Modern Living: Franco-American Follies

The Chapel of Louis XIV at Versailles was resplendent on that morning in 1770 when the dauphin (later Louis XVI) married Marie Antoinette of Austria. Sunlight pierced the stained-glass windows, illuminating the frescoed ceiling and the embroidered brocades and silks of the guests—the aristocracy of Europe and a few lords from the colonies. It was a state affair, too sublime for common folk. Only nobles whose coats of arms bore many quarterings were permitted inside Versailles's marble walls and mirrored hallways. All went smoothly until a thunderstorm rained out a postnuptial display of...

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