Louis XIV, born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, on September 5, 1638, also known as “Louis the Great” and “The Sun King,” was the King of France and Navarre from 1643 until his death. His reign lasted 72 years and is the longest in the history of Europe. In fact, among all the reigns of historically proven duration, it was the longest in the history of humanity! Louis XIV was one of the leaders of the increasing centralization of power, in the well-known era of European absolutism. Today we will help you celebrate the birthday of this important historical figure with interesting information right here!
Louis XIV was born in 1638, the son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, who had been married for over 20 years. Because of this, some historians do not believe that he was the son of Louis XIII. Louis XIV was baptized as Louis-Dieudonné (Louis, the gift of God) and in addition to the traditional title of Dauphin, he was also given the title of Premier Fils de France (Firstborn of France). Louis XIII and Anne had a second child, Philip I, who became Duke of Orléans. However, King Louis XIII did not trust the Queen and avoided her gaining influence over the kingdom at all costs. However, when the King died in 1643, Anne became regent. As regent, she entrusted all the powers of the state to Giulio Mazzarino, an Italian cardinal who was hated by most of the French nobility.
With the end of the Thirty Years’ War, a civil war called the Fronde began in France. The Cardinal continued with the centralization of power initiated by his predecessor, Cardinal Richelieu, and tried to increase the power of the crown at the expense of the nobility by imposing a tax on members of parliament, that is, high clergy and nobility. Parliament refused and annulled all taxes imposed by Cardinal Mazzarino and even had him arrested, causing Louis XIV and the court to leave the city, and generating a revolt in Paris. With the Peace of Westphalia signed, the turmoil passed and restored the crown’s control over the army, being succeeded by the Peace of Rueil, which ended the conflict for some time.
Louis XIV took the throne at age 13 when his mother’s period of regency ended. However, Cardinal Mazzarino continued to control state affairs until 1661, when he died. The council of the King had important names such as Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Hugues de Lionne, and François-Michel le Tellier. None of these men were of the high aristocracy, which led to the government being called the “Kingdom of the petty bourgeoisie.” The treasury was on the verge of bankruptcy when Louis XIV came to power because he spent money lavishly, funding the royal court. The King spent part of the treasury as a patron of the arts. During the reign of Louis XIV, the Canal du Midi was built, which joins the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, being extremely important for the economic development of France and Europe as a whole, in addition to being considered fundamental for the Industrial Revolution.
The period of the regency of Queen Anne of Austria, Louis’ mother, ends and Louis takes over as king.
Little Louis XIV is crowned King of France and Navarre.
Louis XIV marries Maria Theresa of Spain.
Louis XIV appoints Jean-Baptiste Colbert as head of the Comptroller General, which reduces France's deficit and makes taxes more efficient.
Louis XIV sends his troops to the Palatinate, due to the ultimatum he proposed to the German princes to ratify the Truce of Regensburg.
Louis XIV dies of gangrene after being king for 72 years and 100 days.
Why We Love Louis XIV
He built Les Invalides
King Louis XIV had the Hôtel des Invalides built in 1670. The Hôtel des Invalides is a hospital that was built to provide accommodation and care for wounded soldiers.
He married for love
His first marriage was arranged. However, it is believed that he secretly married one of his mistresses out of love.
He was a ballet dancer
Louis XIV was passionate about ballet and he is believed to have played many protagonists like Neptune, the Greek god Apollo, and the Sun. We love that the King was an art connoisseur and that he was a part of the arts, too.
5 Surprising Facts
Lands are named after him
The French territory in the United States was called the Louisiana Territory in his honor.
He believed he was sent by God
As it took his parents more than 20 years to have him, they called him Louis-Dieudonné (gift from God) and he firmly believed in the fact.
He liked to look taller
The King wore heeled clogs and gigantic wigs to make himself look taller.
He didn’t like the Three Musketeers
His finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, was arrested by the three musketeers under D'Artagnan's command.
He hated Paris
From 1671 until his death, Louis XIV lived in Versailles.
Louis XIV FAQs
Why is Louis XIV so famous?
He is famous because he was responsible for centralizing power in the monarchy and reigned during a period of great prosperity in which France became the dominant power in Europe, leading the arts and sciences.
Did the French watch the king go to the bathroom?
No. What happened was that on the grand couvert, the King would have dinner with his family and the nobles would sit and watch them. In addition, those who visited Versailles also often attended the ceremony.
What did King Louis XIV accomplish?
In his early years as King, Louis XIV worked on religious uniformity and foreign policy. He also invoked a decree granting French non-Catholics legal status and the right to openly practice their faith.
Louis XIV’s birthday dates