1. A King Who Could E.A.T.

    "His appetite astounded the onlookers and frightened the doctors." —Nancy Mitford, on Louis XIV in The Sun King

    371 years ago today Louis XIV was crowned king, kicking off the longest recorded rule of any European monarch. According to Nancy Mitford, he recharged his absolutist batteries by eating copious amounts of pheasant, mutton, raw fruit, and “a huge amount of salad” for supper every evening.

    [Image: Artist Unknown. “Equestrian portrait of Louis XIV of France.”]

  2. Publication Day for Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King

    When Mme de Montespan and Louis XIV were known to be together behind these windows, the couriers would do anything sooner than pass underneath them—they called it going before the firing squad. Both she and the King frightened people; she was a tease, a mockingbird, noted for her wonderful imitations and said to be hard-hearted… . She received a message to say that her children’s house was on fire. As she was in Saint Germain-en-Laye and the house was in Paris there was nothing she could do about it—she remarked that no doubt it would bring the children luck and went on playing cards.

    Today we publish Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King, the story of Louis XIV, the building of Versailles, and the court that lived there and surrounded him. Of course, as anyone who read our previous Mitford history, Madame de Pompadour, will know, there is no lack of court gossip. Written in a style that is distinctly Mitfordesque.