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on 31 August 2005
At last we have in English a worthy biography of a great, but too often overlooked, king. Lloyd Moote's study of Louis XIII examines with sympathy and keen insight the life of an intelligent and dedicated ruler, who overcame emotional, familial and political hurdles to decisively shape the future of France. The book takes Louis's life chronologically, giving a clear outline of events, and also studies themes such as culture, the warfare state which developed later in his reign, and the king's personal life. Naturally the huge contribution made by Cardinal Richelieu is not overlooked, and a warmer relationship between them emerges than one might expect from reading earlier works. This is a particularly important work in the continuing reassessment of Louis XIII's personality and political role, and is in refreshing contrast to the caricatures prompted by Tallemant and Dumas. It is certainly not a whitewash: Louis's failings are plainly in evidence, but so are his many strengths and attractive qualities. My only regret is that the book is not much longer! I strongly recommend this book to all readers.
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on 20 August 2013
Given the vast amount of material about the reign of Louis XIV, it is surprising just how little one finds about his father's time. So, kudos for Lloyd Moote for writing this book. I did feel that this biography could have been slightly more exciting, had the writer focused less on proving his thesis ('Louis XIII was not just doing what Richelieu told him, he was very much his own man') and more on captivating storytelling. After all, here we have someone who as a 15 year old had his mother's favorite murdered, dragged the country to war with the mighty habsburgs and maintained extramarital relationships with both men and women while being highly religious - sufficient material for an absolute pageturner which this biography was not, at least in my humble opinion. Then again, if one has a serious interest in Louis XIII and his times then this book is highly recommended.
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