The French Revolution & Versailles with Sandra Laville

The French Revolution & Versailles with Sandra Laville

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What happened during 100 years of Versailles prominence, and how did the Kings and Queens of Versailles contribute to their own demise in the ultimately tragic French Revolution?

Led by an expert of Modern European History (1492 – 1797), Sandra Laville, this seminar will discuss the topic of the Palace of Versailles in the 18th century and the French Revolution. With the advent of Louis 14th’s successors, his fame and power– so meticulously designed and executed just decades before – began to crumble, allowing room for discontent among the people and leading to ultimate disaster: the French Revolution.

During the first part of the seminar, we will explore the life and times of King Louis 15th, the Sun King's great-grandson and immediate successor. Discover the scandals that caused the king's popularity to decrease over time, weakening his authority and gradually lessening the prestige of his court. This will give us an in-depth understanding of the reign of Louis 15th, and how it served as a transition between the magnificent splendor of his predecessor and the utter degradation at the time of his unfortunate successors, Louis 16th and Marie-Antoinette.

Next, we will delve into the times of Louis 16th and Marie-Antoinette, the enigmatic King and Queen whose reign and whose lives ended tragically in the throes of the French Revolution. We’ll learn about the figure of Queen Marie-Antoinette, the privileged Austrian princess who was adored and revered at her arrival in France, but whom the people and the court gradually grew to despise. Hear about the many scandals that alienated her from the nobles at Versailles and from the French people all over the country.

Last of all, we will discuss the French Revolution and how it was brought about, in part, by the extravagance and general debauchery of life at Versailles. Hear about the early beginnings of the French Revolution, from the take of the Bastille on July 14th to the October March later that same year, and the effect it had on the Palace's inhabitants. We will take a close look at the unveiling of events that led to the end of it all: the Conciergerie, the Trial of Marie-Antoinette and the Guillotine, in 1793.

Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an in-depth understanding of life at Versailles and its contribution to the events of the French Revolution, as well as the aftermath in the years following the tragic guillotine executions of the King and Queen.

Sandra is an art historian specializing in the link between European art, history and society from the 15th to the 19th centuries. She holds a Master's degree in Art History from the Université La Sorbonne, where she specialized in Italian Renaissance painting and the iconography of the modern European family. Originally from Canada, she also holds an undergraduate degree in Linguistics, with a double specialization in French and Spanish Language Civilization, and has lived in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Rome, before finally settling in Paris.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.