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Étienne de Montgolfier's aerostatic experiment at Versailles

Versailles, a place where science demonstrations were performed

Author(s) : Anonymous

Date: 18th century

Characteristics/Origins: Étienne de Montgolfier's aerostatic experiment at Versailles on 19 September 1783 with the king, queen and royal family in attendance, Versailles, bibliothèque municipale © château de Versailles, Jean-Marc, Manaï

Description:
Thanks to the Academy of Science, the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph (1740-1810) and Étienne (1745-1799), obtained permission to demonstrate their hot-air balloon at Versailles.
The balloon was released, rose to a height of approximately 500 metres, flew eight minutes and landed at Vaucresson with all the passengers safe and sound.

The king, who watched the ascension through a telescope from his apartment, received Étienne de Montgolfier and expressed his satisfaction. The demonstration was important for the brothers, ensuring them Louis XVI's support, but also for the king because foreign delegations were at the Court that day to sign the Treaty of Paris.

Versailles, place of scientific demonstrations


A scientist invited to make a presentation to the king and a demonstration in front of the Court achieved the supreme consecration, the equivalent of today’s Nobel prize. The scientists also hoped that their devices would be purchased by the Crown, or taken on by manufacturers because all capital, held by both the royal Treasury and individuals, was concentrated in the Court...

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