Friday, Feb. 04, 2011

Louis XIV

Hailed by Napoleon as "the only King of France worthy of the name," Louis XIV sat on the French throne for more than 72 years, the longest known reign of any such Europe royal. He is best remembered as the Sun King, a name that symbolizes his famously absolutist style of governance. For more than half a century, he guided the French state to the height of its influence in the early 18th century. He fought 3 wars and pioneered a kind of "soft power," seeing French proliferate as the language of sophisticates, the nobility and diplomacy across Europe. His patronage of the arts brought to light luminaries like Moliere — and his absolutist rule spurred angry political philosophers like Montesquieu. The most famous quote attributed to him is probably apocryphal: L'etat, c'est moi, I am the State. Nevertheless, it fits.