Saint-Simon, Louis de Rouvroy, duke de

(1675-1755)
   writer
   Known for his memoirs, Louis de Rouvroy, duke de Saint-Simon was born in Paris. Because his father had been created a duke and a peer, he received an exceptional education and upbringing, during which he became friends with the future regent, Philippe d'orléans. He began his military career early, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Neerwinden (1692) against William of Orange, which he describes in his Relation (written for his mother) and in which can be seen the origins of his noted Mémoires. in 1702, he left the army and established himself at the court of louis xtv at Versailles, spending time also at his château at La Ferté-vidame, Eure-et-Loire. He had tied his political ambitions to the career of the duke of Burgundy, who died in 1712. Although he was close to the regent, Saint-Simon was eclipsed by others. Nonetheless, he held some positions, namely, as part of a diplomatic mission to Madrid, Spain (1712-22), which allowed him to write a Tableau de la cour d'Espagne. The death of the regent in 1723 put a definite end to his political hopes, and he returned to his château and his Mémoires, which he had begun in 1694. Written mostly between 1739 and 1750, they particularly describe his experiences between 1691 and 1723. The final years of the reign of louis xtv and the period of the regency are evoked in a series of descriptions and portraits in which the author discusses the royal court and his own life. Much admired by rené de chateaubriand, stendhal, and Marcel proust, the Mémoires, while digressive and partisan, are considered classic and eloquent masterpieces of French prose. A nearly complete edition appeared in 1829, with the complete (41 volumes) work appearing later.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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