La Fontaine had several patrons, among them Nicolas Fouquet (1615-1680), an influential statesman and the superintendent of finance, who was later arrested in 1661, accused of embezzlement and treason, and sentenced to life imprisonment – the young King, Louis XIV, was in favor of a death sentence. With the help of Fouquet, Fontaine received a small pension with easy terms: he had to write only four poems in a year. When Fouquet was imprisoned, La Fontaine wrote one of his most beautiful poems, asking mercy for his former patron. To avoid arrest, La Fontaine left Paris and spent some time in Limousin, from where he wrote letters to his wife.
From 1664 to 1672 La Fontaine served as a gentleman-in-waiting to the dowager duchess d'Orléans in Luxemburg, and from 1673 he was a member of the household of Mme de La Sabliere. In 1683 he was elected to the Academie Française in recognition of his contribution to French literature. In his welcome speech the director of the Académie told La... [à continuer]
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