Louvre Carousel's origin: king Louis XIV showed off and became the Sun King

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Extract from Louis XIV, Les arts, les idées (1896) - ©The British Library / Public domain Extract from Louis XIV, Les arts, les idées (1896) - ©The British Library / Public domain
Carrousel arch Arch Festivities Louis XIV Louise de La Vallière

Big party!

Aaah, Louis XIV looked really nice, on his white horse, proudly caracoling. Ladies chuckled and tried to be the centre of attention. But Louis only had eyes for his beloved La Vallière. He was 24 years old, he met Louis the blonde 2 years ago.

She was his first official mistress! And for his lover, Louis really did things properly: he gave a two days party, in June 1662. A blowout set between the Louvre and the Tuileries garden. This party’s name? Carousel.

A carousel?

A carousel is an equestrian parade where riders in quadrille do figures. Primitively, it was a military parade reserved for noblemen with lots of mythological and allegorical performances. A fashion coming from Italy (carousel comes from the Italian word carosello). It replaced the medieval tournaments: the first carousel took place in France in Paris, in the reign of Henri IV.

Quadrilles and a sun

In short! Let’s get back to the Tuileries carousel. This one took place in front of the Tuileries palace, in a vast fence who was later named Place du Carrousel (Carousel square). We had 5 quadrilles marching: the king leading the Romans. His bro leading the Persians, prince of Condé the Turkish, duke of Enghien (his son) the Indians.

Duke of Guise, the Americans. In all, 1300 participants and... 12 000 spectators! Then the course des têtes (a type of jousting, tilting games on horseback) took place. Oh, you know what?

We read this in the book Mlle de La Vallière, études historiques sur la cour de Louis XIV (Arsène Houssaye): on that special day, Louis XIV received his Sun King nickname, because of the armour he wore, decorated with the star and with this motto Nec pluribus impar, Not unequal to many...


And also!