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The Man Who Outshone the Sun King: A Life of Gleaming Opulence and Wretched Reversal in the Reign of Louis XIV

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Overview

Late in 1664, the musketeer D’Artagnan rode beside a carriage as it left Paris, carrying his friend Nicolas Fouquet to life imprisonment in a cell next door to the Man in the Iron Mask. From a glorious zenith as Louis XIV’s first minister and Cardinal Mazarin’s protégé and eventual protector; builder of the stunningly opulent chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte; and patron of the arts and lover of beautiful women, Fouquet had suffered a wretched decline.

The story of the rise and fall of Nicolas Fouquet is both compelling and unforgettable. Charles Drazin’s beautifully written and vivid account brings to life Fouquet’s remarkable gains in fortune, influence, and power, as well as the lavish and hazardous world of the royal court in seventeenth-century France.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In Drazin (film studies, Univ. of London), long-neglected Frenchman Nicholas Foucquet (1615-80) has finally found a sympathetic chronicler of his fascinating and influential life. Foucquet was born into the noblesse de robe and thanks to his father's wealth and connections obtained a key position with the Parlement of Paris when he was only 20 years old. By the time Cardinal Jules Mazarin gained ministerial control of the French monarchy, Foucquet had already shown himself to be an astute practitioner of the intricate methods of generating wealth for the Crown, for Mazarin, and for himself. His financial skills led to his appointment in 1653 as superintendent of finances, but his extravagant lifestyle proved to be his downfall. Foucquet's opulence enraged an ascending Sun King (Louis XIV), and he was thrown into prison, where he died a lonely death. Drazin portrays Foucquet as a complex character whose grasping ambition was tempered by a devotion to the arts and the pursuit of knowledge; much of his wealth went to paintings and manuscripts that contributed to the European cultural awakening. Drazin's characterization of Foucquet's fate provides graphic insight into Louis XIV's concerted and successful effort to gain administrative control of his monarchy. Although written by a nonspecialist and with the general reader in mind, this biography should be considered by any library with a strong 17th-century French history collection.
—Jim Doyle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306817571
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Drazin edited the literary journals of John Fowles. He teaches film studies at the University of London and has written numerous books about film. He lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: 1644 1

Pt. 1 Quo Non Ascendet?

1 The Second Son 31

2 The Road to the Top 43

3 Slings 62

4 Fighting for the Cardinal 73

5 The Scoundrel's Return 93

Pt. 2 Summi Montes

6 A Promotion 107

7 Saint-Maude 126

8 Vaux-le-Vicomte 142

9 Behind the Facade 159

10 Pax Mazarina 178

11 You Can't Take It With You 189

12 Summer at Fontainebleau 201

13 A Thing Apart 209

14 The Party 217

Pt. 3 Quo Non Descendet?

15 The Birthday Present 227

16 'Lightning Strikes the Highest Mountains' 235

17 Justice 248

18 The Trial 264

19 The Prisoner 274

20 The True King 284

21 The Predestinate 296

Postscript 305

Appendix 309

References 310

Sources 326

List of Illustrations 329

Glossary 331

Index 332

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