Weird History

Royal French Manners Were So Weird That You Could Pee Directly In Front Of The Queen

Versailles etiquette was as complicated and ornate as the furniture and artwork filling the great chambers of the French royal palace. The smallest details of life at court, including personal hygiene, were dictated, regulated, and policed. But more often than not, court etiquette at Versailles was more bizarre than it was dignified.

The palace of Versailles was meant to awe. In 1682, King Louis XIV officially moved his court to Versailles, which had previously been a royal hunting lodge used for entertaining. Louis transformed the structure into an opulent, palatial symbol of French monarchy. With its exceptional gardens, impressive hallways, and larger-than-life artwork, Louis and subsequent French kings used Versailles - which wasn't quite as glamorous as it may seem in retrospect to display their authority. From the Sun King to Marie Antoinette, Versailles was the center of the royal world - and remained so until the French Revolution changed everything.

Versailles was also a world unto itself, with a wild system of etiquette built on hierarchy and rank. The rules at Versailles were clear: every single courtier was there to lend their service to the king and become part of the elaborate court rituals that clearly defined the nobility’s place.

While it is true that Versailles rules were rigidly enforced, 17th and 18th century French etiquette could also be ridiculous. Weird French court etiquette - and not just the king - apparently ruled at Versailles.