Louis XIV

King of France from 1643 to 1715 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné; 5 September 1638  1 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), was King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. His verified reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest of any sovereign.[1][lower-alpha 1] Although Louis XIV's France was emblematic of the Age of Absolutism in Europe,[3] the King surrounded himself with a variety of significant political, military, and cultural figures, such as Bossuet, Colbert, Louvois, Le Brun, Le Nôtre, Lully, Mazarin, Molière, Racine, Turenne, Condé, and Vauban.

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Louis XIV
Portrait of Louis XIV aged 63
King of France
Reign14 May 1643 – 1 September 1715
Coronation7 June 1654
Reims Cathedral
PredecessorLouis XIII
SuccessorLouis XV
RegentAnne of Austria (1643–1651)
Chief ministers
See list
Born(1638-09-05)5 September 1638
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died1 September 1715(1715-09-01) (aged 76)
Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Burial9 September 1715
(m. 1660; died 1683)
(m. 1683)
among others...
Louis-Dieudonné de France
FatherLouis XIII
MotherAnne of Austria
ReligionCatholicism (Gallicanism)
SignatureLouis XIV's signature

Louis began his personal rule of France in 1661, after the death of his chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, when the King famously declared that he would take over the job himself.[4] An adherent of the divine right of kings, Louis continued his predecessors' work of creating a centralised state governed from the capital. He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France; by compelling many members of the nobility to reside at his lavish Palace of Versailles, he succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many of whom had participated in the Fronde rebellions during his minority. He thus became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchy in France that endured until the French Revolution. Louis also enforced uniformity of religion under the Catholic Church. His revocation of the Edict of Nantes abolished the rights of the Huguenot Protestant minority and subjected them to a wave of dragonnades, effectively forcing Huguenots to emigrate or convert, virtually destroying the French Protestant community.

During Louis's long reign, France emerged as the leading European power and regularly asserted its military strength. A conflict with Spain marked his entire childhood, while during his personal rule, Louis fought three major continental conflicts, each against powerful foreign alliances: the Franco-Dutch War, the Nine Years' War, and the War of the Spanish Succession. In addition, France also contested shorter wars, such as the War of Devolution and the War of the Reunions. Warfare defined Louis's foreign policy and his personal ambition shaped his approach. Impelled by "a mix of commerce, revenge, and pique", he sensed that war was the ideal way to enhance his glory. His wars strained France's resources to the utmost, while in peacetime, he concentrated on preparing for the next war. He taught his diplomats that their job was to create tactical and strategic advantages for the French military.[5] Upon his death in 1715, Louis XIV left his great-grandson and successor, Louis XV, a powerful kingdom, albeit in major debt after the War of the Spanish Succession that had raged on since 1701.

Significant achievements during Louis XIV's reign which would go on to have a wide influence on the early modern period, well into the Industrial Revolution and until today, include the construction of the Canal du Midi, the patronage of artists, and the founding of the French Academy of Sciences.

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