Louis XIV

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Related to Louis XIV of France: Marie Antoinette, Madame de Maintenon, Louis XV of France

Louis XIV,

1638–1715, king of France (1643–1715), son and successor of King Louis XIIILouis XIII,
1601–43, king of France (1610–43). He succeeded his father, Henry IV, under the regency of his mother, Marie de' Medici. He married Anne of Austria in 1615.
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.

Early Reign

After his father's death his mother, Anne of AustriaAnne of Austria,
1601–66, queen of France, daughter of King Philip III of Spain. Married to the French king Louis XIII (1615), she was neglected by her husband and sought the society of the court intriguer, Mme de Chevreuse.
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, was regent for Louis, but the real power was wielded by Anne's adviser, Cardinal MazarinMazarin, Jules
, 1602–61, French statesman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, b. Italy. His original name was Giulio Mazarini. After serving in the papal army and diplomatic service and as nuncio at the French court (1634–36), he entered the service of France
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. Louis did not take over the government until Mazarin's death (1661). By then France was economically exhausted by the Thirty Years WarThirty Years War,
1618–48, general European war fought mainly in Germany. General Character of the War

There were many territorial, dynastic, and religious issues that figured in the outbreak and conduct of the war.
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, by the FrondeFronde
, 1648–53, series of outbreaks during the minority of King Louis XIV, caused by the efforts of the Parlement of Paris (the chief judiciary body) to limit the growing authority of the crown; by the personal ambitions of discontented nobles; and by the grievances of
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, and by fiscal abuses. But the centralizing policies of RichelieuRichelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis, duc de
(Cardinal Richelieu) , 1585–1642, French prelate and statesman, chief minister of King Louis XIII, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
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 and Mazarin had prepared the ground for Louis, under whom absolute monarchy, based on the theory of divine right, reached its height.

Domestic Policy

Louis's reign can be characterized by the remark attributed to him, "L'état, c'est moi" [I am the state]. Louis continued the nobility's exemption from taxes but forced its members into financial dependence on the crown, thus creating a court nobility occupied with ceremonial etiquette and petty intrigues. The provincial nobles also lost political power. Louis used the bourgeoisie to build his centralized bureaucracy. He curtailed local authorities and created specialized ministries, filled by professionals responsible to him. Under his minister Jean Baptiste ColbertColbert, Jean Baptiste
, 1619–83, French statesman. The son of a draper, he was trained in business and was hired by Cardinal Mazarin to look after his financial affairs.
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 industry and commerce expanded on mercantilist principles and a navy was developed. The war minister, the marquis de LouvoisLouvois, François Michel Le Tellier, marquis de
, 1641–91, French statesman, minister during the reign of King Louis XIV. After 1654 he was associated in office with his father, Michel Le Tellier, and from 1666 he functioned as war minister, officially replacing his
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, established the foundations of French military greatness.

Religious Affairs

Louis increasingly imposed religious uniformity. His persecution of the HuguenotsHuguenots
, French Protestants, followers of John Calvin. The term is derived from the German Eidgenossen, meaning sworn companions or confederates. Origins

Prior to Calvin's publication in 1536 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion,
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 in the 1680s culminated (1685) in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (see Nantes, Edict ofNantes, Edict of,
1598, decree promulgated at Nantes by King Henry IV to restore internal peace in France, which had been torn by the Wars of Religion; the edict defined the rights of the French Protestants (see Huguenots).
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). The resultant exodus of Protestants, many of whom were merchants and skilled artisans, intensified the kingdom's economic decline and further alienated the Protestant powers. Louis also suppressed Jansenism (see under Jansen, CornelisJansen, Cornelis
, 1585–1638, Dutch Roman Catholic theologian. He studied at the Univ. of Louvain and became imbued with the idea of reforming Christian life along the lines of a return to St. Augustine.
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). Despite this concern with religious orthodoxy, he favored GallicanismGallicanism
, in French Roman Catholicism, tradition of resistance to papal authority. It was in opposition to ultramontanism, the view that accorded the papacy complete authority over the universal church.
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, and controversy with the popes approached schism (1673–93) before Louis abandoned this position.

Foreign Policy

Louis strove vigorously for supremacy in foreign affairs. His marriage (1660) to the Spanish princess Marie Thérèse served as a pretext for the War of DevolutionDevolution, War of,
1667–68, undertaken by Louis XIV for the conquest of the Spanish Netherlands. On her marriage to Louis, Marie Thérèse, daughter of Philip IV of Spain, had renounced her rights of inheritance in return for a large dowry.
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 (1667–68), which netted him part of Flanders, although the Dutch then moved against him with the Triple AllianceTriple Alliance,
in European history, any of several coalitions. 1 The Triple Alliance of 1668 was formed by the Netherlands, England, and Sweden against France after Louis XIV had invaded the Spanish Netherlands in the War of Devolution.
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 of 1668. Relations with the Dutch were exacerbated by commercial rivalry and in 1672 Louis, determined to crush Holland, began the third of the Dutch WarsDutch Wars,
series of conflicts between the English and Dutch during the mid to late 17th cent. The wars had their roots in the Anglo-Dutch commercial rivalry, although the last of the three wars was a wider conflict in which French interests played a primary role.
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, which depleted his treasury.

For the next ten years the king limited his policies to diplomacy. He set up "chambers of reunion" to unearth legal grounds for claims on a number of cities, which Louis promptly annexed. Fear of Louis's rapacity resulted in a European coalition (see Augsburg, League ofAugsburg, League of,
defensive alliance formed (1686) by Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I with various German states, including Bavaria and the Palatinate, and with Sweden and Spain so far as their German interests were concerned.
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; Grand Alliance, War of theGrand Alliance, War of the,
1688–97, war between France and a coalition of European powers, known as the League of Augsburg (and, after 1689, as the Grand Alliance).
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), which confronted him when he attacked the Holy Roman Empire in 1688. This war ended with the Treaty of RyswickRyswick, Treaty of,
1697, the pact that ended the War of the Grand Alliance. Its signers were France on one side and England, Spain, and the Netherlands on the other. It was a setback for Louis XIV, who kept Strasbourg but lost most other conquests made after 1679.
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 (1697), through which Louis lost minor territories. Louis's last war, the War of the Spanish SuccessionSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
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 (1701–14), left France in debt and greatly weakened militarily; nevertheless, Louis's grandson retained the Spanish throne.

The Court

Although he had a series of mistresses, Louis XIV finally came under the influence of Mme de MaintenonMaintenon, Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de
, 1635–1719, second wife of the French king Louis XIV. Her grandfather was Théodore Agrippa d'Aubigné, the Huguenot hero.
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, whom he married morganatically (1684) after the queen's death. A great supporter of the arts, Louis patronized the foremost writers and artists of his time, including MolièreMolière, Jean Baptiste Poquelin
, 1622–73, French playwright and actor, b. Paris; son of a merchant who was upholsterer to the king. His name was originally Jean Baptiste Poquelin.
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, Jean RacineRacine, Jean
, 1639–99, French dramatist. Racine is the prime exemplar of French classicism. The nobility of his Alexandrine verse, the simplicity of his diction, the psychological realism of his characters, and the skill of his dramatic construction contribute to the
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, Jean de La FontaineLa Fontaine, Jean de
, 1621–95, French poet, whose celebrated fables place him among the masters of world literature. He was born at Château-Thierry to a bourgeois family. A restless dilettante as a youth, he settled at last in Paris.
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, and Charles Le BrunLe Brun, Charles
, 1619–90, French painter, decorator, and architect. He studied with Vouet and in Rome. Strongly influenced by Poussin, he returned in 1646 to Paris, where he gradually developed a more decorative form of classicism.
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. The architect Jules MansartMansart or Mansard, Jules Hardouin
, 1646–1708, French architect. He studied under his great-uncle François Mansart and under Libéral Bruant.
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 supervised the building of the lavish palace of VersaillesVersailles
, city (1990 pop. 91,029), capital of Yvelines dept., N central France. It was an insignificant rural hamlet when Louis XIII constructed a small retreat there in 1623.
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. Because of the brilliance of his court, Louis was called "Le Roi Soleil" [the Sun King] and "Le Grand Monarque." He was succeeded by his great-grandson, Louis XVLouis XV,
1710–74, king of France (1715–74), great-grandson and successor of King Louis XIV, son of Louis, titular duke of Burgundy, and Marie Adelaide of Savoy.
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.

Bibliography

For contemporary sources see the incisive memoirs of the Cardinal de RetzRetz, Jean François Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de
, 1613–79, French prelate and political leader. He was made (1643) coadjutor to his uncle, the archbishop of Paris.
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; the extremely prejudiced but indispensable memoirs of the duc de Saint-SimonSaint-Simon, Louis de Rouvroy, duc de
, 1675–1755, French writer of memoirs and courtier. He resigned (1702) from the army after his arrogance had involved him in a quarrel with Marshal Luxembourg.
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; and the letters of Mme de SévignéSévigné, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de
, 1626–96, French woman of letters. Her correspondence of more than 1,500 letters is a monument of French literature. After her husband's death (1651) she devoted herself to her two children.
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, which brilliantly portray the social life of the time. See also biographies by J. B. Wolf (1968) and P. Erlanger (tr. 1970); studies by P. Goubert (1972), O. Bernier (1987), and P. Sonnino, ed. (1990).

Louis XIV, Louis Quatorze style

The style of the high Classical period in France under the rule of Louis XIV (1643–1715) in architecture, decoration, and furniture, culminating in the building of Versailles. (See illustration p. 604.)

Louis XIV

known as le roi soleil (the Sun King). 1638--1715, king of France (1643--1715); son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. Effective ruler from 1661, he established an absolute monarchy. His attempt to establish French supremacy in Europe, waging almost continual wars from 1667 to 1714, ultimately failed. But his reign is regarded as a golden age of French literature and art
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