Absolutism describes a form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by all other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites. To achieve absolutism one must first promote oneself as being powerful and authoritative, then the individual must take control of anyone who might stand in the way of absolute power. The Palace of Versailles helped King Louis XIV fulfill both of those objectives. Versailles used propaganda by promoting Louis with its grandiosity and generous portraits that all exuded a sense of supremacy. Versailles also helped Louis take control of the nobility by providing enough space to keep them under his watchful eye. The Palace of Versailles supported absolutism during King Louis XIV’s reign through propaganda, and control of nobility.
One of the most important elements of Versailles that affected Louis XIV’s reign was the use of propaganda. The Palace contained “paintings, statues, tapestries” (Page) and a general grandness that significantly promoted Louis’ name. Louis himself was a “prominent subject in the artwork” (Montclos 330) and was portrayed as handsome and god-like. Even in the aspects of the Palace where Louis wasn’t literally being represented, the grand nature of Versailles sent out a message that the King was living lavishly, and was therefore very powerful. Louis XIV used the grandiosity of his Palace and the art inside to promote himself to his people.
A key use of propaganda in Versailles was the depiction of Louis XIV in paintings. Often, artwork in Versailles depicted him as handsome and god-like, he was even portrayed as gods themselves, such as “Apollo or Jupiter” (Constans 109). This god-like image affected Loui...
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... move, defunding any revolts they might plan, and preoccupying their time with petty social matters instead of matters of the state. If Louis’ reign was not supported by the enabling qualities of the Palace of Versailles, his reign would certainly not be as absolute as it was.
Barter, James. The Palace of Versailles. San Diego, CA: Lucent, 1999.
Constans, Claire, Xavier Salmon, and Jean-Marc Manaï. Splendors of Versailles. New York: Welcome Enterprises, 1998.
Hibbert, Christopher. Versailles. New York: Newsweek, 1972.
Mason, Antony. Versailles. Milwaukee, WI: World Almanac Library, 2005.
Montclos, Jean-Marie Perouse De, and Robert Polidori. Versailles. New York: Arbatras, 1991.
Page, Thomas M. "Age of Absolutism." Professor Page's Faculty Web Page. 20 Aug. 2009. Web. 9 Feb. 2011.
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