Friday, August 5, 2016

Places of the Revolution

From Geri Walton:
Located between the Palais des Tuileries and the Champs Élysées was the Place Louis XV (later called the Place de la Concorde). The square, which was originally a spot where market-gardeners grew cabbage and lettuce, was established and named in honor of King Louis XV. Ange-Jacques Gabriel designed the square and laid it out in 1755. The center piece was a statue commissioned by the city of Paris in 1748, sculpted by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after Bouchardon’s death. It was an equestrian statue of King Louis XV: “The king, crowned with laurels and arrayed in Roman costume, sat a top a prancing charger of bronze.”

After its creation, Place Louis XV was the site of many events, but in May of 1770, a haunting event occurred when the Dauphin (the future Louis XVI) married 14-year-old Marie Antoinette. In celebration of their marriage a fireworks celebration was erected in the square, and because of a variety of issues, there was only one way out thereby making the event dangerous for the spectators who thronged the square. During the celebration one of the firework displays tipped and set fire to other nearby displays. Because the spectators were so densely packed into the area and because there was only one way out, the celebratory event quickly became horrific: Many people were maimed, injured, or killed because they could not escape. (Read more.)

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