King Louis XIV’s Life and Reign
King Louis XIV’s Life
Louis XIV was born September 5, 1638 to his parents Louis XIII and Anne of
Austria. He was their first child after twenty-two years of marriage. His brother,
Philippe, was born in 1640. His parents did not have a happy marriage as they were
chosen for each other and the King’s duties often kept them apart.
At the age of four King Louis XIII became ill with tuberculosis and rushed to have
his son baptized. His baptismal name was Louis-Dieudonne which means gift of God.
At this period in time the baptism would normally have taken place at the age of seven.
King Louis XIII died about a month after the baptism, leaving his son to become King
Louis XIV became king on May 14, 1643, just short of his fifth birthday. Control
of the government was handed over to his mother and the First Minister, Mazarin, due
to his young age. Since Louis XIV became king at such a young age he did not have
the education or background that most kings would have. Mazarin took it upon himself
to try to pass on his knowledge to him. He focused his teachings on what he
considered to be the necessities to run a country. Mazarin continued to run the
government until his death in 1661. At this time Louis XIV took control and began
running the government and country himself.
A series of financial and administrative reforms were necessary to begin
controlling the government on his own. One of the first changes was to sentence
Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances, to life imprisonment. King Louis XIV
had him charged with peculation. It is believed that Fouquet did not commit financial
indiscretions but was charged due to his ambitions to become First Minister. He would
have interfered with Louis plans to rule alone. Louis appointed Jean-Baptiste
Colbert as the controller of finances. Colbert then reduced the national debt by
increasing taxation and improving the method in which it was collected.
Wars, Gains, Losses and Alliances
Early in his reign he wanted to establish himself as a warrior king. He
planned to accomplish this by conquering and gaining land. He began this with a series
of wars with the Dutch in which he formed an alliance with England. The Dutch
army had been neglected so France had no trouble marching into the republic and
taking Utretch. France attempted to extort sixteen million guilders in order to obtain
peace. This enraged the Dutch and pushed them to flood the land and form a
alliance with the Elector of Bradenburg, the Holy Roman Emperor and Charles II of
Spain. This left Louis with no choice but to abandon the war of six years. He accepted
the areas he had gained and ordered his troops to retreat.
The wars did continue with French victories in his neighboring countries. He
Seized Strasbourg in 1681. This was followed by the War of the Spanish Succession.
This war was a result of conflict over the succession to the throne of Spain. Louis XIV
believed that because he married Marie- Therese of Spain, a half-sister of the King of
Spain, that upon the King of Spain’s death his wife should inherit Brabant. The King of
Spain did not have any children which was the cause of the conflicts. Charles II, King of
Spain, reached an agreement with Louis that upon his death Louis’s grandson Philip
would become his sole heir. The other countries fought to protect their own claim to the
Spanish inheritance. France continued to expand their territories and the other nations
came together to stop them .
The War of Spanish succession was finally concluded with the treaties of Utretch
and Rastatt. As a result of these treaties, Philip V remained the King of Spain. In order
to prevent Spain and France from making a...
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