Synopses & Reviews
The Duke of Saint-Simon (1675-1755) was by all accounts, including his own, a sensitive, self-obsessed, ill-tempered man. A courtier and phenomenal chronicler of court life under Louis XIV, he produced the monumental work Memoirs
, running to thousands of pages, in which the intrigues, personalities, activities, and gossip of life at Versailles are recorded in acerbic detail. Drawing heavily on these Memoirs
, renowned historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, with the collaboration of Jean-François Fitou, offers a fascinating and detailed portrait of life under Louis XIV, focusing on the fundamental issues of hierarchy and rank in this tightly controlled universe.
Saint-Simon and the Court of Louis XIV, expertly translated by Arthur Goldhammer, is a historical essay about court life, built with the wide range of tools Le Roy Ladurie so expertly employs: ethnography, history, literary criticism, and historiography. He recreates a world in which man is most definitely born unequal and circumscribed entirely by purity of bloodline, which nonetheless directly preceded the birth of democratic thought and political action. Locked into a virtual caste system, courtiers formed within their ranks cabals, factions, and groups bonded by common ideological principles in order to survive the political order of the court. Thus Saint-Simon and the Court of Louis XIV is not only about Saint-Simon's place in this constellation but also the constellation itself and how understanding it forces us to a reevaluation of the idea of "political class" in France during the Old Regime.
From adultery and marital mésalliances to intense religious debate and fervor, and including a biographical sketch of Saint-Simon and more than 30 illustrations of court life and its members, Saint-Simon and the Court of Louis XIV will delight those interested in French history as well as instruct those interested in political history. Le Roy Ladurie's The Beggar and the Professor was hailed as a study that added "color and texture to our understanding of the Renaissance and Reformation," according to the New York Times Book Review. With Saint-Simon and the Court of Louis XIV, the same can now be said of his contribution to our understanding of the eighteenth century.
PrefaceIntroduction: Saint-Simon on the Aura of le Roi Soleil and le Bien-AimePart 1: The Court System1. Hierarchy and Rank2. The Sacred and the Profane3. The Pure and the Impure4. Cabals, Lineages, and Power5. Saint-Simonian Demography and Female Hypergamy6. Renouncers and JesuitsPart 2: The Regency System7. The Liberal Regency: Autumn 1715 to Summer 17188. The Authoritarian Regency: Fall of 1718 to End of 1723ConclusionAppendix 1: On Norbert EliasAppendix 2: On Pasquier QuesnelNotesBibliographyIndex
About the Author
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
is a professor at the Collège de France and a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. He is the author of numerous books, including Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error
; The Mind and Method of the Historian
; and The Beggar and the Professor
, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.
Jean-François Fitou is the deputy prefect of Langon, France.
Arthur Goldhammer is an award-winning translator who has translated books by Georges Duby, Jacques Le Goff, and Jean Starobinski.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Saint-Simon on the Aura of le Roi Soleil and le Bien-Aimé
Part 1: The Court System
1. Hierarchy and Rank
2. The Sacred and the Profane
3. The Pure and the Impure
4. Cabals, Lineages, and Power
5. Saint-Simonian Demography and Female Hypergamy
6. Renouncers and Jesuits
Part 2: The Regency System
7. The Liberal Regency: Autumn 1715 to Summer 1718
8. The Authoritarian Regency: Fall of 1718 to End of 1723
Appendix 1: On Norbert Elias
Appendix 2: On Pasquier Quesnel