- the "Grand Monarque," son of the preceding, was only nine when his father died, and the government was in the hands of his mother, Anne of Austria, and Cardinal Mazarin, her minister; under the regency the glory of France was maintained in the field, but her internal peace was disturbed by the insubordination of the parlement and the troubles of the Fronde; by a compact on the part of Mazarin with Spain before he died Louis was married to the Infanta Maria Theresa in 1659, and in 1660 he announced his intention to rule the kingdom alone, which he did for 54 years with a decision and energy no one gave him credit for, in fulfilment of his famous protestation L'état, c'est moi, choosing Colbert to control finance, Louvois to reorganise the army, and Vauban to fortify the frontier towns; he sought to be as absolute in his foreign relations as in his internal administration, and hence the long succession of wars which, while they brought glory to France, ended in exhausting her; at home he suffered no one in religious matters to think otherwise than himself; he revoked the Edict of Nantes, sanctioned the dragonnades in the Cévennes, and to extirpate heresy encouraged every form of cruelty; yet when we look at the men who adorned it, the reign of Louis XIV. was one of the most illustrious in letters and the arts in the history of France: Corneille, Racine, and Molière eminent in the drama, La Fontaine and Boileau in poetry, Bossuet in oratory, Bruyère and Rochefoucauld in morals, Pascal in philosophy, Saint-Simon and Retz in history, and Poussin, Lorraine, Lebrun, Perault, &c., in art (1636-1715).
The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. James Wood. 1907.
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