James Yorke

Splendour and squalor

Versailles may have lacked heating and sanitation, but every sovereign in the world dreamed of copying it

The château at Versailles remained the grandest palace in the whole of Europe from the moment that Louis XIV established his court there in May 1682 until his great grandson Louis XVI was forced to leave by a mob of 30,000 in October 1789. Such was its reputation that Lord Chesterfield earnestly advised his son that ‘an hour at Versailles is now worth more to you than three hours in your closet with the best books that were ever written’.

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