The seventeenth century was one of the most fascinating and seminal periods in European history, particularly with regard to France. For it was here in France that the fruits of the earlier Renaissance were to be most brilliantly realized. Although the path of "greatness" for Louis XIV was prepared for him by men like Richelieu, Mazarin, Colbert, Turenne, and Louvois, it was during his reign that French preeminence in all facets of civilization emerged. In diplomacy, military science, art, architecture, literature, fashion, music, gastronomy, philosophy, physics, mathematics, engineering, and many other fields of endeavor, France stood at the pinnacle of human achievement.
She was to remain there until the time of Napoleon. How did this hegemony come about?
Laurence Bradford Packard, an eminent historian and scholar, traces the origins of absolute monarchy and tells us how the political evolution of inherited kingship came to be what it was by the time of Louis XIV. He explains the marvelous diplomatic machinery backed by military might that made France the most feared nation in Europe for almost 200 years. And he discusses the various intellectual controversies of the day which were to produce some of the greatest minds in Europe.
There has never been a period which produced so many masters of language: Voltaire, Moliere, Racine, Corneille, Pascal, Bayle, Rochefoucauld, La Fontaine, Bossuet, and many others. And of course, there were Milton, Hobbes, and Locke in England. Packard gives them all their due and goes on to explore the other arts, as well. The book ends with an appraisal of the amazing progress Europeans, and especially the French, made in the scientific fields. The names are legendary: Descartes, Newton, Boyle, Leeuwenhoek, Leibnitz, and others.
It was a titanic period, and hovering above them all was the man who symbolized the power and majesty of the absolute monarchy...Louix XIV.
Louis the 14th, the sun king. Here is the opening door to the wealth of the french king who did as he pleased and was pleased in what he did !!
The life of spendor, and of self, where you as king could well said what Mel Brooke said"It's good to be the king" ! It was of course not "good to be poor"
This is a well written book that is both candid and explantive in the areas covered. Again wealth beyond measure, in a time of need and frustration.
I heartily recommend this book as a delightful read and a true experience to be enjoyed !!
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
What a Joy to share an exceptionally well researched journey into the past reiterating how influential Louis XIV still is on our modern world and how the period even with its oppression encouraged creative solutions to daily problems, which set the stage for our modern times!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I kept waiting for in-depth information on ANYTHING. Never happened. It was an overview of the "Age of Louis XIV" and the continual reminder that people then did not act like we do now.
I read history to absorb myself in that time and place, not be continually reminded that time is not like the present. The narrator's emphasis on these points made it even more annoying.
The narrator does have a nice, even tone to make listening when wearing earbuds comfortable -- that was the only saving grace to this book.
The narrator was unnecessarily obnoxious. On top of that, the story wasn't really a story. It was a disjointed history book, with a pompously obnoxious narrator.
1 of 7 people found this review helpful