Madame de Pompadour: Sex, Culture and Power by Margaret Crosland
This biography provides a new interpretation of the life and achievements of Madame de Pompadour (1721 - 1764), the favourite mistress of Louis XV. The book describes how Madame de Pompadour entertained the King with cultural activities that ranged from amateur theatricals to architecture. She protected writers and painters, supported the development of Sevres porcelain and could not resist entering the power game. Her attempt to control the Seven Years War was a failure, but she was largely responsible for enterprises such as the Ecole Militaire. Even when the king turned to younger women for sex, she was the "eminence rose". The author sets out to show how Madame de Pompadour's life reveals the extent and limitations of women's power and status in the 18th century.