The Précis du siècle de Louis XV is in many ways the most fascinating of his historical writings, and one of the least known. In it, we see him combining his techniques as a historian with those of the contemporary eyewitness – the ‘on dit’ of the earlier histories becomes ‘Je le sais, j’y étais’.
Précis du siècle de Louis XV (I-III)
Introduction, chapters 1-43, Appendices, Représentation des Etats de l’empireHistoire de la guerre de 1741
About the Book
The Précis du siècle de Louis XV is an account of Voltaire’s own world. His sources are the memoirs of leading military or political figures, many known to him personally, the wide range of archives and state papers to which he had access as historiographe de France, what he reads in the press, and what he picks up in conversation. We have moved from Voltaire historian to Voltaire the shrewd eye-witness, writing with vivacity of what he has seen and heard.
In this edition, which will be complete in summer 2020, the editors present a comprehensive introduction to the work, detailing the genesis and evolution of the text through its many iterations. The introduction is followed by the 43 chapters of the Précis, continuing the story from the death of Louis XIV, through the Regency, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years War, Voltaire finally turning his attention to French domestic politics and the attempted assassination of the king by Damiens, in the context of the struggle between the crown and the parlement.
Contributors: Janet Godden, James Hanrahan, Ruggero Sciuto