The “Grand Century” of Louis XIV was marked by the image of an absolute Monarch and a powerful State. Installed in his royal functions at a very young age, and educated by Cardinal Mazarin, the Sun King built the foundations of absolutism around his own person. In 1682, he moved with his Court to the Château de Versailles, a palace that was a better symbol of his power and his influence in Europe.
Known as “Louis-Dieudonné”, Louis XIV was born in 1638 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Crowned king at the age of 5 on the death of his father Louis XIII, the young sovereign received from his mother, Anne of Austria, and from Cardinal Mazarin, his godfather, a complete education. Mazarin was officially in charge of introducing him to politics. His mother ruled as Regent; it was the time of the Fronde (1648-1653), the rebellion of the upper nobility and the people of Paris against the monarch. The young Louis felt humiliated by the arrogance of these nobles and threatened in his capital: he would remember this.
The royal family
In 1660, Louis XIV married his first cousin Maria Theresa of Austria, the Spanish Infanta, in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Their union reinforced the reconciliation between France and Spain. The King and the Queen had six children. Only one survived, Louis de France. In 1683, the King secretly married Madame de Maintenon who succeeded his first ‘favourites’, Mademoiselle de La Vallière and Madame de Montespan, with whom he had several legitimate descendents.