Aulica Coll. No 13 - “Toute la cour était étonnée” Madame de Maintenon ou l’ambition politique au féminin

“Toute la cour était étonnée” Madame de Maintenon ou l’ambition politique au féminin (publication following the international symposium « Madame de Maintenon (1719-2019) » held on 21, 22 and 23 March 2019 in Versailles), directed by Mathieu da Vinha and Nathalie Grande, joint publication Centre de recherche du château de Versailles / Presses universitaires de Rennes (“Histoire” collection, “Aulica. L’Univers de la cour” series), April 2022, 16,5 × 24 cm, 254 p., 8 color plates, index, €25 (ISBN: 978-2-7535-8236-1).


Madame de Maintenon’s fabulous accomplishments did not escape the notice of her contemporaries or her biographers. Through her incredible social success, the educational project of Saint-Cyr, and the many texts preserved (correspondence, educational theatre, interviews, instructions, secret notebooks, etc.), Madame de Maintenon is revealed as an exceptional personality and a woman of influence whose historical legacy has had a lasting effect on the French imagination, and still continues to fascinate. Without hoping to reveal the secret she patiently constructed around her, this book attempts, by reassessing Madame de Maintenon as a politician as well as a woman of letters, to define its limits. It is thus part of the current movement to bring women out of the shadows (and sometimes invisibility) to which history has often confined them.

Mathieu Da Vinha, doctor in modern history, is scientific director of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles. He worked on the mechanisms of the court and the means of social upward mobility among the members of the royal household between the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XVI. He was also co-curator of the exhibition Madame de Maintenon. Dans les allées du pouvoir (Versailles then Niort, 2019-2020).

Nathalie Grande, professor at the université de Nantes, is a literary historian. She has worked on the issue of women’s access to writing, and their place in the literary field of the 17th century. A specialist in gallantry, she continues to explore how gender diversity is changing social and cultural relationships. In 2021, she published a biography of Madame de Lafayette.

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