The home of famous French kings such as Louis XIV and Louis XVI , the Palace of Versailles is a national symbol of France filled with beauty and grandeur. Indeed, the palace under Louis XIV was one of the grandest palaces in all of Europe. However, while Versailles was the home of the Bourbons, and thus a symbol of what was then one of the most powerful empires on earth, the palace was also a smelly heap of filth and squalor, rivaling the filthy streets of Paris itself.
Although the Bourbon’s spared no expense in the expansion and upkeep of Versailles, the main problem was that the palace and grounds had little in the way of sewage and bathroom facilities. As the center of the Kingdom of France, Versailles was often filled with courtiers, VIP’s, there to petition the king, or ask for favors and handouts. There were also hundreds of commoners who were spectators and tourists. In addition, another 2,000 people made Versailles their permanent home. With a lack of bathroom facilities, it was not uncommon for people to use the grand and ornate hallways of Versailles as places to relieve themselves, urinating or defecating behind columns or in Versailles’ many archways. Dogs and other pets also left their droppings, not to mention other animals that might be brought by commoners who sought audience with a government official. When the English politician Horace Walpole visited Versailles, he noted
“Versailles was a vast cesspool, reeking of filth and befouled with ordure…The odor clung to clothes,wigs, even undergarments. Worst of all, beggars, servants, and aristocratic visitors alike used the stairs, the corridors, any out-of-the-way place to relieve themselves. The passages, the court yards, the wings and the corridors were full of urine and fecal matter. The park, the gardens and the chateau made one retch with their bad smell.”
Versailles beautiful courtyards and gardens were also not immune to the filth, often being used as a corral for animals by visitors, and as a dumping ground for garbage and sewage. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had their own rooms and apartments deeper within Versailles, often accessed by a network of secret doors and hallways which connected to the public common area. However, even the king and queen’s personal quarters were not free of the stench and filth. One other major problem was that Versailles’ chimneys did not draw out air very well, so much of the inner rooms of Versailles were covered in soot and ash from its many fireplaces.
Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI hated living in the filth at Versailles, especially Marie, after having a chamber pot accidentally emptied on her, which was casually thrown from a window out to the courtyard. To get away from Versailles, Marie Antoinette had a quaint village built a mile away from the palace, which often served as her residence.
Today, Versailles is hardly the cesspit of its early past. Rather, as a national treasure it is fastidiously kept and preserved. Proper pluming was installed in the early 19th century, so there is no longer any need for tourists and visitors to leave their human wastes in the hallways.
Some Tristhad for Tristhad Week: Offer Up at AO3 (6.5k)
For the wonderful @loshka, who gave me the prompt of galahad initiating an orgy with a bunch of roman soldiers in the tavern where tristan is trying to eat which I loved and which has become, honestly, one of the filthiest things i have ever written ever…
From over in the more bustling part of the fort’s courtyard, rising between the clash of bowls and click of dice, and the grumbling and boasting of warriors at rest, comes the loud, raucous cackle of Galahad’s laughter, and then a harsh clatter – he’s standing up, and his kicked his stool over.
Tristan, sitting in a quiet, shadowed corner, isn’t close enough to see the boy’s eyes. But he knows that they will still be shining too brightly - fever-sparkling, fierce with all his strangeness.
Sipping his ale, Tristan tilts back his head and allows himself the indulgence of a sigh, here in his own patch of darkness where none can see.
Not that anyone is looking at him, most especially not Galahad, who has all day – all week, all month, always – made a big show of when he looks at Tristan and when he very purposefully does not.
Sometimes this can be amusing. But today was long and cold and bloody – nothing special, and the worse for it, just a grim grind, more ice-cold mud than anything, thought the brief bloody parts stick with barbs in his memory – and Tristan does not have the patience for being loathed or poked at any more at present.
Five Woads, Tristan killed today. Warriors, or would-be warriors, or perhaps just people frightened and stirred up and running out of choice.
Twenty-three attackers altogether fell upon the patrol when they tried to pass through the valley, and it had been a desperate group, for whatever reason. No time, of course, between attack and reaction, to determine if it had been driven by some particular goal or fear.
Such episodes are only growing more common, these past months. Tristan needs to speak to Arthur about that, about what it portends.
Across the courtyard, Galahad has now smashed his pottery mug on the ground, shouting something in anger or irritation at whoever it is he’s cornered to talk to now. Tristan looks over despite himself – Dagonet is the one who’s listening and nodding, his hands full with Bors’ youngest whilst Kelda sees to the tables.
During the long ride back to the fort in the bitter wind, Galahad had argued with Gawain and Lancelot about the rights and wrongs of killing in the cause of defeat. Which is to say that Galahad had expressed opinions that were more Roman and more Christian in their origin than he would ever likely admit, and Gawain and Lancelot hadn’t bothered to do more than retort idly back at him in response. Galahad likes to speak of good and evil, Tristan has long learned, as though his tunic skirts make him a priest indeed, with some power to pronounce on the rest of them.
And Galahad had certainly pronounced then, and loudly, and had kept looking back to where Tristan rode some way behind the little knot of would-be philosophers, as if daring a response.
Half the time – most of the time – being the embodiment of Galahad’s distaste amuses Tristan and he feeds it idly with insults and insinuations, but today was too long, too much, one time too many. Despite what Galahad might think, Tristan is not the only man who has ever killed another, and killing well, efficiently, swiftly, is nothing for which anyone of sense should feel ashamed.
Oh, Tristan can relish a kill, can find a certain satisfaction in victory at its most absolute, but a killing is like a meal, and may be sour or ill-timed or inadequate or gratuitous or sickening, even as it can be nourishing.
And - to extend the comparison - both can be improved or ruined by the company in which they occur, and Galahad is no good for Tristan’s digestion.
As they had ridden homewards, Tristan had begun to tense himself more than once to set his heels to his horse’s flanks and speed on to meet Galahad’s words and looks in person, and tell him to close his mouth or let Tristan close it for him, and give them all some peace.
But that was what Galahad had wanted, and Tristan is not in the business of giving Galahad what he wants.
As we celebrate different forms of punk filmmaking today, I’d like to celebrate the King of Filth, John Waters. He is surely one of my favorite directors, but also one of my favorite humans to ever grace this universe we call home. He has been a pivotal figure in queer and transgressive cinema since the 1960s and has garnered cult status because of it. He’s also HILARIOUS. Some of his films include: Mondo Trasho, Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Polyester, Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Serial Mom, Pecker, Cecil B. Demented (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE), and A Dirty Shame. Also his favorite film of all time is Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975). Go look it up, thank me later.
Another fantastic piece of news regarding Waters, his hard-to-find film Multiple Maniacs has been deemed fit for restoration by Janus Films who are responsible for The Criterion Collection! Hopefully we can see a blu-ray release chocked full of amazing extras in the near future.
Now I will leave you with some of the wonderful wisdom that has been uttered by this truly wonderful man:
“Get more out of life, see a fucked up movie.”
“Without obsession, life is nothing.”
“I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty.”
“I stopped taking drugs when I realized that pot smelled bad and LSD trips were becoming like TV reruns. I had had enough inner journeys — I felt I knew myself well enough, thank you.”
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”
“I’ve always said that in the film world you have to pretend eight million people are gonna love it and in the art world, if eight million people love it, it’s really BAD. So it’s the reverse aesthetic, in a way.”
“’How could you think of such awful things?’ liberal critics always ask. ‘How else could I possibly amuse myself?’ I always wonder.”
“To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits while watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation. But one must remember that there is such a thing as good bad taste and bad bad taste.”
“Unfortunately I think that ‘The Golden Age of Trash’ is over. I think hardcore (porn) ruined it, and I think Hollywood co-opting violence ruined it. Because those were the two things that you really couldn’t have, and what was the staple of all drive-in movies was sex and violence. Now Hollywood makes them, so there’s no rules left to be broken.”
“My porn name, if you’re supposed to take your middle name and the name of the street you grew up on, would be Samuel Clark. That’s not a very good porn name.”
“Going to a sensational murder trial is the only way I can relax.”
“If you’re not sure you could love your children, please don’t have them, because they might grow up and kill us.”
“Maybe it’s time that we use humor for political actions. If there’s a local politician against gay marriage, let’s send scary drag queens to his house to yell fashion insults at his wife.”
“If you’re in Hollywood and you’ve taken a script to the studios and they say it’s too gay, well get your gay screenwriter friends and go back to the studio and yell out the grosses of all their hetero flops.”
“I’ve been called the Pope of Trash… I’ve been milking that title for years, and maybe that’s why I feel infallible.”
“I pride myself on the fact that my work has no socially redeeming value.”