Louis XV, que son métier ennuie parce qu'on lui a infligé trop tôt des tâches trop lourdes, laisse prendre aux femmes qui l'entourent une place prépondérante. Fiancé à onze ans à une Espagnole, marié à quinze à une Polonaise, il débute sa carrière de séducteur par les trois sœurs de Nesle, avant que ne s'installe auprès de lui pour vingt ans Mme de Pompadour. Son épouse, Marie Leszczynska, forte de sa progéniture, se pose en gardienne de la tradition dans une cour où la brillante favorite, issue des milieux financiers parisiens, apporte un souffle de modernité. Les vains efforts pour faire chasser la marquise rythment de leurs péripéties dramatiques ou plaisantes un récit qui la voit chaque fois rebondir, jusqu'à faire fonction de premier ministre. Autour d'eux trois se profile toute la famille, avec les cousins de Madrid et surtout avec les enfants du couple royal : le dauphin et ses deux épouses successives, dont la charmante Marie-Josèphe de Saxe ; plus une ribambelle de filles, dont seule l'aînée trouvera preneur. Des naissances, des amours, des conflits, des morts, sur fond de difficultés politiques croissantes. La monarchie absolue se décompose lentement, incapable de s'adapter aux changements qui travaillent la société : lorsque meurent la favorite, puis la reine, son destin est pratiquement scellé. On retrouve dans ce volume ce qui fait le charme des précédents : le goût du concret, le sens de la vie, le mélange de tendresse et d'humour. Amenée à l'histoire des mentalités par l'étude des mémorialistes (elle est l'auteur d'une Vie du Cardinal de Retz et d'une édition commentée des Mémoires), Simone Bertière a entrepris d'évoquer en une vaste fresque la condition des reines dans la France des Temps Modernes. Après deux volumes consacrés au XVIe siècle et deux autres au XVIIe celui-ci aborde la première partie du XVIIIe.
Initially charmed by her personality and beauty, the French people generally came to dislike Queen Marie Antoinette, accusing "L'Autrichienne" (meaning “the Austrian”) of being profligate, promiscuous, and of harboring sympathies for France's enemies, particularly Austria, her country of origin. The Diamond Necklace incident further ruined her reputation. Although she was completely innocent in this affair, she became known as Madame Déficit. Even after her death, Marie Antoinette is often considered to be a part of popular culture and a major historical figure, being the subject of several books, films and other forms of media. Some academics and scholars have deemed her frivolous and superficial, and have attributed the start of the French Revolution to her; however, others have claimed that she was treated unjustly and that views of her should be more sympathetic.
Author: Jean Teulé
Publisher: Gallic Books
The Marquis de Montespan and his new wife, Athénaïs, are a true love-match - a rarity amongst the nobility of seventeenth-century France. But love is not enough to maintain their hedonistic lifestyle, and the couple soon face huge debts. When Madame de Montespan is offered the chance to become lady-in-waiting to the Queen at Versailles, she seizes this opportunity to turn their fortunes round.Too late, Montespan discovers that his ravishing wife has caught the eye of King Louis XIV. As everyone congratulates him on his new status of cuckold by royal appointment, the Marquis is broken-hearted. He vows to wreak revenge on the monarch and win back his adored Marquise. With this extraordinary novel, Jean Teulé has restored a ridiculed figure from history to the rightful position of hero, by telling the hilarious, bawdy and touching story of a good man who loved too well and dared challenge the absolute power of the Sun King himself.
Madame de Pompadour
Author: Evelyne Lever
A portrait of the famous mistress of Louis XV traces the political and personal intricacies of her relationship with the king, her impact on period culture, and friendships with top artists, writers, and philosophers. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
Mademoiselle de Montpensier (la Grande Mademoiselle), Louis XIV's first cousin, began working on her memoirs at the age of 25 when she was exiled from Paris following her involvement on the 'wrong' side in the Frondes, the civil wars that threatened for a time to dislodge the young king from his throne. She was an accomplished writer of novels and literary portraits and she also wrote at least one manual of pious Christian behaviour. For a time, she hosted one of the most prominent of the literary salons in the capital; but we remember her best for her colourful life both at court and in exile. The memoirs are well written and provide an informative, outspoken, and, at times, exciting account of the life and times of one of the most active (and richest) women of the seventeenth century.
The Age of Conversation
Author: Benedetta Craveri, Teresa Waugh
Publisher: New York Review of Books
Now in paperback, an award-winning look at French salons and the women who presided over them In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, between the reign of Louis XIII and the Revolution, French aristocratic society developed an art of living based on a refined code of good manners. Conversation, which began as a way of passing time, eventually became the central ritual of social life. In the salons, freed from the rigidity of court life, it was women who dictated the rules and presided over exchanges among socialites, writers, theologians, and statesmen. They contributed decisively to the development of the modern French language, new literary forms, and debates over philosophical and scientific ideas. With a cast of characters both famous and unknown, ranging from the Marquise de Rambouillet to Madame de Sta‘l, and including figures like Ninon de Lenclos, the Marquise de Sevigne, and Madame de Lafayette, as well as Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Diderot, and Voltaire, Benedetta Craveri traces the history of this worldly society that carried the art of sociability to its supreme perfection–and ultimately helped bring on the Revolution that swept it all away.
Author: Evelyne Lever, Catherine Temerson
A stunning new biography of the legendary French queen explores the scandal, intrigue, and regal extravagance surrounding her life, as well as the events leading up to her death on the guillotine. Reprint.
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan and thief Mary Quinn is offered a place at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls where she is trained to be part of an all-female investigative unit called The Agency and, at age seventeen, she infiltrates a rich merchant's home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships.
Old Days in Diplomacy
Author: Charlotte Anne Albinia Disbrowe
Publisher: Wildside Press LLC
"Old Days in Diplomacy" concerns Charlotte Anne Albinia Disbrowe's father, Sir Edward Cromwell Disbrowe (1790-1851), who was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Windsor (1823-26), later served as a diploomat in Switzerland, Russia, and Sweden.
Two novels relate the story of an idealistic city dweller and confrontation with two secretive and deceitful Provencal countrymen
Kings of France
Author: Claude Wenzler
Publisher: Cadogan Guides
Madame du Deffand (1696-1780) was a minor French aristocrat who, bored by her marriage, threw herself into scandalous relationships with leading noblemen, including the French Regent. She later re-invented herself as a highly successful salonniere, her salon being frequented by leading thinkers of the day. She also maintained very witty, perceptive correspondences with Voltaire (whose letters back are full expositions of his philosophy) and later with Horace Walpole with whom she fell deeply in love, much to his shock.
Author: Stefan Zweig
Publisher: Grove Press
A sweeping portrait of the doomed French queen follows the life and times of Marie Antoinette from her first arrival at the French court, her marriage to the aloof Louis XVI, her love affair with Swedish Count von Fersen, and her ultimate fate during the French Revolution. Reprint.