Louys Boissevin: “Portraits des rois de France”


Published in Paris, 1660. Leather binding, 29×20,5 cm, first edition in french. Good condition.


Published in Paris, 1660. Leather binding, 29×20,5 cm, first edition in french. Good condition.

Portraits  the kings of France with a summary speech containing the main actions of their reign, their births, marriages, deaths and other curious remarks.

Important rulers of France

Louis IX (1226–70)

France’s only canonized king, Saint Louis, was the country’s monarch from the age of 12 until his death, although his mother, Blanche of Castille, ruled through his adolescence. He was a reformer and developed French royal justice, banning trials by ordeal, limiting private wars, and introducing the presumption of innocence to criminal proceedings. On the other hand, inspired by Catholic devotion, he punished blasphemy, gambling, interest-bearing loans, and prostitution and expanded the scope of the Inquisition.

Francis I (1515–47)

This patron of the arts brought about the French Renaissance, enticing artists from Italy to work on the Château de Chambord. Amongst those who came were Leonardo da Vinci, accompanied by the Mona Lisa. Other important cultural changes of his reign were the rise of absolute monarchy, the spread of humanism and Protestantism, and the exploration of the New World. For his role in the development of standardized French, he is known as Le Père et Restaurateur des Lettres.

Henry IV (1589–1610)

Good King Henry was initially an unpopular monarch. Baptized a Catholic but raised a Protestant, he fought on the side of the latter during the French Wars of Religion. For four years on the throne he kept his faith but afterward saw no option but to convert in order to ensure peace. A tolerant, pragmatic politician, he guaranteed religious liberties with the Edict of Nantes in 1598, ending for a time the interfaith war. He was assassinated by fanatical Catholic François Ravaillac on the Rue de la Ferronnerie in Les Halles.

Louis XIV (1643–1715)

Louis the Great or the Sun King enjoyed the longest reign of any European monarch in history at 72 years and 110 days. During this time of absolutism on the continent, he continued his predecessors’ work of creating a centralized state governed from the capital, eliminating the remains of feudalism and compelling the nobility to relocate to the Palace of Versailles. A lover of warfare in all forms, France’s arguably most powerful ruler abolished the Edict of Nantes which had protected religious minorities for over a century, causing them to flee or convert in droves.