Allan Massie

Vaulting Ambition

The Man Who Outshone the Sun King: The Rise and Fall of Nicholas Foucquet


Nicolas Foucquet (1615–80) was a well-read man, but, like most Frenchmen of his time, he had probably scarcely heard of Shakespeare, and almost certainly never seen or read his plays. Had he done so, he might have taken note of Macbeth’s remarks about ‘vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other’, for his ambition was rash and excessive, and his fall precipitous.

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