Lot 201
  • 201

King Charles II--

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Le Regne Galant de [Charles II] Roy d'Angleterre
  • ink on paper
A LONG, DETAILED, AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED MEMOIR OF CHARLES II AND HIS COURT, apparently drawn from first-hand knowledge, possibly the work of a French diplomat, providing a detailed and colourful narrative of the court and its mistresses with lively descriptions of events and characters ("...[Nell Gwyn] Une comedienne, jolye creature, vive comme un poisson, ayant toujours un pié en l’air, brune et la peau fort fine et fort blanche… Elle dançoit fort bien, elle avoit une humeur enjouée et de plaisanterie…a faire mourir de rire quand elle s’y mettoit..."), manuscript in French, the text divided into three books, in a single closely-written hand, scattered corrections and revisions throughout (some in a second hand) especially of proper names (mostly being the correction of phonetic spellings), names also occasionally and inconsistently erased, the text divided into three books, c.520 pages, plus some stubs, 4to, c.1675-80, spine gilt in six compartments, binding worn, some leaves rendered fragile from damp and frayed at edges, the first few leaves also with loss at gutter, one page torn and repaired with loss of text

Catalogue Note

"...On ne doit pas penser au moins que mon dessein soit de donner ici une relation generale de toutes les affaires galantes de [Charles II], ce serait une terrible entreprise ou je ne m’enbarquerais pas…la matiere est trop ample. Non – j’ai seulement envie de regaler les honnetes gens de celles qui ont fait le plus d’eclat et qui meriteroient le mieux d’avoir part dans une Histoire de cette classe. Je veux bien repondre, que je ne dirai rien dont je n’aie ete instruit ou par mes propres yeux, ou de si bonne part que c’est tout comme je l’avois vu moi-meme..."

'Le Regne Galante' provides a detailed and sympathetic view of the court of Charles II with its complex network of mistresses and love affairs. The anonymous author, who seems to have been at court in the 1670s, gives an approving description of the King himself - commenting, for example on the misleading impression of his naturally majestial appearance ("...l’air beau et d’autorité, le regard fier, et qui lui faisoit une phisionomie contraire a son caractere, l’acces facile et plein d’humanite...") - and focuses in particular on his mistresses, especially Lady Castlemaine, but he also gives detailed accounts of the lives and loves of other leading figures at court. The Duke of York figures prominently, and the author evidently found his more formal and withdrawn character - as is revealed, for example, in the comment that Lady Castlemaine was the only person at court who presumed to compliment him on his return to health after an illness - less appealing than that of his brother. There is also extensive discussion of the the Dukes of Buckingham and Monmouth, as well as an emphasis on persons of natural French interest such as Charles de Saint-Évremond and Louise de Keroualle. THIS REMARKABLE AND PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED MANUSCRIPT IS A SIGNIFICANT NEW SOURCE FOR THE COURT OF CHARLES II.