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(born Sept. 5, 1638, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Francedied Sept. 1, 1715, Versailles) King of France (1643–1715), ruler during one of France's most brilliant periods and the symbol of absolute monarchy of the Neoclassical age. He succeeded his father, Louis XIII, at age four, under the regency of his mother, Anne of Austria. In 1648 the nobles and the Paris Parlement, who hated the prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, rose against the crown and started the Fronde. In 1653, victorious over the rebels, Mazarin gained absolute power, though the king was of age. In 1660 Louis married Marie-Thérèse of Austria (1638–83), daughter of Philip IV of Spain. When Mazarin died in 1661, Louis astonished his ministers by informing them that he intended to assume responsibility for ruling the kingdom. A believer in dictatorship by divine right, he viewed himself as God's representative on earth. He was assisted by his able ministers, Jean-Baptiste Colbert and the marquis de Louvois. Louis weakened the nobles' power by making them dependent on the crown. A patron of the arts, he protected writers and devoted himself to building splendid palaces, including the extravagant Versailles, where he kept most of the nobility under his watchful eye. In 1667 he invaded the Spanish Netherlands in the War of Devolution (1667–68) and again in 1672 in the Third Dutch War. The Sun King was at his zenith; he had extended France's northern and eastern borders and was adored at his court. In 1680 a scandal involving his mistress, the marchioness de Montespan (1641–1707), made him fearful for his reputation, and he openly renounced pleasure. The queen died in 1683, and he secretly married the pious marchioness de Maintenon. After trying to convert French Protestants by force, he revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Fear of his expansionism led to alliances against France during the War of the Grand Alliance (1688–97) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). Louis died at age 77 at the end of the longest reign in European history.
Variants of LOUIS XIV
Louis XIV known as the Sun King
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Louis XIV, visit Britannica.com.
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