Louis XIV of France – Louis The Great! – Louis The Sun King!

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Not bad at all, endowing oneself with and being known by such highfaluting and pretentious titles. Known as the Sun King and Great, Louis XIV of France was the longest reigning monarch ever. Continuing with our series revealing the skeletons in the closets of monarchy let’s delve a little into some aspects of the life of this Sun King.

PR has existed since time immemorial. Therefore, it may be safe to assume that the titles were created either by himself or with the aid of sycophants he approved of and later spread. 

At birth itself, since he was born as the first surviving child of Louis XIII and queen Anne after 23 long years of stillbirths during their marriage, this Louis was named Louis Dieudonne meaning Louis the God given. If there is a God I would suppose all are God given. 

Starting at the age of 4 Louis XIV remained King for over 72 years. Aided by a council of ministers he watched and learned how France was ruled and governed till the age of 18 when he assumed formal powers as the king. Among the first things he did was to abolish the position of the ‘chief minister’ and decreed that no decision would be taken without his personal approval and seal. Even something as little as issuing a passport was to have his approval. Let’s have a look at some more of his ‘achievements’. 

One of the beliefs he lived by was the Divine right of kings. According to this he believed he ruled by God’s mandate. This defines that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority and derives the right to rule, straight from God. The king is therefore not subject to the will of his people or even the aristocracy who were considered above the ‘people’. Furthermore, any attempt to dethrone such a king or restrict his powers constitutes a sacrilegious act. 

Always attired in extravagant duds Louis XIV had a great many portraits and sculptures made of himself, including several showing him as the ancient Gods. 

Louis XIV en Jupiter, vainqueur de la Fronde.jpg
Portrait of Louis, the Victor of the Fronde, portrayed as the god Jupiter 1655 / By Charles PoersonEuropicture.de, Public Domain, Link

Successful wars were fought under his rule. Many African, Asian and South American countries were also colonised under this great king. 

As was the order of the day slavery was approved but Louis the XIV declared that he was such a great man that slaves could be kept by those who believed in the church and that the slaves must be baptised. 

For the nobility that was loyal to him and paid homage to him each day he built apartments and made sure they lived a life of luxury. 

It’s well known that he loved his wife Maria Theresa with whom he had six offspring. This, however, did not prevent him from having affairs with several women of a ‘noble’ background and fathering many children whom he did not ‘legitimize’. And lastly it was well proclaimed that he was a man of great virility. What is lesser known is that he suffered from many diseases including fistula in his anus that had to be scooped out with a sharp instrument especially made for him. 

So much for greatness.

Title photo: Shutterstock

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