Louis XIV (5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign lasted for 72 years and 110 days.

It took more than two decades for King Louis XIII and his wife, Anne, to have Louis XIV as their first child. So relieved were the royal couple to have a direct heir to the throne that they christened the boy Louis-Dieudonné, meaning “gift of God.” If the name alone didn’t give Louis XIV an inflated sense of himself, Mazarin also instilled in the boy the notion that kings are divinely chosen. Reflecting that belief, Louis XIV believed any disobedience to his edicts to be sinful, and he adopted the sun as his emblem since France revolved around him as the planets revolved around the sun.

When France’s King Louis XIII died at the age of 41 on May 14, 1643, the monarchy passed to his eldest child, Louis XIV, who was just four years and eight months old. With the new king too young to rule over his 19 million subjects, his mother, Anne, served as regent and appointed Louis XIV’s godfather, Italian-born Cardinal Jules Mazarin, as chief minister. Mazarin served as a surrogate father to his godson and taught the young king about everything from statesmanship and power to history and the arts. Louis XIV was 15 years old at the time of his coronation in 1654, but he did not wield absolute power over France until seven years later when Mazarin died.

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