The monarchy in France has been confined to the history books for many years now but that hasn’t stopped the country’s government intervening to stop artefacts linked to its royal past being auctioned and possibly ending up overseas. The French Culture Minister has ensured that three items due to be sold by descendants of the former ruling house of France can’t now go under the hammer raising the question of whether important parts of a country’s royal history should be protected so that they can’t be taken abroad.
Fleur Pellerin has placed national treasure delegations on the trio of artefacts and the government now has 30 months to find the money to buy the items itself. If that happens, they will become part of the state’s collection and will probably end up being displayed in national museums.
The three items include a painting of King Louis XIII who ruled France from 1610 until 1643 and who famously worked alongside Cardinal Richelieu to govern the country as well as a portrait of the Duchess of Orleans and account books from the Chateau of Amboise, a residence favoured by France’s royals in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Members of the current Orleans family had put the items up for sale and other lots will still be auctioned by Sotheby’s on September 29th this year. That list includes a piece of a cloak worn by the famous 13th century king, Louis IX, who was canonized after his death – the only French monarch to have been made a saint. And drawings by the Sun King, Louis XIV, done while he was still a boy will also be among the lots – he would end up reigning for 72 years.
The sale is expected to raise around five million euros for the family who are one of several with a claim to the throne of France. But with that monarchy long since passed into history, it perhaps lives most vividly today through the place it has carved in its country’s history. And now the present day government wants to ensure that some parts of that story stay within France.