Louis XIV (1638-1715)
Louis XIV (1638-1715) governed France for 54 years. He was only 5 when his father Louis XIII died leaving power in the hands of his mother Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin. He very soon created an absolute monarchy of which he was the sole living embodiment, ruling by the divine right invested in him by God. He was surrounded by a brilliant court living at Versailles amidst the splendour of lavish entertainments. An "etiquette" which he strictly imposed governed all aspects of daily life. As a warlike and conquering king, Louis XIV pursued a policy of domination in Europe. This display of power is both provoking and impressive. France at the time of Louis XIV dominated the world and greatly influenced developments in the arts. The end of his reign was more difficult. War was costly and France ran into economic difficulties. When Louis the Great died at Versailles after taking refuge in religion a shadow had fallen over his reign. He was a complex and fascinating character and left a mixed legacy.
For the first time in its history Versailles is hosting an exhibition devoted to King Louis XIV, which will open on 19th October 2009. It will be an opportunity to rediscover the King and to become better acquainted with the man.