Louis XIV of France


May 17, 2022

Louis XIV of France (French: Louis XIV; Castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, September 5, 1638 – Castle of Versailles, September 1, 1715), known as Louis the Great (French: Louis le Grand) and the Sun King (French : le Roi-Soleil), was a descendant of the royal house of Bourbon. He was king of France and Navarre from 1643 until his death in 1715, making him the longest reigning monarch in the world to this day. Louis XIV was a son of Louis XIII of France and Anna of Austria. After the untimely death of his father, he became king at the age of four. Cardinal Mazarin led French politics during Louis's minority, continuing the policies of Cardinal de Richelieu. Louis XIV was crowned at the age of fifteen, but only after Mazarin's death in 1661 did he take the reigns in his own hands. With the help of his council of ministers, especially Jean-Baptiste Colbert and François-Michel le Tellier, centralist reforms were carried out in still feudal France. The nobility lost a significant portion of their power in exchange for a seat at the king's court in the newly built Palace of Versailles. Louis XIV is often seen as the ultimate example of an absolute monarch. Through wars with foreign powers, notably Spain, the German Empire and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, Louis XIV managed to shift the northern and southern borders of France to German, Dutch and Spanish territory. Due to the many wars that Louis fought, the French state almost went bankrupt. The Sun King was an important patron of the arts and as a result his reign is often referred to as the Grand Siècle (Great Century). During this period, artists such as Racine, Rigaud, Lully and Le Nôtre flourished. Louis XIV died in 1715 at the age of 76 after a reign of 72 years. He was succeeded by his great-grandson Louis XV, as his son and grandson had previously died and the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon was excluded from succession.


In the year 1615 Louis XIII of France married Anna of Austria. The relationship between the spouses was bad, and Lodewijk's predilection for men made him neglect his marital duties. In addition, Louis XIII had become convinced that his wife was deliberately sabotaging the production of an heir to please her brother, Philip IV. Thanks to the mediation efforts of Cardinal de Richelieu, the relationship between the two spouses improved and a son was born, later Louis XIV. According to La Gazette, on December 5, 1637, the king was in town when a sudden thunderstorm broke out. He is said to have gone to the Louvre to spend the night with his wife and then had sexual intercourse with her. Whether this really happened is doubtful, because according to Louis XIII's personal physician, Charles Bouvard, the child would have been conceived in the week between 23 and 30 November 1637. Because the birth of an heir to the throne did not take so long, expectations were now high. When Anna of Austria proved pregnant in 1638, Louis XIII signed a document officially placing his kingdom under the protection of Jesus' mother, the Virgin Mary. Many monasteries in France predicted that the queen would have a happy birth. When Louis XIV was born on September 5, 1638, he was given the name Dieudonné ("God-given"). His birth gave rise to a great popular festival in the streets of Paris and the Dutch legal scholar Hugo de Groot, who lived in that city, wrote about this celebration: "Never had the people lifted up to such joy by one event". In total, the celebrations lasted three days.


Childhood (1638-1643)

The care of the newborn Lodewijk was entrusted to a nurse. In total he has seven different care