Versailles is a Franco-Canadian television show about the life of King of France Louis XIV from the year 1667 onward. Although it was primarily made by French television network Canal+ (with Canada's Incendo as a minority partner), it was shot entirely in English so that it could have wider international distribution, and it is the most expensive French television series to date due to it being filmed on location at the Château de Versailles. The first season was aired in France on November 2015 through Canal+ and on Super Channel in Canada, on May 2016 in the UK through BBC 2, and on November 2016 in the United States through Ovation TV. The second season premiered in France in March 2017, and the third and final season was broadcast in April 2018. Since December 2016, the complete first season is available on Netflix and since 2018, the second season as well.
The royal court is in Paris, but Louis the 14th goes to his hunting lodge, and then refuses to go home. He has a dream of making Versailles into the royal court, the pride of France. Everyone tells him that's crazy, it will never work. He says he's the king and Screw the Rules, I Make Them!. So he brings his whole Court Full of Long Haired Pretty Boys and the Mistresses to Versailles and sets up the Decadent Court there.
There's a characters page.
Even when the inspiration is the same, this series is not to be confused with The Rose of Versailles nor the Visual Kei group Versailles. Following the end of the series, Canal+ ordered a Spiritual Successor also set in Versailles about one century later, Marie Antoinette.
Versailles provides examples of:
- Anachronistic Soundtrack: a fair amount of the music is basically synthwave.
- Artistic License History: While the show did have a historical consultant, some plot points, like the Queen's baby, were based on rumors at the time, and others were entirely made up.
- Babies Make Everything Better: High mortality rate and dynastic needs means that the Royal needs as many legitimate children as possible. King's mistresses also want to have babies to ensure his favor.
- Battle of Wits: Louis and William of Orange spend two nights in a convent having one of these.
- Big Fancy House: The Château de Versailles, the series shows this hunting lodge in the middle of a forest being transformed into one of the most luxurious and famous palaces of Europe.
- Blood from the Mouth: Someone on the production team must love this trope. Masson, Henriette, Marchal and a minor courtier all vomit copious amounts of blood, then die.
- Camp Gay: Philippe—although there's also the thing with him being emasculated so he doesn't threaten his kingly brother. His boyfriend, the Chevalier, also qualifies.
- Covert Group: There is a secret circle of nobles who want to kill the King, kidnap the Dauphin and take control of the country.
- Decadent Court: Naturally, Versailles was infamous as a center of intrigue and scandal. This is especially pronounced in the second season, which focuses on the Affair of the Poisons, a massive scandal that caused the death and downfall of many aristocrats, such as Madame de Montespan.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Henriette: Swims in the lake, then goes indoors and to have sex with Louis.
- Claudine: Performs an autopsy.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Chevalier de Lorraine is not referred to by his actual name, presumably to avoid confusion seeing as there already is a Philippe, who happens to be his lover, no less.
- Gilded Cage: Once a noble has arrived at the palace, s/he cannot leave unless the King allows it.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: Truth in Television, as there was a concerted effort by Louis to make Versailles the most fashionable court in Europe.
- Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: Amusingly subverted between the Chevalier and Princess Palatine. He asks her if she thinks he's a coward and she immediately says: "yes." Then he complains that she could have at least hesitated.
- It Will Never Catch On: Everyone says this of making Versailles into the home of the royal court.
- Kissing Cousins:
- Henriette is Louis and Philippe's first cousin. She is Philippe's wife and Louis's mistress.
- Queen Marie-Thérèse is even worse. Her mother was the sister of Louis's father, and her father was the brother of Louis's mother, making them double first cousins.
- Heir Club for Men: The Bourbon Dynasty follows Salic Law, so those descending from a sovereign through a woman were excluded from succession to the throne. Princesses were good for alliances, but not to rule the country.
- Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Louis's valet Bontemps. He loves his job so much it becomes bedtime stories for his son.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Louis, Philippe and the Chevalier are the foremost examples, but all the men have long, wavy or curly hair, and a fair number of them are pretty.
- Maternal Impression: Discussed Trope. This is suggested as a possible explanation for a Chocolate Baby, although it's such a painfully weak excuse that no characters give the idea any credence.Doctor: As for the condition of the child, I have an explanation.
Louis: [sarcastically] I cannot wait to hear it.
Doctor: As You Know, sire, Her Majesty has enjoyed the company of a little blackamoor, Nabo. She liked to play games with him—peekaboo and so on. As I understand it, sire, shortly after Her Majesty fell pregnant, Nabo hid behind a piece of furniture and jumped out upon her to give her a surprise. And he gave her a look of such force that it served to corrupt the royal womb with darkness.
Louis: [sarcastically] It must have been a very penetrating look.
- The Mistress: There are a lot of them. It almost borders on a Royal Harem.
- Oh, Crap!: In season two, when the Queen's regency has locked up the palace wine cellars, several courtiers led by Montespan and Lorraine go out into the palace gardens for a late-night party. Unfortunately, it gets too rowdy, and one of the party-goers accidentally drowns in one of the fountains, she was Colbert's niece.
- Old Friend: Rohan to Louis. Rohan is secretly the ringleader of a plot against his "old friend".
- Praetorian Guard: The king is always surrounded by at least a pair of Musketeers.
- Right Through His Pants: Seems to be a Versaille favourite. The girls do a least get their skirts hiked up, but the men always seem to be ready to go with barely a stitch of clothing out of place.
- Royal Blood: At least half the characters can claim this.
- Royal "We": Louis pulls it on his brother during an argument in the first episode.
- Scenery Porn: Come on, this was shot at the actual Castle of Versailles.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Philippe at the end of Season 1. Season 2 begins with him sulking at his personal home, the Château Saint-Cloud.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Claudine, following her appointment as the King's doctor. It doesn't fool anyone.
- Tangled Family Tree: The royal families of England, France, and the Netherlands are all related, and pretty much all high-ranking marriages are between people who are related to some degree.
- Theme Tune: "Outro" by M83 plays during the opening credits.
- Those Two Guys: The two most prominent members of Louis's government, Louvois, the Secretary of War, and Colbert, the Comptroller-General of Finance, share most of their scenes together.
- Vicariously Ambitious: Philippe's boyfriend wants him to be king much more than Philippe does.