The Origins of Parties

Our century is known for organizing the best parties in the world and we can admit it, it is not completely false. But that doesn’t mean that in the past, people didn’t know how to organize a party. On the contrary, things were done in a big way!

At the time of François I people already knew how to party. Whole rooms were covered with gold, giant buffets were served, and hundreds of nobles sang the praises of their king.

Of course, There is no DJ, no glitter, and there is only one star: The King. He is revered by the people who believe him to be the incarnation of God on Earth. He is envied by the court who only dream of replacing him at the slightest misstep. François I, emblematic builder of the castles of the Loire Valley, understood it well. To be loved, you have to celebrate. From this time, organizing parties each one more grandiose than the others almost became a duty to the kings. This last task is important. Organizing court parties means designing, scenographing, creating the sets, costumes, lights and sound effects, inventing the machinery… It is above all to stage the royal power. Giving a party in front of foreign ambassadors – who are as many spies – is a way for Francois I to show his power. So, to celebrate himself, the young sovereign, aged 23 hired Leonardo de Vinci, a man not like the others. He was an Italian painter and a man of universal spirit, at the same time artist, organizer of shows and parties, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, sculptor, architect, urban planner, botanist, musician, poet, philosopher and writer. The king installed Leonardo de Vinci in Ambroise at the Manoir du Cloux, a small brick and white stone castle. He grants him an annual pension of one thousand écus – a fortune! – and honors him with the title of “First Painter, Engineer and Architect of the King”. Leonardo De Vinci is an extraordinary magician. During the three years he spent at Le Cloux – now the Château du Clos-Lucé – he organized at least four sumptuous parties. The most splendid is the “fete du paradis”, which took place from the 17th to the 19th of June 1518.

In the garden, Leonardo de Vinci decided to amaze the sovereign and the French court by creating “a night in the night”, in the open air, at dusk. Imagine on the esplanade, sheets stretched over several dozen meters reproducing the Milky Way! Imagine gold-colored artificial planets and signs of the zodiac that seem to move as if by magic. The tent is sometimes plunged in the shade, sometimes illuminated by candelabra. We recognize there the work of the artist engineer, who hides his gears under a double ceiling in order to make these stars and planets turn. François I is literally placed at the center of the universe, representing God on Earth, who can alternate day and night as he pleases. This representation of the celestial vault and all the effects, leaved the guests speechless. During the party, the courtyard and its guests danced, dine around a banquet, stroll through the gardens, marvel at the special effects… Of these young men who seem to fly thanks to pulleys; of these actors declaiming worms, dressed with threads sewn of gold in their fabrics, to shine with a thousand lights. A music which one qualifies as “soft and smooth” bathes the whole.

All of Leonardo de Vinci’s talents are revealed in this party. Engineer, mechanic, creator of musical instruments and costumes, inventor of the helicopter and the paddle wheel, he is all of these at once. His polymorphic, multi-card genius finds in this enchantment a marvelous field of expression. The artist shows, as never before, that he perfectly embodies this “universal man” so dear to the Renaissance. Inside the kingdom, these sumptuous, surprising, enchanting celebrations tell the people that the king commands the world and remind them of the divine origin of his power.

Less than a year later, on May 2, 1519, Leonardo de Vinci died, at Le Clos-Lucé, near his masterpieces and joined the celestial vault that he had so sumptuously represented.

The Kings of France also bet on frenzied days and evenings to better control their territory. François I wishes to redecorate his warrior coat of arms. In the years 1510-1520, France was isolated in Europe. He then desperately tried to get closer to the sovereign of the English Channel: Henry VIII. But to put him in his pocket, he had to pull out all the stops because the Hundred Years’ War between the two nations had only ended 70 years earlier. A real cockfight is then taking shape in Calais, occupied at the time by the English. On one side Henri VIII built a city with ephemeral glass palaces made of sumptuous stained glass and wood, a town hall and even a cathedral. On the other side, Francois I had 400 tents and pavilions of a huge camp embroidered with gold and silk thread. Let the parties begin…Several French lords would have even gone so far as to sacrifice their forest, their meadows or their mills to make clothes of an unprecedented richness. For the banquet, the cooks needed 100,000 eggs, 3,000 sheep and lambs, 800 calves and 300 steers (…) sprinkled with 66,000 liters of beer and 200,000 liters of wine. A total of 18 days of festivities passed before the English sovereign finally chose to sign an agreement with the French enemy, the King of the Holy German Empire Charles XV.

A few years later, Louis XIV takes back the crown of the king of parties. Louis XIV adopts the strategy of “entertain for better reign” and makes these festivals weapons. Therefore, for the education of the Dauphin, Louis XIV gave a large place to celebrations and entertainment which, according to him, are part of the art of governing. To better receive his guests and show his power throughout Europe, he will have the famous Palace of Versailles built. At his installation, a whole week of festivities is declared, and this is how during the year 1668, the greatest parties of Louis XIV have taken place in Versailles, the most sumptuous he ever gave and the ones which are, per excellence, the “fêtes de Versailles”. For a week, the court is offered a succession of entertainment (carousel, ring race, head race, theater, ballet, fireworks, snacks, walks, lottery…) In fact, it is on this occasion that, for the first time, Molière plays Tartuffe. Nerveless the castle is still under construction; the festivities are breathtaking. The festivities organized over the centuries at the Palace of Versailles are exceptional moments in the history of the palace and in the history of art.

Thereafter all the kings and queens organized parties very often and each more important than the others. It is necessary, for the extraordinary of the royal events, always more greatness, surprise and fantasy, in order to amaze the court, the kingdom, Europe. Some traditions will also take place during the years. Even though they spend a fortune on festivities, it is their duty to entertain the court and their guests, and this is what will play a major role on if they are loved or not.

The party is more than ever precious for royal weddings. On the contrary to nowadays, the festivities lasted several days.Colossal budget, monumental dress, decadent feast … Wedding has always been a priority in the life of crowned heads. With them, this day is not just big… but excessive! Many guests, especially those of high rank, traveled to the weddings. It was THE party not to be missed and everything had to be sumptuous.

Like every little girls dream, Many of you have probably dreamed of a royal wedding and lucky you we can make your dream come true!! Why not organize your royal wedding in France and enjoy all that French art de vivre has to offer? Nothing is stopping you!

CTH Events Paris is here to support you in the organization of this day and offers you a multitude of services and packages, such as the “Wedding in a castle”, for your wedding in France and you wedding in Paris.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or simply if you feel like it. We are listening to each of the wishes of our future newlyweds or simply curious and passionate about marriage.

If you liked this article, take a look at our News section , you might be interested of the “How to plan your wedding”.

Don’t forget to Follow us on Instagram !