I. [ANON] [Christine de France] RELATION | DE | La Cour de Savoye | OU | LES AMOURS | DE | MADAME ROYALE. | [Woodcut ornament of a squirrel] A PARIS. 1667.
II. [ANON] [DE LA VALLIÈRE, Louise] LE PORTRAICT | de Mademoiſelle, | D. L. V. | Adiouſtés | Les | deuiſes ſur les Armes | de Mr. Colbert. || [Woodcut of a denarius from the reign of Vespasian] || A Fribourg. | Par Pierre Metsker [s.d., c. 1668-1670].
Ad. I. First edition. An anonymous satire on the love life of Christine of France, the Duchess of Savoy, published four years after her death in 1663. In 1637, at age 31, Christine became regent of Savoy following the demise of her husband, Victor Amadeus I—the so-called Lion of Susa. Politics and war plaited inelegantly with her affairs, details of which leaked to the hoi polloi over the years, and became the stuff of public-house gossip. First among Christine's lovers was Paolo de Marini, a Genoa envoy to the French court, with whom she conducted a quick and frantic romance. Then, an affair with her brother-in-law, Maurice of Savoy, a patron of the arts. But since 1630 Christine had been in love with composer and choreographer Count Filippo d'Aglié, which affair became public after the death of Amadeus. The Count d'Aglié was publicly accused of embezzlement, and became a favorite target of critics of the Court of Savoy. d'Aglié died the year our book was published, though his burial place remained unknown, until 1989, when his remains were discovered during excavations in the gardens of Monte dei Cappuccini. This account of Christine's romantic life was popular, and three 1667 editions are known—this Paris printing, another produced at Amsterdam by Isaac van Dyck, and a third without publisher or place, but perhaps printed at Leiden. No copies of our Paris edition located in American libraries, though two copies of the van Dyck edition found, at Michigan State and Duke, and a single copy of the [Leiden] edition, at UCLA.
Ad. II. Only edition. A sympathetic "portrait" of Louise, Duchess of Vallière, perhaps the most famous of the Louis XIV's mistresses. When Louise's father, the Duke of Orléans, died in 1661, Louise moved to Luxembourg Palace with her mother and sisters. The Sun King was embroiled in rumors of an affair with Henrietta, Madame de Choisy, who was married to Louis's brother, Philippe I, the Duke of Orléans. The schemers at court, including Mme de Choisy, decided to deflect these damaging rumors by presenting Louis with a choice of legitimate potential mistresses; Louise, then 16 years old, was one of them. Louise did not know she was a pawn in a larger game, and entered into a love affair with Louis that would last seven years. The infatuation, at least on Louise's part, was genuine, and famously remarked Ah! s'il n'était pas le roi… This, along with her poise and love of riding, charmed Louis, and soon he returned her affections. The relationship was a secret one; Louise was never une maîtresse-en-titre. She bore him five children, only one of which survived into adulthood. Conflict arose when Louis wished to make their affair public, and in shame, Louise absconded to a convent. Louis took another mistress, Françoise-Athénaïs, the marquise of Montespan. By 1667, Louis and Louise's relationship was in tatters, and she died at her Carmelite nunnery in 1710, at age 65. Our short, anonymous book is written from a highly personal first-person perspective, as though by Louise herself, with a number of her poems printed for the first time. The second part of the book is an odd non-sequitur slander on Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's minister of finance, who is referred to as a "serpent" throughout. Printed by the otherwise unknown Pierre Metsker at Fribourg, near Bern, Le Portraict probably appeared about 1668 (the copy cited in Charles Nodier's 1844 catalogue assigns this date), just following the public revelation of Louise's relationship with the Sun King. A single copy located in OCLC, at University of Virginia, reporting an erroneous publication date of 1640.
Fribourg and Paris: Pierre Metsker, 1667-1670.
12mo, 125 x 73 x 9 mm (binding), 124 x 72 x 7 mm (binding); I: A12, B6 (B6 blank and present), 33  pp; II: A12 (A12 blank and present), 22  pp. Early 19th-century calf, gilt double-rule borders and blind Greek-key mitered rolls, titled in gilt directly on spine in second and fourth compartments: AMOURS | DE | MADAME and PORTR | DE | MLLE. Some wear to extremities, boards a bit dinged, endpapers toned. AEG; green silk bookmarker present. Interior: Margins somewhat precious, tail of imprint perhaps cropped in second work.
Neither work recorded in the standard bibliographies. On Christine de France, please see Augusto Bazzoni's La reggenza di Maria Cristina, duchessa di Savoia, Milan: Tipografia scolastica di Seb. Franco e figli, 1865. On Louise de la Vallière, please see Guy Breton's Histoires d'amour de l'histoire de France IV: Les favorites de Louis XIV, Paris: Presses de la Cité, 1991