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Culture

The feminine side of the court of Versailles

Versailles (France) / The splendor recovered from the private apartments of Marie-Antoinette in the Palace of Versailles serves as an excuse to tell the life in the court of women’s figures over three reigns in France. 

In addition to the quarters of the last monarch of the Old Regime, which have been restored the look they had before French Revolution, the Palace has rebuilt those of Madame Maintenon, “secret” wife of Louis XIV, and has brought to light the architectural influence of Maria Leszcynska, called “the Polish”, who got married to Luis XV.

If the first one, which united her fate to her husband’s fate, Louis XVI, is well known, the other two have been “forgotten and secluded in history”, in the words of the Museum of Versailles director, Laurent Salomé.

“It is very exciting to know that, simultaneously, time doesn’t erase anything and also allows us to rediscover aspects that we thought we knew,” said the president of the Palace, Catherine Pégard.

The apartment of Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793), after three years of restoration, now reopens to the public with its four colourful rooms, loaded with flowers, gold-plated figures and paintings adorning the ceiling.

It was there that all the marital obligations of the royal couple were developed, a space that meets the same decoration that Marie-Antoinette left in 1789, before her imprisonment prior to her death in the guillotine four years later.

The Queen’s bedroom is the most important room of the apartment, the place where she spent most of the time. A public space where their courtesans came every morning and every night to check when their lady stood up and slept.

It was there that the queens had to give birth, obligated to do that in public so the whole court could verify that the future heirs were a fruit of her bowels.

This apartment reflects the public life of the women of the French monarchy, centered on a rooms very exposed to the eyes of the political characters of the time.

Madame Maintenon’s apartment

Less brilliance present the chambers of Madame Maintenon (1635-1719), at first mistress of Louis XIV, who took her later as a wife, secretly, in 1683, to the death of Maria Teresa of Austria.

Versailles has rebuilt the place where the link was held, a sample of the emblematic decoration of the 17th century.

Instructor of the bastard sons of the Sun King, she was broadening her influence on the monarch and is considered one of the first women of French royalty who played a central role in society.

In 1686 she created a female educational institution and spent the rest of her life becoming a teacher.

“She was not at all feminist! There was no talk of feminism at the time, but it was a start”, said Mathieu da Vinha, one of the curators of the reconstruction.

The mural paintings of Madame Maintenon’s apartment were put in the place where they were at the time, according to the indications contained in the inventory of the architect of the Crown in 1708.

“After her severe character, she was an incredible model in the 17th century monarchy,” according to Salomé.

The longest-lived queen in Versailles

Discreet and passionate about Asian and Greek art, María Leszczynska (1703-1768) spent 42 years in Versailles, which makes her the woman who lived in the palace for the most time.

Polish aristocrat, she married Louis XV in 1725 and is the last queen of France who died on the throne and also the grandmother of the last three monarchs of the country, Luis XVI, Luis XVIII and Carlos X.

Her undeniable imprint at Versailles makes her “a precursor of architecture,” in the words of commissioner Gwenola Firmin, that unlike the other two queens, has not sought to recreate their chambers but show “her good taste” through works she was hoarding or she painted herself.

Distributed in four rooms, which usually host the halls of the heirs to the throne, they have exposed writings, paintings and porcelains bathed in gold, witnessing their refinement.

“With this exhibition we want to highlight her taste. We are not here to tell her life exhaustively”, the commissioner added. (April 2019, EFE/PracticaEspañol)

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(Español) Comprehension

Lee la noticia y responde las preguntas. (Read the news and answer the questions)

Congratulations - you have completed Lee la noticia y responde las preguntas. (Read the news and answer the questions). You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
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Question 1
El texto trata de... (The text is about...)
A
El reinado de Luis XV.
B
La restauración de los aposentos de María Antonieta y otras monarcas.
C
El reinado de Luis XIV.
Question 2
El director del museo de Versalles cree que la única monarca recordada es... (The director of the Museum of Versailles believes that the only queen who has been remembered is...)
A
María Antonieta.
B
María Leszcynska.
C
Madame de Maintenon.
Question 3
¿Quién fue la esposa "secreta" de Luis XIV? (Who was the "secret" wife of Luis XIV?)
A
María Leszcynska.
B
María Antonieta.
C
Madame de Maintenon.
Question 4
¿Por qué se considera “una precursora de la arquitectura” a María Leszczynska? (Why is Maria Leszczynska considered "a precursor of architecture"?)
A
Por las obras que atesoró o pintó ella misma.
B
Por su formación.
C
Por sus apartamentos lujosos.
Question 5
¿Cuánto tiempo duró la restauración de los aposentos de María Antonieta? (How long did the restoration of Marie-Antoinette's chambers last?)
A
Dos años.
B
Tres años.
C
Cuatro años.
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(Español) Vocabulary

Congratulations - you have completed . You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
Question 1
El verbo restaurar significa... (The verb restaurar means...)
A
Diseñar algo.
B
Romper algo.
C
Reparar, renovar o volver a poner algo en el estado que antes tenía.
Question 2
Un sinónimo del sustantivo aposento es... (A synonym of the noun aposento is...)
A
Garaje.
B
Baño.
C
Cuarto.
Question 3
El adjetivo marital se refiere a... (The adjective marital refers to...)
A
La vida matrimonial.
B
El mar.
C
La corte.
Question 4
La guillotina es... (The guillotina is...)
A
Una máquina inventada en Francia para decapitar a los reos de muerte.
B
Un martillo.
C
Un arma de fuego.
Question 5
La expresión dar a luz significa... (The expression dar a luz means...)
A
Hacerse de día.
B
Tener un hijo.
C
Alumbrar una habitación.
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