How much did it cost to build the Palace of Versailles?

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Louis XIV wanted to increase his power. To do this, he knew he had to undermine the independence of his top aristocrats, who lived far away on their own estates. They lived like mini-kings, ruling their domains without asking for input from the king. In fact, they wanted to maintain...

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Louis XIV wanted to increase his power. To do this, he knew he had to undermine the independence of his top aristocrats, who lived far away on their own estates. They lived like mini-kings, ruling their domains without asking for input from the king. In fact, they wanted to maintain their independence. This, Louis thought, must change.

To effect this change, Louis transformed a hunting lodge or chateau into a magnificent palace outside of Paris, in the village of Versailles. He wanted his nobles to be forced to come to Versailles and stay there for long periods in order to get patronage from him, and knew his palace had to be a magnificent showcase for this to occur. He also needed to rely on state funds as well as his private wealth to build such a lavish place.

The palace cost upwards of two billion dollars to construct. Most of the expense was in materials, as labor costs were very low in those days. Louis XIV succeeded in increasing his power through building the palace and could justifiably say, as he did, "I am the state."

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The chef d'oeuvre [major work] of seventeenth French classicism, the Palace of Versailles, an expression of Louis XIV's absolute power, was built at great expense to the French people.  It is estimated that 60% of France's revenue [in today's money this would be approximately $2 billion dollars] was expended on this extragant venture which also cost many of the workers their lives as they contracted malaria from the swamp land on which the palace was constructed.  Because there was not enough water for the many fountains the Sun King wanted to run all the time, messengers ran ahead of him when he took a stroll through the formal gardens and grounds.  The alerted serants turned the fountains on and off as the king passed them. 

There were three major figures involved in the construction of this magnificent edifice which was formed from the highest grade of materials:  Louis le Vau, the chief architect; Charles LeBrun, the interior designer; and Andre leNotre, the landscape architect. 

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