Published in a series of French court studies by a university press in Brittany, this collection examines some of Europe’s current concerns about immigration by probing the dimensions of early 18th-century cosmopolitanism at the court of Duke Leopold I of Lorraine (r. 1697–1729) – a prince who was himself its most prominent immigrant, having first entered it at age nineteen. His father (who died when Leopold was eleven) was one of Europe’s great military heroes but never saw his hereditary duchies of Lorraine and Bar. Leopold’s cosmopolitanism was exceptional in a ruler. His mother, the daughter and sister of Habsburg Emperors, was a former Queen of Poland who made her son fluent in both German and French; his tutor and first minister, the Count of Carlingford, was Irish; and his bodyguards were Hungarian heyduks. Leopold’s outstanding gift to his principality was utterly French: an exquisite smaller-scale version of Louis XIV’s palace and gardens at Versailles, the first in Europe, designed by Parisian architects and built at Lunéville while Louis XIV’s soldiers garrisoned Lorraine’s traditional capital of Nancy.
As its editor acknowledges, Leopold remains overshadowed in regional memory by his remarkable successor Stanislas Leczynski, a twice-deposed king of Poland who became Lorraine’s last resident prince eight years after Leopold’s death. This situation seems unfair, because Leopold, whose surviving architectural legacy rivals that of Stanislas, was Lorraine’s last independent resident prince, while Stanislas was a complete puppet of his French son-in-law, Louis XV. One might also argue that Leopold’s political cosmopolitanism was outdone by that of his son, who became successively Duke François III of Lorraine, Grand Duke Francisco Stefano of Tuscany, and finally Franz Stefan – both the first Holy Roman Emperor since Charles V (1519) with French as his mother tongue, and Europe’s first successful prince-consort as the husband of Maria Theresa.
Leopold himself certainly deserves a modern biography. One important reason why no synthetic account of his reign has appeared since Henri Baumont’s in 1894 is that since 1923 Leopold’s most important personal writings, usually in German, have remained rather arbitrarily divided between state archives in Vienna and Nancy. One consequence is that the outstanding subsequent contribution to his reign, Herbert Wolf’s Reichskirchenpolitik des Hauses Lothringen (Stuttgart, 1994), appeared exactly a century after Baumont. It ends with the deaths of Leopold’s younger brothers in 1715; together with the maturing of his children, this event reoriented his dynastic plans towards Vienna and a dynasty which accepted female inheritance with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 – and had in fact produced an heiress by the time Leopold died.
The most valuable sketch of Leopold in this volume is oddly located (p. 93–104) and comes from Renate Zedinger, the Viennese doyenne of 18th-century Habsburg dynastic relations. Strewn with archival tidbits from Vienna’s HHSA, it provides valuable guideposts towards a modern biography by deftly summarizing Leopold’s priorities, including his need for Viennese support before accepting any French offers to exchange Lorraine (p. 96) and his fruitless efforts to mediate between the French and Habsburg courts as the war of Spanish succession dragged on (p. 97–99). Leopold’s legally flimsy claim to raise his personal status to S.A.R., Son Altesse Royale was quickly acknowledged by his Habsburg patrons but only accepted by his French in-laws after Louis XIV’s death (p. 101). However, Leopold’s desire to have the permanent neutrality of his duchies officially acknowledged proved vastly more difficult, not helped when his brother was killed in 1705 while serving in the Imperial army. Only near the end of his long reign did the Emperor (1726), George I of England (1727) and the French king (1728) finally agree to Lorraine’s permanently neutral status.
Every reader will find particular favorites among these admirably wide-ranging investigations of cosmopolitanism in Leopold’s Lorraine. Mine include Frederic Richard-Maupiller’s survey of its otherwise nonexistent Irish presence under Leopold (pp. 47–60). Lorraine’s Italian immigrants turn up in both predictable and unexpected roles. Raphaël Tasin examines their contributions to Lorraine’s ecclesiastical architecture (p. 233¬¬–250), while Alain Petiot notes their prominent role in Leopold’s extensive informal private diplomatic service, including a professional joueur de paume who, after serving in Mantua and Vienna, ended up hanged in the Bastille in 1711 (p. 41–45).
Cultural exchanges in Leopold’s Lorraine cut across confessional lines. Jean Boutier examines Leopold’s new Academy, a finishing school for young European noblemen that rotated between Lunéville and Nancy (p. 73–89); it did especially well with Central European lads and with Protestants from Great Britain, who were required to eat fish on Fridays. In the opposite direction, Jean Saint-Ramond (p. 181–193) describes Leopold’s sending Philippe Veyringe, »Lorraine’s Archimedes«, to a French Protestant in London in 1720, enabling Veyringe to create continental Europe’s earliest »Copernican« planetarium (»rediscovered« by Zedinger in Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum: p. 181, n. 1), which adorned Leopold’s »cabinet of curiosities«. Like science, music is intrinsically cosmopolitan; René Deputot’s contribution (p. 251–268) offers informative maps of Leopold’s major musical talent pools in central Europe (p. 253) and France (p. 254). All in all, we have acquired a useful tool for understanding a peculiar court which borrowed heavily from both Vienna and Versailles during the early Enlightenment.
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William Monter, Rezension von/compte rendu de: Anne Motta (dir.), Échanges, passages et transferts à la cour du duc Léopold (1698–1729), Rennes (Presses universitaires de Rennes) 2017, 292 p., 34 ill., (Histoire. L’univers de la cour), ISBN 978-2-7535-5468-9, EUR 23,00., in: Francia-Recensio 2018/4, Frühe Neuzeit – Revolution – Empire (1500–1815), DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/frrec.2018.4.57466