The most recommended books about Louis XIV

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10 authors created a book list connected to Louis XIV, and here are their favorite Louis XIV books.
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Book cover of Letters from Liselotte: Elizabeth-Charlotte, Princess Palatine and Duchess of Orleans

Philip Mansel Author Of King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

From my list on French Court.

Who am I?

The French court has fascinated me since boyhood visits to Blois and Versailles. The appeal of its unusually dramatic history is heightened by the prominence of women, by the number and brilliance of courtiers’ letters and memoirs, and by its stupendous cultural patronage: Even after writing seven books on the French court, from Louis XIV to Louis XVIII, I remain enthralled by Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Paris where, as the new science of court studies expands, there is always more to see and learn. The power and popularity of the French presidency today confirm the importance of the French monarchy, to which it owes so much, including its physical setting, the Elysée Palace.

Philip's book list on French Court

Philip Mansel Why did Philip love this book?

Born a German princess, married to Louis XIV’s gay younger brother, ‘Liselotte’, as the Duchesse d’Orleans was often known, was an outsider who also, by her rank, was an insider. She put her venom and her frustrations into her letter-writing, denouncing the French court’s morals, policies, and personnel to her German relations. Versailles made her prefer dogs to people: she called Madame de Maintenon, the king’s second wife, ‘the old whore’. Her letters make us feel we are living at Versailles, when it was at the heart of European politics and culture.

By Maria Kroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters from Liselotte as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Married in 1672, at 19, to Louis XIV's bisexual brother, the Duke of Orleans, Liselotte began her voluminous and fascinating correspondence from the Court of Versailles which she continued until her death 50 years later, making her the greatest chronicler of her day. Feared for her sharp tongue and her bluntness, Liselotte refused to be drawn into the viscious life at the Sun King's Court, of which she was outspokenly critical and her letters, collected here in this volume, describe the bawdy, spontaneous and idiosyncratic personages and life of Louis XIV's corrupt court.


Book cover of Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour

Kirsteen MacKenzie Author Of La Garde Ecossaise: The Life of John Hamilton 1620-1689: Part 1

From Kirsteen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Broadcaster Podcaster

Kirsteen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Kirsteen MacKenzie Why did Kirsteen love this book?

I spent time with family who were Scottish expats in France, and this is a subject close to my heart. 

I used to visit Versailles regularly, and I quickly learned about the Scottish communities in France during the reign of Louis XIV.

This work focuses on Scottish soldiers who served Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Many years later, while exploring my family history, I discovered that an ancestor, George Gordon, 2nd Marquis of Huntly, raised a unit of Gendarmes for King Louis XIII.

By Matthew Glozier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume examines the role and significance of Scottish soldiers in France in the age of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The study examines the complex relationship of expatriate Scottish soldiers to their homeland and native sovereign, within the context of a changing environment for military employment. The amity of the so-called 'auld' alliance meant little in an age of rapid development in the relationship between armies and the states they served. Caught in the middle were a number of Scots, attempting to perpetuate traditional modes of employment abroad. They found themselves the target of increasing pressures to commit wholeheartedly…


Book cover of The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715, Volume 1: The Guard of Louis XIV

Kirsteen MacKenzie Author Of La Garde Ecossaise: The Life of John Hamilton 1620-1689: Part 1

From Kirsteen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Broadcaster Podcaster

Kirsteen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Kirsteen MacKenzie Why did Kirsteen love this book?

This is an extremely detailed and comprehensive account of the French bodyguard to the King of France under Louis XIV.

Chartrand is a leading expert in his field but conveys the subject in a lively and accessible way. Although geared towards military enthusiasts, it is an enjoyable read for audiences of all interests.

Highly recommended if you want to know what the King’s Musketeers (as made famous by Alexandre Dumas) were really like!

By René Chartrand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The reign of Louis XIV of France had a great impact on the course of European and world military history. The years 1643 to 1715 were a defining epoch for western military, diplomatic and economic matters. Most of those years were marked by conflict between major European powers and the Sun King’s forces. This four volume series is the first that present an extensive account of the many facets of the French army and the wars it fought.

It was an era during which the Sun King’s and eventually all armies saw extraordinarily significant changes such as: the advent of…


Book cover of Louis XIV: A Royal Life

Kirsteen MacKenzie Author Of La Garde Ecossaise: The Life of John Hamilton 1620-1689: Part 1

From Kirsteen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Broadcaster Podcaster

Kirsteen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Kirsteen MacKenzie Why did Kirsteen love this book?

Most of the works I have read on Louis XIV have been written by Anglophone historians who are writing history from a British or an American perspective.

This was the first time I had read a book on Louis XIV by a leading French historian. He deeply understands his subject and immerses himself in the attitudes of France during the Ancien Regime. It is a profoundly insightful account that challenges common perceptions of absolutism.

He brings Louis XIV to life in such exquisite detail, showing Louis XIV's intelligence and compassion towards others, which is at odds with the absolutist monarch of the popular imagination.

By Olivier Bernier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Louis XIV as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traces the long, intrigue-filled, and opulent life of the Sun King, during whose seventy-three year reign France became the leading power of Europe and celebrated a golden age of culture


Book cover of The Hand of the Sun King

Richard Swan Author Of The Tyranny of Faith

From my list on mentor/apprentice relationships.

Who am I?

As writers, one of the things that most commonly unites us is how quickly we are able to point to our favourite teacher from school—almost always our literature teacher. These people instilled in us a love of reading, and encouraged us to explore and hone the craft of writing. I’m always drawn to, and fascinated by, the idea of how certain individuals can impact our lives, this butterfly effect of personal connection. Sometimes these relationships can have very complex dynamics; other times these mentors won’t even know the impact they have had on us. In this list, I have selected five works that I have read recently and which I think examine these relationships masterfully.

Richard's book list on mentor/apprentice relationships

Richard Swan Why did Richard love this book?

A beautifully written novel of a young man torn between two worlds.

Wen Alder is schooled from infancy both in the Imperial arts and (secretly) in the arcane tribal ways of his grandmother. Both are paths to magic ability, the former sanctioned, the latter very much illegal.

There are no prophetic heroes here; just the story of an angsty and foolish young man trying to find his way through competing heritages.

By J.T. Greathouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hand of the Sun King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A captivating epic of conflicted loyalties and dangerous ambition' Anthony Ryan, New York Times bestselling author

'Brilliantly told and immediately engrossing, filled with magic, mistakes, and their merciless consequences' Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

'An exciting new voice in epic fantasy' SFX

'This is one of the best debuts I've ever read' Novel Notions

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: my father's, whose family trace their roots back to the right hand of the Emperor. My mother's, whose family want to bring the…


Book cover of Hope: Adventures of a Diamond

Matthew Hart Author Of The Russian Pink

From my list on stealing diamonds.

Who am I?

I live in New York City, where I write thrillers about diamonds. My interest began when news broke of a diamond discovery in the Canadian Arctic. A reporter looking for a story, I climbed on a plane the next day. The discovery made Canada the world’s third largest diamond miner—one of the stories told in my non-fiction book, Diamond: the History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair. I went on to write about diamonds for many publications, including Vanity Fair and the London Times, until finally, seduced by the glitter of the possibilities, I turned to fiction. The Russian Pink appeared in November 2020. The next in the series, Ice Angel, comes out in September.

Matthew's book list on stealing diamonds

Matthew Hart Why did Matthew love this book?

Marian Fowler’s lavish non-fiction account tracks the storied diamond from its origins in India, where it was bought by the great French jewel merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who sold it to Louis XIV. Weighing 110 carats in the rough, the blue was eventually cut into a heart-shaped jewel of 67.13 carats, known to history as the French Blue. In the turbulent early days of the French Revolution, all the crown jewels were moved from the Palace of Versailles to the Garde-Meuble, a treasure house in central Paris. On the night of September 11, 1792, thieves broke in and stole the jewels. Many were recovered, but the French Blue vanished forever. Too famous to be sold as it was, the London jeweler who eventually bought it, cut it down to 44.5 carats—the jewel sold to Henry Philip Hope in 1830. The Hope diamond passed through many hands, leaving behind a trail of…

By Marian Fowler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Allegedly a curse to those that own it, the Hope Diamond - a flawless blue diamond of over forty-five carats - has inspired centuries of legends and lies, fabulous superstition and fierce passion. In rich, shimmering prose, Marian Fowler explains how the Hope Diamond was formed in nature - and how it was taken from the mines and temples of India to the royal courts of seventeenth-century Europe. Acquired and cherished by Louis XIV, the stone was stolen in an almost farcical French Revolution robbery. It resurfaced twenty years later in London and passed through numerous hands, including those of…


Book cover of To Dance with Kings

Alison Blasdell Author Of The Confederates' Physician

From my list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past.

Who am I?

I love reading novels that take me to another time, place, or adventure (an antithesis to my 30-year career as a professor teaching physiology & pathophysiology to medical and nursing students). I read for entertainment and variety. As an author, I write books I'd like to read! Drawn to history, I've written five historical romances—a woman of courage, intellect, and compassion at the heart of each. I've authored two contemporary espionage thrillers with a woman as the protagonist. I enjoy stepping out of the bounds of empiricism in my novels, blending genres, and stretching the imagination.

Alison's book list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past

Alison Blasdell Why did Alison love this book?

This is also a book I read long ago, and it made me want to write historical fiction novels. This is an astounding story of a young peasant woman who is swept up into the Parisian society of King Louis XVI.

The author's attention to historical details in the construction of Versailles and the French Revolution is a standard that I have judged most novels by. It's a beautiful multi-generational story of love and loss, and I'll admit to tears when reading this book. I usually avoid sad books. I want love to never end. Having said that, I'm so glad I read it, and I was amazed at how much French history I learned!

By Rosalind Laker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Dance with Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An epic generational tale of loves lost, promises kept, dreams broken, and monarchies shattered, To Dance with Kings is a story of passion and privilege, humble beginnings and limitless ambition.

On a May morning in 1664, in the small village of Versailles, as hundreds of young aristocrats are coming to pay court to King Louis XIV, a peasant fan-maker gives birth to her first and only child, Marguerite. Determined to give her daughter a better life than the one she herself has lived, the young mother vows to break the newborn’s bonds of poverty and ensure that she fulfills her…


Book cover of Memoirs Duc De Saint-Simon Volume Three: 1715-1723

Philip Mansel Author Of King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

From my list on French Court.

Who am I?

The French court has fascinated me since boyhood visits to Blois and Versailles. The appeal of its unusually dramatic history is heightened by the prominence of women, by the number and brilliance of courtiers’ letters and memoirs, and by its stupendous cultural patronage: Even after writing seven books on the French court, from Louis XIV to Louis XVIII, I remain enthralled by Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Paris where, as the new science of court studies expands, there is always more to see and learn. The power and popularity of the French presidency today confirm the importance of the French monarchy, to which it owes so much, including its physical setting, the Elysée Palace.

Philip's book list on French Court

Philip Mansel Why did Philip love this book?

Saint-Simon was another passionate outsider. He compensated for his lack of position and favour under Louis XIV by putting his fantasies of omniscience and his psychological perception into his memoirs. One of the great stylists of the French language, he leads readers into a universe where class, personality, and ambition are more important than public issues. He blamed French defeats on Louis XIV’s pride and ignorance. He called Versailles ’the saddest and most unrewarding place in the world’ and the King’s Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, heightening persecution of Protestants, ‘a general abomination born of flattery and cruelty’. At the same time, he praised the King’s ‘incomparable grace and majesty’. ‘Never was a man so naturally polite.’

By Louis De Rouvroy Saint-Simon, Lucy Norton (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs Duc De Saint-Simon Volume Three as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the third volume in Lucy Norton's three-volume abridgement and translation of the the memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, first published in the 1960s. The court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, at Versailles was unequalled for splendour in Europe's history, a hotbed of intrigues and jealousy, passion both political and personal, as well as artistic and literary excellence - this is its memorial. This, like the previous volumes, is peppered throughout with character sketches which bring the period to life. The third volume starts with the funeral of Louis XIV, the ensuing violent quarrels of the Duc…


Book cover of Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930

Jim Fergus Author Of The Memory of Love

From my list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”.

Who am I?

As a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. I was fascinated and inspired by Les Années Folles, The Crazy Years of 1920’s Paris, when artists of all disciplines, from countries all around the world came together electrifying the City of Lights with an artistic passion. My mother was French. France is my 2nd country, where I spend a portion of each year. While researching my novel, The Memory of Love, I stayed in the actual atelier of my protagonist Chrysis Jungbluth, a young, largely unknown painter of that era. I visited, too, the addresses of dozens of the artists who bring the era alive again in our imagination. 

Jim's book list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”

Jim Fergus Why did Jim love this book?

Due to the title, and the fact that the authors of this book edited my 3rd book, this may seem to be a redundant choice on my part. But I can assure the reader that it is not. Although a fine photo of Kiki also graces the cover, she plays a minor, more metaphoric role in the grand scheme of this large-format work, and only a handful of pages are devoted to her.

On the inside of the cover, and the first thick page to its right, one is presented with 96 roughly 1”x 2” black & white thumbnail photographs, not alphabetically arranged, but as it happens, beginning with a photo image of a portrait of Louis XIV in the top left corner and finishing in the bottom right corner of the following page with a photo of James Joyce. All those photos in between should tip off the reader…

By Billy Klüver, Julie Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kiki's Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recreates life in the tumultuous world of 1900-1930 Montparnasse. This book presents photographs of legendary figures, among them the model Kiki, Modigliani, Picasso, Satie, Matisse, Leger, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Miro. Gossip and anecdotes aim to bring this world alive.


Book cover of The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour

Richard Scholar Author Of Émigrés: French Words That Turned English

From my list on just how much English owes French.

Who am I?

I have long been struck, as a learner of French at school and later a university professor of French, by how much English borrows from French language and culture. Imagine English without naïveté and caprice. You might say it would lose its raison d’être My first book was the history of a single French phrase, the je-ne-sais-quoi, which names a ‘certain something’ in people or things that we struggle to explain. Working on that phrase alerted me to the role that French words, and foreign words more generally, play in English. The books on this list helped me to explore this topic—and more besides—as I was writing Émigrés.

Richard's book list on just how much English owes French

Richard Scholar Why did Richard love this book?

This is cultural history with a difference and of a difference. It teaches you a lot about the reputation for fashionable culture that France enjoyed for centuries all over the world and continues to enjoy to this day. How much of all that is already packed into the book’s subtitle! The rest of the book is just as accessible and lively and unwilling ever to take itself too seriously. 

By Joan DeJean,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Essence of Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes fashionistas willing to pay a small fortune for a particular designer accessory? Why does a special occasion only become really special when a champagne cork pops? Why are diamonds the status symbol gemstone, instantly signifying wealth, power, and even emotional commitment? Writing with great elan, one of the foremost authorities on seventeenth-century French culture provides the answer to these and other fascinating questions in her account of how, at one glittering moment in history, the French under Louis XIV set the standards of sophistication, style, and glamour that still rule our lives today. Joan DeJean takes us back…