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*Includes contemporary accounts of the Tuileries
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
“The massacre followed the sacrificial logic of the scapegoat: unable to vent their violence upon its intended object, the king, the revolutionaries chose victims who symbolised the sovereign power of the king and whose deaths could serve to unify the people… The destruction of the Swiss Guard allowed the revolutionaries to usurp and transform the royal notion of the body politic. This outcome is captured by reports the massacre of the Swiss was accompanied by cries of ‘Vive la nation!’, replacing ‘Vive le roi!’” - Jesse Goldhammer
Since the earliest days of civilization, people have built homes not just for shelter, but to proclaim their status in the world. There is evidence from the earliest known cultures that one way in which rulers showcased power was by building a more elaborate home than those around them had. Through the centuries, as homes grew larger and better furnished, those in charge had to make their homes even larger and furnish and decorate them even more, to the extent that by the time of the Middle Ages, some homes were actually castles designed to withstand combat and allow entire communities to survive attacks by invaders. Though the need for such large dwellings eventually passed, the desire for them did not, and so the castle gave way to the palace, a building the size of a castle but as elegant as its owner could afford to make it.
France, like all European countries, has had its fair share of palaces over time, but suffered the rise and fall of fortune like the Tuileries. Built by a widow with a flair for architecture, it grew for more than a decade, along with the royal family that it housed. Then, during the French Revolution, it fell from grace with that family and even became a sight of execution, its famous gardens providing the background for the infamous guillotine.
Though the French Revolution came to a close at the end of the 19th century, the revolutionary spirit remained alive in France, and with it the desire to overthrow whatever government happened to be in power. With the ruler living at the Tuileries, it became the symbol of the government, so in 1830 and again in 1848, crowds attacked and pillaged the palace. While it survived these two attacks, it was not so lucky in 1871, when a mob finally burned it to the ground.
Today, all that is left of the once glorious Tuileries is it extensive gardens, a place that still provides a touch of beauty and calm in the midst of a bustling city. So popular are these gardens with Parisians and tourists alike that there is some talk of trying to rebuild the palace itself, and to recreate its glory and elegance. While many feel that this would be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, given that the heyday of palaces is well in the past, others believe that getting in touch with the past, and its slower, more gracious style of living, would still appeal to modern generations.
The Tuileries Palace: The History and Legacy of France's Famous Royal Palace chronicles the remarkable history of one of the world’s most famous palaces. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Tuileries like never before.