Arrow £8.99 (338pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
The Man Who Outshone the Sun King, By Charles Drazin
Friday 27 February 2009
If visitors to Versailles find it grandiose and overblown, they can blame Nicolas Foucquet. The humble tax-collector turned economics minister to the king of France had, at Vaux-le-Vicomte, shown the power of architecture to butttress personal grandeur.
Now the boss, Louis XIV, had to out-do his underling with a riot of "vulgar excess". In 1664, the man who had made possible the Sun King's glory was tried for treason. Amid the "smokescreens and mirrors" of the court, his rivals had turned the king against him.
Saved from the gallows, Foucquet spent the 15 years until his death as a prisoner in an Alpine fortress. Drazin's colourful and sure-footed biography takes this intriguing figure out of the shadows and paints a court where high culture and low cunning always danced in step.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Video: Boxer Vido Loncar brutally assaults referee following defeat
Mike Read 'apologises unreservedly' for Ukip Calypso and withdraws it from sale
Disney announces new female-led film Moana
Eight seconds of white noise is top of the Canadian iTunes chart because people love Taylor Swift that much
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991 with most Brits wanting to stay in'