Thierry Sarmant is conservateur en chef du patrimoine, directeur-adjoint du département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. He may be contacted at email@example.com. Pierre Waksman is conservateur en chef honoraire du patrimoine, Service historique de la Défense, Château de Vincennes
From 1691 until 1712 Louis XIV corresponded directly with the generals in command of his armies. This correspondence, conserved in the army archives at Vincennes, is almost entirely unpublished. A critical edition is underway, and we already have the transcription of the letters written by the king in 1696. Reading these missives brings to light a very different sun-king from the one we know from official propaganda or from historical memory: a cautious and scrupulous prince, slow to action, more a leader of the general staff than a war leader. What we take away from the study of the monarch's military correspondence is, in fact, nothing less than a fresh understanding of the ‘stratégie de cabinet’—the direction of the French armies from Versailles.