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The superb historian and biographer Antonia Fraser, author of Marie Antoinette, casts new light on the splendor and the scandals of the reign of Louis XIV in this dramatic, illuminating look at the women in his life. The self-proclaimed Sun King, Louis XIV ruled over the most glorious and extravagant court in seventeenth-century Europe. Now, Antonia Fraser goes behind the well-known tales of Louis’s accomplishments and follies, exploring in riveting detail his intimate relationships with women. The king’s mother, Anne of Austria, had been in a childless marriage for twenty-two years before she gave birth to Louis XIV. A devout Catholic, she instilled in her son a strong sense of piety and fought successfully for his right to absolute power. In 1660, Louis married his first cousin, Marie-Thérèse, in a political arrangement. While unfailingly kind to the official Queen of Versailles, Louis sought others to satisfy his romantic and sexual desires. After a flirtation with his sister-in-law, his first important mistress was Louise de La Vallière, who bore him several children before being replaced by the tempestuous and brilliant Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan. Later, when Athénaïs’s reputation was tarnished, the King continued to support her publicly as Athénaïs left court for a life of repentance. Meanwhile her children’s governess, the intelligent and seemingly puritanical Françoise de Maintenon, had already won the King’s affections; in a relationship in complete contrast to his physical obsession with Athénaïs, Louis XIV lived happily with Madame de Maintenon for the rest of his life, very probably marrying her in secret. When his grandson’s child bride, the enchanting Adelaide of Savoy, came to Versaille she lightened the King’s last years – until tragedy struck. With consummate skill, Antonia Fraser weaves insights into the nature of women’s religious lives – as well as such practical matters as contraception – into her magnificent, sweeping portrait of the king, his court, and his ladies. From the Hardcover edition.
The Sun King is a dazzling double portrait of Louis XIV and Versailles, the opulent court from which he ruled. With characteristic élan, Nancy Mitford reconstructs the daily life of king and courtiers during France’s golden age, offering vivid sketches of the architects, artists, and gardeners responsible for the creation of the most magnificent palace Europe had yet seen. Mitford lays bare the complex and deadly intrigues in the stateroom and the no less high-stakes power struggles in the bedroom. At the center of it all is Louis XIV himself, the demanding, mercurial, but remarkably resilient sovereign who guided France through nearly three quarters of the Grand Siècle. Brimming with sumptuous detail and delicious bons mots, and written in a witty, conversational style, The Sun King restores a distant glittering century to vibrant life.
“The Splendid Century,” penned by the brother of famous author C. S. Lewis (“Alice in Wonderland”), is a depiction of various aspects of life in France during the reign of Louis XIV, gleaned through the author’s thorough research of records, correspondence, and journals of the time. Using anecdotal evidence, the book probes in detail various facets of life in France during this time, including the lives of nobles (particularly those at court) as well as commoners, religious institutions and conflicts, the organization of the French army and its restructuring, rural life and city life, what life was like on galley ships and passenger sailing ships, how doctors were trained, and the state of women’s education. The author also discusses the background behind Louis XIV’s policies, illustrating their impact on French civilization, both during this time and for generations to come. A must-read for anyone interested in French history.
In her superb new biography, Hilton chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, known as "the real Queen of France," who reigned as official mistress to Louis XIV during the most glorious period of "the splendid century."
Published to coincide with the opening of the eponymous exhibition at the Fan Museum in 2004, this text presents an insight into the social, cultural and political life of the Court of Louis XIV. It is centred on the gardens of Versailles and the role played by the fans in presenting and promoting all aspects of Louis' reign.
On 16 November 1671, Liselotte von der Pfalz, the nineteen-year-old daughter of the Elector of Palatine, was married to Philippe d'Orleans, "Monsieur, " the only brother of Louis XIV. The marriage was not to be a happy one. Liselotte (known in France as Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchesse d'Orleans, or "Madame") was full of intellectual energy and moral rigor. Homesick for her native Germany, she felt temperamentally ill-suited to life at the French court. The homosexual Monsieur, deeply immersed in the pleasures and intrigues of the court, shared few of his wife's interests. Yet, for the next fifty years, Liselotte remained in France, never far from the center of one of the most glorious courts of Europe. And throughout this period, she wrote letters - sometimes as many as forty a week - to her friends and relatives in Germany. It is from this extraordinary body of correspondence that A Woman's Life in the Court of the Sun King has been fashioned. As introduced and translated by Elborg Forster, the letters have become the remarkable personal narrative of Liselotte's transformation from an innocent, yet outspoken, girl into a formidable observer of great events and human folly.

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