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Of Louis XVI, we too often remember that he was incapable of reigning and doing good in the kingdom, that he was passionate about locksmithing but did not like art and above all suffered from sexual impotence. Alexandre maral in his new work " Louis XVI misunderstood him »Succeeds in proving us the opposite.
As the author explains so clearly, the king was prepared to reign, but not really trained as a king; for this reason, he took a real adviser (Maurepas) and not a prime minister, because he intended to govern alone, while being close to his subjects. He also relied on Turgot for finances, then Necker, and Vergennes for foreign affairs, who restored France to its important place in Europe.
He was constantly educating himself perfectly assimilating the laws of the kingdom, the history of different peoples, geography and the navy and greatly appreciated travel memories.
Redesigning the interiors of Versailles, he propelled great artists to the top; wishing to offer the public a space for culture, he gave his approval to transform part of the Louvre into an exhibition hall of works from royal collections; interested in science, he allowed the balloon of the Montgolfier brothers to take off and promoted the work of the pharmacist Parmentier; in his concern for the people, he is at the origin of the manufacture of Le Creusot and that of bleach chemicals that deliver labor; a great lover of geography, he did everything for the La Pérouse expeditions from Alaska to Hawaii, from California to Korea and Australia; in politics, to counter England, he signed the Franco-American treaty of alliance.
But after the death of his son and that of Vergennes "the only friend I could count on, the only minister who never cheated on me", not to mention the kingdom's finances which are at their lowest, it is the beginning of the decline. . He no longer feels that he is governing without the support of good ministers. Torn on one side by his wife, then on the other by the Parliament of Paris, he gives his agreement for the convening of the States General ... and everything will be linked, relatively quickly, without the possibility of going back, until to the abolition of the Ancien Régime and his death in January 1793!
This book teaches us the essentials of the life of man and that of the king. Embellished with reproductions of works, we take pleasure in reading. Alexandre Maral has the art and the way of making us understand somewhat complicated facts, with simple words and explanations. He also describes the characters who have been with the king, so as to appreciate and love them. A beautiful and good biography.
Louis XVI: L'incompris, by Alexandre Maral. Editions Ouest-France, January 2013.