Could you be a courtier to the Sun King at Versailles?

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1. Life at Versailles

Welcome to the Palace of Versailles – the most spectacular palace in Europe. In 17th Century France, Versailles was a great royal city housed under a single roof – the roof of Louis XIV, the self-styled Sun King and absolute monarch.

When the monarch turned 27, he started to transform his father’s hunting lodge into a lavish royal residence. He moved his government from Paris to Versailles in 1682 and expected his nobles to join him there too, enabling him to keep an eye on his potential rivals. The nobles obliged and were soon jostling for the king’s favour, hoping to secure their place in the Versailles court hierarchy.

But it was no easy task – life at Versailles was a complex world of customs, rituals and etiquette, and one wrong move could see you lose the king’s favour or be consigned to social obscurity. Discover what it took to be a successful courtier and try our quiz to see if you could survive.

2. Louis' life in numbers

Louis XIV in numbers

Louis’ reign was the longest of any monarch in Europe’s history. Although he was engaged in costly wars at the end of his reign, he still left the French crown in a more secure position than when he assumed power.

3. WATCH: Faux pas and epic fails

Life at Versailles involved a strict daily regime of rituals and etiquette. If you got it wrong, you knew it. Watch the story of a courtier who failed to impress at Versailles.

Clip from How the Get Ahead: At Versailles (2014, BBC Four).

4. QUIZ: Could you cut it as a courtier?

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