Louis XIV

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Overview

Louis XIV ruled France for more than half a century and is typically remembered for his absolutism, his patronage of the arts and his lavish lifestyle - culminating in the building of Versailles. This original and lively biography focuses on Louis' personal life while keeping the needs of the history student at the forefront, featuring analysis of Louis' wider significance in history and the surrounding historiography. An analytical account of Louis' life, this study proposes that the Sun King's reign and legacy cannot be fully understood without a detailed investigation of Louis' private life and personality, including his upbringing and his many lovers. Louis' relations with his closest family set the tone for the treatment of his French subjects and for his foreign policy towards the rest of Europe.

This book balances the undeniable cultural achievements of the reign against the realities of Louis' egotism and argues that, when viewed critically, Louis' rule (1643-1715) personified the disadvantages of absolute monarchy and inexorably led to social and political blunders resulting in the suffering of millions. Richard Wilkinson demonstrates that while Louis excelled as a self-publicist, he fell far short of being a great monarch. This up-to-date and accessible biography is essential reading for all students and those with a general interest in one of history's most colourful rulers.

About the Author:
Richard Wilkinson teaches history at Marlborough College summer school

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'Wilkinson's prose is vigorous, direct, and often very funny (particularly at the expense of bishops). There is not a dull page in the book. At the same time, its purpose is entirely serious... There could scarcely be a better way of drawing the non-specialist reader into the intricate world of seventeenth-century France'History Review

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Richard Wilkinson gained his doctorate at Cambridge and was Headmaster of Scarborough College and King Edward’s school, Witley. Now retired, he teaches history at Marlborough College summer school. His previous publications include Louis XIV , France and Europe 1661-1715 (2002) and Years of Turmoil (1999).

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Table of Contents


List of plates and figures     vii
Acknowledgements     viii
Chronology     ix
Introduction     1
The Rising Sun, 1638-61     10
The king and his subjects     34
The king at work     55
Culture with a purpose     82
Relations and friends     98
The world at his feet: foreign policy, 1661-84     122
Louis XIV and religion     143
Nemesis: foreign policy, 1684-1715     168
The Sun King and his people, 1684-1715     197
Conclusion     215
Glossary     232
Further reading     234
Notes     240
Index     250
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