Louis XIV and Charles de Gaulle, attract British biographers

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Hyacinthe Rigaud, Portrait of Louis XIV

Two major biographies of great French men have been published in the last year in Great Britain and both are translated into French: “King of the World, The Life of Louis XIV”, by Philip Mansel and “De Gaulle, A certain idea of France”,  by Julian Jackson are huge successes in the time of Brexit. And both are published by Penguin UK.

Maupérin, portrait of six year old Prince Nguyen Phuc Can, 1787, Louis XIV was very keen on establishing diplomatic relationships around the world

“De Gaulle was a great performer” says Jackson on French television, for the launch of the French translation this month. The book was published in August 2018 in the UK and had since been a huge success. “He was extremely complex and very shy. Completely unpredictable,  had a great sense of humor and was definitely a provocateur”.

The book is translated iN French by Marie-Anne de Béru and published at Le Seuil

Mansel talks about Louis XIVth’ genius for expanding his territory and creating new contacts around the world in Louisiana, in the Levant and in Siam. He also tells at length the situation in Spain and Great Britain at the time. I was particularly interested by the new light Mansel put on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, one of the most tragic moments of the reign and also on the the King’s feminist attitude. He encouraged the publication of “De l’égalité de deux sexes ” by François Poullain de la Barre and his personal monogram was engraved on the title page.

Historian Julian Jackson

Both writers are bilingual and huge francophiles, and have worked hard at getting new information on two characters of French history who have already been so much written about! Yet both biographies are extremely long (800 pages for De Gaulle and 600 for The Sun King) but what makes them so special is the distance that the two British writers kept from their French topics. Both books are fascinating.The French translation fo Louis XIV will be published in November.

From September 18n Mobilier National will show tapestries and furniture made for Louis XIV under Colbert and Lebrun’s direction at Galerie des Gobelins, 42 ave des Gobelins.

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2 Comments on “Louis XIV and Charles de Gaulle, attract British biographers”

  1. Adam Zamoyski’s Napoleon, a masterpiece, makes it three published this year. Philip’s book brilliant on Versailles, debunking a few myths and bringing it to life while Adam gives us Napoleon the man.

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