Secret Histories: The Open Sewers of The Palace of Versailles Part One


The Palace of Versailles is most likely internationally renowned as one of the most exquisite fortiments of Royal habitation that exist today. The splendid decor of furnishings and alabaster marble that aligns each square footage of the prestigious dwelling is a true representative of how the former French Monarchy were meant to live. Not to exclude of mentioning it’s staggering cathedral archways suspended in mid air supported by statuesque high rising marble columns; which solidifies in observation as a remarkable architectural feat. However that is the way it may be seen through the modern perspective lens in books,stock images,or photographs from tourists snap shots. Lo and behold what may or not be known to the 21st centurion, is that within the same Versailles palace of the 18th century, it possessed one of the most unhygienic soiled corridors in the most ‘magnificent” places of it’s time. How could such a horrific systematic practice take place? The simple fact is that it was the 18th-century.

This centennial period lying between the Baroque era of the religious Reformation (17th century) and the the birth of the Romanticism period(19th century) was a particularly prolific time forming Science and Reason better known as the Enlightenment period. The early 18th century became a catapult launch for superlative thoughts, rationalisms and multi-dimensions of intelligentsia of the interior mind. Unfortunately the internal factions of sensibilities never really challenged the public,domestic matters of hygiene or health during the Enlightenment Period. Truth be told, hygienic practice did not exist at all until well after post-Revolution mid Napoleonic I rule. Establishments like the Du Louvre, Palais Fontainebleau, and other state government communal s in Paris, were essential public forums of meeting places. These were working, integrating, eating, and “taking care of your bodily functions” all in the same local area; which were mainly in the corridors. A present day comparison to this would be a shopping mall. The only difference is that the 18th centurions had no barriers or areas of distinctions of sealing off a proximity to itself that would serve as a “WC” or Restroom. Both men and women would address their “business” in a chamber pot directly in front of their colleagues and dispose of the waste outside the window onto the cobblestone street below. Sadly enough the same occurred at the Palace of Versailles. This makes this far much more distasteful of occurring at royal grand palace versus that of a statesmen building. Reason of that being is that these supposed hierarchal noble men and women of the court who reflected virtuous habitudes of elitism were openly displaying their results of bodily functions in front of the most powerful man and woman in western civilization, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.

The Court of Versailles would have been an assembling gathering of the entire royal family including in-laws, counts,dukes,duchess,nobles,aristocratic state officials, and any other visiting royal family of the European crown. It was a large place of congregation in which no one at court or even the palace staff found it imperative that the King and Queen to have moments of preserved privacy. All figures of the French royal family including King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette were viewed by their surrounding Versailles subjects as open public figures. They were widely revealed with really no place to hide or so it seemed. The corridors of Versailles served as an open pedestrian traffic way, which was used for traveling back and forth,mingling,eating, sleeping and yes as open lavatories. Most likely these public corridors were rarely ever mended to or at least not under the surface where filth was buried deep. The height of bacteria and germs inevitably would spread to such proportions(especially during high temperatures) that it would result to an intolerable stench. If one were to to take a modern day microscope, it would be probable to find massive compound of viruses and diseases powerful enough for the Palace of Versailles to have their own embodied plague unto thyself. Interestingly enough there were ways that such things would never come to pass at least not at Versailles.

End of Part One