What the Editors Are Reading

Having read and reviewed John Hardman’s superb Life of Louis XVI (Books in Brief, August), I was encouraged recently to pick up a copy of Louis XIV: The Other Side of the Sun, by Prince Michael of Greece (a descendant of the Sun King’s on the maternal side), first published in the United States in translation by Alan Sheridan.  It is a beautifully realized book written with a novelist’s narrative technique and fullness of characterization, and an historian’s feel for fact and historical context.

Louis, as the prince portrays him, was a strikingly intelligent boy, with a royal poise, composure, self-assurance, and physical and moral courage even before he reached the age of ten, though also an astonishingly lonely and neglected child left to wander the palace during the day as he cadged food wherever he could find it.  His mother, Anne of Austria (a Spaniard), became queen regent after the death of her husband when in a lit de justice the Parlement abrogated the will of Louis XIII to allow her to succeed him until their son attained his majority.  In those years the French monarchy was in dire need of revenue (as it was to be in 1789, with fatal consequences), and the royal household, if not...

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