The Sun King

  • by James Grant - introduction, Nancy Mitford
  • Narrated by Charlton Griffin, Ellen Ezekiel
  • 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Of all the crowned heads of Europe, there was none to match the dignity, grace, and magnificence of Louis XIV, the greatest king in French history. And there was no other palace to match the glory of Versailles at its zenith.From the moment of his accession to power in 1660, Louis took firm control of the reins of power, confounding everyone at court and in bureaucratic circles. And when that power was firmly in hand, he began building what author Nancy Mitford calls "the love of his life", Versailles. From its beginnings as a simple hunting lodge for Louis XIII, Versailles went on to become the epitome of the lavish royal residence, the pride of France and the envy of monarchs everywhere. It was a byword for fashionable elegance, courtly manners, and refined taste. It was also a hotbed of deadly political intrigue and sexual politics.
In this witty and exciting book, you will hear how Louis kept his aristocratic dandies under his control, how he used his mistresses to his advantage, and how he decided whether or not to legitimize his many offspring. Listen as legendary mistresses Madam de Maintenon and Madam de Montespan engage in a duel of hearts to win the king's favor. Find out how the king managed his incredibly complex household of thousands, and how he ruled the most powerful nation on earth from his heavenly residence.
Nancy Mitford has produced a masterpiece of biographical entertainment, certainly one of the most charming, witty, and moving works ever written about Louis XIV and his time.
This audiobook also includes a brief prologue by Arthur James Grant, Louis XIV: A Brief Biography.


What the Critics Say

"With learning and flair, Nancy Mitford employs an elegant and aphoristic style to match the complexity and splendor of her subject." (Time)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Versailles and Louis XIV as you never suspected

What an entertaining audiobook. Although I am a big fan of Mr. Griffin's, the sheer delight of listening as the 17th century comes to life is an overwhelming pleasure in and of itself, and this was due in no small measure to the expert writing of Nancy Mitford. The research she did to come up with so many penetrating insights and fascinating details is beyond my comprehension. She must have had a roomful of notecards before she even began writing. Her knowledge of court life in this period is very impressive. For those of you who are already familiar with Griffin's narrative style, there is nothing I can add. He is terrific. And the wonderfully sophisticated voice of Ellen Ezekiel introduces each chapter with a French quotation. This is a class act all the way!
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- Theresa

Good Overview of the Reign of King Louis the 14th

Listened to this on a long drive across country, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Paris. The author, Nancy Mitford, gives a thorough description of the life of the Sun King. I love the little details of political connections and back stories of people in the King's life, from vignettes of the Gardener, to quarrels between his economic and military chiefs of staff. However, I did not give this 4 stars because there were just too many names to keep track of. I would love to have had a chart of names and portraits to look at while reading this book.

Finally, I would like to compliment Ms Mitford on sussing out the origins and influences of power, economic and political, as well as aesthetic and religious as they were used in the 17th Century.
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- Kevin Kennedy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-11-2004
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur