Louis XIV was the king of France from 1643 and 1715. He was also known as Louis the Great, Louis the Grand Monarch, and the Sun King. He ruled his country from the Palace of Versailles and helped extend France’s borders.
He died on September 1, 1715, from gangrene in the Palace of Versailles. His 5-year-old grandson, Louis XV inherited the throne.
Here are 13 interesting facts about Louis XIV you need to know about!
Louis XIV Facts
1. He owned the bodies and property of 19 million subjects when he was a child
At only 4 years and eight months old, Louis XIV succeeded his father to the throne. This meant that he was the owner of the bodies and also the properties of 19 million subjects in France, according to the laws of the kingdom.
2. He was a neglected child
Despite being saluted as a divinity, he was a neglected child, an interesting fact about Louis XIV. The servants of the Palace took care of him, instead of his parents. He once almost drowned in a pond because no one was watching him.
3. A civil war caused Louis XIV to suffer from poverty and starvation
In the year 1648, when Louis XIV was 10 years old, a civil war emerged in France. The Parliament of Paris rebelled against his chief minister. They were planning to overthrow the crown. During the five years that the war lasted, Louis XIV suffered many hardships, such as hunger and poverty.
4. Louis XIV fought as a soldier in a war against Spain
During that time, French kings had to also be soldiers if a war ever occurred. Therefore, in 1635, in the war between France and Spain, an interesting fact about Louis XIV is that he served on the battlefield with the rest of the soldiers.
Louis XIV was constantly at war. Some of those he fought were the War of Devolution in 1667; The Dutch War between 1672 and 1678; The War of the Reunions from 1683 to 1684; The Nine Years’ War from 1688 to 1697; And the War of the Spanish Succession between 1701 and 1714.
5. He built the Palace of Versailles
Louis XIV put a lot of effort into changing France’s landscapes by building monuments and several palaces for himself. One of those that still stands is Versailles. When it was still being built, it was accused of being extremely extravagant. It was also blamed for having ruined the nation because of the high costs involved in its construction. It is believed to have cost the same as a modern airport today.
6. Louis XIV sought to immerse the French culture with more of the arts
Along with making numerous changes to his government, Louis XIV created several programs and institutes to promote more of the arts in the French culture. He created the Academy of Inscriptions and Belle-Lettres; The Royal Academy of Music; And the Paris Observatory.
7. The Sun King married his first cousin
Louis XIV was in love with Marie Manzini. She was the daughter of France’s prime minister Jules Cardinal Mazarin. However, the Sun King was directed into a marriage, for political reasons, with his first cousin, Marie-Thérèse. She was the daughter of Spain’s King Philip IV. The union would have ensured the ratification of a peace treaty between the two nations, an interesting fact about Louis XIV.
8. He had more than a dozen children with his mistresses
His wife Marie-Thérèse, gave birth to six of Louis XIV’s children. Only one, named Louis, survived infancy. His mistress Louise de La Vallière had five illegitimate children with the king. Two of them survived past the age of five. His other mistress, Madame de Montespan, gave birth to seven of the king’s children.
Nonetheless, his illegitimate children were recognized by the king and given a proper education. They were also considered part of France’s royal society.
9. Louis XIV believed he was God’s direct representative on Earth
Since he was a child, he was told that he, and every other king, was divinely chosen. He was christened Louis-Dieudonné, which in French means “Gift of God.”
Because of this belief, he adopted the sun as his emblem and people referred to him as “The Sun King”. This was because the planets revolve around the sun, as his subjects and France revolved around him. In addition, he considered any disobedience towards him as a sin.
10. The state of Louisiana in the United States is named after him
The state of Louisiana in the United States was named after Louis XIV. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle from France, claimed the interior of North America for his nation, he named it in honor of his king. Nonetheless, the United States purchased this territory in 1803 and the state of Louisiana joined the union in 1812.
11. He ruled for a total of 72 years
Louis XIV was born in 1638 and at the age of four, when his father died, he became king of France. An important fact about Louis XIV is that he ruled between 1643 and 1715 until he died at 72 years old. Few other monarchs in the world have ruled for longer. This makes him the longest-reigning French monarch in history and any other European nation.
12. He revoked all religious liberties
Louis XIV was a devoted Catholic and his motto was “one king, one law, one faith”. For this reason, he decided to revoke all religious and civil liberties. This meant that all Protestants, who made up about 5% of the population in France, were put to death if they continued to practice their religion.
13. One of his prized possessions was the Hope Diamond
It was no secret that Louis XIV loved luxury. Apart from owning the extravagant Versailles, he also owned the Hope Diamond. It was called back then the French Blue and is a 45.52-carat stone worth $350 million dollars. This jewel was stolen during the French Revolution and it appeared in Great Britain years later with a new cut. Today, it is at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Louis XIV was an extravagant king and ruler who is remembered for the construction of the Palace of Versailles. He is also remembered for the numerous wars he promoted to extend France’s borders.
I hope that this article on Louis XIV facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!