Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Royal Menagerie

The Royal Menagerie at Versailles
From Royal Central:
Marie Antoinette would not have been shocked by the number of animals at Versailles; she, of course, created her own private domain ‘en plein air’ at her hameau, the Petit Trianon. In keeping her own pets at Versailles, she was very much keeping up the tradition long established here, dating back to the reign of Louis XIV, with his beloved ‘sporting dogs’ – who had their own special room in the Palace, the Cabinet des Chiens – and of course, the Royal Menagerie at Versailles. This menagerie contained an elephant during the reign of Louis XVI; we know this because Marie Antoinette’s brother, Emperor Joseph II visited Versailles in 1777 and joked of the fact that there was a female elephant in the Austrian imperial menagerie – so, perhaps, the occasion for yet another alliance between the two reigning families: “We could make a marriage” (Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette, Pg 183). The Austrian imperial menagerie was, of course, the ‘Schönbrunn Zoo’, at the magnificent summer residence of the Habsburgs outside Vienna. Today, it is the oldest baroque zoo still in operation. (Read more.)

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