Thursday, April 12, 2012

K = King Louis of France - A to Z Blog Challenge

There can be only one. . .

Louis XIV, Carnavalet Museum courtyard, by DG Hudson

King Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV was known as Louis the Great, or the Sun King.  He was born on September 5th, 1638 in the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.  He ruled as King of France and Navarre.  He holds the distinction of being the longest reigning king in European history, reigning for 72 years and 110 days.

Louis XIV, as a child, shared a very affectionate relationship with his mother, Anne. Their shared interests revolved around food and theatre.  This love of culture would continue in his adult life when he became a patron of the arts and literature.

He began his rule of France in 1661, as an adherent of the 'divine right theory' of kings, and continued to create a centralized state governed from the capital.  He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism and compelled the noble elite to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles.  By bringing the nobles together, Louis consolidated his  absolute monarchical rule that endured until the French Revolution.

Louis XIV put his personal stamp on his chateau/palace at Versailles, changing the hunting lodge to a golden palace containing his 'village' of nobles and their support staff.  Louis also introduced a code of etiquette at Versailles that was copied in the other courts of Europe. 

Versailles - Statue of Louis XIV by DG Hudson

After a reign of 72 years, Louis died of gangrene at Versailles on 1 September 1715, four days before his 77th birthday.  Upon his death, Louis was succeeded by his five-year-old great-grandson, Louis XV.  All his intermediate heirs had predeceased him.  Louis XIV's body lies in Saint-Denis Basilica, outside Paris.

Did you learn anything new about Louis XIV?  Would you like to have lived during that time?  Please share in the comments.

Come back to this blog April 25 for the letter V (for Versailles) in the A to Z Blog Challenge.