How good were the days when we went to salons....

We are in France in 1610 , the historic beginning of the 17th century. Louis XIII is king of France under the regency of Marie de Médicis. In 1643 Louis XIV , known as "the Great" or " the Sun King " succeeded him, under the regency of Anne of Austria. He is the 64th king of France, 3rd from the line of the Bourbons. He will reign until his death in 1715. In 1661, Mazarin his prime minister dies; Louis XIV then decides to reign alone surrounded by his Councils and perfectly embodies the Absolute Monarchy of Divine Right. Colbert then becomes its new prime minister. The construction of the Château de Versailles , a monumental place laden with symbols, enabled him to establish royal power. During this period, under the sign of greatness, France dominated Europe , both through its military victories and through its intellectual and cultural wealth.

The artistic currents of this period are the Baroque , which embodies the search for movement, exuberance, the refusal of norms; and the stable and balanced classicism , which is inspired by the models of ancient art.

The 17th century is called "The Great Century"

This century saw the birth of the Royal Academies . Inspired by Italy, and intended to frame cultural and artistic life. It is a gathering of scholars, scholars, engineers, men of letters and sciences (astronomers, mathematicians, physicists, anatomists, botanists, zoologists and chemists). The perfect alliance of power and knowledge.

  • French Academy (1635)
  • Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture (1648)
  • Royal Academy of Inscriptions (1663) which became the Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres in 1716
  • Academy of Sciences (1666)
  • French Academy in Rome (1666)
  • Royal Academy of Music (1669)
  • Royal Academy of Architecture (1671).

Did you say ..... intellectual?

The role of women in society is still minimal, if not non-existent.
However, within the king's court , where pleasure and puns occupy a privileged place, a few enlightened socialites and socialites will give birth to the first literary or so-called "conversation" salons . This movement is largely motivated by educated women of the court, " the precious ones ". It very quickly becomes a means for them to balance the male academic dogma. These salons appear as an extension of the humanist circles held by the great ladies of the Valois court.

Originally, these were regular meetings, in private Parisian mansions, between “people of good company”. These are meetings of literate men and women , from bourgeois or noble backgrounds . It discusses politics, literature, news, journalism, morals... The tone is intended to be light and innocuous, propriety plays a central role .

The salons, undisputed judges of the successes to come!

Little by little, these fairs are taking on a very important place and are becoming the obligatory place to go! The indisputable reference for arts and culture . They create a feeling of belonging to "one society, one circle ". You have to have your entrances, they are private, reserved for elite minds, unlike literary cafes, such as Procope, which are accessible to the public.

The greatest authors and philosophers have tried it; hoping to see their books, articles, works published as well as their career start. We meet Corneille, La Fontaine, Molière, Blaise Pascal, Bossuet, or even Racine there .

The first literary salon was that of the Hôtel de Rambouillet , in 1620, its hostess the Marquise de Rambouillet , known as "Arthénice", received guests in "La Chambre bleue". This salon which will close its doors in 1665, at his death. The most famous are :

  • Conrart's "men's salon" in 1629, which came under the protection of Richelieu and gave birth to the French Academy
  • At Miss de Scudéry, "Sapho", who receives in her house on Saturdays
  • The salon of La Grande Demoiselle , Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans, cousin of Louis XIV
  • The salon of La Marquise de Maintenon in 1652, widow of the poet Scarron. She will secretly marry Louis XIV in 1683
  • and of course that of Madame de Lafayette , she will be all the more famous following the scandal caused by the publication of her book " La princesse de Clèves " in 1678.

History being an eternal restart! In view of the atmosphere that reigned in these literary salons, the fashionable executioners of the "Devil wears Prada" suddenly become children at heart! Don't social networks sometimes take on the air of a living room, or at least try it out by imposing a compulsory passage to make their way to success! Using new codes, unfortunately often far from gallantry, propriety, or even literary fashions!

1 comment


Superbe idée ! Les articles nous font entrer dans l’atmosphère si particulière et feutrée de Lèse Majesté. Après cette lecture, on a forcément envie d’en savoir davantage, à quand le suivant ?

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