From Marie Antoinette’s lesbian affairs to the Sun King’s gay brother, Versailles bristled with sexual intrigue while the grounds were a hotbed of raunchy encounters.
Homosexuality and lesbianism is woven into the history of the Palace of Versailles and into the lives of its most famous residents. The magnificent palace on the outskirts of Paris is a camp baroque masterpiece that defined elite tastes for a hundred years and still influences them today. But look a little closer, and you will see homosexual history hidden in plain sight in its art and artefacts.
The Falcon-Loving Founder, Louis XIII
Louis XIII became king of France at just nine years old. And from his teenage years he preferred the company of male courtiers to women. Charles d’Albert, the young Duke of Luyens, was his particular favorite. While it’s not certain the two had a sexual relationship, it is widely rumored. We do know they shared another passion – hunting. Among the titles Louis granted Charles was Grand Falconer of France. Caring for the king’s hunting birds was a great honor.
Luyens died of a fever while fighting Protestants in 1621. But the king kept hunting. And in 1624, that was to change the shape of a small village 20kms southwest of Paris – Versailles. Louis, then in his early 20s, decided to build his hunting lodge there.