The Sun King (New York Review Books Classics)
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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.
less habitable and he was able to take his family, some of the courtiers and the government officials. The ministers now had lodgings of their own so that they could bring the archives, many waggon-loads of them, as they always had to do when the Court went for the annual visit to Fontainebleau, and work there properly. Louis XIV, his wife and his mistress were comfortably lodged at last. He lived on the first floor of the old château, behind the windows of his father’s rooms which faced both
although retaining a certain Protestant manner during her devotions. She found the French Catholics less bigoted than the Germans! ‘Whoever wishes may read the Holy Scriptures and one is not obliged to believe in nonsense and stupid miracles. The Pope is not adored here and no value is set on pilgrimages and such things.’ Madame the second was a great blonde Teutonic tomboy; delicate little Monsieur seemed to be his wife’s wife. When he first saw her he told his friends, despairingly, that he
she respectfully begged that they might be allowed to stay where Good King Dagobert had placed them. The King told Mme de Maintenon that he could dislodge them with a lettre de cachet, but she thought that would be an unfortunate beginning for her scheme. So new premises had to be built and Mansart got to work, with the assistance of the army, which in times of peace, always provided builders for the King. Mme de Maintenon told him to design her a large plain house like a barracks; neither luxury
over her imagination, Mme de La Maisonfort could not imagine why she had ever hesitated to take the veil; not only she but most of the other Dames became as radiantly happy as they had hitherto been discontented. Mme de Maintenon, too, fell under Mme Guyon’s undoubted charm; she was grateful to her for what she had done at Saint-Cyr, which now seemed ready to fulfil all hopes. She singled out Mme Guyon for favours including a room of her own in the convent. A little set was soon formed there led
taking such violent action. Tellier told him that the convent was a nest of republicanism and this dreaded word may have decided him. He had much better have left the dying sect alone. The pointless persecution — especially the violated tombs of holy and famous people — only gave it an impetus. Jansenists attributed the King’s family tragedies of the next two years to this deed; but the King probably thought that the victory of Denain was his just reward for it. On 21 February the Prince de