Louis XIV of France

King of France and Navarra, from 1643 to 1715

Louis XIV of France (baptised as Louis-Dieudonné) (5 September 16381 September 1715) ruled as King of France and of the Navarre from 1643. Louis established the French absolute monarchy and made France the main political power in western Europe in his time.

Louis XIV of France


  • Toutes les fois que je donne une place vacante, je fais cent mécontents et un ingrat.
    • Every time that I fill a high office, I create a hundred discontented men and an ingrate.
      • Quoted in Voltaire, Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1751), ch.26
  • Il n'y a plus de Pyrénées.
    • The Pyrenees have ceased to exist.
      • On his grandson becoming King of Spain, quoted in Voltaire, Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1751), ch.28
  • Je mettrais plutôt toute l'Europe d'accord que deux femmes.


  • L'État, c'est moi.
    • I am the State.
      • probably apocryphal; reported in the late 18th century: C. D. Erhard, Betrachtungen über Leopolds des Weisen Gesetzgebung in Toscana, Richter, 1791, p. 30. Widely known and denounced as apocryphal by the early 19th century. Jean Etienne François Marignié, The king can do no wrong: Le roi ne peut jamais avoit tort, le roi ne peut mal faire, Le Normant, 1818 p. 12
  • J'ai failli attendre.
    • I almost had to wait.
      • Regarded as apocryphal by E. Fournier, L'Esprit dans l'Histoire (4th ed. 1884). ch.xlviii

Quotes about Louis XIV

  • Lewis XIV. was by far the ablest man who was born in modern times on the steps of a throne. He was laborious, and devoted nine hours a day to public business. He had an excellent memory and immense fertility of resource. Few men knew how to pursue such complex political calculations, or to see so many moves ahead. He was patient and constant and unwearied, and there is a persistent unity in his policy, founded, not on likes and dislikes, but on the unvarying facts in the political stage of Europe.
    • Lord Acton, 'Lewis the Fourteenth' (c. 1899–1901), Lectures on Modern History, eds. John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence (1906), p. 234
  • [A]s the country had nearly relapsed into Anarchy again, through the Frondist revolt, only one resource remained to it, the direct rule of the King; in other words, monarchical autocracy.
    That is why Louis XIV's first pronouncement on attaining his majority was the famous apophthegm "L’Etat, c’est moi!" All France applauded that utterance. And indeed the observation was interpreted as announcing, not a despotism, but a deliverance. Henceforth the State was, not a minister, nor the great nobles and fair ladies of the Fronde, nor the magistrates of Parliament, nor the lords of Finance (hence the importance and the significance of the Fouquet trial). The governing power would now be in the undisputed possession of its lawful representative, the heir to the Kings of France.
  • The French people were quick to realize the deep significance of the King's ideas, or rather, perhaps, it was the King who grasped what it was that France required. France gave him a free hand and thus enabled him to abolish the final vestiges of ancient wrongs, and to display to the world the inspiring picture of a prince and his people working harmoniously to a common end, for the like of which we should search through history in vain.
    We know what came of it—the "pré carré" all but completed; in Europe, the prestige of France raised to a height that has never been surpassed; amazing prosperity at home; literature and the arts flourishing as never before; our frontiers inviolate for a century—in a word the Age of Louis XIV!
  • This was a king, wise in his councils, valiant in his armies and magnanimous in his victories.
    • Esprit Fléchier, quoted in François Bluche, Louis XIV (1984; English translation, 1990), p. ii
  • Your opinion is right, that the members of the Académie Royale des Sciences must not be pestered if it does not appear that they are pleased to see that which has been prepared for them. Those are fruits that grow best on their own soil, which is so well cultivated under the protection of one of the greatest kings that has ever been.
    • Gottfried Leibniz to Paul Pellisson (3 July 1692), quoted in Pierre Costabel, Leibniz and Dynamics: The Texts of 1692 (1973), p. 39. Translated as "one of the greatest kings who ever lived" in François Bluche, Louis XIV (1984; English translation, 1990), p. 633
  • Humans also start wars because of what Hobbes called ‘trifles’: ‘a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name’. Honour and glory are abstract concepts yet they can matter more than life itself. Alexander the Great, it is said, modelled himself on the great warrior Achilles, who would not suffer insults, and slept with a copy of the Iliad under his pillow. Louis XIV, the Sun King, beggared France and inflicted years of war on Europe in a search for glory, not for his country but for himself. ‘I shall not attempt to justify myself,’ he said after starting a war with the Dutch. ‘Ambition and [the pursuit of] glory are always pardonable in a prince …’ Victory in battle, the acquisition of territory, the quest to put the king’s relatives on other European thrones, even if the wars that followed did not benefit France, were for Louis’s glory. Napoleon, who seems to have admired Louis’s great antagonist the Duke of Marl-borough more than the king, shared the hunger.
  • Louis XIV was the only king of France worthy the name, but though a great king, he was not, like Francis I and Henry IV, un militaire.
    • Napoleon, Napoleon's Notes on English History, Made on the Eve of the French Revolution, Illustrated from Contemporary Documents (1905), p. 258
  • After Westphalia brought peace to Europe, the second half of the seventeenth century saw a further spread of resident ambassadors, with Louis XIV’s France leading the way, and French replaced Latin as the lingua franca. There was, however, still scope for summitry, for instance during Peter the Great’s tour of Western Europe in 1697–8. His meetings with William III of England helped bring Russia belatedly into the European diplomatic orbit. In due course, the czar created a “Diplomatic Chancellery” and a network of foreign embassies on the European model.
    • David Reynolds, Summits: Six Meetings that Changed the Twentieth Century (2007), p. 19
  • Despots always insist that they are merciful...When Louis XIV. revoked the edict of Nantz, and proclaimed two millions of his subjects free plunder for persecution-when from the English channel to the Pyrennees the mangled bodies of the Protestants were dragged on reeking hurdles by a shouting populace, he claimed to be "the father of his people," and wrote himself "His most Christian Majesty."
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