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Accueil > VISITE DU PALAIS > Histoire > The Palace: from Robert II dubbed "The Pious" to Charles V

04 juin 2008

The Palace: from Robert II dubbed "The Pious" to Charles V


The first Capetians, with Robert II The Pious (996-1031), had the royal palace built as a symbol of sovereignty.

The king's residence is located in the eleventh chamber of the Appeal Court, between the first chamber of the court and the entrance to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The royal residence includes a rectangular central building, flanked on each side by a square tower. The tower on the right houses the king's courtyard, on the first floor. The central building has four rooms on the ground floor for the queen and four rooms on the piano nobile for the king.

A spiral staircase connects the chambers of the king and queen. This staircase was later used for transferring prisoners from the Conciergerie to the Parlement Hall.
After 1111, King Louis VI, called "The Fat", ordered the construction of the royal dungeon in the courtyard behind the king's residence. This dungeon is known by the name of "Grosse Tour" (it was later called the "Tour Montgomery": Montgomery was imprisoned and perhaps even executed there).

Philip Augustus was born in the palace in 1165. He was christened in the Chapelle Saint-Michel (the chapel was located on the site of the present public entrance).

During the reign of Philip Augustus, the name of "Parlement" was given to the king's private council. Also during his reign, the functions of bailiff and provost were created, and the University of Paris was founded.



The Montgomer towery


The Reign of Saint-Louis

Louis IX, dubbed "Saint-Louis", lived in the king's residence. He spent his wedding night praying in the King's chamber. He undertook several additions to the building: the Sainte-Chapelle, the Trésor des Chartes, the Chambre des Plaids, the Hall on the Water and the Bonbec tower.

The Sainte-Chapelle was built to house the Crown of Thorns. It housed religious relics. Further to a deal struck with Baldwin II, Latin emperor of Constantinople, Louis IX bought the relics that the Byzantine emperors kept at the sacred chapel of Boucoleon palace.

The Trésor des Chartes, a Gothic building adjoining the north side of the Sainte-Chapelle, has three floors. The first two serve as a vestry to the lower and higher chapels. The third floor is assigned to the library and the royal archives. It is the ancestor of the National Library.

A gallery, where the current Prisoner's Gallery and Merchant's Gallery are located, gave the king direct access to the higher chapel directly from his chambers. Access to the king's residence gained via a brass door that opens at the bottom of a 45-step staircase.



The Sainte-Chapelle
(upper chamber, lower chamber)


The New Palace under Philip IV (the Fair)

Philip IV (1285- 1314) commissioned Enguerrand de Marigny to rebuild the palace. The wall of the Cité was moved. Several buildings that stand either outside of the walls or between the wall and the palace were expropriated. The king's residence was remodeled. The Great Hall (the lobby) also called "prosecutor's room" or "Parlement hall", is the seat of Justice where the king holds the "Beds of Justice".

Philip IV created the position of "concierge", the guardian and keeper of the palace, for which the Conciergerie was erected. The Hall of the Men-at-Arms was built: it served as a mess room for the 3,000 people who formed the guard and the civil staff of the palace. The "concierge" was authorized to lease out space in the palace to tradesmen (which is the origin of the Haberdasher's Gallery).


The Parlement is where judicial cases were debated. It was made up basically of law technicians, qualified magistri (magistrates, lawyers).
Within the framework of executive justice, the Parlement was the highest authority, essentially an appeal instance. Up until the creation of the provincial Parlements, the king's court, seated in the palace on the Île de la Cité, was the only real court of appeal in France.

"In a room, on raised chairs on each side, are seated almost each day the men of State. They are named according to their function: some are masters in chambers, others are king's notaries. All, according to their station, obeying the orders of the king, work for the prosperity of the realm. By them are presented the petitions weighed with the scales of the most sincere equity. In a Grand-Salle, difficult cases are treated, they require the utmost tranquility and most complete retreat. Seated on their tribunal, men of the keenest ability, the masters of Parlement. With their infallible knowledge of the law and customs, they discuss the causes with full maturity and indulgence, hurl thunderbolts, and render definitive sentences."
(Excerpt from a eulogy written by John of Jandun in 1323.)

On the side of the defense, there are then around fifty lawyers.
The other chambers of parliament (petition chamber, investigation chamber, criminal chamber) played a secondary role.

The consulor of the Parlement of Paris

Charles V leaves the Palace

The walls of the palace witnessed a succession of kings up until Charles V, heir to the throne. On February 22, 1358, insurgents in Paris, under Étienne Marcel, the provost of merchants, penetrated into the chamber of the Dauphin, future King Charles V, then regent of France in the absence of his father, John The Good, who was being held captive in England. The king's counselors, Jean de Conflans and Robert Clermont, had their throats cut before the Dauphin's eyes in the Merchant's Gallery, their blood spattering onto the regent as the provost placed the hood bearing the red and blue colors of Paris on his head.

When Charles V was once more in control of the situation, he moved out of the palace, which held too many unpleasant memories, and henceforward took residences in the Louvre, the Hôtel Saint-Pol or Vincennes, outside of Paris. Around 1370, Charles V had Paris's first public clock installed on the Clock Tower. In 1378, he received his uncle, Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg in the Great Chamber. (The gown that the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal wears is the ceremonial dress worn by the king. It has remained essentially the same for more than one thousand years).



Etienne Marcel protects the regent




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