Talon rouge

One aspect of the French Court, often leglected, was the habitual wearing of red heels by courtiers. This was a tradition begun by Louis XIV in 1673, were originally restricted to those nobles who had the right genealogical qualifications to be presented at court. It was a sign for those outside of court that the wearer had been to court at Versailles. Red heels remained part of the formal wear at the French court for the Royal family and the noblesse presentee, they can be seen in the portaits I have posted below.

The reasons which are normally given for the wearing of red heels are, they evocked a warning to the Kings enemies that they wourld be crushed beneath those loyal to His Majesty, and more a "republican" one... The nobles did not get their heels dirty. Most likely it was because Louis XIV liked them that way.

Above left: Louis XV in coronation robes by Hycinathe Rignaud

Right: Louis XVI in his coronation robes by Antoine-Francois Callet, 1779 . Take note that the heels are lower than those of Louis XV.

Left: Wedding of King Louis XIV of France to Marie-Therese, Archduchess of Austria, artist unknown. Although the heels of the King are not visable those of the courtiers are. Fashion dictated a higher heel for men during this period.

As Paul Harvey would say at this point, "Now you know the rest of the story".

Vive Le Roy

Occasionally I see reenactors wearing red heels. Personally I believe this to be incorrect that a mere Ensigne or Captaine would be presented to the King. Nobles who were of high enough geneology to be presented to the King would not settle for a captaincy or less, and would have considered those ranks beneath them. I could be wrong...

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