This essay builds on theories of space and power, addressing the question of how spaces can exercise pedagogical power with political effects. It focuses empirically on the gardens of Versailles in seventeenth-century France, when the park was used to promote the view of France as descendent of Rome and heir to its imperial destiny. The gardens were made an immersive environment of classically inspired art, architecture, and engineering in which visitors could experience France’s Roman heritage and courtiers could act out the classical legacy in plays and ballets. The pleasure and audacity of this Olympian fantasy world helped draw nobles into the new “figured world” of French empire, but equating France with Rome also legitimated state activism, allowing the balance of power in France to tip away from the nobility and toward the king and state.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.