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HistoryThe big dates

1742 Visit of the embassy of the Sublime Porte

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11 January 1742

The embassy of the Sublime Porte was the first to be received in the Hall of Mirrors since 1715, and was welcomed according to a carefully laid down ritual. The stakes were high: an alliance of France with the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). The War of the Austrian Succession with France’s hereditary enemy had begun.

There had been no ambassador in the Hall of Mirrors since that of Persia in 1715. The habits had been lost when the arrival of Mehmed Said Pasha, ambassador of the Sublime Porte (Turkey), was announced. Louis XV got his secretaries to find the arrangements made in 1715 and the description of Dangeau, memorialist of the reign of Louis XIV, in his Journal. With the same concern for precedent, the place of the throne and the tribunes, the number of steps up to the platform and of carpets were studied with care. One problem remained: the place of the queen Marie Leszczinska! A queen had never before attended the reception of ambassadors in the Hall of Mirrors. She was finally placed behind a small tribune on the right.

The ceremony took place according to the rituals laid down by Louis XIV. Louis XV was seated on his throne with the Dauphin and the princes of the royal blood seated beside him. When he entered the Hall of Mirrors, the ambassador bowed once with his right hand on his chest. The king rose without showing his face. The ambassador bowed again in the middle of the Hall and then a third time at the foot of the platform. He was accompanied by four men: the interpreter, the presenter of ambassadors, the Master of the Horse and the Governor of Versailles. When he reached the floor of the platform, he paid his compliments to the king, who replied to him. The secretary of the ambassador, standing behind him, then stepped on to the platform and handed him the letter from the Grand Vizier. The ambassador held it out to the king who passed it to his Minister of Foreign Affairs. The ambassador then presented the Marshal of the embassy and his son. Then he stepped backwards down from the platform while the king greeted him, and he made his bows again in reverse order. Louis XV remained standing until he had left the Hall of Mirrors.

The letter of the Grand Vizier contained the support expected by France in its war against Austria. Its military situation was then at a low ebb. The king hoped that with the additional support of Russia and Prussia he could turn the situation around. Alas, peace had to wait until 1748.

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