André Félibien

André Félibien. Relation de la Feste de Versailles. Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale, 1679.

Engraved illustrations.

Before the French Revolution, the heavy tax burden was shouldered primarily by the peasants and by the active bourgeoisie, while the aristocracy was generally tax-exempt.  Increasingly, high taxes were levied to cover the rising national debt, to pay the cost of foreign wars, and to fund court extravagance, as epitomized by the Palace of Versailles.  This particular portfolio commemorates Le Grand Divertissement Royal (the Big Royal Feast) organized in the gardens of Versailles on July 18, 1668. Following his military and diplomatic victory over Spain, Louis XIV decided to stage a magnificent celebration:  he spent on one day a sum equivalent to one third of Versailles’ expenses for the entire year!   

Link:British Library full digitization.