The Palais-Royal (English: Royal Palace), originally referred to as the Palais-Cardinal, is a palace located in Paris, France. Constructed as the personal residence of Cardinal Richelieu, the building was later bequeathed to the royal family.
From 1780 onward, the Palais-Royal was under the stewardship of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, the cousin of King Louis XVI. Struggling with debts, he decided to open the gardens of the palace to the public and line the three arcades with shops, which he let out to restore his finances.
This proved to be a success, with the complex becoming one of the capital's most popular gathering places, known for its theatres, cafes, gambling dens, and prostitution. However, the extensive amount of illegal activity at the palace provided the Templars with a cover for a smuggling operation; the Parisian Brotherhood subsequently sent agents to recover the stolen treasures.
The Palais-Royal also featured an unusual timepiece known as the solar cannon, designed by watchmaker and inventor Robert Rousseau in 1786. The contraption allowed strollers to set their watches, as it fired exactly at noon when triggered by the sun's rays.
By the time of the French Revolution, the Palais-Royal had grown incredibly popular. On 12 July, 1789, Camille Desmoulins instigated an uprising at the palace's Café Foy, fearing that King Louis would crack down on the rebellious Third Estate after the dismissal of finance minister Jacques Necker. This uprising indirectly led to the storming of the Bastille three days later.
On 21 September, 1792, Maximilien de Robespierre celebrated the proclamation of the Republic at the palace's Café Février. Only a few months later, on 20 January, the Templar Louis-Michel le Peletier was killed at the café by the Assassin Arno Dorian, shortly after the decision to execute the king had been made official. As the revolution entered a more radical phase, the palace's name was changed to Palais de l'Égalité.
Later that year, the palace's solar cannon was tampered with by Colonel Charles-Louis de Ludre de Frolois, in an effort to fire a projectile into scientist Gaspard Monge's laboratory, triggering an explosion. This would set back Monge's research and prevent him from winning a competition organized by the Academy of Sciences, which Frolois himself aimed to win. However, an innocent passer-by named Alexandre Loissac walked in front of the cannon as it fired, foiling Frolois' plan and killing Loissac; Arno subsequently investigated the murder and brought Frolois to justice.
In 1800, the palace was the site of a Royalist plot to kill Napoleon Bonaparte using the "infernal machine". Tasked with Bonaparte's protection, Arno and a team of Assassins infiltrated the complex to find out who was behind the attack.