Louis XIV

Article

October 28, 2021

Louis XIV, known as "the Great" or "the Sun King", born September 5, 1638 at the Château Neuf of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and died September 1, 1715 in Versailles, is a king of France and Navarre. His reign extended from May 14, 1643 - under the regency of his mother Anne of Austria until September 7, 1651 - until her death in 1715. His 72-year reign was one of the longest in the history of Europe and the longest in the history of France. Born Louis, nicknamed Dieudonné, he ascended the throne of France upon the death of his father, Louis XIII, a few months before his fifth birthday, which made him one of the youngest kings of France. He thus becomes the 64th king of France, the 44th king of Navarre and the third king of France from the Bourbon dynasty. If he does not like his principal minister of state, Colbert, to refer to Richelieu, minister of Louis XIII and uncompromising supporter of royal authority, he nevertheless fits in with his project of secular construction of absolutism. of divine right. Usually, his reign is divided into three parts: the period of his minority, troubled by the Fronde, from 1648 to 1653, during which his mother and Cardinal Mazarin rule; the period from the death of Mazarin, in 1661, to the beginning of the 1680s, during which the king governed by arbitrating between the great ministers; the period going from the beginning of the years 1680 to his death, when the king governed more and more alone, in particular after the death of Colbert, in 1683, then of Louvois, in 1691. This period was also marked by a return of the king to religion, especially under the influence of his second wife, Madame de Maintenon. His reign saw the end of the great nobiliary, parliamentary, Protestant and peasant revolts which had marked the previous decades. The monarch imposes obedience to all orders and controls currents of opinion (including literary or religious) more cautiously than Richelieu. France was, during his reign, the most populous country in Europe, which gave it a certain power, especially since, until the 1670s, the economy was doing well thanks in particular to the economic dynamism of the country and to public finances in order. Through diplomacy and war, Louis XIV asserted his power in particular against the House of Habsburg, whose possessions surrounded France. Its policy of the “pre-square” seeks to enlarge and rationalize the borders of the country, protected by the “iron belt” of Vauban, which fortifies the conquered cities. This action allows him to give France borders approaching those of the contemporary era, with the annexation of Roussillon, Franche-Comté, Lille, Alsace and Strasbourg. However, wars weighed on public finances and Louis XIV attracted suspicion from other European countries, which often joined forces at the end of his reign to counter his power. It is also the moment when, after the Glorious Revolution, England begins to assert its power, in particular maritime and economic, under the reign of a determined adversary of Louis XIV, William of Orange. From a religious point of view, the 17th century is complex and is not limited to the opposition between Catholics and Protestants. Among Catholics, the question of grace arouses strong opposition between the Jesuits and the Jansenists. Louis XIV had to decide between the various currents of religious thought, taking into account not only his own convictions, but also political considerations. Thus, if he condemns the Jansenists, it is also because he is wary of their anti-absolutism. Concerning the Protestants, if the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 is generally well received in France, the reactions in Europe and Rome are more unfavorable. Relations with the popes are in gener

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