Louis XIV was born on September 5, 1638 and died on September 1, 1715. He reigned as King of France from May 14, 1643 until his death. However, Louis did not effectively become ruler until after the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661. His reign generally epitomises the absolute power of a monarch.
Louis was old four years old when his father died, but he played little or no role as King until he was thirteen years of age. Even at age thirteen, Louis proved to be autocratic. Louis believed that his destiny as King was to make France a great nation.
King Louis XIV poured much of the wealth of France into maintaining a large and well-equipped army. He had good generals, and in battle, his armies were largely successful. Louis did not always think clearly when deciding to go to war. His four wars gained France valuable territories, but were costly in both money and lives. However, according to Katherine Brennan, Louis XIV should also receive credit for supporting and fostering the intellectual and artistic talents in his kingdom during his more than six decades as absolute monarch (Brennan 19).
King Louis XIV loved hunting. In 1661, Louis began to transform a hunting lodge at Versailles near Paris into a magnificent palace. This palace added to the heavy tax burden on French taxpayers. This palace was never finished, but in 1682 it became the official residence of the King and the seat of government. The King was an extravagant spender, and an unabashed womanizer. By some estimates, by the end of Louis XIV's reign, half of France's annual revenue went to maintaining the palace at Versailles. Some have suggested that King Louis spending habits and the wars he waged left a troubled and impoverished country which became a catalyst for French Revolution. While it is true that at the time of the Louis XIV's death, France had become possibly the most powerful nation in Europe it is also true that France had sunk deeply into deb...