In the latter years of his year rule, however, the succession of wars launched by the king ultimately took their toll on France and resulted in battlefield defeats, crippling debt, and famine. Citizens grew so disgruntled that they even jeered the diseased Louis XIV during his funeral procession. To learn more about the life of the "Sun King," check out these seven surprising facts about the longest-reigning monarch in French history.
The Royal Family
British Broadcasting Corporation Home. Louis XIV, c. Louis was born on 5 September at St Germain-en-Laye. Louis's early years were marked by a series of rebellions against his mother and Mazarin, which were known as the 'Fronde'. These created in him a lifelong fear of rebellion, and a dislike of Paris, prompting him to spend more and more time in Versailles, southwest of Paris.
Louis XIV ascended to the throne at the age of four.
He became king in As of , he started reforming France. In he invaded the Spanish Netherlands. From — he engaged France in the Franco-Dutch War. In , he led a war between France and the Grand Alliance. By the s, Louis XIV generated public hostility.
In that time, he transformed the monarchy, ushered in a golden age of art and literature, presided over a dazzling royal court at Versailles, annexed key territories and established his country as the dominant European power. When the king died on May 14, , 4-year-old Louis inherited the crown of a fractured, unstable and nearly insolvent France. Beginning in , their discontent erupted into a civil war known as the Fronde, which forced the royal family to flee Paris and instilled a lifelong fear of rebellion in the young king. A diplomatic necessity more than anything else, the union produced six children, of whom only one, Louis , survived to adulthood. He viewed himself as the direct representative of God, endowed with a divine right to wield the absolute power of the monarchy. Immediately after assuming control of the government, Louis worked tirelessly to centralize and tighten control of France and its overseas colonies. His finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert , implemented reforms that sharply reduced the deficit and fostered the growth of industry, while his war minister, the Marquis de Louvois , expanded and reorganized the French army. Louis also managed to pacify and disempower the historically rebellious nobles, who had fomented no less than 11 civil wars in four decades, by luring them to his court and habituating them to the opulent lifestyle there. A hard-working and meticulous ruler who oversaw his programs down to the last detail, Louis XIV nevertheless appreciated art, literature, music, theater and sports. Most famously, he transformed a royal hunting lodge in Versailles, a village 25 miles southwest of the capital, into one of the largest palaces in the world, officially moving his court and government there in