Histoire amoureuse des Gaules (The Romantic History of the Gauls) was written in 1660 by Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy (1618–93) for his mistress, Madame de Montglas, and consists of four witty and fairly damning accounts of the intrigues of the chief ladies of the court of the period. The circulation of the work in manuscript, and then in print, resulted in Bussy’s imprisonment by Louis XIV in 1665 for thirteen months, followed by his provincial exile to his estates in Burgundy until 1682.

Histoire amoureuse remained in print throughout the eighteenth century, both in French and in English translation. In May 1666 Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary, ‘Thence by water to Redriffe, reading a new French book my Lord Bruncker (the first president of the Royal Society) did give me to-day, L’histoire amoureuse des Gaules, being a pretty libel against the amours of the court of France’. The work was very popular amongst the French and English virtuosi, containing such bon mots as ‘Love comes from blindness, friendship from knowledge’, and ‘Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it kindles the great.’

As well as the nine colour plates, the Athéna edition includes an amusing map titled ‘Le pays de braquerie’ or ‘The Lands of Plunder’.

The Athéna edition of Histoire amoureuse des Gaules, illustrated tastefully by Derambure, was produced in a boxed and numbered limited edition of 990 copies.