The Place de la Concorde was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Élysées to the west and the Tuileries Garden to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. The square showcased an equestrian statue of the king, which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris, sculpted mostly by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after the death of Bouchardon. During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Révolution or Place de la Guillotine. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed. In 1795, under the Directory, the square was renamed Place de la Concorde as a gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution. During the reinstitution of the monarchy the name changed but after the the July Revolution of 1830 the name was returned to Place de la Concorde and has remained the same since. Measuring 8.64 hectares (21.3 acres) in area, it is the largest square in Paris.
Boxes are an invention that probably predates recorded history, but were certainly present after the Neolithic revolution with a more sedentary lifestyle. By the Middle Ages every home had at least one chest given as part of the bride’s dowry. The chests in the Middle Ages were usually pretty simple affairs but that all changed in the Renaissance. The emergence of a wealthy merchant class meant that the the chest had to be more ornate, more expensive and bigger. The cassone (“large chest”) was one of the trophy furnishings of rich merchants and aristocrats in Italian culture, from the Late Middle Ages onward. The cassone was the most important piece of furniture of that time. It was given to a bride and placed in the bridal suite. It would be given to the bride during the wedding, and it was the bride’s parents’ contribution to the wedding. The casson pictured above would have been an extravagant wedding gift. I have collected photos of a number of beautiful chests and cabinets from around the world, from different time periods and I will show them here along with some very interesting history.
Charles X (1757–1836) ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1824 until 1830. A younger brother to Kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile and eventually succeeded him. On May 29, 1825, King Charles X was anointed at the Cathedral of Reims, the traditional site of consecration of French kings. It had been unused since 1775, as Louis XVIII had foregone the ceremony to avoid controversy. Charles' decision to be crowned, in contrast to his predecessor, Louis XVIII, proved unpopular with the French public. His rule of almost six years came to an abrupt end in 1830 due to the July Revolution, which ignored his attempts to keep the crown in the senior branch of the House of Bourbon and instead elected Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans as King of the French. Once again exiled, Charles died in Gorizia, Austria. His successor, Louis Phillipe, opted not to have a coronation. The French government broke up and sold off most of the French Crown Jewels after 1875, in hopes of avoiding any further royalist agitation against the newly restored republic.
Because the Kings of France were crowned at Reims, the Archbishop of Riems was one of the most powerful men in France. The cathedral had all the usual Objects of Catholic worship but because the church is so old, powerful and wealthy, the objects are similarly ancient and precious. The royal treasury's most remarkable objects are Charlemagne's talisman (9th century) and Saint Remi's chalice (12th century). The Sainte-Ampoule, or “holy flask”, contains the holy oil with which new kings were anointed during the coronation ceremony. In addition the Palace of Tau contained all of the coronation regalia, most of which were either taken to Paris or melted down during the French Revolution. Fortunately many pieces were hidden and saved both during the Revolution and the two World Wars. The treasure, which is very rich in precious reliquaries, chalices, and other pieces of goldsmith's work, was saved from the fire of September 19, 1914, by the Curé of the Cathedral and one of his abbés. After being temporarily placed in the house of the Cardinal, it was evacuated in 1915, at the order of the Historical Monuments Department. The Coronation items from Charles X are also located here.