Historians have, on the whole, dealt somewhat harshly with the fascinating Madame de Montespan, perhaps taking their impressions from the judgments, often narrow and malicious, of her contemporaries. To help us get a fairer estimate, her own Memoirs written by herself should surely serve. The cynical Court lady, whose beauty bewitched a great King, and whose ruthless sarcasm made Duchesses quail, is here drawn for us in vivid fashion by her own hand, and while concerned with depicting other figures she really portrays her own. Certainly, in these Memoirs she is generally content to keep herself in the background, while giving us a faithful picture of the brilliant Court at which she was for long the most lustrous ornament. It is only by stray touches, a casual remark, a chance phrase, that we, as it were, gauge her temperament in all its wiliness, its egoism, its love of supremacy, and its shallow worldly wisdom. Yet it could have been no ordinary woman who held the handsome Louis so long her captive. The fair Marquise was more than a mere leader of wit and fashion. Armed with beauty and sarcasm, she won a leading place for herself at Court, and held it in the teeth of all detractors. In these pages we possess a reliable record of Court life during the brightest period of the reign of Louis XIV.