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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’. Georges Sion, 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).

‘On saura gre a Philip Mansel d’avoir brillamment fait revivre Ligne au milieu des rois et des Empereurs’ Jean-Chrisotphe Coulot Le Quotidien des livres

‘L’esprit de Ligne a inspire son biographe le jeune historien britannique Philip Mansel. Rarement dans ce registre cocktail fut aussi bien dose entre agrement et savoir.’ Frederic Valloire, Valeurs actuelles

Son livre sur le prince de Ligne est un enchantement: nourri d’une érudition immense, il petille d’admiration, d’observations psychologiques… et de l’esprit meme du prince… la meilleure et la plus complete biographie du prince de Ligne… Une erudition aussi sure que son écriture est élégante, un esprit d’une grande curiosité et un don d’empathie qui n’exclut pas la lucidité. Jacques Franck, La Libre Belgique, 2 July 1992

La meilleure biographie du personnage. Le monde des livres

This intelligent, very well-informed, lively book Arnauld de Liederkerke, Figaro Magazine

Mansel is a young British historian who is known for a biography of Louis XVIII published ten years ago. His book on Ligne is an enchantment: fed by immense erudition, it sparkles with admiration, psychological observation and ... wit worthy of the prince himself....One cannot recount the life of Charles-Joseph de Ligne better than Mansel does; one closes his book, as one should take leave of the prince, amused, overwhelmed and sad that the hours have passed too quickly. Jacques Franck, Libre Belgique, 2 July 1992