R.J.Knecht reviews a publication on the Sun King.
Constable & Robinson 391pp. £25
Was Louis XIV a bastard? French historians have generally dismissed the allegation as mere tittle-tattle. The close relations that existed between Cardinal Mazarin, who succeeded Richelieu as Louis XIII’s chief minister, and the Queen, Anne of Austria, generated rumours. It was said that Louis XIV was Mazarin’s son. Two objections to this story have been advanced: Mazarin was absent from Paris at the relevant moment and Anne was too closely watched for adultery on her part for it to have taken place. But Anthony Levi argues that Mazarin was indeed in Paris in late 1637 and that Richelieu, who was all-powerful at the time, would not have opposed an action that would effectively exclude from the throne Louis XIII’s tiresome brother, Gaston d’Orléans.