Memoirs: Duc de Saint-Simon Volume One: 1691-1709

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9781853753527: Memoirs: Duc de Saint-Simon Volume One: 1691-1709

The court of Louis XIV was unequalled for splendour in Europe's history, a hotbed of intrigue and political skullduggery. The Duc de Saint-Simon was a man of political skill and influence at the heart of the royal court, and this is the first volume in his skilfully written memoirs of the time.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

This volume of memoirs (the first of three translated and abridged by Lucy Norton) penned by the Duc de Saint-Simon (16751755), an influential courtier during the time of Louis XIV, covers the period of France's intense military campaigns and endless court intrigues between 1691 and 1709. A born aristocrat educated by Jesuits, Saint-Simon began his memoirs in 1694 to record the important events that shaped European history at the turn of the 18th century. His brilliant army career was interrupted in 1702 after he failed to obtain a promotion and subsequently resigned from the King's service. Although he found himself out of favor with Louis XIV, Saint-Simon remained a powerful player on the political scene, surrounded by influential patrons and enemies. The most enticing pages in these memoirs deal with the mores of the French court and the personal foibles of the Sun King. We learn how, aggravated by a footmans behavior, the king once rushed at him with a cane. Constantly involved in expensive military campaigns, Louis devised inventive ways to replenish his treasury, from cutting down on annual allowances to his favorites to instituting a preposterous baptism and marriage tax. Saint-Simon's own search for a suitable bride, which started with identifying his prospective father-in-law's social status, reflects the insignificant role the heart played in marriage among the aristocrats of the period. His portraits of well-known contemporaries, like Racinewhose careless derogatory remark about Scarron's plays in front of his widow (and in the King's presence) almost cost him his well-beingare among the most amusing passages here. Once the combination of intrigue and chance made him a witness to sophisticated policy-making, Saint-Simon dwelled primarily on affairs of state in his memoirs. But his detailed recollections and sharp character sketches, if they do not present a well-rounded picture of the time, will be welcomed by students of French history. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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