Letters from Spain

A Seventeenth-Century French Noblewoman at the Spanish Royal Court

Marie Gigault de Bellefonds

Letters from Spain

Marie Gigault de Bellefonds

Distributed for Iter Press

Edited and Translated by Nathalie Hester
100 pages | 2 color plates | 6 x 9
Paper $41.95 ISBN: 9781649590107 Published July 2021
Marie Gigault de Bellefonds, Marquise de Villars was a well-regarded figure in Parisian salons and esteemed by King Louis XIV, and she traveled internationally to accompany her ambassador husband, playing significant diplomatic roles at the court of Savoy in Turin and at the court of Spain in Madrid. She became the confidante of the queen of Spain, Marie-Louise d’Orléans, the niece of Louis XIV, and, as instructed by the king of France, endeavored to pursue French political interests in Madrid with female members of royalty.

This volume includes her surviving letters from Madrid to her friend Madame de Coulanges and an appendix of her letters sent from Paris and Turin. The letters from Spain, written between 1679 and 1681, paint a vivid and engaging picture of the royal court and its new queen.


The Other Voice
A Diplomatic Life
Women and the Epistolary Arts
The Marquise de Villars, Letter Writer and Travel Writer
The Self-Fashioning of an Ambassadress
Bellefonds-Villars’ Extant Letters
A Note on the Translation

Letters from Spain, 1679-1681

Appendix: Three Additional Letters by the Marquise de Villars
Letter A: To the Marquise de Sévigné, Paris, August 25, 1673
Letter B: To Simon Arnauld, Marquis de Pomponne, Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs, Turin, November 1, 1676
Letter C: To Simon Arnauld, Marquis de Pomponne, Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs, Turin, September 11, 1677


Review Quotes
Nicholas Paige, University of California, Berkeley
“A correspondent of some of the most famed women writers of the age, Bellefonds-Villars dispatched a series of letters from the Spanish court of King Charles II, where her husband was King Louis XIV’s ambassador. Gender segregation in the Spanish court was such that this favorite of Charles II’s new bride, Marie-Louise d’Orléans, enjoyed a type of access denied her husband. Hester’s first-ever translation of these precious letters allows us to witness this épistolière’s metamorphosis into a back-channel diplomat, leveraging her relations with Marie-Louise d’Orléans so as to bend the Spanish monarch to the absolutist will of Louis XIV.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here