Louis XIV

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Last updated: April 13, 2019

In examining the personality of Louis XIV, and focusing on his involvement during the succession of Spain, I have noticed that there are several differences between accounts depending on which source of information is referred to.

Whilst it is commonly known that many wars took place during the reign of Louis XIV, the longest of these lasted twelve years and was caused by the death of Charles II of Spain. According to Marc Ferro, this death ‘i?? tait attendue vu la faible santi?? du monarque, et parce qu’il n’avait pas d’enfant’1.However, information stated in the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia suggests that ‘The Spanish King Charles II as an invalid and unable to produce an heir’2, and that when he came to the throne, Charles II had been ‘a sickly and mentally retarded child’.

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3 Ferro therefore, although touching upon the ill health of this monarch, remains vague in regards to stating the full extent of his condition. Another element which I encountered in the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, is the claim that ‘the Spanish inheritance was a much-sought prize’4.Ferro fails to mention this fact, even though it would greatly illustrate the greed of Louis XIV, which is an element expressed by both Ferro, who acknowledges that Louis was nown as the ‘Grand Roi’5, and the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, which states that ‘Louis, (who is) known as “The Sun King” (French: Le Roi Soleil) and as “Louis the Great”‘6. Interestingly, this title of Sun King is not recognised by Ferro, although this was supposedly one of the main features of Louis XIV.

These pompous titles used by Louis himself, indicate that he was a very egotistical monarch.This is better demonstrated by his statement of “L’i?? tat, c’est moi! ” which both Wikipedia and Ferro quote to illustrate that he was an absolute monarch – meaning that he alone uled over the country with absolute power. Wikipedia though states that although this quotation is widely accepted, it may lack authenticity. In contrast, Ferro chooses to ignore this admission, thereby implying that it is a certainty that Louis XIV spoke these words. Another key difference between the Wikipedia account of Louis XIV, and that of Marc Ferro, is shown in their reports of the Spanish succession.Ferro states : Louis XIV, ainsi, i?? tait placi?? devant un choix: respecter le “partage” conclu i?? Londres, ou accepter la succession pour son petit-fils.

Apri?? s une longue hi?? sitation, il e prononi?? a pour l’acceptation. 7 However Wikipedia mentions in great detail the fact that Louis’ decision on this matter was swayed by advice volunteered from Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Torcy, despite Louis having previously agreed to a partition of Spain which would have ensured peace in Europe.It is possible, therefore, that Ferro, by deliberately omitting this information, is creating a certain image of Louis XIV as being not only a decisive king, but also one who was concerned more with profit than with peace. Admittedly Louis did agree with the advice of Jean-Baptiste, but it is clear that if nly one historical version is examined, it is easy to miss the full-spectre of events which took place.I have observed that Ferro’s attention to detail in his book Histoire de France is somewhat lacking in comparison to other more in-depth texts on the same subject. However, as this is a book dealing with the entire historical period of France, and not purely limited to the time of Louis XIV, it is understandable that some areas would be skimmed over in order to provide a rough overview of the main issues, which can then be fully explored by the reader in other reference materials such as Wikipedia online encyclopaedia.

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