After becoming king at the age of five, Louis XIV’s life was intricately linked with the history of his 72 years of reign. As God’s Lieutenant, Premier des Gentilshommes and father of his subjects, this monarch, whose reign was the longest in history, represented the State and kingdom of which he was the absolute ruler as both a man and symbol. Everything gravitated around this complex figure, considered enlightened by some and tyrannical by others, and knowledge of him provides the keys to understanding the functioning and political organisation of society at the time.
Lucien Bély and his team of renowned researchers take us into the sovereign’s more private life to allow us to better understand his exercise of power and most remarkable achievements, as well as his failures and the excesses for which he was responsible in a period in which the system of the monarchy was being strengthened. Throughout his life, the person of the king was constantly watched by those close to him and his servants. Here he is examined and described through his daily life, customs, habits, love affairs, friendships, family and the small and unique world that constituted the French Court.