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17 | 2020
Récits de voyages à Versailles, XVIIe-XIXe siècles

Workshop prévu le 23 mars 2020, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles (annulé en raison du contexte sanitaire)
Travel Writings on Versailles, Seventeenth-Nineteenth Centuries. Workshop originally scheduled for 23 March 2020 at the Centre de Recherche du Château de Versailles (cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic).

Travel writings in the form of private writings or published accounts have been widely studied, for instance by the Centre de Recherche sur la Littérature des Voyages (Université Aix-Marseille). A great deal of scholarly research has been carried out on travels in France, from the Middle Ages until the present day, divided into four categories:

– Works based on a global approach, which are usually older publications and often anthologies or bibliographies (A. Babeau 1885, G. Boucher de La Richarderie 1808).

– Works based on microhistory, such as monographs on a specific embassy or a particular traveller (for example D. Del Pesco 2011, Ö. Evsen 2016, C. Fohlen 1995).

– Works based on a national approach, which focus on travellers from a specific country or with a common culture, particularly the British (J. Black 1992 and 2003, P. Gerbod 1991, C. Maxwell 1932, K. Turner 2001, the Répertoire of the CRIDAF 1988, the database Women’s Travel Writing, 1780–1840: A Bio-Bibliographical Database), the Americans (G. Bertier de Sauvigny 1982, D. McCullough 2011), the Germans (S. Diezinger 1986, T. Grosser 1989, G. R. Kaiser 2017, B. Struck 2001), the Italians (J. Boutier 1994, A. Dupuy 1962) and the Russians (W. Berelowitch 1993, V. Miltchina and A. Ospovat 1990, L. Pingaud 1886).

– Works based on a spatial approach, with a focus on the places visited by the travellers. In France, this mainly concerns Paris (P. Lacombe 1887), but also sometimes the provinces (J. M. Goulemot, P. Lidsky, D. Masseau 1995 and 1997) and more specific regions (such as Corsica or the Alps).

The last approach has occasionally been applied to Versailles, first in the work of Robert W. Berger (1988) and of Hendrik Ziegler (2010), then with an international conference, European Travellers at the Bourbon Court of France (1594–1789): Differing Perspectives (2013–2014). Significant anthologies have also been published on the topic, concerning the period of the Ancien Régime, particularly Versailles. Histoire, dictionnaire et anthologie(M. da Vinha, R. Masson 2015) and the exhibition catalogue Visiteurs de Versailles. Voyageurs, princes, ambassadeurs, 1682-1789(Palace of Versailles 2017–2018; and the following year Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).

This body of research has given us a greater understanding of the material aspects of such travels, the encounter with a foreign land, reactions to places seen and people met, always taking into account the specific background of each traveller. This workshop aims to continue these studies, but on a broader chronological scale, from the reign of Louis XIV to the nineteenth century. We will be looking at the widest range of travellers possible: aristocrats on their Grand Tour, scholars searching to expand their knowledge, students on an educational trip, emigrants seeking to settle, ill people looking for treatment, tourists in search of discovery and entertainment. We wish to gather and compare the perspectives of authors from different areas of Europe, particularly Northern and Eastern Europe.

Our goal is to understand how Versailles, as a location and as a court, has been seen by its visitors and how perceptions have changed over time, depending on the political, religious, social or national culture of travellers. The research programme Court Identities and the Myth of Versailles in Europe: Perception, Adherence and Rejection (18th-19th Centuries)of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles, under the direction of Gérard Sabatier, focusses on these questions, aiming to understand how the myth of Versailles was shaped and grew, the object of both fascination and rejection, both through the image it conveyed and as its concrete achievements. The programme has developed a database named Visitors to Versailles, which collates the personal accounts of foreign visitors to the estate, palace and court of Versailles between the seventeenth century and the late nineteenth century.

Publication coordinators: Mathieu da Vinha, Flavie Leroux and Gérard Sabatier

Electronic publication: 8 December 2020

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