Love and Louis XIV

Love and Louis XIV

The Women in the Life of the Sun King

Book - 2006
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The superb historian and biographer Antonia Fraser, author ofMarie 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.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2006
ISBN: 9780385660624
Branch Call Number: ANF 944.033092 FRA
ANF 944.033092 FRA
Characteristics: xxviii, 388 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 24 cm


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Jul 10, 2015

This is a great gossipy history book. I have my B.A. in history and find that some books lack a historian's eye. This book is the opposite and even describes the details of Louis XIV wealth in interesting minutia. It is snarky. If you like the Tudors or the Borgias, you will like this book.

Jun 18, 2008

A highly entertaining and readable history of Louis XIV (1638-1715) and the many women in his life : his mother Anne of Austria, his mistresses Louise de La Valliere, Athenais de Montespan and Madame de Maintenon and other women in his life including his daughters, nieces and grandson’s wife Adelaide. Louis XIV was a dynamic King of France, as meticulous in his role war chief as he was in transforming Versailles. He was also reliant on the many women in his life to provide religious advice, sexual fulfillment and multiple heirs . The book explains the social hierarchy between mistresses and their great influence on the court. Little details enliven the book: Athenais de Montespan started a fashion of loose-fitting clothes to disguise her frequent pregnancies ;Madame de Maintenant , a pious woman said to be secretly married to the King, caused great consternation when was she wore royal ermine for a portrait . A lively, satisfying read that never bogs down.

Mar 25, 2008

I really didn't think I was going to like this book, but after the first 50 pages I was hooked. Extremely well-written, Ms. Fraser makes you care. The names, and their similarities, are a little overwhelming, but I persevered and learned a lot of history. Yes - the Royals really do lead a very, very different life than the rest of us. I find it amazing that the institution still exists.

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