In France

Under Louis XIV all nobility gathered at Versailles at one point or another.[1] Quickly, most of the court was center at Versailles, a home built not only on their own land, but in Versailles as well. The most fashionable, well-to do social circles formed in this court, most of them with the king as their head. As Louis worked with his nobles many of France's policies came directly from the court to the king and to the rest of the world.

The best and brightest artists, musicians, and playwrights were called to the court, Louis was usually the patron, but nobles were as well. For dramatic plays Louis looked to Racine, for comedy: Moliere, and for opera and the newly created ballet: Lully. This artistic expression was regulated and shaped by royal academies. Official taste was all the mattered. Even Bernini was turned away after designing part of a palace and sculpture because he was what the officials thought was too ornate, despite the dazzling brilliance of Versailles.

At the court and anywhere in the country, Louis was very much against homosexuality, but it was at the time it was fashionable for young men to enjoy each others’ company rather than what they saw as the company of immoral women.[2]

Because of Versailles and Paris, which was still the capital, there was a split in social centers. As Versailles was the government and the court and Paris the people and capital. In Versailles women could only be prominent if they were Louis’s mistress or, later, extremely pious and obvious about it. Despite how present they were in elaborate rituals and manners they had little to no rights and no independence.

On the other hand, in Paris women, although they didn’t rule the city, ran it. They set up salons that became the center of society, gossip of all kinds, and freedom. In Paris the women were much more relaxed compared to the rigidity of court life, which had been rigid even before Louis arrived in Versailles when he banned one of Moliere’s plays that laughed at religion. After five years of rewriting the play was allowed again, but it never became particularly well liked in court.

Works Referenced

Chambers, Mortimer; Grew, Raymond; Herlihy, David; Rabb, Theodore K.; Woloch, Isser. _The Western Experience: Sixth Edition_. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991.
Russell, George H., prod. Versailles. Educational Network Videos. Videocassette.

1 All information is from the above named source, pages 535-6, unless otherwise noted
2 Russell