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Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun Kingby Antonia Fraser
Synopses & Reviews
Gift from Heaven
They saw in the arms of this princess whom they had watched suffer great persecutions with so much staunchness, their child-King, like a gift given by Heaven in answer to their prayers.
-Madame de Motteville, Méeacute;moires
The first woman in the life of Louis XIV — and probably the most important - was his mother, Anne of Austria. When Louis, her first child, was born on 5 September 1638 the Spanish-born Queen of France was just short of her thirty-seventh birthday. This was an age at which a royal princess might well expect to be a grandmother (Anne herself had been married at fourteen). The Queen had on the contrary endured twenty-two years of childless union. Anne, as she told a confidante, had even feared the annulment of her marriage, since childlessness was one possible ground for repudiation according to the Catholic Church. In which case the former Spanish Princess, daughter of Philip III, would either have been returned to her native country or possibly dispatched to govern the so-called ‘Spanish' Netherlands (approximately modern Belgium), as other princesses of her royal house had done, most recently her pious aunt, Isabella Clara Eugenia.
The birth of a child, and that child a son - females could not inherit in France under the fourteenth-century Salic Law — meant that the whole position of his royal mother was transformed. It was not only the obvious delight of a woman confronted with ‘a marvel when it was least expected', as the official newspaper Gazette de France put it. It was also the traditionally strong position of any Queen of France who had produced a Dauphin, an interesting paradox in the land of the Salic Law. This strength derived from the claim of such a Queen to act as Regent should her husband die during the minority of her son; a rule which had applied to Louis XIII's mother when Henri IV had died, and the dominating Catherine de Méeacute;dicis in the previous century.
It was a situation that had already been envisaged at the time of Anne of Austria's betrothal in 1612. In poetical language the future Queen was described as the moon to her husband's sun: ‘Just as the moon borrows its light from the sun . . .’ the monarch’s death means that ‘the setting sun gives way to the moon and confers on it the power of shedding light in its absence'. (The potential bride and bridegroom were then both ten years old.) A quarter of a century later, the reality was less poetical. Louis XIII was not in good health and a Regency in the next thirteen years - the age at which a French King reached his majority — was more likely than not. How long would it be before Anne, like Catherine de Méeacute;dicis, was promoting herself as an image of revered maternality at the heart of government?
Furthermore the dynastic map of Europe was transformed. The heir presumptive to the throne of France, the King's younger brother Gaston Duc d'Orléeacute;ans, on being shown ‘physical proofs’ of the baby’s masculinity, had to accept that his rising hopes of accession had been fatally dashed. But Gaston himself had only daughters. Next in line were the French Princes of the Blood, notably the Prince de Condéeacute; and his two sons the Duc d'Enghien and the Prince de Conti; their hopes were similarly b
A study of the life and reign of the Sun King looks at the world of King Louis XIV from the perspective of his intimate relationships with the women in his life, from his mother, Anne of Austria, and his official queen, Marie-Thrse, to his many mistresses--including Louise de la Vallire, Athnas, marquise de Montespan, and Franoise de Maintenon. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.
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 detail his intimate relationships with women. The king's mother, Anne of Austria, had been in a childless marriage for 22 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-Th
About the Author
Since 1969 ANTONIA FRASER has written many acclaimed historical works that have been international bestsellers. She is the recipient of many literary awards, including the Wolfson Prize for History, the Saint Louis Literary Award, and the 2000 Norton Medlicott Medal of Britain’s Historical Association. Her works include the biographies Mary Queen of Scots, Cromwell, the Lord Protector and Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration. Four highly praised books focus on women in history: The Weaker Vessel, The Warrior Queens, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and, most recently, Marie Antoinette: The Journey. She is editor of the book The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England. Antonia Fraser is married to Harold Pinter and lives in London.
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