King Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV (1638-1715, known as the Sun King , ruled France for seventy two years starting at the young age of 4. During his time of rule from the  awe-inspiring Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV was able to expand French influence in Europe and centralize and strengthen its powers at home. The absolute monarchy which Louis XIV built held more power than France had seen in its history as well as eliminated what was left of feudalism.

Louis XIV - The Sun King
Louis XIV – The Sun King

As King, Louis XIV knew that France’s power was divided among a handful of rich noblemen who reigned over vast parts of the province. In order to gain their trust and compliance, he built his image as that of magnificent and glorious. By association, they too would seem glorious to others by sharing his presence, and thus, when Louis offered the wealthy noblemen to come live in his grand Palace of Versailles, they would accept. This avoided another Fronde (civil uprising of nobles against the French monarchy), and the noble elite were appeased. Louis also built palaces across France as well as expanded Versailles making it the most lavish and magnificent palace in Europe.

Louis’ ambitious ways  gained him unprecedented power, and he was able to even convince the Catholic church to allow him more control. One of his most famous quotes – “I am the state.” -portrayed Louis’ vision of himself as France. There was no separation between the two, and so having the Church under his power seemed fitting to him. Louis XIV tried to foster religious unity often resulting in persecution of others such as Protestants and Jews.

Four days before his 77th birthday, Louis XIV died and left behind a great legacy. Although he led France to strength and power, his absolute monarchy also led to tyrannical behavior which would alter result in the French Revolution in 1789.

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