Louis XIV, also known as the "Sun King", is one of the greatest personalities in world history. The period of this monarch's reign spans more than seven decades: a period of prosperity and decline. Thanks to his competent domestic and foreign policy, France for a long time became a strong, prosperous and respected country in Europe. Under him, France became a model of absolute monarchy, and the court of the Sun King - an example to follow for many European rulers.
Biography of Louis XIV
Louis XIV was born after the 23-year childless marriage of King Louis XIII to Anne of Austria. He was on the throne at the age of five after the death of his father. The king suspected his wife of treason, so in his will he set a condition according to which power passes to his son after the age of majority, and before that the dauphin should be under the tutelage of the regency council, and not his mother. However, Anna of Austria was able to achieve the abolition of this condition and became regent of the young Louis.
During the regency of Anna of Austria, the state was actually ruled by Giulio Mazarin, the country's first minister and a student of Cardinal Richelieu. Queen Anne even entered into a secret marriage with Mazarin. Not everyone liked Mazarin's policy, so rebellions and unrest often arose in the state, as a result of which the royal family even had to leave France several times and even be under house arrest.
Mazarin became the godfather of Louis. He taught the boy knowledge of history, politics and the visual arts. Throughout his childhood, Louis was instilled with the qualities of a leader and given the best education.
After Mazarin's death, Anna of Austria went to a monastery, and Louis, at the age of 23, entered into an independent reign. He had a truly royal appearance and charisma: tall, with regular features, with a stately bearing, he knew how to impress and make him catch his every word. Influential princes and dukes, who had previously intrigued at court and dreamed of taking possession of the throne, receded into the shadows and unconditionally recognized the king's authority. Also, Louis had a brother, Philip, two years younger than him.
The heyday of the Great Age and the politics of Louis XIV
Louis XIV ruled of his own free will, not coordinating it with either parliament or cardinals. "The state is me!" - said the Sun King, emphasizing that he seeks to make the country majestic and powerful.
The Sun King attracted talented ministers, the best economists and the military to his court. The country has grown stronger, its military power has grown. Just at this time, France's neighbors weakened: Spain, Germany, Austria. The king expanded the lands among the state: first he annexed part of the Spanish Netherlands to his possessions, and then French troops occupied Flanders, Alsace and reached the banks of the Rhine. The army of Louis XIV was not only the most numerous, but also the most organized and efficient.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a statesman and minister of finance, made a great contribution to the prosperity of France. Thanks to his talent and numerous transformations, the country's economy has grown stronger. In particular, he abolished internal customs between provinces, increased exports through assistance and encouragement in the industrial sphere. Colbert developed the French navy, patronized the commercial and maritime campaigns and colonization. To replenish the treasury, he actively used indirect taxation.
French diplomats were in control of all European politics. France was ahead of other countries in the development of industry and trade, science and art. The French court was considered a model for other sovereigns who tried to imitate the Sun King in everything.
Under Louis XIV, the French Academy of Sciences, the Paris Conservatory, the Academy of Inscriptions and Fine Arts were opened. At this time, French literature flourished, the playwright Moliere, the writer Jean de La Fontaine, the poet Pierre Corneille and the playwright Jean-Baptiste Racine were popular.
The main residence Louis XIV ordered to be moved from Paris to Versailles - a small forest village, where kings used to go hunting. The king's father built a hunting lodge there, and his son transformed it into a luxurious royal palace full of secrets and secret passages. It took 50 years and 100 thousand hands to fully complete the construction and improve the gardens and parks. Gradually Versailles grew into a small town - the center of high society life in Europe. At the court, there were 3,000 guests and guests, the maintenance of which was carried out from the state treasury. The king ordered the introduction of court etiquette, which was strictly observed by both the courtiers and Louis XIV himself.
Personal life of Louis XIV
The century of Louis XIV is the time of the power of his favorites, who exerted a tremendous influence on both the king and state life.
At a young age, Louis XIV was in love with Mazarin's niece, Maria Mancini. But, putting the interests of the state above his own, he had to marry the daughter of the King of Spain - Maria Theresa of Austria. The marriage was not happy, and the king found consolation in the arms of numerous favorites, the total number of which in the king's long life exceeded a hundred.
The most famous of Louis XIV's favorites are Duchess Louise Françoise de Lavalier, Marquise de Montespan and de Maintenon.
The first favorite, Louise de Lavaliere, did not have a special appearance, but was good-natured and sincere in her feelings. Louise was the only one of all the favorites who loved the king as a person. She gave birth to four children to the king.
After Louis XIV lost interest in Louise, she went to a monastery and gave up her place to the Marquis de Montespan - domineering, cunning, insidious and selfish. She gave birth to six children to the king, and did not allow anyone to stand between her, the king and her children, getting rid of rivals with the help of poison. De Montespan admitted only Françoise d'Aubigne, the Marquis de Maintenon, a pious and devout Catholic woman, not seeing her as a rival.
For 10 years, Françoise was engaged in the upbringing of the children of the Marquise de Montespan and gradually approached the king, convincing him to give up his sinful life and become a devout Catholic. Louis XIV found in her a close soulful person, a savior and a comforter. Soon, the king removed from the court the former favorite of the Marquis de Montespan. The king provided his new darling with a title and a luxurious estate, after which he married Françoise d'Aubigne in a secret marriage.
All the children whom the king recognized as his own, Louis XIV provided with palaces and lifelong pensions.
Sunset of the Great Age of Louis XIV
Falling under the influence of Françoise d'Aubigne, her king, at the request of her, abolished the law that allowed Protestants to observe their rituals. Hundreds of thousands of Huguenots had to leave France and move to Germany, Austria, England and the Netherlands. And these were the most hardworking and most enterprising inhabitants on whom the country's economy was supported.
Military and political affairs got worse and worse every year. The treasury was also devastated due to the numerous wars waged by Louis XIV, as well as because of the luxurious life that the courtiers led.
Death of Louis XIV
In old age, the family of Louis XIV began to be accompanied by evil fate, as a result of which the king lost all direct heirs. This affected the state of mind of the monarch, who sometimes cried in his private chambers in the arms of the Marquise de Maintenon.
In August 1715, the king fell from his horse while hunting, severely injuring his leg. Gangrene appeared, accompanied by severe pain and agony.
Louis XIV's sun set on September 1, 1715. Power passed to his great-grandson, Louis XV.