedroom unnecessary. Perhaps, too, the death of Colbert and the beginning of the Surintendance des Bâtiments of Louvois played a part.

58Pierre de Nolhac, Versailles et la Cour de France: Versailles, Résidence de Louis XIV (Paris, 1925), 106.

59The King’s movement from place to place would be within a relatively small radius within the Île de France: Trianon, Marly, Fontainebleau.

60For example, in 1671, the King offered land in the immediate vicinity of Versailles to whoever would build on it. Many members of his household were among the first to establish a permanent foothold near the King during the first year the offer was made (1670–71): the Maréchal de Bellefonds, Premier Maître d’Hôtel, three of the Premiers Gentilshommes de la Chambre (the Duc de Créquy, the Comte du Lude, and the Duc de Saint-Aignan); future Premiers Gentilshommes de la Chambre such as the Duc d’Aumont (who would serve in 1674), and the Duc de Gesvres (1675). Thus, even by the 1670’s, members of his household had a permanent base of operation at Versailles. (See L’État de la France, 1674, 71); J.-F. Solnon, La Cour de France, 270).

61 For a full listing, see L’État de la France, I, 1687, 194–197. The description of the whole lever du roi in the 1687 edition fills some fifty-nine pages.

62So called after the large, “bulls-eye” shaped window inserted into the frieze of the room.

63 “Il a littéralement abandonné son moi privé au profit d'une véritable incarnation du pouvoir souverain. Vu autrement, ce processus aboutit à une personnalisation de cette incarnation, jadis entité fictive, ou mystique, idéale et invariante, à laquelle les rois successifs avaient à s’ajuster.” (Ralph E. Giesey, Cérémonial et puissance souveraine: XVe — XVIIe siècle. Cahiers des Annales, [Paris: Armand Colin, 1987], 85).

64 “Chacun de ses gestes est décomposé et donne naissance à des rites, à des hiérarchies. Chacune de ses fonctions biologiques, de la manducation à la défécation, est l’objet d’un nouveau rituel symbolique. Le corps privé se voit annexé par le corps imaginaire; les deux ne forment plus qu'un seul corps glorieux. (...) Ce corps glorieux, qui fonctionne comme une horloge, entraîne un cérémonial mécanisé à l'extrême à la cour.” (Jean-Marie Apostolidès, Le roi-machine: Spectacle et politique au temps de Louis XIV [Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1981] 156).

65 “Le roi ne portait ni attributs ni vêtements proprement royaux mais la seul magie de son attitude royale, et la force de sa personnalité, opérant selon un comportement sévèrement codifié.”(Giesey, Cérémonial et puissance, 72).

66Apostolidès, Le Roi-Machine, 156. Ralph Giesey suggests that absolutism constitutes the historical heritage of the “mystical body of the King” in France. See Ralph Giesey, Cérémonial et puissance, 85–86.
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