On this day, the 14 May 1643, Louis XIV took over the throne in France following the death of his father King Louis XIII.
Louis XIV is often called the ‘King of the Sun’, and was born in 1638 as the eldest son of King Louis XIII and Anna of Austria. For as long as his father was incapable of ruling, the real power lay with Cardinal Mazarin. When the Cardinal died in 1661, Louis XIV himself assumed power, and introduced one of Europe’s most absolutist monarchies. As a result, the nobility lost much of its political power to the king, who ruled with the support of several skilled advisers.
In 1682 Louis XIV moved the court from Paris to Versailles, where he was allowed to build a large palace. The palace formed the framework for an expensive court, which would emphasize the authoritarian position of the monarchy.
Louis XIV’s first year on the throne was marked by a financial boom of France, where the country’s economy improved and the military system was strengthened. Under the monarchs leadership, France won several wars in the years from 1672 to 1681, especially the Franco-Dutch war and conquered territories in Flanders. The King later suffered major defeats, in the nine-year war and the Spanish succession war in the years 1701-14, in wars with Spain and Austria. When the king died in 1715, the country was in economic and social crisis.
During Loui`s reign French colonies multiplied in Africa, the Americas, and Asia and French explorers made important discoveries in North America. Meanwhile, diplomatic relations were initiated with distant countries. France also attempted to participate actively in Jesuit missions to China.
Louis married Maria Theresia of Spain on June 9, 1660, as a result of a paragraph in the Pyrenees Treaty of 1659 with Spain. The queen gave birth to several children, but has often been shadowed by his many mistresses, such as Louise de la Vallière and Madame de Montespan. After the Queen’s death, he married Françoise d’Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon.
King Louis XIV ruled for 72 years, longer than any other French or great European monarch. The king survived both his eldest son and grandson, and was succeeded by his grandson’s son Louis XV.