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5 September 1638
1 September 1715 (aged 76)
King (1642-1715), France
Louis the Great, the Sun King
Louis XIV was born on September 5, 1638, in Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France. Louis was the son of Louis XIII and his Spanish queen, Anne of Austria. On May 14, 1643, he succeeded his father at the age of 4. Louis was nine years old when the nobles and the Paris Parlement rose against the crown in 1648, that began a long civil war known as the Fronde. In 1660, he married Marie-Thérèse of Austria, daughter of King Philip IV of Spain.
In 1661, after the death of his chief minister, the Cardinal Mazarin, Louis XIV finally took control of the French government, when Louis XIV was in his 20s. He viewed himself as the direct representative of God, endowed with a divine right to wield the absolute power of the monarchy. His first goal as absolute monarch was to centralize and rein in control of France. He wanted to control everything from court etiquette to troop movements. He created a number of programs and institutes to infuse more of the arts into French culture.
During Louis' long reign, France emerged as the leading European power and it was perceived as a threat by other European nations, including England, the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. Louis XIV engaged his country in the Franco-Dutch War from 1672 to 1678. In the late 1680s, Spain, England and the Holy Roman Empire formed a coalition known as the Grand Alliance. A war between France and the Grand Alliance broke out in 1688 and became known as the Nine Years' War.
The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), further hastened Louis XIV's decline as a leader. The public went from hailing Louis XIV as a hero to blaming him for France's financial devastation. On September 1, 1715, Louis XIV died of gangrene at Versailles.
His reign had lasted 72 years and left an indelible mark on the culture, history and destiny of France. Louis XV, was his 5-year-old great-grandson, who inherited the throne.