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Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun Kingby Antonia Fraser
Synopses & Reviews
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-Therese, 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 Valliere, who bore him several children before being replaced by the tempestuous and brilliant Athenais, marquise de Montespan. Later, when Athenais's reputation was tarnished, the King continued to support her publicly as Athenais left court for a life of repentance. Meanwhile her children's governess, the intelligent and seemingly puritanical Francoise de Maintenon, had already won the King's affections; in a relationship in complete contrast to his physical obsession with Athenais, 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 Adelaideof 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.
Fraser, acclaimed historian and 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.
Louis XIV, the highly-feted “Sun King”, was renowned for his political and cultural influence and for raising France to a new level of prominence in seventeenth-century Europe. And yet, as Antonia Fraser keenly describes, he was equally legendary in the domestic sphere. Indeed, a panoply of women — his wife Anne; mistresses such as Louise de la Vallière, Athénaïs de Montespan, and the puritanical Madame de Maintenon; and an array of courtesans — moved in and out of the court. The highly visible presence of these women raises many questions about their position in both Louis XIVs life and in France at large. With careful research and vivid, engaging prose, Fraser makes the multifaceted life of one of the most famous European monarchs accessible and vibrantly current.
About the Author
Antonia Fraser is the author of numerous novels and historical works including Marie Antoinette, The Wives of Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, and Faith and Treason. She is also famous for her Jemima Shore series of mysteries. She and her husband, Harold Pinter, live in London.
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