Louis the XIV ruled France for over seventy years, during which time both the power of France and the corruption of the aristocracy increased greatly. This biography provides an overview of the wars and political events of his reign as well as insight into the palace politics and personalities during this critical period in French history.
LOUIS XIV AT BREAKFAST, SURROUNDED BY HIS COURTIERS.
We all live a double life: the external life which the world sees, and the internal life of hopes and fears, joys and griefs, temptations and sins, which the world sees not, and of which it knows but little. None lead this double life more emphatically than those who are seated upon thrones.
Though this historic sketch contains allusions to all the most important events in the reign of Louis XIV., it has been the main object of the writer to develop the inner life of the palace; to lead the reader into the interior of the Louvre, the Tuileries, Versailles, and Marly, and to exhibit the monarch as a man, in the details of domestic privacy.
This can more easily be done in reference to Louis XIV. than any other king. Very many of the prominent members of his household left their autobiographies, filled with the minutest incidents of every-day life.
It is impossible to give any correct idea of the life of this proud monarch without allusion to the corruption in the midst of which he spent his days. Still, the writer, while faithful to fact, has endeavored so to describe these scenes that any father can safely read the narrative aloud to his family.
There are few chapters in history more replete with horrors than that which records the "Revocation of the Edict of Nantes." The facts given are beyond all possibility of contradiction. In the contemplation of these scenes the mind pauses, bewildered by the reflection forced upon it, that many of the actors in these fiend-like outrages were inspired by motives akin to sincerity and conscientiousness.
The thoughtful reader will perceive that in this long and wicked reign Louis XIV. was sowing the wind from which his descendants reaped the whirlwind. It was the despotism of Louis XIV. and of Louis XV. which ushered in that most sublime of all earthly dramas, the French Revolution.
New Haven, Conn., 1870.