After reading about feudalism in the Middle Ages it became apparent that lords lived on their lands far away from the king and provided military services themselves in exchange for said lands. However, on many occasions they were more powerful than the king himself and held courts of their own.

But in 17th century France, Louis XIV wanted to centralize power in an absolute monarchy, and so lords were obliged to live in the Palace of Versailles or in the area for at least part of every year.

My question is, are there any other courts where lords lived in the palace with the king in a similar fashion in Europe? Was this the first example of such practice? My other question is, did these lords not go to war themselves? Which is to say did they stop providing military service themselves in favor of the kingdom's armies? Also, were these nobles connected to lands (like in feudal times) and their houses, presenting problems of the area and politics to the king?

  • In re: your "other question" why would the lesser nobles go to war separately from the Crown, wasn't that part of the reason Louis consolidated his nobles in the first place?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 14:29
  • 7
    Does the answer need to be "in Europe"? Because the Tokugawa shogunate employed a similar policy way before Louis XIV, forcing daimyos to spend much time at the court (and even having to leave an hostage when travelling home), so they could not effectively rebel. Check en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sankin-k%C5%8Dtai
    – SJuan76
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 23:24
  • This question seems to invite confusion: One can (incorrectly) interpret it as a question about, loosely speaking, the architecture (which was indeed widely imitated across Europe), while the actual question is about a social model (stripping nobles of their independence by bringing them to live in a court, which is one way to end the feudal system in a country). Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 17:04
  • Russia at the time of Catherine the Great would be a candidate. Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, built a retreat called Sans Souci that many consider a miniature "Versailles."

It was built at Potsdam, which is to say twenty miles or so away from Berlin, as Versailles was from Paris, to allow the king refuge from the capital. The estate featured a large park, fountains, and numerous temples for the king's strolling pleasure.

The Prussian state was very much modeled on the feudal system, with "the nobles connected to lands." But most of the (male) nobles were in the Army at some point in their lives. The way for the king to control the nobles from fighting each other was to control the (centralized) army, so hosting the nobles at Sans Souci was not as important to Prussia as it was to Louis XIV at Versailles.

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