Make War, Not Love

After the death of Colbert, Louvois was no longer just the Minister of War, but also the Surintindant des Batiments du Roi. In other words, he was combining the functions of the Minister of Defence with those of the Chateau Versailles Building Manager. This has soured his relationship with the king. And we know how obsessive Louis XIV could become about his structures. His was a truly pragmatic approach to architecture: building it up, raising it down. 

There he was in the middle of building and destroying Le Grand Trianon. The porcelain roof which looked great on paper, in real life has dwarfed the palace; so that thing had to go; once the roof was taken down, the king had noticed that one of the windows was off. We can imagine the following dialogue,”Minister, this window seems a bit crooked.” “Uhm, looks fine to me, Your Majesty…” “I am telling you, it’s crooked.” “Well, I do not see anything wrong…” “Crooked!” “How is it crooked when it is just like the other one…” “Then they are both crooked!” “In that case, they are all crooked…” “Precisely!” “And so they call a gardener and make him take measurements and it turns out that the king is right, and God damn, this is not some kind of a Parthenon….

The embarrassed and frustrated Minister comes back to his office, throws himself into his chair and says to his clerks, “I can’t take this stupid job anymore. What we need is war. War man, war!” And by God, he did get a war, and it was the most difficult and expensive conflict of the century, complete with the devastated economy, hunger, pestilence and peasant rebellions…. All the silver at Chateau Versailles was melted down to pay for that war, and there was a lot of silver, we are talking about silver furniture! and for sure, there was not a single building project going on well till the end of the reign.  


About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
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