What Saint-Simon said to describe the park of Louis XIV also applies to his Court. The influence of the model across Europe gives us a Pan-European discourse traceable back to Castiglione, but more importantly for the XVII century to Gracian whose immensely successful Man of the Court was “translated” into French by La Houssaye.
Here are a few maxims from the famous book: The master of himself, will soon be that of the others. To obtain your goal, do not employ more force than is necessary. The courtier will give you his opinion only to do completely the opposite. Know the disease before you feel the pulse. Study the lowest of the passions, theirs is the greatest number.
Baron Besenval in his Memoirs gives us such a courtier with a portrait of Duke Choiseul, the French ambassador in Italy. Choiseul’s arrival to Rome begins by the way of a minor conflict. The vacant opera lodge of the French Ambassador has been given to some lady. Choiseul does not let it slide, he demands as a compensation the lodge of the Governor Arquinto. But the offended Governor will soon have an opportunity to avenge himself: upon the death of Cardinal Valenti, he is to be appointed the new Secretary of State.
Fearful of what may happen once the Governor Arquinto occupies such an important post, Choiseul attempts to intervene before Benoit XIV, but the papal decision is irreversible. Upon learning the circumstances of the case, Duke Choiseul decides to be the first to announce to Arquinto the good news and congratulate him on his appointment.