01. The king and his seductive perfume
02. The king and powerful perfumes
03. The king and perfume at the end of his life
The Sun King is one of the most famous kings in history. He made the Palace of Versailles truly world famous: pretty impressive! During the years of Louis XIV’s reign, the etiquette was particularly restrictive – everything he did had to be copied by nobles: this was non-negotiable. Similarly, other European courts systematically imitated the French court that became known as 'the Perfumed Court'.
The king and his seductive perfume
Many historical accounts confirm King Louis XIV’s passion for perfume. He initially used fragrances to flirt with women; perfume set him apart from other young men. Apparently, his crown wasn’t enough. During his reign, perfumery became an art form: Louis XIV wore perfumes with original scents that appealed to women. Noble women were familiar with certain scents that were relatively common in France but the King could afford extraordinary scents from far-away countries to really turn their heads. Too bad for the king’s rivals!
The king and powerful perfumes
King Louis XIV wore perfume throughout his life. He preferred perfumes with strong scents, made with musk. These robust fragrances were used to camouflage the body odor of the king and his court. The nobles of the time didn’t wash as often as we do today but it would be wrong to say that they never washed. Taking a bath was a complex task: large quantities of water needed to be brought in and heated for a comfortable experience. This didn’t encourage cleanliness. In addition, there was a wide-spread urban legend at the time that water could pass on various diseases; this meant that people didn’t really want to take baths in the 17th century. To avoid unpleasant smells, the nobles and King Louis XIV preferred perfume to baths.
At the time, the French court was known as “the perfumed court” throughout Europe.
Louis XIV was a particular fan of the scent of orange trees. These shrubs, which came from Asia and Europe, had a special status in his palace: he even had an Orangery built just for them! He wore perfume with an orange scent with obvious pleasure.
The king learned about the art of perfumery from his personal perfumer, Martial, and even created some of his own aromatic blends.
The king wore perfume on his clothes and his wigs, sprayed his favorite scents in his private chambers and on his furniture and had orange blossom displayed throughout the palace. He rubbed his body with fragrant essences and even added a few drops to his drinks to “purify” his body.
To create these blends, Louis XIV ordered that exotic plants should be brought back to France from all over the world by boat and encouraged his perfumers to innovate by providing them with financial support.
The king and perfume at the end of his life
The Sun King wore perfume throughout his life. Louis XIV died at the age of 76, an impressive age at the time, surrounded by perfume. It’s said that he no longer tolerated powerful perfumes in old age, preferring orange blossom water for a sweet flowery one like rose and jasmine. This royal change led to a shift in perfumery trends at the time, and inspired the nobility to opt for fresher, more understated lighter floral scents. The king set the trends, even at the age of 76.
If you want to smell like a king, Bon Parfumeur has created 001, an eau de parfum with orange blossom extract. Did you know about Napoleon’s love affair with perfume? You can learn about the history of perfume and the long-standing links between kings and perfume to find out more about this timeless product.