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La Grande Mademoiselle at the Court of France: 1627–1693 Hardcover – October 19, 2000
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Pitts's well-written and meticulously researched biography of La Grande Mademoiselle provides real insight into the contradictory status of a fascinating early modern woman.(Lianne McTavish Canadian Journal of History)
Vincent J. Pitts has certainly provided a most readable account of this familiar figure in French history, and gives a clear explanation of the manoeuvrings and conspiracies of leading families during her years of adolescence... For readers who are encountering Mademoiselle for the first time, this book is an admirable and accessible introduction.(Roger Mettam English Historical Review)
Pitts' lively retelling and his exquisite sense of appropriate context are remarkably effective in bringing out key insights Mademoiselle's narrative has to offer... Vincent Pitts has given us a page-turner, a wonderfully written, intimate acquaintance with one exceptional woman's character.(Carolyn Lougee Chappell H-France)
The text is at one and the same time a pleasure to read and is supported by a wealth of bibliographical references that give it scholarly depth and credibility.(Ellen J. Chapco French Review)
As Pitts puts forward Mademoiselle's point of view and explains why her life and what she says about it is of exceptional interest, her story becomes open to different interpretations―political, religious, and feminist.(Benedetta Craveri New York Review of Books)
Greatly helped by the excesses of his heroine, impeccably verified and sustained by the most rigorous scholarship, Vincent Pitts makes us better understand the paradoxes which constituted the essence of the Grand Siècle. The neatness and precision of the narrative make for a pleasant and fluid reading. This is an impressive work of research and mise-en-cadre about such a spectacular Romantic figure, who, along with the fictitious women in Dumas's novels and Madame de Sévigné, remains a popular female character in the collective memory of the French. The richness of the information it contains seems to me fundamental for an accurate understanding of France in the seventeenth century.(Jacques Guicharnaud, Yale University)
Vincent Pitts is a very careful, thorough researcher and a sensitive, creative writer. I have genuine admiration for his biography of La Grande Mademoiselle, his control of the facts, and the historical atmosphere. There is just the right balance between her personality and the cultural-political milieu in which she lived.(Orest Ranum, The Johns Hopkins University)
Vincent Pitts's account of La Grande Mademoiselle is surely the fullest, the soundest, and the richest yet written. The scholarship is remarkable and the writing excellent, making fresh a complicated story. This is an incredibly sound piece of work.(Raymond Kierstead, Reed College)
About the Author
Vincent J. Pitts is an independent scholar in New Haven, Connecticut. He is the author of The Man Who Sacked Rome: Charles de Bourbon, Constable of France, 1490-1527, and France and the German Problem: Politics and Economics in the Locarno Period, 1924-1929. He received his doctorate in European History from Harvard University.
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Born in 1627, Mademoiselle was the first grandchild born in the royal family of France for several centuries. She was destined to be a matrimonial pawn for her family because of her closeness to the throne and the immense fortune she inherited from her mother. She was in her time, the richest woman in France and it's greatest heiress.
We have been fortunate that Mademoiselle thought to write her memoirs during her lifetime. These have been used as the basis for this book. However all her assertions and ommissions have been cross-checked. The author presents a fairly straightfoward accounting of the princesses life. From her early years and the inattention of her father, Gaston (to whom she owed her royal position) and her conflicts with the court, to her later disgrace and exile and grand love of the Sun King's courtier Lauzun.
At the end of the book are three lengthy appedix' (or essays more correctly) dealing with Mademoiselle's writings and her much coveted fortune.
The only complaint I have about this book is that despite lengthy sections dealing with Mademoiselle's writings we actually hear very little of her voice in it. We are given a fairly objective view of her life by the author, but it could possibly have been enhanced by at least one section which let Mademoiselle speak for herself.
One earlier english work on Mademoiselle "La Grande Mademoiselle" by Francis Steegmuller, 1956 reproduces her written "self portrait" and this book is worth looking up for that alone.
Aside from the text it is nice to see such a well bound and produced book as this with nice study covers and acid free paper - designed to last the test of time. A timely reivew of this very active princess' life.