Louis XIV and Versailles

by cbitter ~ April 24th, 2010. Filed under: Chapter 14: The Early Modern State.

Louis XIV

Cardinal Richelieu had died just five months before Louis XIII, which led to France having another child for a king, Louis XIV.  Louis XIV was just five years old.  In the regency government the new monarch’s minority was led by Cardinal Mazarin. Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661) was an Italian-born who tried help with Richelieu’s state building campaign involving new taxes.  From 1682-1789 was the time where the palace of Versailles was a powerful symbol of royal rule up until the French Revolution.

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles was located just 12 miles outside of Paris and this was first used by Louis XIII as a hunting lodge.  In 1669, Louis XIV expanded the property and continued the expansion until he passed away in 1715.  Louis XIV was known as the “Sun King” and for his project he had over 30,000 people working on the expansion.  This palace could hold over 5,000 people and his 10,ooo soldiers and servants lived nearby in the town of Versailles.  The typical daily schdeule for Louis XIV would be:

8:30 am – bathed, dressed and fed by whom ever was allowed entry in his room

10:00 am – attended mass

11:00 am -assembled his councils of state

1:00 pm – private dinner was served

2:00 pm –   walk the grounds of the palace

10:00 pm – there would be more work or some gathering and then supper would be served to the members of the royal family

Palaces like Versailles were built throughout Europe to show political power.  On the ceilings in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, Louis chose to have paintings of events that had happened during his reign.  In the paintings, Louis was shown as Roman Emperor and chose the sun as his emblem.  He also wanted references of Apollo, the god of peace and arts and associated with the sun, and wanted to emphasize the sun as a lifegiver.  In 1685 France became a confessional state.  He did this by revoking the limited toleration that the Edict of Nantes which was granted to Huguenots in 1598.  In 1650, Gallicanism gained an increased support. Under Louis XIV’s reign, France became premier political and military power during the second half of the seventeenth century.

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