An imperial visit at Versailles

In the 18th century international travel was far more expensive, dangerous and difficult than we can imagine today, and of course much slower. A princess who married into a foreign court might never see her family again. State visits by foreign monarchs were exceptional affairs.

Tsarina Maria Feodorvona Maria Dorothea of Wurtemberg

Tsarina Maria Feodorvona Maria Dorothea of Wurtemberg

The etiquette of Versailles, while specific on the reception of foreign ambassadors, was not adapted to visiting royalty. As a practical matter any such guests, whenever they did come to Versailles, elected to travel under transparent pseudonyms to avoid any awkwardness.

Thus Grand Duke Paul of Russia, future Tsar Paul i, and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna, née Sophia Dorothea of Wurtemberg, visited Versailles in 1782 under the assumed names of Comte et Comtesse du Nord. The Grand Duchess, later Empress Maria Feodorovna, had grown up in Montbéliard, an independent principality within French territory.

Elena Maria at Tea at Trianon has an excellent post on this visit.


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2 Comments to “An imperial visit at Versailles”

  1. Catherine Delors says:

    Thank you, Elena. Yes, note Paul’s bust on the table next to her.

  2. Thank you for the link, Catherine, and I love the painting!! It is sweet how Maria Feodorovna was genuinely in love with Paul; with the eyes of love she was able to see what other people could not.

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