Louis XIV of France

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Louis XIV, (born September 16, 1638; died at Versailles, September 1, 1715; reigned 14 May 1643-1715) also known as the "Sun King", solidified the absolutist monarchical regime in France epitomized by his famous statement: "L'état c'est moi!" [I am the State]. Drawing from the successes of Cardinal Richelieu who all but ruled France during the reign of the weak Louis XIII, Louis XIV created a France that served only him. He weakened the nobility by forcing them to serve as members of his court rather than as minor fiefs in their castles throughout France. To this end, he built Versailles, the lavish palace outside of France which has become a symbol of the heights of aristocratic indulgences, and the series of residences opposite the Louvre on the Rue de Rivoli, where the courtiers lived when the King was in Paris.

Louis XIV reign was characterized by French global cultural dominance. French was the language of culture in the 17th century in the way that English is today the global language of business. Louis XIV remains beloved in France for his vigorous promotion of French greatness. However, his continued waging of war bankrupted the state, forcing him to continually levy high taxes on the peasantry. According to the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, Louis XIV's weakening of the nobility coupled with his oppression of the peasantry contributed to the political, social and economic instabilities that eventually led to the French Revolution.