LOUIS XIV (5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), known as LOUIS THE
GREAT (Louis le Grand) or the SUN KING (le Roi Soleil), was a monarch
House of Bourbon
Louis began his personal rule of
Louis encouraged and benefited from the work of prominent political,
military, and cultural figures such as
During Louis' reign,
* 1 Early years
* 2 Minority and the Fronde
* 2.1 Accession * 2.2 Early acts
* 3 Personal reign and reforms
* 3.1 Coming of age and early reforms * 3.2 Relations with the major colonies
* 4 Early wars in the Low Countries
* 4.1 Spain * 4.2 Relations with the Dutch * 4.3 Non-European relations and the colonies
* 5 Height of power
* 5.1 Centralisation of power
* 6 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes
* 7 League of Augsburg
* 7.1 Causes and conduct of the war * 7.2 Treaty of Ryswick
* 8.1 Causes and build-up to the war * 8.2 Acceptance of the will of Charles II and consequences * 8.3 Commencement of fighting * 8.4 Turning point * 8.5 Conclusion of peace
* 9 Personal life
* 9.1 Marriages and children * 9.2 Piety and religion * 9.3 Patronage of the arts
* 10 Image and depiction
* 10.1 Evolution of royal portraiture
* 10.2 Other works of art
* 10.5 In fiction
* 10.5.1 Literature * 10.5.2 Films * 10.5.3 Television
* 11 Health and death
* 11.1 Succession
* 12 Legacy
* 12.1 Reputation * 12.2 Quotes
* 13 Titles, styles, honours and arms
* 13.1 Titles and styles * 13.2 Arms
* 14 Order of Saint Louis
* 15 Family
* 15.1 Ancestors
* 15.1.1 Patrilineal descent
* 15.2 Issue
* 16 See also * 17 References
* 18 Bibliography
* 18.1 Primary sources
* 19 External links
Louis XIV as a young child, unknown painter
Louis XIV was born on 5 September 1638 in the Château de
Saint-Germain-en-Laye , to
Sensing imminent death,
Louis' relationship with his mother was uncommonly affectionate for the time. Contemporaries and eyewitnesses claimed that the Queen would spend all her time with Louis. Both were greatly interested in food and theatre, and it is highly likely that Louis developed these interests through his close relationship with his mother. This long-lasting and loving relationship can be evidenced by excerpts in Louis' journal entries, such as:
"Nature was responsible for the first knots which tied me to my mother. But attachments formed later by shared qualities of the spirit are far more difficult to break than those formed merely by blood."
It was his mother who gave Louis his belief in the absolute and divine power of his monarchical rule.
In 1646, Nicolas V de Villeroy became the young king's tutor. Louis XIV became friends with Villeroy's young children, particularly François de Villeroy , and divided his time between the Palais-Royal and the nearby Hotel de Villeroy.
MINORITY AND THE FRONDE
On 14 May 1643, with
Anne kept the direction of religious policy strongly in her hand
until 1661; her most important political decisions were to nominate
Cardinal Mazarin as her chief minister and her continuation of her
late husband's and
Cardinal Richelieu 's policy, despite their
persecution of her, for the sake of her son. Anne wanted to give her
son an absolute authority and a victorious kingdom. Her rationales for
The best example of Anne's statesmanship and the partial change in
her heart towards her native Spain is seen in her keeping of one of
Richelieu's men, the Chancellor of
The Queen also gave a partial Catholic orientation to French foreign policy. This was felt by the Netherlands, France's Protestant ally, which negotiated a separate peace with Spain in 1648.
In 1648, Anne and
Europe after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648
Thirty Years' War came to an end, a civil war known as the
Fronde (after the slings used to smash windows) erupted in France. It
effectively checked France's ability to exploit the Peace of
Westphalia. Anne and
All this led her to advocate a forceful policy in all matters
relating to the King's authority, in a manner that was much more
radical than the one proposed by Mazarin. The Cardinal depended
totally on Anne's support and had to use all his influence on the
Queen to avoid nullifying, but to restrain some of her radical
actions. Anne imprisoned any aristocrat or member of parliament who
challenged her will; her main aim was to transfer to her son an
absolute authority in the matters of finance and justice. One of the
leaders of the
The Frondeurs, political heirs of the disaffected feudal aristocracy, sought to protect their traditional feudal privileges from the increasingly centralized royal government. Furthermore, they believed their traditional influence and authority was being usurped by the recently ennobled bureaucrats (the Noblesse de Robe, or "nobility of the robe"), who administered the kingdom and on whom the monarchy increasingly began to rely. This belief intensified the nobles' resentment. 1655 portrait of Louis, the Victor of the Fronde, portrayed as the god Jupiter
In 1648, Anne and
Moreover, a mob of angry Parisians broke into the royal palace and demanded to see their king. Led into the royal bedchamber, they gazed upon Louis, who was feigning sleep, were appeased, and then quietly departed. The threat to the royal family prompted Anne to flee Paris with the king and his courtiers.
Shortly thereafter, the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia allowed Condé's army to return to aid Louis and his court. Condé's family was close to Anne at that time, and he agreed to help her attempt to restore the king's authority.
The queen's army, headed by Condé, attacked the rebels in Paris; the rebels were under the political control of Anne's old friend Marie de Rohan . Beaufort, who had escaped from the prison where Anne had incarcerated him five years before, was the military leader in Paris, under the nominal control of Conti. After a few battles, a political compromise was reached; the Peace of Rueil was signed, and the court returned to Paris.
Unfortunately for Anne, her partial victory depended on Condé, who wanted to control the queen and destroy Mazarin's influence. It was Condé's sister who pushed him to turn against the queen.
After striking a deal with her old friend Marie de Rohan, who was able to impose the nomination of Charles de l\'Aubespine, marquis de Châteauneuf as minister of justice, Anne arrested Condé, his brother Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti , and the husband of their sister Anne Genevieve de Bourbon, duchess of Longueville . This situation did not last long, and Mazarin's unpopularity led to the creation of a coalition headed mainly by Marie de Rohan and the duchess of Longueville. This aristocratic coalition was strong enough to liberate the princes, exile Mazarin, and impose a condition of virtual house arrest on Queen Anne.
All these events were witnessed by Louis and largely explained his
later distrust of Paris and the higher aristocracy "In one sense,
Louis' childhood came to an end with the outbreak of the Fronde. It
was not only that life became insecure and unpleasant – a fate meted
out to many children in all ages – but that Louis had to be taken
into the confidence of his mother and
Just as the first Fronde (the Fronde parlementaire of 1648–1649) ended, a second one (the Fronde des princes of 1650–1653) began. Unlike that which preceded it, tales of sordid intrigue and half-hearted warfare characterized this second phase of upper-class insurrection. To the aristocracy, this rebellion represented a protest against and a reversal of their political demotion from vassals to courtiers . It was headed by the highest-ranking French nobles, among them Louis' uncle Gaston, Duke of Orléans and first cousin Anne Marie Louise d\'Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier , known as la Grande Mademoiselle; Princes of the Blood such as Condé, his brother Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti , and their sister the Duchess of Longueville ; dukes of legitimised royal descent, such as Henri, Duke of Longueville , and François, Duke of Beaufort ; so-called "foreign princes " such as Frédéric Maurice, Duke of Bouillon , his brother Marshal Turenne , and Marie de Rohan , Duchess of Chevreuse; and scions of France's oldest families, such as François de La Rochefoucauld .
Queen Anne played the most important role in defeating the Fronde because she wanted to transfer absolute authority to her son. In addition, most of the princes refused to deal with Mazarin, who went into exile for a number of years. The Frondeurs claimed to act on Louis' behalf, and in his real interest against his mother and Mazarin.
Queen Anne had a very close relationship with the Cardinal, and many
observers believed that
During this period, Louis fell in love with Mazarin's niece Marie
Mancini , but Anne and
PERSONAL REIGN AND REFORMS
COMING OF AGE AND EARLY REFORMS
Louis XIV, King of France, in 1661 Royal Monogram
Louis XIV was declared to have reached the age of majority on 7 September 1651. On the death of Mazarin, in March 1661, Louis assumed personal control of the reins of government and astonished his court by declaring that he would rule without a chief minister: "Up to this moment I have been pleased to entrust the government of my affairs to the late Cardinal. It is now time that I govern them myself. You will assist me with your counsels when I ask for them. I request and order you to seal no orders except by my command . . . I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport . . . without my command; to render account to me personally each day and to favor no one". Louis was able to capitalize on the widespread public yearning for law and order, that resulted from prolonged foreign wars and domestic civil strife, to further consolidate central political authority and reform at the expense of the feudal aristocracy. Praising his ability to choose and encourage men of talent, the historian Chateaubriand noted: "it is the voice of genius of all kinds which sounds from the tomb of Louis".
Louis began his personal reign with administrative and fiscal
reforms. In 1661, the treasury verged on bankruptcy. To rectify the
situation, Louis chose
Fouquet appeared eager to succeed
With Fouquet dismissed, Colbert reduced the national debt through more efficient taxation. The principal taxes included the aides and douanes (both customs duties ), the gabelle (a tax on salt), and the taille (a tax on land).The taille was reduced at first; financial officials were forced to keep regular accounts, auctioning certain taxes instead of selling them privately to a favored few, revising inventories and removing unauthorized exemptions (for example, in 1661 only 10 per cent from the royal domain reached the King). Reform proved difficult because the taille was levied by officers of the Crown who had purchased their post at a high price: punishment of abuses necessarily lowered the value of the post. Nevertheless, excellent results were achieved: the deficit of 1661 turned into a surplus in 1666. The interest on the debt was reduced from 52 million to 24 million livres. The taille was reduced to 42 million in 1661 and 35 million in 1665; finally the revenue from indirect taxation progressed from 26 million to 55 million. The revenues of the royal domain were raised from 80,000 livres in 1661 to 5,5 million livres in 1671. In 1661, the receipts were equivalent to 26 million British pounds, of which 10 million reached the treasury. The expenditure was around 18 million pounds, leaving a deficit of 8 million. In 1667, the net receipts had risen to 20 million pounds sterling , while expenditure had fallen to 11 million, leaving a surplus of 9 million pounds.
To support the reorganized and enlarged army, the panoply of Versailles, and the growing civil administration, the king needed a good deal of money. Finance had always been the weak spot in the French monarchy: methods of collecting taxes were costly and inefficient; direct taxes passed through the hands of many intermediate officials; and indirect taxes were collected by private concessionaries, called tax farmers, who made a substantial profit. Consequently, the state always received far less than what the taxpayers actually paid.
The main weakness arose from an old bargain between the French crown and nobility: the king might raise taxes without consent if only he refrained from taxing the nobles. Only the "unprivileged" classes paid direct taxes, and this term came to mean the peasants only, since many bourgeois, in one way or another, obtained exemptions.
The system was outrageously unjust in throwing a heavy tax burden on the poor and helpless. Later, after 1700, the French ministers who were supported by Louis' secret wife Madame De Maintenon, were able to convince the king to change his fiscal policy. Louis was willing enough to tax the nobles but was unwilling to fall under their control, and only towards the close of his reign, under extreme stress of war, was he able, for the first time in French history, to impose direct taxes on the aristocratic elements of the population. This was a step toward equality before the law and toward sound public finance, but so many concessions and exemptions were won by nobles and bourgeois that the reform lost much of its value.
Louis and Colbert also had wide-ranging plans to bolster French
commerce and trade. Colbert's mercantilist administration established
new industries and encouraged manufacturers and inventors, such as the
Louis instituted reforms in military administration through Michel le Tellier and the latter's son François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois . They helped to curb the independent spirit of the nobility, imposing order on them at court and in the army. Gone were the days when generals protracted war at the frontiers while bickering over precedence and ignoring orders from the capital and the larger politico-diplomatic picture. The old military aristocracy (the Noblesse d'épée, or "nobility of the sword") ceased to have a monopoly over senior military positions and rank. Louvois, in particular, pledged to modernize the army and re-organize it into a professional, disciplined, well-trained force. He was devoted to the soldiers' material well-being and morale, and even tried to direct campaigns.
RELATIONS WITH THE MAJOR COLONIES
Legal matters did not escape Louis' attention, as is reflected in the
Great Ordinances " he enacted. Pre-revolutionary
One of Louis' more infamous decrees was the Grande Ordonnance sur les
Colonies of 1685, also known as the
Louis ruled through a number of councils:
* Conseil d'en haut ("High Council", concerning the most important matters of state)—composed of the king, the crown prince, the contrôleur général des finances (minister of finances), and the secretaries of state in charge of various departments. The members of that council were called ministers of state. * Conseil des dépêches ("Council of Messages", concerning notices and administrative reports from the provinces). * Conseil de Conscience ("Council of Conscience", concerning religious affairs and episcopal appointments). * Conseil royal des finances ("Royal Council of Finances") who was headed by the "chef du conseil des finances" (an honorary post in most cases)—this was one of the few posts in the council that was opened to the high aristocracy.
EARLY WARS IN THE LOW COUNTRIES
Louis XIV in 1670, engraved portrait by Robert Nanteuil The future Philip V being introduced as king of Spain by his grandfather, Louis XIV
The death of King
Philip IV of Spain
War of Devolution did not focus on the payment of the dowry,
rather, the lack of payment was what Louis XIV used as a pretext for
nullifying Maria Theresa's renunciation of her claims, allowing the
land to "devolve" to him. In the Brabant (the location of the land in
dispute), children of first marriages traditionally were not
disadvantaged by their parents’ remarriages and still inherited
property. Louis' wife was Philip IV's daughter by his first marriage,
while the new King of Spain, Charles II, was his son by a subsequent
marriage. Thus, Brabant allegedly "devolved" to Maria Theresa. This
RELATIONS WITH THE DUTCH
Forces of Louis XIV before Schenkenschanz , 1672
Internal problems in the
The Triple Alliance did not last very long. In 1670, French gold
bought the adherence of
Charles II of England
In 1674, when
By placing Louis in a military position far superior to his enemies', these victories brought the war to a speedy end. Six years of war had exhausted Europe, and peace negotiations were soon concluded in 1678 with the Treaty of Nijmegen . Although Louis returned all the Dutch territory he had captured, he retained the Franche-Comté and gained more land in the Spanish Netherlands.
The conclusion of a general peace permitted Louis to intervene in the Scanian War in 1679, on behalf of his ally Sweden. He forced Brandenburg-Prussia to the peace table at the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye , and imposed peace on Denmark-Norway by the Treaty of Fontainebleau and the Peace of Lund , all concluded in 1679.
SILVER COIN OF LOUIS XIV, DATED 1674
Obverse. The Latin inscription is LVDOVICVS XIIII D GRA ("Louis
XIV, by the grace of God").
Reverse. The Latin inscription is FRAN ET NAVARRÆ REX 1674 ("King
The successful conclusion of the Treaty of Nijmegen enhanced French influence in Europe, but Louis was still not satisfied. In 1679, he dismissed his foreign minister Simon Arnauld, marquis de Pomponne , because he was seen as having compromised too much with the allies. Louis maintained the strength of his army, but in his next series of territorial claims avoided using military force alone. Rather, he combined it with legal pretexts in his efforts to augment the boundaries of his kingdom. Contemporary treaties were intentionally phrased ambiguously. Louis established the Chambers of Reunion to determine the full extent of his rights and obligations under those treaties.
Cities and territories, such as
Following these annexations, Spain declared war, precipitating the
War of the Reunions . However, the Spanish were rapidly defeated
because the Emperor (distracted by the
Great Turkish War
Louis' policy of the Réunions may have raised
NON-EUROPEAN RELATIONS AND THE COLONIES
French colonies multiplied in Africa, the Americas, and Asia during
Louis' reign, and French explorers made important discoveries in North
America. In 1673,
Louis Jolliet and
Jacques Marquette discovered the
Meanwhile, diplomatic relations were initiated with distant
countries. In 1669,
Suleiman Aga led an Ottoman embassy to revive the
Franco-Ottoman alliance . Then, in 1682, after the reception of
the Moroccan embassy of
From farther afield, Siam dispatched an embassy in 1684, reciprocated
by the French magnificently the next year under Alexandre, Chevalier
de Chaumont . This, in turn, was succeeded by another Siamese embassy
Kosa Pan , superbly received at Versailles in 1686. Louis then
sent another embassy in 1687, under
Simon de la Loubère , and French
influence grew at the Siamese court, which granted
Mergui as a naval
base to France. However, the death of Narai, King of Ayutthaya , the
execution of his pro-French minister
HEIGHT OF POWER
CENTRALISATION OF POWER
By the early 1680s, Louis had greatly augmented French influence in the world. Domestically, he successfully increased the influence of the crown and its authority over the church and aristocracy, thus consolidating absolute monarchy in France.
Louis initially supported traditional
Gallicanism , which limited
papal authority in France, and convened an Assembly of the French
clergy in November 1681. Before its dissolution eight months later,
the Assembly had accepted the
Declaration of the Clergy of France ,
which increased royal authority at the expense of papal power. Without
royal approval, bishops could not leave France, and appeals could not
be made to the Pope. Additionally, government officials could not be
excommunicated for acts committed in pursuance of their duties.
Although the king could not make ecclesiastical law, all papal
regulations without royal assent were invalid in France.
Unsurprisingly, the pope repudiated the Declaration. Louis
receiving the Doge of
By attaching nobles to his court at Versailles, Louis achieved increased control over the French aristocracy. Apartments were built to house those willing to pay court to the king. However, the pensions and privileges necessary to live in a style appropriate to their rank were only possible by waiting constantly on Louis. For this purpose, an elaborate court ritual was created wherein the king became the centre of attention and was observed throughout the day by the public. With his excellent memory, Louis could then see who attended him at court and who was absent, facilitating the subsequent distribution of favours and positions. Another tool Louis used to control his nobility was censorship, which often involved the opening of letters to discern their author's opinion of the government and king. Moreover, by entertaining, impressing, and domesticating them with extravagant luxury and other distractions, Louis not only cultivated public opinion of him, he also ensured the aristocracy remained under his scrutiny.
Louis' extravagance at Versailles extended far beyond the scope of
elaborate court rituals. In an excerpt from Diderot 's
In 1668 the king of
This, along with the prohibition of private armies, prevented them
from passing time on their own estates and in their regional power
bases, from which they historically waged local wars and plotted
resistance to royal authority. Louis thus compelled and seduced the
old military aristocracy (the "nobility of the sword") into becoming
his ceremonial courtiers, further weakening their power. In their
place, Louis raised commoners or the more recently ennobled
bureaucratic aristocracy (the "nobility of the robe"). He judged that
royal authority thrived more surely by filling high executive and
administrative positions with these men because they could be more
easily dismissed than nobles of ancient lineage, with entrenched
influence. It is believed that Louis' policies were rooted in his
experiences during the Fronde, when men of high birth readily took up
the rebel cause against their king, who was actually the kinsman of
some. This victory of Louis' over the nobility may have then in fact
ensured the end of major civil wars in
FRANCE AS THE PIVOT OF WARFARE
Main article: International relations 1648-1814
During the very long reign of King Louis XIV (1643 – 1715), France
fought three major wars: the
Franco-Dutch War , the War of the League
of Augsburg , and the
War of the Spanish Succession
Vauban was pessimistic about France's so-called friends and allies:
For lukewarm, useless, or impotent friends,
REVOCATION OF THE EDICT OF NANTES
It has traditionally been suggested that the devout Madame de
Maintenon pushed Louis to persecute Protestants and revoke the 1598
Edict of Nantes , which awarded
Huguenots political and religious
freedom, but her influence in the matter is now being questioned.
Louis, himself, saw the persistence of Protestantism as a disgraceful
reminder of royal powerlessness. After all, the Edict was the
pragmatic concession of his grandfather Henry IV to end the
French Wars of Religion
Responding to petitions, Louis initially excluded Protestants from office, constrained the meeting of synods , closed churches outside of Edict-stipulated areas, banned Protestant outdoor preachers, and prohibited domestic Protestant migration. He also disallowed Protestant-Catholic intermarriages to which third parties objected, encouraged missions to the Protestants, and rewarded converts to Catholicism. This discrimination did not encounter much Protestant resistance, and a steady conversion of Protestants occurred, especially among the noble elites.
In 1681, Louis dramatically increased his persecution of Protestants. The principle of cuius regio, eius religio generally had also meant that subjects who refused to convert could emigrate, but Louis banned emigration and effectively insisted that all Protestants must be converted. Secondly, following the proposal of René de Marillac and the Marquis of Louvois, he began quartering dragoons in Protestant homes. Although this was within his legal rights, the dragonnades inflicted severe financial strain on Protestants and atrocious abuse. Between 300,000 and 400,000 Huguenots converted, as this entailed financial rewards and exemption from the dragonnades .
On 15 October 1685, Louis issued the Edict of Fontainebleau , which cited the redundancy of privileges for Protestants given their scarcity after the extensive conversions. The Edict of Fontainebleau revoked the Edict of Nantes and repealed all the privileges that arose therefrom. By his edict, Louis no longer tolerated the existence of Protestant groups, pastors, or churches in France. No further churches were to be constructed, and those already existing were to be demolished. Pastors could choose either exile or a secular life. Those Protestants who had resisted conversion were now to be baptised forcibly into the established church. Protestant peasants rebelled against the officially sanctioned dragonnades (conversions enforced by dragoons , labeled "missionaries in boots") that followed the Edict of Fontainebleau.
Writers have debated Louis' reasons for issuing the Edict of
Fontainebleau. He may have been seeking to placate
Many historians have condemned the
Edict of Fontainebleau as gravely
harmful to France. In support, they cite the emigration of about
200,000 highly skilled
Huguenots (roughly one-fourth of the Protestant
population, or 1% of the French population) who defied royal decrees
On the other hand, there are historians who view this as an exaggeration. They argue that most of France's preeminent Protestant businessmen and industrialists converted to Catholicism and remained.
What is certain is that reaction to the Edict was mixed. Even while
French Catholic leaders exulted,
In the end, however, despite renewed tensions with the Camisards of
LEAGUE OF AUGSBURG
Main article: War of the Grand Alliance
CAUSES AND CONDUCT OF THE WAR
Battle of Fleurus , 1690 Louis in 1690.
War of the League of Augsburg , which lasted from 1688 to 1697,
initiated a period of decline in Louis' political and diplomatic
fortunes. The conflict arose from two events in the
In light of his foreign and domestic policies during the early 1680s,
which were perceived as aggressive, Louis' actions, fostered by the
succession crises of the late 1680s, created concern and alarm in much
of Europe. This led to the formation of the 1686 League of Augsburg by
the Holy Roman Emperor, Spain, Sweden,
Another event that Louis found threatening was the Glorious
Revolution of 1688, in England. Although King James II was Catholic,
his two Anglican daughters, Mary and Anne , ensured the English people
a Protestant succession. However, when James II's son James was born,
he took precedence in the succession over his elder sisters. This
seemed to herald an era of Catholic monarchs in England. Protestant
lords took up arms and called on the Dutch Prince William III of
Orange , grandson of
Charles I of England
French armies were generally victorious throughout the war because of
Imperial commitments in the Balkans, French logistical superiority,
and the quality of French generals such as Condé's famous pupil,
François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de
Although an attempt to restore James II failed at the Battle of the
Boyne in 1690,
In July 1695, the city of Namur , occupied for three years by the
French, was besieged by an allied army led by William III. Louis XIV
ordered the surprise destruction of a Flemish city to divert the
attention of these troops. This led to the bombardment of Brussels ,
in which 4-5000 buildings were destroyed, including the entire
city-center. The strategy failed, as Namur fell three weeks later, but
harmed Louis XIV's reputation: a century later,
Peace was broached by Sweden in 1690. By 1692, both sides evidently wanted peace, and secret bilateral talks began, but to no avail. Louis tried to break up the alliance against him by dealing with individual opponents, but this did not achieve its aim until 1696, when the Savoyards agreed to the Treaty of Turin and switched sides. Thereafter, members of the League of Augsburg rushed to the peace table, and negotiations for a general peace began in earnest, culminating in the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697.
TREATY OF RYSWICK
Main article: Treaty of Ryswick
The treaty yielded many benefits for France. Louis secured permanent
French sovereignty over all of Alsace, including Strasbourg, and
French military superiority might have allowed him to press for more
advantageous terms. Thus, his generosity to Spain with regard to
WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION
CAUSES AND BUILD-UP TO THE WAR
By the time of the Treaty of Ryswick, the Spanish succession had been
a source of concern to European leaders for well over forty years.
King Charles II ruled a vast empire comprising Spain, Naples , Sicily
The principal claimants to the throne of Spain belonged to the ruling
In an attempt to avoid war, Louis signed the Treaty of the Hague with
William III of England in 1698. This agreement divided Spain's Italian
territories between Louis's son le Grand Dauphin and the Archduke
Charles, with the rest of the empire awarded to Joseph Ferdinand.
William III consented to permitting the Dauphin's new territories to
become part of
Six months later, Joseph Ferdinand died. Therefore, in 1700, Louis and William III concluded a fresh partitioning agreement, the Treaty of London . This allocated Spain, the Low Countries, and the Spanish colonies to the Archduke. The Dauphin would receive all of Spain's Italian territories. Charles II acknowledged that his empire could only remain undivided by bequeathing it entirely to a Frenchman or an Austrian. Under pressure from his German wife, Maria Anna of Neuburg , Charles II named the Archduke Charles as his sole heir.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE WILL OF CHARLES II AND CONSEQUENCES
Louis in 1701.
On his deathbed in 1700, Charles II unexpectedly changed his will.
The clear demonstration of French military superiority for many
decades before this time, the pro-French faction at the court of
Spain, and even
Louis was confronted with a difficult choice. He might agree to a
partition of the Spanish possessions and avoid a general war, or
accept Charles II's will and alienate much of Europe. Initially, Louis
may have been inclined to abide by the partition treaties. However,
the Dauphin's insistence persuaded Louis otherwise. Moreover, Louis's
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, marquis de Torcy , pointed
out that war with the Emperor would almost certainly ensue whether
Louis accepted the partition treaties or Charles II's will. He
emphasised that, should it come to war, William III was unlikely to
Most European rulers accepted Philip as king, though some only
reluctantly. Depending on one's views of the war as inevitable or not,
Louis acted reasonably or arrogantly. He confirmed that Philip V
retained his French rights despite his new Spanish position.
Admittedly, he may only have been hypothesising a theoretical
eventuality and not attempting a Franco-Spanish union. But his actions
were certainly not read as being disinterested. Moreover, Louis sent
troops to the
COMMENCEMENT OF FIGHTING
The Franco-Spanish army led by the Duke of Berwick defeated decisively the Alliance forces of Portugal, England, and the Dutch Republic at the Battle of Almansa . The Battle of Ramillies between the French and the English, 23 May 1706.
Even before war was officially declared, hostilities began with Imperial aggression in Italy. When finally declared, the War of the Spanish Succession would last almost until Louis's death, at great cost to him and the kingdom of France.
The war began with French successes, however the joint talents of
John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough , and
Eugene of Savoy checked
these victories and broke the myth of French invincibility. The duo
allowed the Palatinate and Austria to occupy
Defeats, famine, and mounting debt greatly weakened France. Between
1693 and 1710, over two million people died in two famines, made worse
as foraging armies seized food supplies from the villages. In his
desperation, Louis XIV even ordered a disastrous invasion of the
English island of
The final phases of the
War of the Spanish Succession
French military successes near the end of the war took place against
the background of a changed political situation in Austria. In 1705,
the Emperor Leopold I died. His elder son and successor, Joseph I ,
followed him in 1711. His heir was none other than the Archduke
Charles, who secured control of all of his brother's Austrian land
holdings. If the Spanish empire then fell to him, it would have
resurrected a domain as vast as that of
Holy Roman Emperor
CONCLUSION OF PEACE
As a result of the fresh British perspective on the European balance
of power, Anglo-French talks began that culminated in the 1713 Treaty
of Utrecht between Louis,
Philip V of Spain
In the general settlement, Philip V retained Spain and its colonies,
whereas Austria received the
MARRIAGES AND CHILDREN
Dual Cypher of King Louis XIV 1661–67), Bonne de Pons d\'Heudicourt (1665), Catherine Charlotte de Gramont (1665), Françoise-Athénaïs, Marquise de Montespan (with whom he had 7 children; 1667–80), Anne de Rohan-Chabot (1669–75), Claude de Vin des Œillets (1 child born in 1676), Isabelle de Ludres (1675–78), and Marie Angélique de Scorailles (1679–81), who died at age 19 in childbirth. Through these liaisons, he produced numerous illegitimate children, most of whom he married to members of cadet branches of the royal family .
Louis proved relatively more faithful to his second wife, Françoise d\'Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon . He first met her through her work caring for his children by Madame de Montespan, noting the care she gave to his favorite, Louis Auguste, Duke of Maine . The king was, at first, put off by her strict religious practice, but he warmed to her through her care for his children.
When he legitimized his children by Madame de Montespan on 20 December 1673, Françoise became the royal governess at Saint-Germain. As governess, she was one of very few people permitted to speak to him as an equal, without limits. It is believed that they were married secretly at Versailles on or around 10 October 1683 or January 1684. This marriage, though never announced or publicly discussed, was an open secret and lasted until his death.
PIETY AND RELIGION
Louis XIV encouraged Catholic missions through the creation of the Paris Foreign Missions Society .
Louis was a pious and devout king who saw himself as the head and protector of the Gallican Church. Louis made his devotions daily regardless of where he was, following the liturgical calendar regularly. Under the influence of his very religious second wife, he became much stronger in the practice of his Catholic faith. This included the banning of opera and comedy performances during Lent.
Towards the middle and the end of his reign, the centre for the
King's religious observances was usually the Chapelle Royale at
Versailles. Ostentation was a distinguishing feature of daily Mass,
annual celebrations, such as those of
Holy Week , and special
ceremonies. Louis established the
Paris Foreign Missions Society ,
but his informal alliance with the
PATRONAGE OF THE ARTS
Painting from 1667 depicting Louis as patron of the fine arts.
Louis generously supported the royal court of
Over the course of four building campaigns, Louis converted a hunting
lodge built by
Versailles became a dazzling, awe-inspiring setting for state affairs and the reception of foreign dignitaries. At Versailles, the king alone commanded attention.
Several reasons have been suggested for the creation of the extravagant and stately palace, as well as the relocation of the monarchy's seat. For example, the memoirist Saint-Simon speculated that Louis viewed Versailles as an isolated power center where treasonous cabals could be more readily discovered and foiled. Alternatively, there has been speculation that the revolt of the Fronde caused Louis to hate Paris, which he abandoned for a country retreat. However, his sponsorship of many public works in Paris, such as the establishment of a police force and of street-lighting, lend little credence to this theory. As a further example of his continued care for the capital, Louis constructed the Hôtel des Invalides , a military complex and home to this day for officers and soldiers rendered infirm either by injury or old age. While pharmacology was still quite rudimentary in his day, the Invalides pioneered new treatments and set new standards for hospice treatment. The conclusion of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle , in 1668, also induced Louis to demolish the northern walls of Paris in 1670 and replace them with wide tree-lined boulevards.
Louis also renovated and improved the Louvre and other royal residences. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was originally to plan additions to the Louvre; however, his plans would have meant the destruction of much of the existing structure, replacing it with an Italian summer villa in the centre of Paris. Bernini's plans were eventually shelved in favour of Perrault's elegant colonnade. With the relocation of the court to Versailles, the Louvre was given over to the arts and the public. During his visit from Rome, Bernini also executed a renowned portrait bust of the king.
IMAGE AND DEPICTION
Bronze bust of Louis XIV. Circa 1660 CE, by unknown artist. From Paris, France. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Few rulers in world history have commemorated themselves in as grand a manner as Louis. Louis used court ritual and the arts to validate and augment his control over France. With his support, Colbert established from the beginning of Louis' personal reign a centralised and institutionalised system for creating and perpetuating the royal image. The King was thus portrayed largely in majesty or at war, notably against Spain. This portrayal of the monarch was to be found in numerous media of artistic expression, such as painting, sculpture, theatre, dance, music, and the almanacs that diffused royal propaganda to the population at large.
EVOLUTION OF ROYAL PORTRAITURE
Le roi gouverne par lui-même, modello for the central panel of the ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors ca. 1680 by Le Brun , (1619–1690)
Over his lifetime, Louis commissioned numerous works of art to
portray himself, among them over 300 formal portraits. The earliest
portrayals of Louis already followed the pictorial conventions of the
day in depicting the child king as the majestically royal incarnation
of France. This idealisation of the monarch continued in later works,
which avoided depictions of the effect of the smallpox that Louis
contracted in 1647. In the 1660s, Louis began to be shown as a Roman
emperor, the god
The depiction of the king in this manner focused on allegorical or
mythological attributes, instead of attempting to produce a true
likeness. As Louis aged, so too did the manner in which he was
depicted. Nonetheless, there was still a disparity between realistic
representation and the demands of royal propaganda. There is no better
illustration of this than in
Rigaud's portrait exemplified the height of royal portraiture during Louis' reign. Although Rigaud crafted a credible likeness of Louis, the portrait was neither meant as an exercise in realism nor to explore Louis' personal character. Certainly, Rigaud was concerned with detail and depicted the king's costume with great precision, down to his shoe buckle.
However, Rigaud's intention was to glorify the monarchy. Rigaud's
original, now housed in the Louvre , was originally meant as a gift to
Philip V of Spain
OTHER WORKS OF ART
In addition to portraits, Louis commissioned at least 20 statues of himself in the 1680s, to stand in Paris and provincial towns as physical manifestations of his rule. He also commissioned "war artists" to follow him on campaigns to document his military triumphs. To remind the people of these triumphs, Louis erected permanent triumphal arches in Paris and the provinces for the first time since the decline of the Roman Empire .
Louis' reign marked the birth and infancy of the art of medallions. Sixteenth-century rulers had often issued medals in small numbers to commemorate the major events of their reigns. Louis, however, struck more than 300 to celebrate the story of the king in bronze, that were enshrined in thousands of households throughout France.
He also used tapestries as a medium of exalting the monarchy.
Tapestries could be allegorical, depicting the elements or seasons, or
realist, portraying royal residences or historical events. They were
among the most significant means to spread royal propaganda prior to
the construction of the
Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Hall of
Palace of Versailles
Louis loved ballet and frequently danced in court ballets during the early half of his reign. In general, Louis was an eager dancer who performed 80 roles in 40 major ballets. This approaches the career of a professional ballet dancer.
His choices were strategic and varied. He danced four parts in three
He sometimes danced leading roles which were suitably royal or godlike (such as Neptune, Apollo, or the Sun). At other times, he would adopt mundane roles before appearing at the end in the lead role. It is considered that, at all times, he provided his roles with sufficient majesty and drew the limelight with his flair for dancing. For Louis, ballet may not have merely been a tool for manipulation in his propaganda machinery. The sheer number of performances he gave as well as the diversity of roles he played may serve to indicate a deeper understanding and interest in the art form.
Besides the official depiction and image of Louis, his subjects also followed a non-official discourse consisting mainly of clandestine publications, popular songs, and rumors that provided an alternative interpretation of Louis and his government. They often focused on the miseries arising from poor government, but also carried the hope for a better future when Louis escaped the malignant influence of his ministers and mistresses, and took the government into his own hands. On the other hand, petitions addressed either directly to Louis or to his ministers exploited the traditional imagery and language of monarchy. These varying interpretations of Louis abounded in self-contradictions that reflected the people's amalgamation of their everyday experiences with the idea of monarchy.
Alexandre Dumas portrayed Louis in his two sequels to The Three Musketeers : first as a child in Twenty Years After , then as a young man in The Vicomte de Bragelonne , in which he is a central character. The final part of the latter novel recounts the legend that a mysterious prisoner in an iron mask was actually Louis' twin brother and has spawned numerous film adaptations generally titled The Man in the Iron Mask .
In 1910, the American historical novelist Charles Major wrote "The Little King: A Story of the Childhood of King Louis XIV".
Louis is a major character in the 1959 historical novel "Angélique et le Roy" ("Angélique and the King"), part of the Angelique Series . The protagonist, a strong-willed lady at Versailles, rejects the King's advances and refuses to become his mistress. A later book, the 1961 "Angélique se révolte" ("Angélique in Revolt"), details the dire consequences of her defying this powerful monarch.
A character based on Louis plays an important role in The Age of Unreason , a series of four alternate history novels written by American science fiction and fantasy author Gregory Keyes .
In the 39 Clues series universe, it has been noted that Louis was part of the Cahill branch, Tomas.
The film, Le Roi Danse (2000; translated: The King Dances), directed by Gérard Corbiau , reveals Louis through the eyes of Jean-Baptiste Lully , his court musician. Julian Sands portrayed Louis in Roland Jaffe's Vatel (2000).
Alan Rickman directed, co-wrote, and stars as Louis XIV in the film, A Little Chaos , which centers on construction in the gardens of Versaille, at the time immediately before and after the death of Queen Maria Theresa.
The 2016 film
The Death of Louis XIV , directed by
The 15-year-old Louis XIV, as played by the Irish actor Robert Sheehan , is a major character of the short-lived historical fantasy series Young Blades from January to June 2005.
HEALTH AND DEATH
Despite the image of a healthy and virile king that Louis sought to project, evidence exists to suggest that Louis' health was not all that good. He had many ailments, for example, symptoms of diabetes , as confirmed in reports of suppurating periostitis in 1678, dental abscesses in 1696, along with recurring boils , fainting spells, gout , dizziness , hot flushes, and headaches .
From 1647 to 1711, the three chief physicians to the king (Antoine
Vallot, Antoine d\'Aquin , and
Guy-Crescent Fagon ) recorded all of
his health problems in the Journal de Santé du Roi (Journal of the
King's Health), a daily report of his health. On 18 November 1686,
Louis underwent a painful operation for an anal fistula that was
performed by the surgeon Charles Felix de Tassy, who prepared a
specially shaped curved scalpel for the occasion. The wound took more
than two months to heal. Louis XIV (seated) with his son le
Grand Dauphin (to the left), his grandson
Louis, Duke of Burgundy (to
the right), his great-grandson Louis Duke of Anjou , and Madame de
Ventadour , Anjou's governess, who commissioned this painting; busts
of Henry IV and
After 72 years on the throne, Louis died of gangrene at Versailles, on 1 September 1715, four days before his 77th birthday. Enduring much pain in his last days, he finally "yielded up his soul without any effort, like a candle going out", while reciting the psalm Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina (O Lord, make haste to help me).
His body was laid to rest in Saint-Denis Basilica outside Paris. It remained there undisturbed for about 80 years, until revolutionaries exhumed and destroyed all of the remains found in the Basilica.
Louis outlived most of his immediate legitimate family. His last
surviving son, the Dauphin, died in 1711. Barely a year later, the
Duke of Burgundy, the eldest of the Dauphin's three sons and then heir
to Louis, followed his father. Burgundy's elder son, Louis, Duke of
Louis foresaw a minority and sought to restrict the power of his nephew Philip II, Duke of Orléans who, as closest surviving legitimate relative in France, would become the prospective Louis XV's regent. Accordingly, the king created a regency council as Louis XIII had in anticipation of his own minority, with some power vested in his illegitimate son Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, Duke of Maine .
Orléans, however, had Louis' will annulled by the
According to Philippe de Dangeau 's Journal, Louis on his deathbed advised his heir with these words:
Do not follow the bad example which I have set you; I have often
undertaken war too lightly and have sustained it for vanity. Do not
imitate me, but be a peaceful prince, and may you apply yourself
principally to the alleviation of the burdens of your subjects
Territorial expansion of
Some historians point out that it was a customary demonstration of
piety in those days to exaggerate one's sins. Thus they do not place
much emphasis on Louis' deathbed declarations in assessing his
accomplishments. Rather, they focus on military and diplomatic
successes, such as how he placed a French prince on the Spanish
throne. This, they contend, ended the threat of an aggressive Spain
that historically interfered in domestic French politics. These
historians also emphasise the effect of Louis' wars in expanding
France's boundaries and creating more defensible frontiers that
Arguably, Louis also applied himself indirectly to "the alleviation
of the burdens of subjects." For example, he patronised the arts,
encouraged industry, fostered trade and commerce, and sponsored the
founding of an overseas empire. Moreover, the significant reduction in
civil wars and aristocratic rebellions during his reign are seen by
these historians as the result of Louis' consolidation of royal
authority over feudal elites. In their analysis, his early reforms
Louis' detractors have argued that his considerable foreign, military, and domestic expenditure impoverished and bankrupted France. His supporters, however, distinguish the state, which was impoverished, from France, which was not. As supporting evidence, they cite the literature of the time, such as the social commentary in Montesquieu 's Persian Letters . Royal procession passing the Pont-Neuf under Louis XIV
Alternatively, Louis' critics attribute the social upheaval
culminating in the
Louis has often been criticised for his vanity. The memoirist Saint-Simon , who claimed that Louis slighted him, criticised him thusly:
There was nothing he liked so much as flattery, or, to put it more plainly, adulation; the coarser and clumsier it was, the more he relished it.
For his part,
It is certain that he passionately wanted glory, rather than the
conquests themselves. In the acquisition of
Nonetheless, Louis has also received praise. The anti-Bourbon
In 1848, at
Nuneham House , a piece of Louis' mummified heart, taken
from his tomb and kept in a silver locket by Lord Harcourt ,
Archbishop of York
Numerous quotes have been attributed to Louis XIV by legend. He
supposedly said: "I am the state" (L'état, c'est moi.). But
TITLES, STYLES, HONOURS AND ARMS
Royal styles of
King Louis XIV
Par la grâce de Dieu, Roi de
REFERENCE STYLE His Most Christian Majesty
SPOKEN STYLE Your Most Christian Majesty
ALTERNATIVE STYLE Monsieur Le Roi
TITLES AND STYLES
Arms of Louis XIV of
Notes Upon his accession to the throne Louis assumed the royal
coat of arms of
17. Françoise of Alençon
9. Jeanne III of Navarre
19. Marguerite of Angoulême
20. Cosimo I de\' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
10. Francesco I de\' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
5. Marie de\' Medici
22. Ferdinand I,
Holy Roman Emperor
11. Joanna of Austria
1. LOUIS XIV OF FRANCE
24. Charles V,
Holy Roman Emperor
25. Isabella of
26. Maximilian II,
Holy Roman Emperor
13. Anna of Austria
27. Maria of Austria
28. Ferdinand I,
Holy Roman Emperor
29. Anne of Bohemia and Hungary (= 23)
7. Margaret of Austria
30. Albert V, Duke of
15. Maria Anna of
31. Anna of Austria
Louis' patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son.
Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations - which means that if King Louis were to choose an historically accurate house name it would be Robertian, as all his male-line ancestors have been of that house.
Louis' patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son. It follows the Bourbon, Kings of France, and the Counts of Paris and Worms. This line can be traced back more than 1,200 years from Robert of Hesbaye to the present day, through Kings of France padding:0.4em 2em">
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* ^ "Louis XIV". MSN Encarta. 2008. Archived from the original on 1
November 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
* ^ Some monarchs of states in the
Holy Roman Empire
* ^ Lynn 1999 , p. 326. * ^ Lynn 1999 , p. 334. * ^ Lynn 1999 , p. 342. * ^ Lynn 1999 , p. 356-360. * ^ A B C D Bryant 2004 , p. 80. * ^ Buckley, Veronica . Madame de Maintenon: The Secret Wife of Louis XIV. London: Bloomsbury, 2008 * ^ Bryant 2004 , p. 77. * ^ "Morganatic and Secret Marriages in the French Royal Family". Retrieved 10 July 2008. : The description of the marriage as morganatic is inaccurate as French law does not define such marriages. * ^ John B. Wolf, Louis XIV p. 280. * ^ A B Bryant 2004 , p. 83. * ^ Gaudelus, Sébastien (2000). "La Mise en Spectacle De La Religion Royale: Recherches sur la Devotion de Louis XIV". Histoire, Economie et Société. 19 (4): 513–526. doi :10.3406/hes.2000.2133 .
* ^ Tony Claydon, Europe and the Making of England, 1660–1760
(2007) p 182
* ^ Dunlop, Ian. "Louis XIV", p. 242-251, Pimlico London 2001.
* ^ Dunlop, p. 247.
* ^ Bluche, François. "Louis XIV", p. 497, Hachette Litteratures,
* ^ Burke, Peter (1992). "The fabrication of Louis XIV". History
Today. 42 (2).
* ^ Perez, Stanis (July–September 2003). "Les rides d'Apollon:
l'évolution des portraits de Louis XIV" . Revue d'histoire moderne et
contemporaine. 50 (3): 62–95. ISSN 0048-8003 .
* Ashley, Maurice P. Louis XIV And The Greatness Of
* Ranum, Orest, ed. The Century of Louis XIV (1972) documents; online
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