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Although
it is easy to assume at face value that there is a connection between the
construction of the Palace of Versailles and the French revolution from a
financial and social angle, upon further inspection, discrepancies show, and it
becomes clear what the French people at the time of the revolution thought of
the palace. The Palace of Versailles was not a cause of the French revolution,
but rather a cultural icon left behind by one of the greatest of the French
kings, Louis XIV.

Before
what is known today as The Palace of Versailles was constructed, in the same
meadows and forests previously lied a simple hunting lodge that Louis XIII
decided to build in 1623. It wasn’t until Louis XIII began reconstruction of
the residence in 1631 that the Palace of Versailles really begins to take
shape. The king who is most closely tied to the palace and who is accredited
for the vast majority of the expansions to the palace was Louis XIV who was
also known as the Sun King. It became the royal residence in 1682. Interestingly,
from this year onward the palace was open to all who wished to enter, provided
they follow standard etiquette and carry no weapons. Inside, they could marvel
at all the fine art that Louis XIV and previous kings had amassed that were
strewn throughout all of the rooms of the palace. This was possible for any
subject of the king until the year of The French Revolution two kings later
under Louis XVI. This was in the year 1789, over one-hundred years after the
Palace of Versailles became the royal residence. Louis XIV made efforts to
promote French production and culture through the construction of Versailles.
One example of this is the hall of mirrors in which all 578 mirrors were
produced in France instead of Purchased elsewhere, in an attempt to keep the
wealth in France. The building costs of The Palace of Versailles are estimated
at over two billion US dollars, this being a low estimate.

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It’s
easy to assume based off the truly massive cost of construction, that it must
have spurred the king’s subjects toward revolution. This, however, doesn’t line
up with the timeline leading toward The French Revolution. Louis XIV, the
driving force for the construction of the Palace of Versailles died in 1715,
which is still almost 75 years before the start of the revolution. It begs the
question that if the people were truly upset with the king for the construction
of the palace, the revolution should have occurred under the rule of Louis XIV
or even Louis XV, but this is not what happened.

Some
could argue that the Palace of Versailles was seen as a symbol for the rich and
highest classes and the disparity between them and the middle and lower
classes, ultimately leading to The French Revolution. Even though it was
constructed long before the revolution, this point of view assumes that the
populace held back their contempt for such things until they had the voice to
have a revolution. When The French Revolution occurred, Louis XVI was
practically run out of Versailles with his subjects rioting and invading the
palace with torches and pitchforks. However, there is one interesting detail
about the dethronement and beheading of the King that this hypothesis
overlooks. The ‘miraculous’ survival of the Palace of Versailles. If it was
truly seen as a symbol against the common people, it would make sense to burn
it down, similar to the many structures and residences that were burned during
the revolution. This however did not occur, leaving the question: why? The
people saw the Palace of Versailles as a symbol of a king they did not hate
unlike the current king. They saw it as an example of French culture. The most
damage done was the selling of furniture to fund wars. About eight years later,
they were even considering utilizing the palace as a special museum of the
French school.

After
evaluating the large gap of time between the construction of the Palace of
Versailles and The French Revolution as well as the most conclusive piece of
evidence still around today, the palace itself, never torched or even damaged
from the revolution, it is clear that the palace was a symbol of a strong ruler
in a time the French people needed one, and not a spurring force toward
revolution.

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