Chantal Grell (dir.)
452 pages, 204 illustrations; hardcover
French; a joint publication of the CEEH and the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles; 2009
The life of Anne of Austria (1601-1666) was beset with difficulties. As Philip III’s firstborn daughter, she was destined from an early age to take on a prominent role in the grand designs of international politics which led to the sealing of an alliance between Spain and France in 1615 with a double wedding: her own marriage to Louis XIII and that of Elisabeth of Bourbon to the future Philip IV. However, the union between the two great Catholic monarchies failed to secure unanimous approval beyond the Pyrenees.
Upon arriving in France the young queen was faced with a string of setbacks and disappointments. The continued childlessness of her marriage led Anne, who was drawn into the intrigues and plots devised by Richelieu’s government and suspected of betrayal on account of her complicity with Spain, to the verge of a humiliating repudiation. But a miracle occurred: her late pregnancy in 1638 and the birth of the heir to the throne.
After being widowed in 1643 she proved to possess an undisputable political talent as a regent. Faithful to the legacy of Louis XIII, she firmly backed Mazarin and warded off Spanish threats of invasion and attempts at civil war in France. When the peace of the Pyrenees was concluded in 1659 with a new marriage alliance between Spain and France, she handed over the most powerful state in Europe to her son Louis XIV.
This book is not simply another biography of the infanta of Spain and queen of France. Under the direction of Chantal Grell, professor of Modern History at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin, a group of specialists of international renown provide new viewpoints and interpretations of the reign and personality of Anne of Austria. Their hitherto unpublished research, underpinned by a sound critical and documentary apparatus, is accompanied by the most complete and careful iconographical repertory compiled to date on this figure, making this set of studies a reference work for anyone interested in seventeenth-century Europe.
Chantal Grell is professor of Modern History at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin. During this time she has written important studies, such as L’Histoire entre érudition et philosophie (1993) and Le XVIIe siècle et l’Antiquité en France (1995). She currently directs the research center ESR Moyen Âge-Temps modernes and belongs to the scientific committee of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.