Louis XIV - the Sun King or Louis the Great, as he was also known - ruled France with an iron fist for over half a century, from 1651 to his death in 1715, outliving his son and even his grandson. His court at the Palace of Versailles became the most dazzling on the Continent, and through his intelligence and cunning, he made France the leading power of Europe. Now, in this masterful biography, historian Olivier Bernier brilliantly recreates Louis XIV's world to reveal the secrets of this monarch's unequaled sovereignty and to explore the singular mystique that surrounds him today.
Not only was Louis heir to his father's throne, he felt he was divinely chosen to rule France. From the year he became king at the age of thirteen, he oversaw every aspect of government, from waging war and making political appointments to supervising the building of his many palaces.
Along with political treachery that marked Louis XIV's long reign, Bernier also brings to light the personal scandals. We witness the poignant resignation of Louis XIV's queen to her husband's parade of mistresses and illegitimate children, the infamous intrigue when the king's brother was accused of poisoning his wife in a jealous rage, and the momentous building of Versailles, not an act of monstrous self-indulgence that bankrupted the nation but the visible expression of Louis XIV's new monarchy - his ingenious methods of centering all activity around court life, thus preventing his courtiers from fomenting rebellion.
Under the Sun King, architecture, painting, music, and theater flourished, making France not only a great political force but a paradigm of fashion and culture as well. Louis XIV takes us from the grandeur of Versailles to the battlefields of the countryside, from the bedrooms of the king's mistresses to the chambers of his ministers, and presents an engrossing portrait of royal life and a commanding leader.