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8-08-2015, 16:08

Royal Palace on the Ile de la Cité

On the Ile de la Cité, the island in the Seine at the heart of Paris, the principal royal palace and the administrative center of the growing French kingdom was built west of the cathedral of Notre Dame. A residence had stood on the site since Merovingian times, giving the site an aura of antiquity and established power. The palace as it evolved was not one but several buildings, including a twelfth-century great tower (today the Tour Bonbec) and chamber block, the thirteenthcentury chapel (the Ste.-Chapelle), a merchants’ hall, and a hall attached to the tower overlooking the river (the Salle sur l’Eau) built by Louis IX. In the 1290s, Philip IV added more specialized government buildings—a royal audience hall and hall of justice (the Grand Salle). In the great hall the king held court, received guests and petitioners, and held state receptions and banquets. He and his advisers administered justice, so the building also had to function as a courthouse and prison. Of course, the royal residence and gardens were luxurious. The castle reflected a social system that continued even as the actual forms of government—and power—changed. The Knights’ Hall at Mont St.- Michel, even without tapestries on the walls and benches near the fireplaces, helps us imagine the appearance of the royal halls of Paris.

 

 

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