1638 - 1715
Louis XIV was called the Grand Monarch or Sun King.
His 72-year reign was the longest in modern European history.
Louis was the son of Louis XIII, whom he succeeded at the age of five. During his childhood France was ruled by his mother, and her chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin. In 1660 Louis married Maria Theresa, the daughter of Philip IV of Spain.
In 1661 he assumed sole responsibility for government. He initiated an aggressive foreign, particularly against the Dutch; but his major political rivals were the Austrian Habsburgs. From 1665 Louis tried to take possession of the Spanish Netherlands, but later tried to acquire the whole Spanish inheritance, which led to the War of the Spanish Sucession.
Louis XIV brought France to its peak of absolute power and his words 'L'etat c'est moi' ('I am the state') express the spirit of a rule in which the king held all political authority. His absolutism brought him into conflict with the Huguenots and the papacy, with damaging repercussions.
His many foreign wars became a financial burden, yet his long reign is associated with the greatest age of French culture, symbolized by the Palace of Versailles.
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