French Ambassador Opens Trinity College Library Exhibition on Louis XIV

Posted on: 21 October 2011

The French Ambassador to Ireland, Emmanuelle d’Achon, recently opened a new exhibition in Trinity College’s Long Room entitled Trouble magnificence: France under Louis XIV.  The exhibition, which is dedicated to France under Louis XIV, looks at various aspects of French life in the seventeenth century including taxation, warfare, trade and religion.  These themes reflect some of the aspects of French culture that continue to have some influence on European thought and values.

Under Louis XIV, France became the most powerful land in Western Europe.  The considerable territorial expansion was achieved through a series of wars which were costly in both lives and money.  By the end of the reign in 1715, the state was almost bankrupt.  Despite the warfare, there were immense cultural achievements such as the dramas of Corneille, Molière and Racine; great architectural achievements such as the building of the Palace of Versailles, and musical accomplishments such as the operas of Lully.   In common with many other countries, there was repressive legislation against religious non-conformists who in France were the Huguenots.  This culminated in 1685 in the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1598 which had granted limited toleration.

The exhibition, which was curated by Dr Charles Benson who recently retired as Trinity’s Keeper of Early Printed Books, is entirely drawn from the rich visual and textual resources of the Trinity College Library which has the finest collection of seventeenth-century French books in Ireland.  Dr Benson was honoured as a ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ from the government of France in 2010 in recognition of his work in developing and promoting resources for the study of French at Trinity College Dublin.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Mme d’Achon said: “Thanks to the outstanding work of staff on all sides, I am delighted to see that cooperation between Trinity College Dublin and the French Embassy has gone from strength to strength over the years.  In 2012, we wish to develop this cooperation with you by lending our support to conferences, seminars, and lectures given by French speakers, encouraging research and questioning on a range of subjects such as political science, philosophy, economy, and literature.”

The exhibition is open daily to visitors and will run in Trinity College’s Long Room until April 1st 2012.