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. via natgeofound:

The Halls of Mirrors reflects the reign of the Sun King in Versailles, France, July 1989.Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic

This eerily dazzling photo from NatGeo reminded us of Nancy Mitford’s own enchanting description of la Galerie des Glaces in The Sun King, her book about the mercurial and decadent Louis XIV: 

"Seen at night soon after its completion, the painting and the gilding fresh and new, lit by thousands of candles in silver chandeliers and candelabra, furnished with solid silver consoles and orange tubs, crowded with beauties of both sexes, dressed in satin and lace, embroidered, re-embroidered, over-embroidered with real gold thread, and covered with jewels, it must have been like Aladdin’s Cave or some other fable of the Orient."

    via natgeofound:

    The Halls of Mirrors reflects the reign of the Sun King in Versailles, France, July 1989.Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic

    This eerily dazzling photo from NatGeo reminded us of Nancy Mitford’s own enchanting description of la Galerie des Glaces in The Sun King, her book about the mercurial and decadent Louis XIV:

    "Seen at night soon after its completion, the painting and the gilding fresh and new, lit by thousands of candles in silver chandeliers and candelabra, furnished with solid silver consoles and orange tubs, crowded with beauties of both sexes, dressed in satin and lace, embroidered, re-embroidered, over-embroidered with real gold thread, and covered with jewels, it must have been like Aladdin’s Cave or some other fable of the Orient."

  3. More from Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King

    In his youth, Monsieur was partial to battles. He would arrive rather late on the field, having got himself up to kill; painted, powdered, all his eyelashes stuck together; covered with ribbons and diamonds – hatless. He never wore a hat for fear of flattening his wig. Once in action he was as brave as a lion; only afraid of what the sun and dust might do to his complexion.

     - some more from Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King, which published today. The monsieur in reference is Phillipe I, Duc d’Orléans, Louis XIV’s younger brother (it was traditional to call the younger brother of the king “Monsieur”). Another description from Mitford of the Monsieur: “In spite of being one of history’s most famous sodomites, Monsieur had two wives, a mistress and eleven legitimate children of whom seven died in infancy or were born dead; and he is the ‘grandfather of Europe.’” Makes the English monarchy look rather dull.

  4. 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.