Louis XIV (1638-1715), the "The Sun King" (Roi soleil), was the king of France from childhood to old age, 1643 to 1715. He ruled France as an absolute monarch--"l'état, c'est moi" ("I am the state."). He was famous for his lavish entertainments at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. He ruled the most powerful and grandiose nation in Europe. His 72-year reign, the longest in French history, was superficially splendid but basically disastrous for France because of expensive foreign wars. His France dominated European cultural and political affairs. Louis typified the absolute monarchy of the Neoclassical age, established a sumptuous court at Versailles, and fought most of Europe in four wars. Louis XIV dominated French culture by gaining international recognition of French arts, literature, and science, drastically transformed medieval France and introduced a more refined, sophisticated style of life.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Absolute Monarchy
- 3 The European Wars
- 4 Image and memory
- 5 Bibliography
Louis XIV was born to Louis XIII and Anne of Austria at the royal Château Saint-Germain-en-Laye on September 5, 1638 and was christened Louis Dieudonné ("gift of God"), as his parents had been childless for twenty-two years. Even so, he was a neglected child and was kept under the care of servants. He succeeded his father on the throne at the age of four on May 14, 1643. His mother, Anne of Austria (a Spanish Hapsburg), served as a regent, ruling France in his place with the assistance of Italian-born Cardinal Mazarin, who had been chief minister and tutor of five-year-old Louis. In 1648, the Thirty Years' War was brought to a successful conclusion in the Peace of Westphalia by Mazarin. The treaty ensured Dutch independence from Spain and the independence of German princes in the Holy Roman Empire. But France gained the most out of the treaty. All Habsburg claims in Alsace were ceded to France, as well as German states under Habsburg rule. The Peace of Westphalia severely weakened both the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburgs. In the closing years of the Thirty Years' War, the Fronde (1648–53) broke out, in which the aristocrats of Paris launched a major revolt in reaction the policies of centralization pursued by Cardinal Richelieu and Mazarin. The royal court was twice driven out of the kingdom. Louis, nine-years-old at the time, faced hunger, poverty, fear, and misfortune during the revolts. The revolts caused the young king to develop a fear of rebellion that he would keep for the rest of his life. He also would never forgive Paris and the nobles and would live in the royal palace of Versailles outside of Paris for much of his reign.
Mazarin, having been victorious over the rebels in 1653, sought to teach the young king his knowledge of foreign policies and diplomatic relations. The Thirty Years' War had ended for the most part, except for the war between France and Spain, whose outcome would transfer hegemony from the Habsburgs to the Bourbons. In 1658, Louis had fallen in love with Mazarin's niece, Marie Mancini. But he instead married for diplomatic reasons, marrying Marie-Thérèse, daughter of the king of Spain, in 1660 in order to bring peace to the two warring countries and conclude the Treaty of the Pyrenees.
Louis XIV married Marie Therese of Spain.
By the time Mazarin died in early 1661, Louis had become an astute military commander. He prided himself as an excellent horseman, a great dancer, and a lively conversationalist. Yet the king possessed little skill in governing and it was expected for Mazarin to most likely be succeeded by minister Michel Le Tellier. But Louis did what nobody had anticipated and declared that he would rule France without a chief minister and would rule as an absolute monarch. His reign represented the apogee of centralized monarchical government; all his ministers paled in comparison with the regal figure of the king, who summed it up in the statement, "I am the state" ("L'Etat c'est moi"). State power under Louis achieved new stage of control over three critical administrative functions: use of armed force, formulation and execution of laws, and collection and expenditure of revenue.
Louis wielded unlimited authority and made all key decisions. Even the greatest of ministers were controlled by the king. His key ministers included Jean-Baptiste Colbert for home affairs, the Marquis de Louvois for war, and Hugues de Lionne for diplomacy.
Louis created a system of secret police to promote his popularity and hunt down subversives. He created a thicker network of surveillance and repression than his predecessors or any other contemporary ruler, when, in 1667, he created a lieutenant-general of police in Paris. (Previously the Parlement of Paris controlled the police.) By 1699 Louis had established the same system in all major cities, with the police reporting directly to him and not to local officials. In rural France he mounted a national police constabulary, the maréchaussée. At the least sign of revolt, Louis sent his police or his army. Thus the 1670 peasant uprisings in the Boulonnais and Languedoc were swiftly crushed. Thereafter no serious revolts threatened, even though the country periodically suffered devastating famines in the final two decades of his reign.
Louis accession to power is sometimes described as the first moment of aristocratic subjugation. In fact, the reign largely restored a stability that was lost by the great families during the administrations of Richelieu and Mazarin. Louis acted as a scrupulous regulator in distributing provincial governments and crown offices. He consolidated, rather than demolished, the social domination and the political preeminence of the high nobility. In this way, 1661 is really a great divide, the beginning of a more peaceful relationship, which explains the end of serious aristocratic uprisings.
Everyone understood that the king made all the decisions; his generals understood this too well. While never opposing the king's ideas, from 1675 through the 1690s they subtly selected what information to present and how to present it, so that the king and his advisers would be manipulated to follow the thinking of the generals.
Beik (2005) examines differing historical theories concerning the limits of power of Louis XIV as an absolute monarch. In the 1970s, the dominant historiography concluded Louis' government was a form of collaboration between the king and various groups. One view of collaboration stressed the common interests of the state and other groups in society. Another perceived the collaboration as arising from the necessity of the state to cooperate with local authorities due to a lack of general interest on the part of the king. However, a minority of historians since the late 1980s have challenged the consensus and argued that there was little collaboration between the king and other powerful entities. These historians argue that the majority of the decisions affecting the country were made by either the king or one of his appointed agents. Although this alternative interpretation sheds new light on the working of the French state, Beik concludes it fails to consider the substantial evidence of collaboration.For example, much more money was urgently needed because of the War of the Spanish Succession. The king obtained it by selling judicial offices. This alarmed the parlementaires, who feared a loss in value of their own holdings. The complex negotiations between the king and these nobles reveal that the practice of absolutism in the king's late reign was neither all collaboration nor all coercion.
Louis XIV left many writings commenting on the nature and source of the monarch's authority, particularly his own. Until recently, historians ignored these because they supposedly were written by staffers and secretaries. Now, a more careful analysis of the Sun King's various memoirs and instructions revealed that they are indeed basically the work of the king himself. It is known that Louis was familiar with the works of Thomas Hobbes, and a Hobbesian interpretation of the origin of the state (a renunciation by individuals of some of their natural rights in order to maintain an orderly and well-regulated government) was reflected in the French king's thinking. Louis XIV wove into this idea a belief in God's election and guidance of true monarchs, who, in their human aspect, were but temporary guardians of their kingdoms with the responsibility of preserving the states under their care but, as divinely elected rulers, could not be removed, limited, or appointed by mere ordinary mortals.
The European Wars
Impelled by a mix of commerce, revenge, and pique, Louis believed that war was the most perfect way to define his glory, that peacetime should be spent preparing for the next war, and that his diplomats' major function was to provide France with tactical or strategic advantages.
In his foreign relations Louis' policies were erratic, shifting back and forth. His permanent acquisitions were therefore meager compared with an almost superhuman expenditure of blood and treasure; indeed, the French absolute monarchy did not long survive him, for "he used it up." Louis was not concerned with national defense, but with glory and personal revenge. The revenge was against his hereditary enemy Leopold of Hapsburg, against the Dutch, whom he regarded as upstart "cheese merchants," and against the English, the heretic nation which, by its Revolution of 1688, overthrew his cousin and pensionary James II. It was Louis' capriciousness in the use of overwhelming force that impressed the alarmed contemporaries. Moreover, since he ruled by the theory of the divine right of kings, which made him responsible to God alone, he was arrogant and menacing to all, even to the papacy. This attitude on the part of the King has been expressed in the apocryphal remark attributed to him, L'état c'est moi. "I am the state."
Early in his personal reign, Louis fundamentally reformed French military institutions to assert royal control and to increase the effectiveness of his army. Reforms initiated by Louis included the subordination of fortress governors and army commanders and the end of pillaging by his troops within the borders of France. He also greatly expanded both the peacetime and permanent army. While he never solved critical questions of war finance, he brought important and lasting change to the army. The elite units of the French army, the Maison du Roi and the Gendarmerie de France, were comprised of members of the high aristocracy. Although the war ministers made inroads into the power of the social elite in these forces, the court aristocrats retained their influence over much of the administration and had more control over the elite forces by the end of the 17th century than in 1661. While Louis XIV is known for centralizing and increasing the efficiency of administration, he compromised with elite interests regarding the military in order to enhance the crown and his dynasty. The rising cost to those seeking membership in the elite forces resulted in a gap between the nobles of the elite forces and the poorer nobles who served in ordinary regiments.
The War of Devolution, 1667-1668
Louis' first important international venture was a small "War of Devolution" in 1667-68 begun with his seizure in 1667 of a part of the Spanish succession lands. His weak justification was that his wife Maria Theresa should receive all territory in the Spanish Netherlands in which, by local law or custom, private property devolved on a daughter by a first marriage in preference to a son by a second. Before there was time to object that laws about division of private property had nothing to do with succession to national territory, Louis sent Turenne with 35,000 troops to invade the Spanish Netherlands; Turenne captured a series of important cities (May 1667). Against this threat to the stability of Europe the Triple Alliance was formed in January 1668 by England, the Dutch United Provinces, and Sweden. But within a few weeks the French general Condé and his army captured Franche-Comté, on the eastern border of France. At the same time Louis signed a secret treaty with the Emperor Leopold dividing the Spanish possessions between them, to be carried into effect on the death of Charles II of Spain. With this trump card up his sleeve Louis accepted the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (May 1668), by which he surrendered Franche-Comté but retained some of his Flemish conquests, including Lille.
The Dutch War, 1672-1678
Meanwhile, England and France were drawn together by resentment at the commercial success of the Dutch, who were exploiting the produce of the French and English colonies. Colbert's project for a commercial treaty between the two monarchies, directed against the trade of the Dutch republic, fell through (1669). At this point Louis arranged the secret Treaty of Dover (May 1670) with Charles II of England by which the two kings undertook to wage a war of extermination against the Dutch. Louis' motives were personal rather than national: the humiliation of the Dutch, and a close alliance with Charles (based on French subsidies); the latter would promote the cause of Roman Catholicism in England.
In June 1672, without even a declaration of war, Louis' armies of about 120,000 men invaded Dutch territory. A revolution in the United Provinces removed the De Witt brothers by massacre and placed William of Orange in supreme command. By dogged determination William wore down the French offensive and, on the withdrawal of the French in 1674, Louis was obliged to conduct a long series of indecisive campaigns which lasted until the signing of a general peace at Nijmegen in 1678. In these campaigns Louis did win back Franche-Comté, which he was allowed to retain at the peace settlement; he had, however, stirred European anger by a systematic devastation of the Rhenish Palatinate, where the population was mainly Protestant. What was to have been a short, quick war turned out to be a weary succession of campaigns and sieges, a comparative failure which increased the irritation of the King.
War of the League of Augsburg, 1688-1697
In the years immediately following, Louis' foreign relations appeared quiescent, but he actually maintained a continual state of tension in Europe; on pretexts as flimsy as his "devolution" claims he took over a number of cities, including Colmar and Strasbourg. These were confirmed to him in August 1684 by the Emperor and the Spanish government in the Treaty of Ratisbon, which was an attempt at appeasement. This marked the high point of Louis' career, since he could now seize territories, not by the prowess of his armies, but because of the fears of his enemies. Ratisbon was soon followed by disquieting events—the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), which antagonized Protestant rulers, and a poorly-founded claim to territory in the Rhenish Palatinate.
Europe's alarm was expressed in the formation of the League of Augsburg in July 1686, whereby the Emperor allied himself with several Protestant and Catholic princes for their common defense. William of Orange, though not a signatory to this League, was the guiding spirit behind it. With the flight of James II and the success of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he became William III of England and took the lead against Louis with the resources of England behind him and with the active help of the Emperor, Spain, and Brandenburg, and the tacit support of the pope.
The war which followed, commonly called the War of the League of Augsburg, was fought on land and at sea, in Flanders, in northern Italy, and on the Rhine, and was inaugurated by the second devastation of the Palatinate (1689). The only decisive battles were the Battle of the Boyne (July 1690), by which William expelled James II from Ireland, and the naval battle of La Hogue (May 1692), in which the British destroyed a large part of the French fleet. The war ended in a draw; by the Treaty of Ryswick (September 1697) Louis restored his conquests, recognized the sovereignty of William, and undertook not to give further assistance to the dethroned Stuart house of England.
War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1714
By far the most serious war was the long, drawn-out War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1714 that nearly bankrupted France while producing few major benefits. After the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick five years of uneasy peace followed; Louis and William failed in their attempts to settle the Spanish succession question by treaties of partition. Charles II of Spain died in November 1700 and by his will he left the entire succession to Philip, Duc d'Anjou, a younger grandson of Louis, a solution which was acceptable to war-weary Europe. But, like a true dictator, Louis could never leave well enough alone. The will stipulated that the crowns of France and Spain should never be united. Louis flouted this by a decree that the contingent rights of the Duc d'Anjou to the French throne were inviolable; at the same time he filled the garrisons of the Flemish frontier towns with French troops. On the death of the former King of England James II in September 1701, Louis publicly recognized his son James, the "Old Pretender," as his successor, guaranteeing trouble with England. Meanwhile, in summer 1701, William organized the Grand Alliance of The Hague, consisting mainly of Britain, the Emperor, and the Dutch, to resist the renewed French threats.
In May 1702 Britain's Queen Anne, William's successor, declared war on Louis. The "War of the Spanish Succession" differed markedly from Louis' earlier wars in that the forces opposing France were now under the command of a great leader, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough; instead of the old spectacular sieges and aimless marches, there ensued a war of swift movement, directed by an overall strategy. The allies won a number of great battles, including Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709). By contrast, in Spain, the French victory at Almanza (1707) served to place the Duc d'Anjou on the Spanish throne, where he ruled thereafter as Philip V. A change of ministry in England in 1710 displaced the party in favor of continuing the war, and the Tories, pledged to peace, signed the Treaty of Utrecht in April 1713.
By this treaty Louis recognized the Hanoverian succession in England, which was to follow upon Anne's death, and surrendered parts of the French possessions in Canada. The Dutch were protected by a line of barrier forts, and the southern Netherlands was transferred from the rule of Spain to that of the Austrian Emperor. The French northeastern frontier was left little changed, but Lille and Strasbourg remained French. Philip surrendered all contingent claims to the French throne and recognized the British conquest of Gibraltar. In view of his many defeats Louis got off very lightly, mainly because of disagreement among the allies. His fortitude during the disasters of this war had served to rally the patriotism of his subjects, but France was left impoverished and disillusioned.
Louis was willing enough to partner with Protestant states, but he opposed the Protestant Huguenots inside France. He tried to forcibly re-Catholicize the Huguenots by continued vexations, the employment of dragoons, and finally by the revocation (Oct. 18, 1685) of the liberal Edict of Nantes of 1598, which gave Huguenots legal rights. The revocation forbade Protestant services, the children were to be educated as Catholics, and emigration was prohibited. It proved disastrous to the Huguenots and costly for France. It precipitated civil bloodshed, ruined commerce, and resulted in the illegal flight from the country of several hundred thousand Protestants, many of whom became intellectuals, physicians and business leaders in Britain and the American colonies, as well as Holland, Prussia and South Africa. Those Huguenots who stayed became Catholics.
The Jansenists—ultra strict Catholics—also fell afoul of Louis. He used the Jesuit order to minimize their influence. He was a "Gallican" in Church affairs. That is, he favored a strong Papacy as long as it was weak inside France and he controlled the bishops and abbeys.
Image and memory
The official image
Few rulers in world history commemorated themselves so grandly as Louis XIV. Pamphelteers used a standard vocabulary, portraying him (in English alphabetical order) as august, conquering, enlightened, generous, god-given, heroic, illustrious, immortal, invincible, just, magnanimous, pious, triumphant and wise. In a word, he was "great", an adjective officially adopted in 1671. Indeed, LOUIS LE GRAND was generally written in capital letters even in a text in lower case.
Louis XIV used court rituals as a way to mirror and maintain the control he exerted in other areas of his rule, both domestic and international. Theater, sculpture, court ceremonies, dance, and music were all carefully planned and staged to reinforce his power and to represent his view of proper order down to the smallest detail. The master of ceremonies, court composer, and court dance master were key players in this process.
From the start of Louis' reign, Jean Baptiste Colbert set up a centralized and institutionalized system for creating and perpetuating the royal image. The two main approaches were the ancient paradigm and the rivalry with ruling powers, notably Spain. The traditional images of the king in majesty and the king at war persisted in official paintings and busts and in the almanacs that concertedly spread royal propaganda among the people at large. The traditional representation of the king as a Roman emperor can be seen in Le Brun's plans for major monuments and in sculptures. Apollonian themes created a mythological environment, with painted decor and sculptures, rather than true likenesses. Portrayal of the reign in metal (medal stamping) was only in its infancy. The major works of the decade were tapestries, and these were either allegorical, depicting the elements and the seasons, or realist, portraying royal residences and, in particular, the history of the king. This was the most significant means by which the monarchy was mythicized before the Hall of Mirrors was created at Versailles.
Louis commissioned over 300 formal portraits of himself; he also commissioned "war artists" to follow him on campaign and record his military triumphs on the spot. About 700 different engravings of Louis have survived. In the 1680s, a series of twenty statues of the king were commissioned for public squares in Paris and in provincial towns. Freestanding permanent triumphal arches were also erected in Paris and the provinces for the first time since the decline of the Roman Empire. Sixteenth century rulers often issued twenty or thirty medals to commemorate the major events of their reigns, but Louis struck more than 300, celebrating the story of the king in a bronze that was enshrined in thousands of houses.
His court lionized the painter Hyacinthe Rigaud, who helped to formulate what a state portrait should be. While Rigaud made a credible likeness of the king, his purpose was not to express Louis's character but to glorify the monarchy. His original "Portrait of Louis XIV of 1701," now in the Louvre, (see above for copy) was so popular that Rigaud had many copies made, both in full and half-length formats, often with the help of assistants. In this portrait from Rigaud's workshop, Louis XIV's ceremonial robes, elegant stance, and haughty expression proclaim his exalted status. Despite the vast expanses of canvas he covered, Rigaud remained concerned with the particular, describing the king's costume in great detail, even down to his shoe buckles.
The earliest portraits of Louis as a child used the pictorial conventions of the day to present the future and then child king as already possessing the majesty becoming royalty, idealizing his person as the incarnation of the state. This idealization continued in later portraits, which not only avoided depicting any trace of the smallpox that the king suffered in 1647 but, by the 1660s, presented him as an Apollo or Alexander, vying with those seeking to reproduce his Habsburg traits. While the portraits at the end of his reign allowed the king's face to betray his advanced age, the conflict between the representation of Louis as a man and as king continued, as exemplified by the unnaturally young legs on which he stands in Riguad's painting of 1701.
Versailles as power showcase
His great château at Versailles integrated gardens, interior design, and the iconography of the paintings to express a royal plan to visually represent the power of the absolute monarchy personified by Louis. The Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) at Versailles became the most prestigious section of the royal residence. Under the king's close supervision, Charles Le Brun (1619–90) finalized a political thematic decoration program for the hall in 1679 that retraces the important accomplishments of Louis's reign, ranging from his ascension to the throne to the War of Devolution (1667–68). Decorative arches place emphasis on the significant events of the war in Holland. The decorations, intended to demonstrate the king's grandeur, omit the defeats that his French army suffered and cover up the reality of the resulting Pyrrhic victory and the consequent responses of France's adversaries, which left Louis XIV's kingdom isolated.
The king loved ballet, and in the early years he danced regularly in court ballets. He performed four dancing roles in three of Molière's comédies-ballets (plays which were characterized by the inclusion of music and dance and written to be premiered before Louis XIV and his court): an Egyptian in "Le Mariage forcé" (1664), a Moorish Gentleman in "Le Sicilien" (1667) and Neptune and Apollo in "Les Amants magnifiques" (1670). However, the court performances differed from subsequent stagings in public theaters in Paris. In court, the music to accompany ballets performed by the king was suitably majestic, and the lyrics conveyed his power and benevolence as patron of the arts. In Paris performances, these parts no longer stood out from those of other ballet performers. In fact, those plays that most overtly promoted Louis XIV's royal image were not performed at all outside the court. These examples testify to Molière's readiness to adapt his plays according to the venue and the audience.
Brought up to respect Catholicism, Louis was a pious and devout king. Seeing himself as the protector of the French Church, he made his devotions every day, wherever he was, following regularly the liturgical calendar. The royal religion, related and spread through the press, took place in the Chapelle Royale. Ostentation was a distinguishing feature of the daily masses, annual celebrations, like those of the Holy Week, and special ceremonies.
Alongside official images and the discourse emanating from the court, Frenchmen followed a nonofficial discourse comprised mainly of clandestine publications, popular songs, and rumors, which provided an alternative interpretation of the king and his government. They focused the miseries caused by bad government, but also carried the hope for a better future in the event that the king escaped the influence of his ministers and mistresses and took the government into his own hands. On the other hand, petitions addressed either directly to the king or to his ministers exploited the traditional imagery and language of the monarchy and king, while the numerous denouncers of fake conspiracies against the king sought to manipulate the weaknesses of the monarchical system for their own ends. These varying images of the king abounded in self-contradictions that reflected the people's amalgamation of their everyday experiences with the ideal of the monarchy.
- John Wolf, Louis XIV (1968) p 117-8
- Louis probably never said it; his enemies claimed he did.
- John Wolf, Louis XIV (1968) pp 133-43
- W. Scott Haine and Frank W. Thackeray, The History of France(2000) p. 57.
- Katia Béguin, "Louis XIV et l'aristocratie: Coup de Majeste ou retour a la Tradition?" Histoire, Economie et Société 2000 19(4): 497-512. Issn: 0752-5702
- Including John J. Hurt, Louis XIV and the Parlements: The Assertion of Royal Authority (2004)
- Darryl Dee, "Judicial Politics, War Finance and Absolutism: the Parlement of Besancon and Venality of Office, 1699-1705." French History 2005 19(4): 440-462. Issn: 0269-1191 Fulltext: in OUP
- John Wolf, Louis XIV (1968) p 371
- James Nathan, "Force, Order, and Diplomacy in the Age of Louis XIV," Virginia Quarterly Review 1993 69(4): 633-649. Issn: 0042-675x Fulltext: Ebsco
- John A. Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667-1714 (1999); Guy Rowlands, "Louis XIV, Aristocratic Power and the Elite Units of the French Army." French History1999 13(3): 303-331; Rowlands, The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV: Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661-1701 (2002)
- John Wolf, Louis XIV (1968) p 199-212
- John Wolf, Louis XIV (1968) pp 213-66
- John Wolf, Louis XIV (1968) p 499-578
- Peter Burke, "The fabrication of Louis XIV." History Today, (Feb 1992), Vol. 42, Issue 2 in EBSCO
- Gérard Sabatier, "La Gloire du Roi: Iconographie de Louis XIV de 1661 a 1672," Histoire, Economie et Société 2000 19(4): 527-560.
- See also Amy M. Schmitter, "Representation and the Body of Power in French Academic Painting." Journal of the History of Ideas 2002 63(3): 399-424. Issn: 0022-5037 Fulltext: in Jstor
- Stanis Perez, "Les Rides D'apollon: L'evolution Des Portraits de Louis XIV," ["Apollo's Wrinkles: the Evolution of Portraits of Louis XIV"]. Revue D'histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 2003 50(3): 62-95. Issn: 0048-8003
- Julia Prest, "Dancing King: Louis XIV's Roles in Moliere's Comedies-ballets, from Court to Town." Seventeenth Century 2001 16(2): 283-298. Issn: 0268-117x Fulltext: Ebsco
- Sébastien Gaudelus, "La Mise en Spectacle De La Religion Royale: Recherches sur la Devotion de Louis XIV," Histoire, Economie et Société 2000 19(4): 513-526.
- Jens Ivo Engels, "Denigrer, Esperer, Assumer La Realite. Le Roi de France perçu par ses Sujets, 1680-1750" ["Disparaging, Hoping, Taking on Reality: the French King as Perceived by His Subjects, 1680-1750"]. Revue D'histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 2003 50(3): 96-126.
- Ashley, Maurice P. Louis XIV And The Greatness Of France (1965) excerpt and text search
- Beik, William. Louis XIV and Absolutism: A Brief Study with Documents (2000) excerpt and text search
- Beik, William. "The Absolutism of Louis XIX as Social Collaboration." Past & Present 2005 (188): 195–224. Issn: 0031-2746 Fulltext online at OUP
- Burke, Peter. The Fabrication of Louis XIV (1994) excerpt and text search
- Cambridge Modern History: Vol. 5 The Age Of Louis XIV (1908), old, solid articles by scholars; complete text online
- Dunlop, Ian. Louis XIV (2000), 512pp excerpt and text search
- Goubert, Pierre. Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen (1972), social history from Annales School
- Lewis, W. H. The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV (1997) excerpt and text search; also online complete edition
- Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel. The Ancien Regime: A History of France 1610 - 1774 (1999), survey by leader of the Annales School excerpt and text search
- Lynn, John A. The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667-1714 (1999) excerpt and text search
- Mitford, Nancy. The Sun King(1995), popular excerpt and text search
- Rowlands, Guy. The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV: Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661-1701 (2002) online edition
- Shennan, J. H. Louis XIV (1993) online edition
- Wilkinson, Rich. Louis XIV (2007)
- Wolf, John B. Louis XIV (1968), the standard scholarly biography online edition