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Le Prince de Ligne: Le Charmeur de l’Europe

Paris, Perrin, 2002, 322 pages, ISBN 226201914
[as: Le Charmeur de l'Europe: Charles-Joseph de Ligne 1735-1814] Paris, Stock, 1992, 322 pages, ISBN 2234023548]

Prince Charles-Joseph de Ligne was a Renaissance man in Enlightenment Europe: a grand seigneur, a talented general, a provocative writer, a brilliant conversationalist, a great garden lover, a moralist and a memoirist. His desire for military glory and literary fame was as great as his appetite for lovers.

The Prince de Ligne witnessed the fall of Napoleon, who fascinated him but whom he refused to meet. He died during the Congress of Vienna, which redrew the map of Europe to the accompaniment of balls and intrigues.

Though sometimes neglected in Britain, Ligne has remained a popular historical figure in Europe. As the continent moves towards greater integration, Philip Mansel has provided a colourful and timely biography of this effortless European – a man for our time.

Philip Mansel approaches him through space as well as time through the countries, as well as the epochs in which he lived. There are chapters on Beloeil, Austria, The Republic of Letters, Paris, Versailles, Russia, Turkey, Belgium, Vienna, Bohemia, Napoleon, War and Peace, Europe.

‘Philip Mansel's biography is lively and extremely enjoyable to read’ Francoise Giroud (Le Journal du Dimanche)

‘This biography is rich and vivid. In addition and above all it often conveys what one could call a new outlook or unexpected treasure … Let us applaud this new portrait coming to us from London’ (Le Soir)

‘We are grateful to Philip Mansel for having brilliantly brought Ligne back to life amidst the kings and emperors’ (Le Quotidien de Paris).