Dr Mark Bryant

Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History

Mark Bryant


I completed my undergraduate B.A. (Hons) degree at Royal Holloway, and then stayed at the University of London to complete my PhD at Queen Mary that was underpinned by research conducted in the London, Cambridge, Parisian and Versailles archives. My work focuses on early modern France and in particular the later reign of Louis XIV, 1680-1715.



  • Queen of Versailles and First Lady of Louis XIV’s France: Madame de Maintenon, 1635-1715 (McGill Queen’s Press: Forthcoming 2018/19).

Review: “Queen of Versailles thoroughly explores the roles Madame de Maintenon played in the reign of Louis XIV. Mark Bryant follows Maintenon through the morass of seventeenth-century politics, religious controversies, and court   factions to produce a truly impressive work of scholarship, demonstrating a confident command of a vast array of sources.” Kathleen Wellman, Southern Methodist University and author of Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France (2013)

  • The Hydra of Heresy: Religious and Political Crises in Louis XIV’s France, 1688-1715 (Boydell & Brewer: work in progress)


Chapters & Articles:

  • “The Catholic Church and Its Dissenters, 1685-1715”, chap. 9 in Julia Prest and Guy Rowlands eds., The Third Reign of Louis XIV, c. 1682-1715 (Routledge, 2017), pp. 145-61
  • “Romancing the Throne: Mme de Maintenon’s Journey from Secret Royal Governess to Louis XIV’s Clandestine Consort, 1652–84”, in The Court Historian (December, 2017)
  • “The Catholic Church and Its Dissenters, 1685-1715”, chap. 9 in G. Rowlands and J. Prest eds., The Third Reign of Louis XIV, c. 1682-1715 (Ashgate, 2017), pp. 145-61.
  • “Partner, Matriarch & Minister – The Unofficial Consort: Mme de Maintenon, 1680-1715”, in C.C. Orr ed., Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815: The Role of the Consort (Cambridge University Press, 2004)



  • Tony Claydon and Charles-Édouard Levillain, eds. Louis Outside In: Images of the Sun King Beyond France, 1661-1715 (Ashgate, 2015), ‘H-France’ Review, Vol. 17 (July 2017), no. 99 at: http://www.h-  france.net/vol17reviews/vol17no99Bryant.pdf
  • Sonja Kmec, Across the Channel: A Study of the Lives of Marie de La Tour – Queen of the Huguenots – and Charlotte de La Trémoïlle, Countess of Derby (Kliomedia, 2010) in the English Historical Review (August 2012)
  • Tim Mc Hugh, Hospital Politics in Seventeenth-Century France: The Crown, Urban Elites and the Poor, by Tim McHugh (Ashgate, 2007) in the English Historical Review (June, 2010)
  • Hans Blom, John Christian Laursen & Luisa Simonutti eds., Monarchisms in the Age of Enlightenment: Liberty, Patriotism and the Common Good (Toronto, 2007) in the English Historical Review (April, 2009)
  • Walter C. Utt and Brian E. Strayer, The Bellicose Dove: Claude Brousson and Protestant Resistance to Louis XIV, 1647-98 (Sussex Academic Press, 2003) in French History (December, 2007)
  • E. Corp, A Court in Exile: The Stuarts in France, 1689-1718 (Cambridge University Press, 2006), in ‘H-France’ Review, Vol. 9 (January 2009), No. 7 at: http://www.h-france.net/vol9reviews/vol9no7bryant.pdf

Recent Conferences Organized & Papers (2007-)

  • “Notes on a Scandal: Jansensism & the Unigenitus Crisis, 1709-15” paper delivered at the Society for French Historical Studies meeting in Washington (April, 2017)
  • Co-organized the Society for the Study of French History annual conference held at Chichester  & delivered a paper: “The Quietist & Jansenist Crises in Louis XIV’s France, 1687-1715” (June, 2016)
  • “Vanity or Insanity? Why did Louis XIV Revoke the Edict of Nantes in 1685?” paper delivered at the Western Society for the Study of French History Meeting in Chicago (November, 2015)
  • “Apocalypse Nigh? The Aftermath of Oudenarde & Military Imbroglio of 1708” paper delivered at the Society for French Historical Studies meeting in Montreal (April, 2014) & expanded & delivered at the Institute of Historical Research to the ‘Europe, 1500-1800’ Seminar (April, 2015)
  • “Romancing the Throne: Mme de Maintenon’s Journey from Secret Royal Governess to the Sun King’s Clandestine Consort, 1669-84” paper delivered at the Society for French Historical Studies meeting in Boston (April, 2013) & expanded & delivered to The Society for Court Studies (December, 2015)
  • “An Appetite for Destruction? Mme de Maintenon, Louis XIV and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1677-97” paper delivered at the Society for French Historical Studies meeting in Boston (LA, 2012)
  • “Contacts & Sponsors, Protégés & Parasites: Mme de Maintenon’s Clientage-Patronage Network, 1652-1715” paper delivered at ‘The Andrew Lossky Memorial Panel’ I organized at Western Society for the Study of French History annual conference (October, 2009): ‘The Mechanics of Power Networks in Early Modern France’ with Professors Sharon Kettering, Greg Monahan & Professor Sara Chapman (USA: University of Colorado, October 2009)
  • “The Personal Misrule of Louis XIV, 1691-1715?” paper delivered at an international conference I organized with Dr Tim McHugh entitled The Dynamics of Power in Early Modern France: Collaboration, Coercion, Conflict sponsored by the ‘Society for the Study of French History’ & the Institute of Historical Research (Institute of Historical Research, London, July 2009)
  • “The Private Life of Louis XIV” seminar paper as part of Round Table Discussion in Honour of Dr Roger Mettam at the Institute of Historical Research, London, with Professor Jim Collins (Georgetown): “Reappraising Absolutism”; & Professor Stuart Carroll (York): “The Nobility & the State in C17th France” (May, 2009)
  • “The Phantom Menace? Louis XIV, Mme de Maintenon, the Cardinal de Noailles & the Jansenist Crisis, 1698-1715” paper delivered to the Western Society for the Study of French History annual conference (Québec, 2008)
  • “Spiritual & Political Torrents? The Quietist Controversy, 1689-99” seminar paper delivered at the Institute of Historical Research to the ‘Europe, 1500-1800’ Seminar (April, 2007)
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Louis XIV is traditionally credited with having transformed France into a centralized proto-modern state, but now this period is being reconceptualized as historians dissect the second half of the Sun King’s ‘personal rule’. Hitherto this period of defeat and disaster, 1685-1715, had been neglected by specialists and overlooked by revisionists, but it in fact provided the supreme test of Louis XIV’s government. Envied across the globe during the successful initial phases when Versailles was constructed and glorious wars prosecuted, France was then supremely tested yet somehow managed to survive a series of seemingly insurmountable political, military, subsistence, financial, religious, succession and constitutional crises and flourished after Louis’ demise.

My research investigates these events and the individuals involved better to understand the dynamics of power in early modern France and the seemingly durable system of government that Louis XIV created. I have just finished a monograph assessing the powerful influence exerted by Louis’ secret wife and confidante, Mme de Maintenon; and am currently working on another: The Hydra of Heresy in Louis XIV’s France, 1688-1715. This work examines the religious crises that bedevilled the crown in the latter part of the reign, namely Quietism and Jansenism, that were often generated by Louis’ myopic policies and exacerbated by blunt and simplistic solutions, which ultimately undermined the King’s supposedly ‘absolute’ authority.

I am also writing and publishing articles and chapters developing numerous international conference papers investigating changing attitudes to Protestant persecution in the 1690s; the aftermath of the devastating defeat at Oudenarde & military imbroglio of 1708; relations between the Franco-Spanish Bourbon courts, 1700-15; the power of public opinion, 1685-1715; and the ‘decline’ of Versailles, 1688-1715.

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My teaching focuses on ‘Early Modern History’, ranging from the C14th Renaissance to the French Revolution, 1789-99. I’m particularly interested not just in dynastic state-building within the continent, but also how Europe interacted with the wider world, which changed so dramatically after Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean in 1492.

My modules analyse the ways in which European Societies evolved and responded to the challenges and profound changes brought about by the discovery of ‘new worlds’ in the West and East (the Americas, China, Australia and Pacific ‘Utopias’) and ‘revolutions’ that took place in the spheres of culture and science (art and architectural techniques, printing and witch-hunting, microscopes and telescopes, Empiricism and Newtonianism); religious convulsions (the Protestant and Catholic Reformations); warfare and international relations (gunpowder weapons and military expansionism); literary and intellectual developments (particularly during the C18th Enlightenment); social mores and shifting gender relations; politics, propaganda & the dynamics of power (England in 1649 and 1688, and America in 1776 e.g.); plus global commerce and colonisation, the positive and of course negative consequences of which are still being keenly felt today.

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Research Output


Bryant, M. (2017) ‘Romancing the Throne’: Mme de Maintenon’s Journey from Secret Royal Governess to Louis XIV’s Clandestine Consort, 1652–84. The Court Historian, 22 (2). pp. 123-150. ISSN 1462-9712 10.1080/14629712.2017.1388703


Bryant, M. (2020) Queen of Versailles: Madame de Maintenon, First Lady of Louis XIV's France. Other. McGill-Queen's University Press, Canada.

Conference or Workshop Item

Bryant, M. (2013) Romancing the throne: Maintenon's journey from secret royal governess to the Sun King's clandestine consort, 1669-84. In: Society of French Historical Studies 59th Annual Meeting, 4-7 April 2013, Cambridge Marriott Hotel Cambridge, MA. (Unpublished)

Bryant, M. (2012) An appetite for destruction?: Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon, and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1677-1687. In: Society of French Historical Studies 58th Annual Meeting, 22-24 March 2012, Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, Los Angeles, CA. (Unpublished)

Other department members

Alwyn Turner
Alwyn W Turner
Senior Lecturer in History
Clare Toombes
Student Employability Adviser
Dick Ellis
Visiting Professor in American Studies

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