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Construction on the square began in 1605 and ended in 1612. The design of its 36 pavilions was overseen by Henry IV, who originally named it Place Royale. He requested perfect symmetry, four arcades and two rows of high windows for each pavilion. The square was built on the field where Henry II had been mortally wounded in a jousting tournament decades before. In 1639, a bronze equestrian statue of Louis XIII was erected in the square.
As the French Revolution broke out, names honoring royalty were no longer acceptable. This meant that the square changed names several times before 1792, when it was named the Place des Vosges in honor of the regiment of volunteers from the Vosges who saved the young French Republic from the invading Austrians. The statue of Louis XIII was also melted down.