Louis XIV

[King Louis XIV] King of France, born Saint Germain-en-Laye, 1638; died Versailles, France, 1715. He was the son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. Although he succeeded at the age of five, his personal government did not begin until 1661, after his marriage with Maria Theresa of Austria. FranIW was then arbiter of Europe and when Louis assumed power, he determined to be an absolute monarch, disregarding provincial rights and reducing the nobility to mere courtiers. After 1683 he was influenced by Mme. de Maintenon whom he married, and by Pere Le Tellier. He was much occupied with religion, and was continually coming into conflict with the papacy. Dominated by Gallican ideas and inspired by his view of his divine rights, expounded by him in the "Memoires," he exercised a dictatorship over the Church, despite the pope's protests, particularly regarding Church property and appointments to benefices. Feeling the Jansenists were a danger to the state, he aided the Holy See in suppressing them and the Quietists, though he did so in a Gallican spirit. At first he treated the Protestants with justice. Later (1679-85) they were excluded from office and the liberal professions, and at times very cruelly treated by Louvois, his minister. Persuaded that French Protestantism was practically dead, Louis revoked the Edict of N antes, intending thus to register officially the end of the heresy. Innocent XI praised his zeal, but besought James II to influence Louis to obtain gentler treatment for the remaining Protestants, and most of the French bishops supported the pope's view. The ill-treatment of the Protestants is to be attributed to Louis personally, and arose from his resolution to be supreme arbiter of religious policy in his realm.

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