Louis XIV is twenty-eight years old. In order to rule over the nobility and to permanently impose his absolute power, he launches the construction of Versailles, like one sets a trap. Louis XIV is a young king haunted by childhood trauma, the Fronde, a rebellion of the nobility against his father Louis XIII… Outstanding political strategist, manipulator, Machiavellian, he will “invent” Versailles in order to keep the Nobles away from Paris and under control; he is progressively transforming Versailles into a golden prison. He is also inclined to Romanesque passions, but how to live them out when one is the greatest king of the world? The first season follows the King as he turns into the Sun King: the King of the Kings. The historical and fictional characters, ranging from the most known courtier to the most humble villager, guide us through a world of betrayal and intimate secrets, of political maneuvers and war declarations, revealing Versailles in all its glory and brutality.
Louis has completed the first phase of his project, building the most beautiful palace in Europe where he will effectively lock up the nobility to exercise absolute control over them. Unexpectedly, his project turns against him. Versailles is riddled with corruption. Louis has created a new civilization, where the courtesans are desperate to get close to the Sun. Behind the rules of etiquette imposed on the court, they dream of elevating their social status, wealth and power. Any and all means of doing so are utilized which inevitably results in the deterioration of morality and the spread of dangerous and poisonous behaviour… Blinded by the love for his favorite courtesan, Madame de Montespan, Louis remains deaf to the Church’s injunctions. The greatest enemy that stands before Louis is no longer the nobility, nor Guillaume d’Orange, it is God who now threatens the Sun King.
At 28 years old, King Louis XIV of France is in sole command of his kingdom, following the death of his mother, Anne of Austria. Louis is a spirited and seductive man, an extraordinary strategist and an utterly ruthless statesman. He is haunted by childhood memories of a bitter coup, ‘the Fronde’, when the nobles attempted to overthrow his father, Louis XIII. Louis has a dream, an obsession: to build the most beautiful palace in all of Europe – Versailles. Symbolising all the splendor and glory of France, it is a place where he will be safe at last. The nobles crave entry to this lavish château, but its purpose is to imprison and control them. The first season of VERSAILLES sees Louis XIV grow from a young King into an all-powerful absolute monarch.
Philippe «Monsieur» Louis’ Brother
Louis’ younger brother Philippe, known as Monsieur, is a free spirit, an effeminate dandy and a ferocious warrior. To prevent him from overshadowing his brother, their mother raised Philippe as a girl and worked to curtail his natural leadership talents.
A lover of art and beauty, Philippe walks the gardens of Versailles dressed as a woman and willingly submits to the sexual whims of his lover, Chevalier de Lorraine. On the battlefield, he is a formidable soldier, able to win the support of entire regiments. This does not fail to arouse immense jealousy in his brother. To further complicate matters, Philippe’s neglected wife, Henriette, finds herself in
Henriette «Madame» Philippe’s Spouse
Sister of King Charles II of England, Henriette, known as Madame, is the wife of Philippe and the mistress of King Louis. Henriette fulfills her duties with grace and elegance. A delicate English rose, fully aware of her dynastic obligations, she is a cunning politician and a force to be reckoned with. Abandoned by her husband and mistreated by Chevalier, she gradually loses the heart of Louis, who is under the spell of the sublime Madame de Montespan. Desperate to secure the love of her life, she agrees to become a pawn on the political chess board, sealing the secret Treaty of Dover between France and England… such is the price of maintaining her position.
The show seamlessly weaves historical fact with fiction. As director Jalil Lespert says, “Certain events are totally insane and to begin with I thought they were pure fiction, yet they really happened.” Are you historically savvy? Test your knowledge by taking the Fact or Fiction quiz!
One surprising fact (or fiction) revealed per episode.