Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Memoirs of Madame de Montespan   By: (1641-1707)

Book cover

First Page:


Written by Herself

Being the Historic Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.


Madame de Montespan Etching by Mercier

Hortense Mancini Drawing in the Louvre

Madame de la Valliere Painting by Francois

Moliere Original Etching by Lalauze

Boileau Etching by Lalauze

A French Courtier Photogravure from a Painting

Madame de Maintenon Etching by Mercier from Painting by Hule

Charles II. Original Etching by Ben Damman

Bosseut Etching by Lalauze

Louis XIV. Knighting a Subject Photogravure from a Rare Print

A French Actress Painting by Leon Comerre

Racine Etching by Lalauze



Historians have, on the whole, dealt somewhat harshly with the fascinating Madame de Montespan, perhaps taking their impressions from the judgments, often narrow and malicious, of her contemporaries. To help us to get a fairer estimate, her own "Memoirs," written by herself, and now first given to readers in an English dress, should surely serve. Avowedly compiled in a vague, desultory way, with no particular regard to chronological sequence, these random recollections should interest us, in the first place, as a piece of unconscious self portraiture. The cynical Court lady, whose beauty bewitched a great King, and whose ruthless sarcasm made Duchesses quail, is here drawn for us in vivid fashion by her own hand, and while concerned with depicting other figures she really portrays her own. Certainly, in these Memoirs she is generally content to keep herself in the background, while giving us a faithful picture of the brilliant Court at which she was for long the most lustrous ornament. It is only by stray touches, a casual remark, a chance phrase, that we, as it were, gauge her temperament in all its wiliness, its egoism, its love of supremacy, and its shallow worldly wisdom. Yet it could have been no ordinary woman that held the handsome Louis so long her captive. The fair Marquise was more than a mere leader of wit and fashion. If she set the mode in the shape of a petticoat, or devised the sumptuous splendours of a garden fete, her talent was not merely devoted to things frivolous and trivial. She had the proverbial 'esprit des Mortemart'. Armed with beauty and sarcasm, she won a leading place for herself at Court, and held it in the teeth of all detractors.

Her beauty was for the King, her sarcasm for his courtiers. Perhaps little of this latter quality appears in the pages bequeathed to us, written, as they are, in a somewhat cold, formal style, and we may assume that her much dreaded irony resided in her tongue rather than in her pen. Yet we are glad to possess these pages, if only as a reliable record of Court life during the brightest period of the reign of Louis Quatorze.

As we have hinted, they are more, indeed, than this. For if we look closer we shall perceive, as in a glass, darkly, the contour of a subtle, even a perplexing, personality.

P. E. P.




The Reason for Writing These Memoirs. Gabrielle d'Estrees.

The reign of the King who now so happily and so gloriously rules over France will one day exercise the talent of the most skilful historians. But these men of genius, deprived of the advantage of seeing the great monarch whose portrait they fain would draw, will search everywhere among the souvenirs of contemporaries and base their judgments upon our testimony. It is this great consideration which has made me determined to devote some of my hours of leisure to narrating, in these accurate and truthful Memoirs, the events of which I myself am witness.

Naturally enough, the position which I fill at the great theatre of the Court has made me the object of much false admiration, and much real satire. Many men who owed to me their elevation or their success have defamed me; many women have belittled my position after vain efforts to secure the King's regard... Continue reading book >>

Book sections

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books