The Trees of Liberty


For the exception of the big old avenues radiating from the Chateau, there are not too many green streets in Versailles. Yet the days of the French Revolution had witnessed a consistent effort on the part of the new civic authorities to give more shade to the city. This campaign was not entirely successful. It all had started in May of 1796 when the General Assembly in Paris created by one of its many decrees the Day of the Tree of Liberty. The City Hall of Versailles followed the instructions, but the very next morning all of the newly planted trees were either broken or pulled out with roots. The mayors wouldn’t give up and every spring the civil servants marched out with shovels in their hands to dig and replant where they dug and replanted the year before and the year before that and before… and so on. Banners were waved, speeches were made. Here is an excerpt from one of the tree-planting speeches,  “…and you, the enemies of the republican principles, one day you too will embrace the Tree of Freedom! And under its benevolent branches you will become true republicans, always generous, forever ready to stifle the feelings of vengeance, and as these trees sooth your pain, you will partake in their glory! Long live the trees! Long live the Liberty!” Well, as I have already mentioned, apart from the royal parks and those avenues originally laid out by the Sun King you will not see too many trees growing in the streets of Versailles.

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This entry was posted in Chateau Versailles, French Revolution, Gardens and Park, Louis XIV. Bookmark the permalink.

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