A king ! and a kingdom !! France!!!

So here I am in a cold rainy gray day due to the storms lately that thankfully bypassed us rather nicely, I like to tell you about a king. My favorite pastime is architecture and history other  than wines and football/soccer not necessarily in that order and this is history with a capital letter L.

As we came to know him well while living in Versailles and was such an influential there and elsewhere, I like to tell you a bit of the story on king Louis XIV of France. Hope you enjoy the story and see his doing while stopping by Versailles.

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, born on September 5, 1638 at the Château Neuf in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines dept 78) and died on September 1, 1715 in the Château de Versailles (Yvelines dept 78) ,was a king of France and Navarre. His reign extends from May 14, 1643 – under the regency of his mother Anne of Austria until September 7, 1651 to his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years is one of the longest in the history of Europe and the longest in the history of France.

Saint Germain en Laye



Born Louis, nicknamed Dieudonné, he ascended the throne of France on the death of his father, Louis XIII, a few months before his fifth birthday. He thus became the 64th king of France, the 44th king of Navarre and the third king of France from the Bourbon dynasty.  France is, during his reign, the most populous country in Europe, which gives it a certain power especially as, until the 1670s, the economy is doing well thanks in particular to the economic dynamism of the country and to public finances in order. Through diplomacy and war, king Louis XIV asserted his power in particular against the Habsburgs. His pre-square policy seeks to enlarge and rationalize the country’s borders, protected by the iron belt of Vauban, which fortifies the conquered cities. This action allows it to give France borders approaching those of the contemporary era, with the annexation of Roussillon, Franche-Comté, Lille, Alsace and Strasbourg.


From 1682, king Louis XIV ruled his kingdom from the vast Palace of Versailles, whose construction he supervised and whose architectural style inspired other European castles. His court subjects the nobility, closely watched, to a very elaborate etiquette. The cultural prestige asserts itself there thanks to the royal patronage in favor of artists such as Molière, Racine, Boileau, Lully, Le Brun and Le Nôtre, which favors the apogee of French classicism, qualified, from its lifetime, of ” Grand Siècle ” (Great Century) , or even century of Louis XIV. After the disappearance of Louis XIV, Voltaire was partly inspired by him to develop the concept of enlightened despotism.

King Louis XIV was the son of king Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, Louis was the fruit of the union of two dynasties, with parents belonging to two of the most powerful families of that time: the Capetian house of Bourbon and the Habsburgs. To the traditional title of Dauphin de Viennois is added at birth that of First son of France. On the death of his father, Louis-Dieudonné, who is four and a half years old, becomes king under the name of Louis XIV. The Regent then leaves the inconvenient apartments of the Louvre and settles in the Palais-Cardinal, bequeathed by Cardinal Richelieu to Louis XIII, to take advantage of the garden where the young Louis XIV and his brother can play. The Palais-Cardinal then becomes the Palais-Royal, (as known today) where housekeepers abandon young Louis to their chambermaids who give in to all his whims, which will give birth to a legend.


Cardinal Mazarin, godfather of king Louis XIV, was given responsibility by the Queen in March 1646 for the education of the young monarch and his brother Duke Philippe d’Orléans (known as “the petit Monsieur or little Mister). Louis is not a very hard-working student. In his childhood, Louis XIV repeatedly escaped death. At 5 years old, he almost drowned in one of the basins of the Palais-Royal garden. He is saved in extremis. At 9 years old, in 1647, he suffered from smallpox. Ten days later, the doctors no longer have any hope, but the young Louis is recovering miraculously. At 15, he has a breast tumor. At 17, he suffered from gonorrhea. The most serious alert for the Kingdom takes place in 1658: the king, at 19 years old, is victim of a serious food poisoning due probably to the water) and of typhoid fever, diagnosed as a typhus exanthematic, when taking Bergues in the North. On July 8, 1658 they gave him the last sacraments and started to prepare the succession, but François Guénaut, Anne of Austria’s doctor, gives him an emetic based on antimony and wine which once again heals miraculously  the king.


By September 7, 1651, a decree of justice declares the majority of the king (the Royal majority is at thirteen years). All the great men of the kingdom come to pay him homage, except Condé who, from Guyenne, raises an army to march on Paris. The court then leaves Paris for Fontainebleau, then Bourges, where the four thousand men of Marshal d’Estrée are stationed. Then begins a civil war which will help to clarify things. king Louis XIV was sacred on June 7, 1654 in the Cathedral of Reims by Simon Legras, bishop of Soissons. He left the political affairs to Cardinal Mazarin, while he continued his military training with Turenne. Absolutism of divine right begins to take shape.

On November 7, 1659, the Spanish agreed to sign the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which fixed the borders between France and Spain. For his part, king Louis XIV consented, willy-nilly, to respect one of the clauses of the treaty: to marry the Infanta Maria-Teresa of Austria, daughter of Felipe IV king of Spain, and of Elisabeth of France. The purpose of this marriage, however, was to bring France closer to Spain. It takes place on June 9, 1660 in the Saint-John the Baptist Church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (see my post on it). Note that on the occasion of this marriage, Maria-Teresa must renounce her rights to the Spanish throne.

When Cardinal Mazarin died on March 9, 1661, king Louis XIV first decision was to abolish the position of principal minister and to personally take control of the government on March 10, 1661 with a “coup de majesté” . On September 5, 1661, the day of his 23 years, the king had Nicolas Fouquet  (Château Vaux-le-Vicomte) arrested in broad daylight, by d’Artagnan (captain of the musketeers). At the same time, he abolished the position of superintendent of finance. The reasons for Nicolas Fouquet’s incarceration are numerous and go beyond a problem of enrichment. specifically, Nicolas Fouquet can be perceived as a political threat Louis XIV. The king created a chamber of justice to examine the accounts of finances, including Fouquet. In 1665, the judges condemned Fouquet to banishment, a sentence which the king commuted to life imprisonment in Pignerol. In July 1665, the judges prosecuted the farmers and the businessmen who were friends of Fouquet, on payment of a fixed tax. All this allows the state to recover about a hundred million pounds (from what supposedly Fouquet dwindle).

King Louis XIV had several mistresses, the most notable of whom are Louise de La Vallière and Madame de Montespan. The latter, who has in common with the king a taste for pomp and grandeur, advises him in the artistic field. She supports Jean-Baptiste Lully, Racine and Boileau Things changed in the early 1680s, when the king got closer, then secretly married Madame de Maintenon. Around 1681, the king returned to a decent private life, under the combined influence of his confessors and Madame de Maintenon. The year 1683 was marked by the death of Colbert, one of his principal ministers and the agent of this rational absolutism which then developed, the fruit of the intellectual revolution of the first half of the century. Queen Maria-Teresa died the same year, which allowed the king to secretly marry Madame de Maintenon, during an intimate ceremony which probably took place in 1683 among others.


In 1685, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which granted religious freedom to French Protestants, restored the prestige of king Louis XIV vis-à-vis the Catholic princes and restored him his place among the great leaders of Christianity. The end of the reign was overshadowed by the loss, between 1711 and 1714, of almost all of his legitimate heirs and by the health problems of the old king. On September 1, 1715, around 8h15, the king died of an acute ischemia of the lower limb, caused by an embolism linked to a complete arrhythmia, complicated by gangrene. His courtiers surround him.The agony lasted several days. His death puts an end to a reign of seventy-two years and a hundred days (fifty-four years of effective reign if we withdraw the period of the regency from 1643 to 1661). The body of king Louis XIV was deposited in the Bourbon vault, in the crypt of the Saint-Denis Basilica. His coffin was desecrated on October 14, 1793 during the French revolution, and his body thrown into a mass grave adjoining the basilica, towards the north. In the 19C, Louis-Philippe I king of the French, ordered a monument in the Bourbon memorial chapel in Saint-Denis, in 1841-1842.

st denis

King Louis XIV had many legitimate and illegitimate children. From his wife, Maria-Teresa of Austria, the king had six children (three girls and three boys) of which only one, Louis of France, the “Grand Dauphin”, survived childhood. These were Louis of France, son of France, the Grand Dauphin; Anne-Élisabeth de France, daughter of France; Marie-Anne de France, daughter of France; Marie-Thérèse of France, daughter of France, and La Petite Madame(little misses) , Philippe-Charles of France, son of France, Duke of Anjou; and Louis-François de France, son of France, Duke of Anjou.

Of his two main mistresses, he had 10 legitimate children, only 5 of whom survived childhood. From the king’s union with Louise de La Vallière were born five or six children, two of whom survived childhood. The king is said to have had other children, but whom he did not recognize.

From Madame de Montespan were born: Louis-Auguste, Duke of Maine, Louis-César, Count of Vexin; Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Nantes, married to the prince of Condé; Louise-Marie-Anne, Mademoiselle de Tours; Françoise-Marie, Mademoiselle de Blois, married to the Duke of Orleans and Louis-Alexandre, Count of Toulouse.

Some webpages to note and help you plan your trip to Saint-Germain-en-Laye and/or  Versailles are

Official Château de Versailles on Louis XIV in English

Official Château de Versailles on the capital of a kingdom with Louis XIV in English

There are in French of course…

Birth certificate of Louis XIV: http://www.frontenac-ameriques.org/louis-de-frontenac/article/la-chapelle-royale-saint-louis

Death certificate of king Louis XIV: https://www.geneanet.org/archives/actes/view/?idacte=37985

And there you go , I know a bit long but the personage can be describe in volumes of books and I did condense  my book at home with the main parts me think. Hope you have enjoy it as I do. King Louis XIV was awesome for Versailles, France, and the world; maybe we need another one today …

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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