Order from John Sandoe - French & US editions published in September 2020, Italian edition Mondadori, February 2021, German edition by Ullstein, Berlin, November 2022.

King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

Hardcover – published in the UK July 2019

Louis XIV wanted to conquer time and space - to push the borders of France which he inherited out into Flanders, Burgundy and Alsace, and beyond, to expand French dominion in the Americas and the East, to win what he called ‘the exquisite praises of history’ through conquests and to create a great palace which would surpass all others and secure his immortality. He became the epitome and exemplar of monarchy, the king all his contemporaries and successors imitated, envied, or fought against.

King of the World is a magnificent and perceptive account of the man who dominated the seventeenth century more than any other. To what extent did Louis have absolute power, or was decision-making in the hands of ministers and mistresses? How much of the extravagance of Versailles was for show, and how far was Louis himself the show? How could such a civilized man commit so many acts of barbarism? How effective was he as a ruler and a general? Did he leave his country stronger or weaker than it was before? Mansel offers original and persuasive answers to these questions, and weaves a brilliant tapestry of the life of one of the most compelling figures in European history.

No other English-language biography has so successfully given us a portrait of him as man and monarch…Mansel renders his satellites in fascinating detail… His grasp of the sources is superb’ - Gareth Russell, The Times, 29 June 2019.

the best single-volume account of the reign in any language’ - John Adamson, The Sunday Times, 14 July 2019.

superb… wonderfully detailed and fluent… hard to believe that this biography, in the English language at least, will ever be surpassed’ Hamish Robinson, The Oldie, August 2019.

Authoritative and nuanced… thorough success… Time and space both yield before Mansel’s authorial ambition’, Minoo Dinshaw, The Daily Telegraph, 13 July 2019.

Louis XIV loved his mother and multiple mistresses but hated Huguenots and forks. No other English-language biography has so successfully given us a portrait of him as man and the monarch… Mansel render his satellites in fascinating detail… His grasp of the sources is superb.’ - Gareth Russell, The Times, 29-6-2019 - read more:

The glory and the misery of Louis XIV’s France: The Sun King’s court certainly outshone all others — but the long, extravagant reign left a country ripe for revolution’ - David Crane, The Spectator, 6-7-2019 - read more:

The Sun King Shines: Philip Mansel begins his superb biography of Louis XIV, King of the World, with a 12-page introduction, in which he whisks the reader through ‘A Thousand Years of France’ from the reign of Clovis to the death of Henri IV.’ - Hamish Robinson, The Oldie, August 2019 - read more:

“Almost everything about Louis XIV was on a gargantuan scale,” said John Adamson in the Sunday Times. His reign, from 1643 to 1715, remains the longest in European history; at Versailles he created a palace that was the continent’s largest, and is still the world’s most visited. - Book of the week, The Week, 9 August 2019 - read more:

... excellent though Mansel is on the larger picture, - you will find no more comprehensive biography of this extraordinary monarch - his genius in King of the World lies in unpacking the complexities of Louis’ royal court’ - Miranda Seymour , Financial Times, 24 August 2019

scholarly, readable and impressively wide-ranging’ - Julia Prest, Times Literary Supplement, 10 October 2019

A superb biography of Louis XIV by Philip Mansel, the best non French historian of France. Historical biography does not get better than this’ - A N Wilson, Best Books, The Week, 19 October 2019

Philip Mansel’s superb King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV (Allen Lane, £30) will become a classic. Magisterial and definitive, this is the life’s work of one of our leading historians.’ - Jane Ridley, Spectator Books of the Year, 16 November 2019

thorough, scholarly and fluent… breath-taking… indispensable’ - Donald Lee, The Art Newspaper, December 2019

Chosen as a Book of the Year 2019 by The Times 24 August 2019, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator 16 November 2019 and BBC History Magazine, Christmas 2019 .

the ultimate biography of the Sun King… a work of scholarly analysis and flamboyant anecdotage, international conflict and sexual politics’ - Simon Sebag Montefiore, BBC History Magazine.

Informed by a relentless personal quest’ - Barnaby Rogerson, Country Life, 11 December 2019

King of the World is that much more impressive for its author’s balance of lavish detail, narrative consistency and sense of the reign’s rapidly-changing moods and flavours. The Sun King’s story maps the frontier between dreams and their fulfilment. Mansel tells it superbly’ - Jonathan Keates, The Tablet, Books of the Year

To do Louis XIV justice and encapsulate his person, his plans, his successes and his failures, all which involved a dizzying cast of characters and a mind-numbing web of relationships, is no easy task. With his extensive studies of court ritual and his sympathy for the Bourbons, Philip Mansel is the man for the job. ... Mansel’s descriptions of how Versailles functioned are masterful and high-entertaining’ - Adam Zamoyski, Standpoint, November 2019

Mr. Mansel, building on his formidable reputation as the most stylish of historians of modern Europe, is as good at explaining and illustrating Louis’s decline as his ascendancy. …a delight to read….Copiously, beautifully and intelligently illustrated, complemented by excellent maps and diagrams (notably a ground-plan of Versailles), “King of the World” is one of the most stimulating and enjoyable works on European history to have been published for many a long year.’ - Tim Blanning, Wall Street Journal

Magistrale…hypnotique’ - Antoine Flandrin, Le Monde

Ce pave est de bout en bout passionnant’ - Henri Gibier, Les Echos

un portrait majeur de Louis XIV à quelque aspect que ce soit de sa vie et de son règne, pour le plus grand plaisir de ses lecteurs.’ - Eryck de Rubercy, Revue des Deux Mondes

Un ouvrage passionnant qui tend un miroir comprehensif a l’homme, respectueux au glorieux monarque, equitable au chef d’Etat, mais impitoyable au roi de guerre, de gloire, d’orgueil et de fol entetement.’ - Joelle Cheve, Historia

Ce sens de la nuance fait l’interet de son ample biographie ou l’on s’echappe de Versailles pour se promener en France, en Europe, et meme en Chine, au royaume de Siam et dans les colonies, du Quebec ou des Antilles.’ - Francois-Guillaume Lorrain, Le Point

Great aplomb… skill and dynamism… a commendable biography of such an illustrious ruler…Mansel is especially good when outlining the behaviour of the court and the nobility.’ - Andrew Mansfield, French Historical Studies, 2020

On soulignera tout d’abord la grande richesse du livre, l’abondance des connaissances, la solidité des analyses et le brio des portraits. On a affaire ici à une somme impressionnante sur l’ensemble du règne du Roi Soleil.’ - Franck Le Moal, Le Litteraire, 26 October 2020

D’une incoryable richesse, eclaire par des sources inedites tirees d’archives anglo-saxonnes, ce regard britannique met l’accent sur la politique etrangere du Roi Soleil et sur le role des femmes dans son regne.’ - Les Echos, 23 October 2020.

Appropriately monumental…my new book at bedtime’ - Michael Dirda, The Washington Post, 18 November 2020

Comprehensive and eminently readable, the book is enlivened by surprising facts about Louis, including how his voracious appetite in infancy (he is reported to have thoroughly exhausted eight wet nurses) foreshadowed his cult of self-glorification. . . .Enhanced by lavish, full-color illustrations and meticulous notes and references regarding France’s turbulent history and the lifestyle of its royal court, Mansel’s book reveals both the glory and depravity of Louis XIV’s reign.’ - Foreword, starred review

A wonderfully meticulous look at Louis XIV (1638-1715) from a leading historian of France. . . . An impressive, comprehensive biography of the Sun King—a must-add to any Francophile’s library.’ - Kirkus Review

Mansel has mastered a bewildering array of primary and secondary sources dealing with his man and his time period, and he’s invested his entire narrative with a kind of tightly compressed narrative energy that has the most unlikely effect imaginable: it turns a 600-page biography of King Louis XIV into a genuine page-turner of a reading experience. …a genuinely impressive work… one of the year’s grandest biographies…’ - Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review, 23 September 2020

classique et sérieux, il fourmille d’anecdotes et participe de la beauté du règne. La somme est ample, délayée comme une fine causerie aristocratique, tout anglaise dans ses rituels d’expression, son ironie et sa retenue. Aussi novateur que singulier… talenteueux et caustique’ - Lucien Rabouille, Le Causeur, 29 October 2020

Il est difficile de résumer une aussi vaste synthèse, si richement peuplée de figures historiques passionnantes et de révélations comme l’importance du commerce de l’esclavag’ - Agenda, 13 November 2020

Nous avons pris un très grand plaisir à lire et à étudier cet ouvrage qui fait d’ores et déjà autorité… Magistrale… visionnaire…’ - Franck Abed, Agravox, 12 November 2020

a magnificent study of the life of Louis XIV’ - Chris Patten, The Tablet Books of the Year, December 2020

The great strength of Mansel’s book is that it shows Louis in all his different aspects…a stimulating and innovative account of the life at the brilliant court Louis built at Versailles… This excellent biography’ - Charles Littleton, The Huguneot Society Journal, 2020

The great strength of Mansel’s book is that it shows Louis in all his different aspects…a stimulating and innovative account of the life at the brilliant court Louis built at Versailles… This excellent biography’ - Charles Littleton, The Huguneot Society Journal, 2020

This is not just another book on the Bourbon king, it is a Versailles of a biography. Mansel looks behind every door. No aspect of the royal life, politics diplomacy, art, fashions, wars and religion, remains unexplored.’ - Volker Isfort, Muenchener Abendzeitung, December 2022

One has rarely seen such an ‘English’ Ludwig…In clear strokes, Mansel draws his protagonist as a ruler/monarch who forged history mostly through his personality, though, quite often seeking advice…because of the broadly chronological (as opposed to thematic) structure of the book…..it distills the personality traits of Louis, both positive and negative ones.’ - Markus Friedrich, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 2023

This opulent biography… from the perspective of an English historian, so to speak from a neutral point of view, definitely enriches our understanding of this ruler. - Harald Loch Badische Zeitung, December 2022