By Webteam - 5th September 2017 6:05am
Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who reigned as King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV's France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.
Louis began his personal rule of France in 1661, after the death of his chief minister, the Italian Cardinal Mazarin. An adherent of the concept of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin of monarchical rule, 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 and, by compelling many members of the nobility to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles (formerly a hunting lodge belonging to Louis' father), succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during Louis' minority. By these means he became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution.
Louis encouraged and benefited from the work of prominent political, military, and cultural figures such as Mazarin, Colbert, Louvois, the Grand Condé, Turenne, and Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, as well as Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Lully, Marais, Le Brun, Rigaud, Bossuet, Le Vau, Mansart, Charles and Claude Perrault, and Le Nôtre. Under his rule, the Edict of Nantes, which granted rights to Huguenots, was abolished. The revocation effectively forced Huguenots to emigrate or convert in a wave of dragonnades, which managed to virtually destroy the French Protestant minority.
During Louis' reign, France was the leading European power, and it fought three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession. There were also two lesser conflicts: the War of Devolution and the War of the Reunions. Warfare defined the foreign policy of Louis XIV, and his personality shaped his approach. Impelled "by a mix of commerce, revenge, and pique", Louis sensed that warfare was the ideal way to enhance his glory. 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.
Born 5th September 1638 in the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died 1st September 1715 in the Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
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