Vaux-le-Vicomte

By Cook Posted on History


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This Chateau was built by Nicolas Fouquet, who was head of Paris’ finances. It is said that his fortune was amassed by mixing his own with the state’s. In 1656 he decided to build a palace to show his worth. He chose the greatest talents of the period. The architect Louis Le Vaux was commissioned to design the building, Charles Le Brun assisted by Girardon, was commissioned for the interior and André Le Notre fashioned the landscaping.
 
 The building, with over 18,000 workers, took about five years to build and was completed in 1661, with a total cost close to $10 million. The palace looks the same today as it did back then.
 
 Nicolas Fouquet, working under Mazarin, counted on taking over his superior’s position until Louis XIV decided to take power into his own hands. He had however, used poor judgment all around, alienated other men of power and even made advances at one of the Kings favorite mistresses, Mademoiselle de la Valliere. By May the decision to arrest him was made. On August 17 the unsuspecting Fouquet decided to throw a lavish dinner party to impress the young Louis XIV. The entertainment, the decorations, the food were sumptuous, with the entire dinner being served on solid gold service. Unfortunately, Fouquet had forgotten that he had melted down the royal silverware in order to pay back the debt of the Thirty Years War. His plan backfired and the King became jealous and humiliated at the extravagance displayed. This provoked the King to look closer at Fouquet, and in no time the embezzling was discovered.
 
 While visiting Nantes, the overreaching Fouquet was arrested on September 10th and exiled to Brittany where he was put under lock and key. All his property was confiscated. Louis then took the "Dream Design Team" and brought them to Paris to begin work on Versailles. Fouquet was later sentenced to life imprisonment.
 
 Vaux-le-Vicompte remains a masterpiece of the earlier Louis XIV style. A style combining lateral pavilions, high roofs, numerous chimneys and a raised ground floor. This style was the influence all over Europe for the next century and a half. Each year the gardens are replanted according to Le Notre's drawings, maintaining the beauty of the property.

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