Posted on Aug 17, 2021 65
The French King Louis 14 is famous far beyond the borders of France. The reign of the “Sun King” was marked by a brief but bright period of prosperity, when hundreds of artists found a patron in the head's person of state.
Facts about the life of Louis XIV
- King Louis XIV ascended the throne of France at the age of four.
- He was a long-awaited child: his parents had been trying to conceive an heir for 22 years.
- The kingdom, at the time of his childhood when he ascended the throne, was in decline. He and his brother Philip wore rags and were sometimes so hungry that they had to sneak into the castle kitchen and steal food straight from the hot pans.
- Louis XIV ruled for 72 years, the longest tenure of any monarch in Europe.
- Louis 14 had not only French roots but also Jewish and Moorish, so he looked a little “oriental”.
- The Sun King wanted to put trees in the gardens of Versailles and have some fountains there, but at the time Versailles was an empty plain. So he used a mechanism that pumped water from the River Seine for irrigation, and he also moved many mature trees from Compiègne to Versailles.
- Louis is credited with a talent for fashion design: it is believed that it was he who invented high-heeled shoes with red soles.
- When the Italian sculptor Bernini made a marble bust of Louis 14, accurately reflecting the slightly hooked shape of his nose, the king forced him to depict his nose as straight. Obviously, he was embarrassed by it.
- There is a popular myth of a twin brother whom Louis VI supposedly hid from everyone under an iron mask. But that is unlikely to be true: had twins been born, Louis’ parents would not only not have concealed the fact, but would have rejoiced heartily along with the court. After all, it was a double guarantee that the throne would not remain empty.
- One of Louis IV’s favorite foods was turkey, so he had these birds raised specifically for him on his own farm.
- He outlived his son and grandson, so the throne was inherited by his great-grandson.
- During Louis’ reign, extraordinary opulence reigned at court. The king loved luxury. His grandiose plan to turn the hunting lodge Versailles into his residence with gardens, palaces and parks cost a lot to the treasury: for 50 years, its construction cost 14% of the annual income.
- His favorite, Françoise-Atenaïs de Montespan, was constantly afraid of finding hair in her food. And Louis 14, a great joker, took advantage of this and often liked to hide a few hairs on her plate.
- The future “Sun King” had great respect for his mother and was even afraid of her. In his youth, he fell fervently in love with Mazarin’s niece Maria. The young man begged the Queen to allow him to marry his beloved, who reciprocated, but she firmly replied: “No”. An alliance had to be concluded, which was advantageous to France for political reasons.
- The king’s second marriage was morganatic: he married a faithful friend, the Marquise de Mentenon, who was raising his six illegitimate children. But for the higher secular and spiritual authorities, the marriage had no legal force: when Louis was dying, the 80-year-old Marquise was sent away from court, so that the monarch could stand before God “cleansed of sin”.
- The king established an unusual rule in Versailles: no one may knock on the door of the castle without first scraping his fingernail on it.
- The phrase “The State is me!” did indeed take place. But the phrase was uttered not without reason, but in response to the actions of the parliament that tried to limit the power of the 17-year-old monarch. Louis XIV had to remind the dignitaries of the state that it was not they, but the rightful king who had control over everything.
- Louis XIV lived for 77 years. Perhaps his reign would have lasted even longer if he had not fallen from his horse while walking. That fall was fatal for him.
- Under Louis’ patronage, a brilliant pleiad of literary classicists grew up. The king granted generous pensions to scholars and poets, befriended Boileau, Racine and even excommunicated Molière.
- The dishes that the monarch ate at lunch could feed not only all the queen’s ladies-in-waiting, but also his entourage. And this meal was not the only one. Louis 14 was always hungry at night as well, but he did it alone, his valet bringing him food in secret.