1893 text

This book, which has frequently been reprinted, was written by Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy, for the amusement of his mistress, Madame de Montglas, and consists of sketches of the chief ladies of the court, in which he libelled friends and foes alike. These circulated in manuscript, and were printed at Liege in 1665. Louis XIV. was so much annoyed with the book that he sent the author to the Bastille for over a year.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

3 Annotations

First Reading

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Per L&M " Circulated for a while in MS, it had been published (with a key) early in 1655, against the author's wishes, in Holland. ..."

The copy Brouncker gave SP is not in the Pepys Library.

There are numerous ?Paris editions with the false imprint 'Londres,' the first English edition:

Loves empire; or, The amours of the French court.
London : printed for Dorman Newman at the Kings Arms in the Poultry, 1682.
[8], 224 p. ; 8⁰. Dedicatory signed: R.H.
Wing (2nd ed., 1994), B6259A


" ... In the year 1659 he fell into disgrace for having taken part in an orgy at Roissy near Paris during Holy Week, which caused great scandal. Bussy was ordered to retire to his estates, and beguiled his enforced leisure by composing, for the amusement of his sick mistress, Madame de Montglas, his famous Histoire amoureuse des Gaules (written in 1660). This book, a series of portraits and accounts of the intrigues of the chief ladies of the court, witty enough, but still more ill-natured, circulated freely in manuscript and had numerous spurious sequels. Although Bussy denied the charges (blaming Madame de la Baume), it was said that he had not spared the reputations of members of the royal family, including Madame and the Queen Mother. Bussy claimed in a letter of apology and explanation to the king that a false friend who had asked to borrow it briefly (Madame de la Baume) had copied it and altered it without his knowledge. The king, angry at the report, was momentarily appeased when Bussy showed him the original manuscript to disprove the scandal, but a closed-door meeting (most likely with Madame de la Baume) sealed Bussy's fate.

He was sent to the Bastille on April 17, 1665, where he remained for more than a year, and he was only liberated on condition of retiring to his estates, where he lived in exile for seventeen years. Bussy felt the disgrace keenly, but still more bitter was the enforced close of his military career. In 1682 he was allowed to revisit the court, but the coldness of his reception there made his provincial exile seem preferable, and he returned to Burgundy, where he died.

At the same time, he had been elected to the Academie Francaise in 1665, and held his chair there until his death in 1693.

The Histoire amoureuse is in its most striking passages adapted from Petronius, and its attractions include its famously critical portraits of Madame de Se'vinge' and the Prince de Conde' and its unique style. ..."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Histoire amoureuse des Gaules, suivie de La France galante, romans satiriques du 17e siècle attribués au comte de Bussy. Nouv. éd. contenant les maximes d'amour et la carte géographique de la cour, précédée d'observations par M. Sainte Beuve
by Bussy, Roger de Rabutin, comte de, 1618-1693
Published [1868]

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Roger de Bussy-Rabutin tried to save himself by sending a copy of the original manuscript to Louis XIV, but it was still too scandalous for the King, who particularly didn’t like the way Madame Henriette d’Angleterre was portraited.

Roger de Bussy-Rabutin was therefore rewarded with another visit to the Bastille. He was arrested on 17 April, 1665.
I wonder what Pepys made of that. Perhaps he was resigned to the Stuarts' uninhibited lifestyles by now. Learning about the French Court exploits makes it clear to me that the English Court of Charles II was in step with his contemporaries in France at least.

A Bussy-Rabutin's biography written by a Frenchwoman is at

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • May