This is not a reassessment of the reign of Louis XIV; those are plentiful enough. This book is in many ways complementary to them, using contemporary quotations to show how the king was seen at the time and presenting him as the inspirer and enabler of creative artists of many kinds. 'It is with this august cortege of immortal genius,' wrote Cardinal Maury, 'that Louis XIV faces the judgement of posterity, backed by all the great men who had reached or retained their positions through his discretion.'Louis XIV also faces the judgement of posterity as the warrior king who first had all Europe at his feet and then faced the long sequence of defeats by the combined brilliance of Marlborough and Eugene. Louis' love of the art of war brought France into humiliation; his love of the arts of peace gave France her position as the cultural centre to which all Europe looked. 'Who could have told,' asked Montesquieu, 'that the king established the greatness of France by building Versailles and Marly?'The literary skill and elegant prose of Ian Dunlop makes this book pleasurable reading - especially, perhaps, for those who have themselves fallen under the spell of Versailles.
"An epic account...that sets the King like a brilliant jewel in the context of his times, his family and familiars and the magnificence of Versailles." --Iain Finlayson, "The Times""An up-to-date portrait of the King... There is much to enjoy in Dunlop's account of this proudest and ablest of royal peacocks." --John Adamson, "Sunday Telegraph"