Louis the Fourteenth, King of France

His birth at the palace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, after a childless marriage that lasted 23 years,
was almost
qualified as a miracle. His parents are Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. His father
had made the wish
to consecrate the country to the Virgin Mary in August 1638 if he had a son.
That’s why he was named
Louis Dieudonné (God given), because his birth was a gift from heaven.
He was followed two years later
by Philippe, Duke of Anjou who later became Duke of Orléans.


Also known as the Sun King, he reinforced the monarchy in France, hence the famous quote
«l'État, c'est Moi!» (I am The State!) This quotation is becoming more and more contested by
the historians because his reign was marqued by huge steps in public rights especially in the
distinction of the King and the State which was totally the opposite of this citation merging the man
and his duty. During his reign he imposed more and more restrictions on the Protestants.
In 1685 he revoked the Edict of Nantes which had been signed
less than a century earlier by his grandfather Henry IV.

         

Coin of Louis XIV (4 sols - on 1676) (Private collection)

Louis XIV tried to reduce the influence of the nobility by having these men reduced as courtiers
and transferring their powers to commoners and clergymen. To that effect,
he built a huge palace in a park with geometric gardens in Versailles,
a town located 8 miles west of Paris.


His reign was tainted by his bad health and successoral problems. He lost his son Louis of France
(le Grand Dauphin). The following year his grandson the Duke of Bourgogne and his eldest son died
of smallpox. The “Grand Dauphin” had two other sons. One of them, King of Spain under the name
Philippe V, abdicated his rights to the throne of France after the war  of the Spanish Succession
with the treaty of Utrecht. The other one, Duke of Berry, died in 1714. The only legitimate
male descendant of Louis XIV was the Duke of Anjou, the Duke of Bourgogne’s youngest
son and great-grandson of cadet Louis XIV, a fragile little boy born in 1710. As there were few
princes of royal blood in other branches, Louis XIV decided to reinforce the Royal family
by giving the rights of succession to the Duke of Maine and to the Count of Toulouse,
his two illegitimate sons from Madame de Montespan.

Louis XIV died on September 1st, 1715 of gangrene. On his death bed he declared : « I am going,
but the
State shall always remain» His reign lasted 72 years and 100 days. He was buried in the
Saint-Denis basilica. His great-grandson, the Duke of Anjou became the new King under
the name Louis XV
.at the age of five years old. The regency was administered during
his minority by the Duke of Orléans, nephew and son-in-law of XIV
.

The reign of Louis XIV was characterized by the cultural domination of France. French became  the
aristocratic and diplomatic language of the XVII century, then of the XVIII century, especially in Russia.


In 1674, the island of Martinique was purchased by the French government from a French company
that had bought it in 1635. In 1689, he promulgated the « Black Code », authorizing the use of slaves
in the colonies. The Black Code was created to limit the punishments and give rights to the slaves who
were recognized as moveable rights, just like a chair. The code was seen by his detractors as a bill
to legalize slavery. The Black Code gave the slaves limited rights to ownership, a right to retirement,
an obligation to be well treated and well fed by their owners. The Black Code
became the ruling guide to slavery in those days.

Louis XIV was loved in France for his vigorous promotion of the greatness of France. However,
the permanent state of war of the country led it to bankruptcy. The Government was oblidged to levy
heavy taxes on the common people. The French historian Alexis de Tocqueville says that the
transformation from noble men to courtiers, doubled with a bourgeoisie that could speak but
had no political power contributed to the future political, social and economical
instabilities that lead to the French Revolution.


At the beginning of his reign, the other big power in Europe was Spain but United Kingdom
became the strongest concurrent at the end of his reign.

Note written by Alain Chebroux. Based on the Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

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Translated by Renée Gauthier


© Alain Chebroux, Count of Argenteuil : www.count-argenteuil.com
© Count Alain Chebroux of Argenteuil. The Seigniory ad the County : www.argenteuil.name