The Real King of Versailles
An intelligent, authoritative, and often surprising biography of the most famous of French monarchs. A fresh perspective on one of the most fascinating kings in European history. Praise for Josephine Wilkinson: 'An impressive revisionist biography.' The Times 'The writing is incisive, rigorous and academic whilst also being accessible and engaging.' Huffington Post Most recently the subject of a lavish primetime BBC historical drama, Louis XIV’s story has all the ingredients of a Dumas classic: legendary beginnings, beguiling women, court intrigue, a mysterious prisoner in an iron mask, lavish court entertainments, the scandal of a mistress who was immersed in the dark arts, and a central character who is handsome and romantic, but with a frighteningly dark side to his character. Louis believed himself to be semi-divine. His self-identification as the Sun King, which was reflected in iconography by the sun god, Apollo, influenced every aspect of Louis’s life: his political philosophy, his wars, and his relationships with courtiers and subjects. As a military strategist, Louis’s capacity was ambiguous, but he was an astute politician who led his country to the heights of sophistication and power—and then had the misfortune to live long enough to see it all crumble away. As the sun began to set upon this most glorious of reigns, it brought a gathering darkness filled with the anguish of dead heirs, threatened borders, and a populace that was dangerously dependent upon - but greatly distanced from - its king.