The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV

The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV

The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV

The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV

Excerpt

This book does not pretend to offer a comprehensive survey of the Grand Siècle, and, if long-winded titles were still the fashion, it might with more accuracy have been called "Some aspects of French life in the days of Louis XIV."

I have been forced to make it selective rather than comprehensive for two reasons: firstly, had I written on every aspect of the period which interests me, I should have swollen the book to unmanageable proportions: and secondly, because there are many achievements of the age with which I am not competent to deal. In the first category of omissions are chapters on the French Navy, on the Parlements and their struggles with the Crown, and on the Diplomatic and Civil Services; there should, I know, have been something on Hugues de Lyonne and his successors, those unscrupulously brilliant diplomatists who had so much to do with making Louis XIV the Grand Monarque, and on Colbert, Louis' greatest civil servant, who worked with such unavailing energy to give France the planned economy of a modern totalitarian state.

Within the second category fall Descartes and his world, Poussin, Claude and the artists in general, Le Nôtre, the "Capability Brown" of his day, father of formal landscape gardening, Mansart, the creator of Versailles (and little though he dreamt of it, of the Euston Hotel).

For the omissions in the first category, I apologize, whilst as regards those in the second, I feel that it would be the height of impudence on my part to suppose that what I would have found tedious to write, anyone else would have found interesting to read.

Lastly, a word on the baffling problem of money. The value . . .

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