Versailles is a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial centre. Located in the western suburbs of the French capital, 17.1 km (10.6 mi) from the centre of Paris, the commune of Versailles is the préfecture (administrative seat) of the Yvelines department. According to the 2006 census, the population of the city is 89,490 inhabitants, down from a peak of 94,145 in 1975. Versailles is historically known for numerous treaties such as Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War IThe etymology of Versailles is clear that the argument tends to privilege the Latin word versare, meaning "to keep turning, turn over and over", expression used in medieval times for plowed lands, cleared lands (lands that had been repeatedly "turned over"). This word formation is similar to Latin seminare ("to sow") which gave French semailles ("sowings", "sown seeds").
During the Revolution of 1788, city officials had proposed to the Convention to rename Versailles Berceau-de-la-Liberté ("Cradle of Liberty"), but they had to retract their proposal when confronted with the objections of the majority of the population.
A seat of power
From May 1682, when Louis XIV moved the court and government permanently to Versailles, until his death in September 1715, Versailles was the unofficial capital of the kingdom of France. For the next seven years, during the Régence of Philippe d'Orléans, the royal court of the young King Louis XV was the first in Paris, while the Regent governed from his Parisian residence, the Palais-Royal. Versailles was again the unofficial capital of France from June 1722, when Louis XV returned to Versailles, until October 1789, when a Parisian mob forced Louis XVI and the royal family to move to Paris. Versailles again became the unofficial capital of France from March 1871, when Adolphe Thiers' government took refuge in Versailles, fleeing the insurrection of the Paris Commune, until November 1879, when the newly-elected government and parliament returned to Paris. During the various periods when government affairs were conducted from Versailles, Paris remained the official capital of France.
Versailles was made the préfecture of the Seine-et-Oise département at its inception in March 1790 (at which time Seine-et-Oise had approximately 420,000 inhabitants). By the 1960s, with the growth of the Paris suburbs, the Seine-et-Oise had reached more than 2 million inhabitants, and was deemed too large and ungovernable, and thus it was split into three départements in January 1968. Versailles was made the préfecture of the Yvelines département, the largest chunk of the former Seine-et-Oise. At the 2006 census the Yvelines had 1,395,804 inhabitants.
Versailles is the seat of a Roman Catholic diocese (bishopric) which was created in 1790. The diocese of Versailles is subordinate to the archdiocese of Paris.
In 1975, Versailles was made the seat of a Court of Appeal whose jurisdiction covers the western suburbs of Paris.
Since 1972, Versailles has been the seat of one of France's 30 nationwide académies (districts) of the Ministry of National Education. The académie de Versailles, the largest of France's thirty académies by its number of pupils and students, is in charge of supervising all the elementary schools and high schools of the western suburbs of Paris.
Versailles is also an important node for the French army, a tradition going back to the monarchy with, for instance, the military camp of Satory and other institutions.
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