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The court and its society, at the center of which is Louis XIV, represent the instrument of power, the use of which the king masters. Through the uprising of the Fronde, Louis XIV learned that an alliance of the upper two classes of the kingdom (nobility and clergy) posed the greatest threat to his kingdom. Therefore he tries to gather everything that is of standing and name in the country at his court.

Status: 09.03.2017

Louis XIV was born on September 5, 1638 in the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. His father is Louis XIII. of France (1601-1643), his mother Anna of Austria (1601-1666), a daughter of King Philip III of Spain. The purely politically motivated marriage is unhappy and overshadows Ludwig's childhood. His closed father remained a stranger to him throughout his life, witnesses report that the Dauphin always screamed loudly when the king was present. Even the mother, a deeply devout Catholic, does not seem to have cared much for the heir to the throne: servants and nannies take care of Ludwig's physical needs, the upbringing is in the hands of the Cardinals Jean-Armand du Plessis de Richelieu (1585-1642) and Jules Mazarin (1602-1661).

Ludwig was five years old when his father died in 1643. His mother Anna takes over the reign and appoints Mazarin, Richelieu's successor, as prime minister. The cardinal - he holds this spiritual title without ever having been ordained a priest - continues the policy of his predecessor. Like Richelieu, he advocates the idea of ​​an absolutist divine grace. His political measures aim to weaken the position of the nobility and to concentrate state power in the person of the king. Mazarin, who directs the affairs of state in close coordination with the regent and dominates French politics, is the defining figure of Ludwig's early years. From him and several tutors, the future king received a solid education in languages, law, history and military strategy.

The child's real love, however, is not for science, but for ball games and music, but above all dance. Contemporary sources describe both the boy and the young king as an excellent dancer: "Without flatting, Dero [Majesty] will dance and hit the ball / which both are held up by the Frantzosen no one will do", reports a German travel book published in 1687.

The King is dancing - the birth of the Sun King

At the age of 14, Ludwig appeared for the first time in a mythological court ballet entitled "Ballet Royal de la Nuit" (Royal Ballet of the Night). The Dauphin dances the role of the rising sun, around which all planets revolve. The costume of Phoibos Apollon, the Shining God, is decorated with shining suns. The sun, the symbol of Apollo, becomes the emblem of the rule of the later Roi de Soleil, the Sun King. Her sign is omnipresent and emphasizes the equation of Ludwig with the god of light, healing and the arts. In both sacred and profane iconography, the sun stands for the creative principle of divine omnipotence: It controls world events, all light is reflection and reflection of sunlight. This is how the absolutist monarch sees himself: He sees himself as the life-giving, all-illuminating central star of France, he has received his shine from God and gives off parts of this radiance to his surroundings, which do not shine by itself, but only reflectively. As king he is the absolute center of a universe that circles him, illuminates and is sustained by him, and serves him alone. As Apollo directs the sun chariot from the rising of the day to its setting, the king directs his kingdom. This analogy is also linked to essential elements of the court ceremony, but above all the king's waking up in the morning (grand lever) and going to bed in the evening (grand coucher) as a mirror of the rising and setting of the sun.

The Apollonian symbolism can be found in the programmatic ceiling frescoes of Versailles, in ballets, music, operas, poems of homage and is also continued in numerous details of the gardens, be it in the Apollo Fountain, where the god steers the sun chariot, be it in Apollonian attributes like that Laurel, the lyre or the tripod.

Iam regnat Apollo: the Sun King takes over the rule

In 1651, Louis XIV was declared of legal age. His mother's reign expires. Thirteen-year-old Ludwig hands over the government to Mazarin, who soon has to give way to pressure from his political opponents. The cardinal's ruthless tax policy sparked the Fronde revolts, which lasted more than five years and found support among both the high nobility and the common people in the provinces. The cardinal is therefore forced to leave France twice (1651, 1652/53). In December 1651, the Paris parliament even placed 50,000 thalers on his head. These years will be a formative experience for Ludwig: Shaken by the experiences of the Fronde, he will strive all his life to bring the rebellious nobility under the control of the crown and to curtail the feudal right of co-determination.

In 1654 Ludwig was crowned king in Reims. Mazarin, who returned from exile in 1653 and was reinstated as prime minister, involves the young king step by step in the affairs of government. When the cardinal died in 1661, the now 22-year-old Ludwig made it clear with a bang that he had internalized the absolutist ideas of his teachers: contrary to all expectations, he decided not to appoint a new prime minister. He dismisses most of the members of the State Council and also excludes his mother from any say in order to take over the affairs of state herself.

Un roi, une loi, une foi - Ludwig as the absolute monarch

On June 9, 1660, Ludwig married his cousin Maria Teresa (1638-1683), a daughter of King Philip IV of Spain. The 23-year marriage was purely an alliance of convenience. You have six children, of which only the son Ludwig († 1711), the Grand Dauphin, survived. At court, the childish, small and plump queen remains a pale figure without any social or political influence. Just one year after getting married, Ludwig takes the first of a series of mistresses. Maria Teresa, who hardly speaks French, accepts her fate. She lives in seclusion, devoting her attention to religious and charitable tasks. When she died in the Palace of Versailles in 1683, her husband is said to have said: "This is the first time that she gives me difficulties".

At the height of power

In the years between 1660 and the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701), Ludwig consistently expanded his unrestricted claim to power, both domestically and internationally. He rules as sole ruler, enlarges the French territory through the ruthless use of his superior military power, disciplines the nobility and the church. At the end of the 17th century, France was the most powerful state in Europe and the cultural center of the entire continent. A German travelogue published in 1674 praises "that France never invented such a blissful state / as now: It is not only protected from all internal revolts / but also formidable from all extraneous powers / therefore almost everyone seeks friendship from the king / and from it Fears hostility. "

The genius of self-presentation - Ludwig's last years

The king is a very complex, contradicting character. Eyewitnesses describe him as charming, polite, educated, praising his sharp mind, willpower, self-control and tireless zeal for work. He is well informed in all questions of the state, controls all government affairs, he is disciplined and permeated with deep piety. However, the monarch's thirst for glory is just as pronounced as his sense of duty. Ludwig puts France's best artists, architects, painters, poets, musicians and writers at the service of the glorification of his personal gloire. He developed an unprecedented patronage to instrumentalize the arts in the interests of the royal reputation and its politics. The spectacular festivals in Versailles with their fireworks, masked balls and opera performances also serve this comprehensive self-presentation. They spread and consolidate France's cultural primacy, which soon influenced the style of princely representation across Europe.

With the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1713/14), however, the previously undisputed supremacy of France was broken. England rises to the leading power. Ludwig, who in his last years had mainly concerned himself with the recovery of the state finances through savings and financial reforms, as well as the promotion of the economy, increasingly lonely. When he felt his end was near, Louis XIV transferred power to govern in his will to his nephew, Philip II of Orléans (1674-1723). From 1715 to 1723 the duke acted as regent on behalf of the later King Louis XV, who was born in 1710.

On September 1, 1715, four days before his 77th birthday, Louis XIV dies of the consequences of gangrene on his left leg.

The court and its society, at the center of which is Louis XIV, represent the instrument of power, the use of which the king masters. Through the uprising of the Fronde, Louis XIV learned that an alliance between the two upper classes of the kingdom (nobility and clergy) posed the greatest threat to his kingdom. Therefore, he tried to gather everything that was of high standing in the country at his court, which in 1682 finally moved to the Palace of Versailles. Louis XIV tried to prevent the emergence of other small centers of power. The ladies and gentlemen of the nobility, who prefer to stay at their ancestral home, sink into social insignificance.

Before the completion of the new Palace of Versailles, that is, in the first twenty years of the Sun King's reign, the court did not have a permanent seat, but shuttled between individual castles and palaces, the most important of which were the Louvre and the Tuileries in Paris and outside of it Capital were the castles of Fontainebleau and Saint-Germainen-Laye. But the king strove for a building that would reflect his absolute rule in grandeur and size. He found a suitable space between the woods and ponds where his father had a small hunting lodge built. Work began there in 1661, drawing on the best architects and artists of the time. The construction work was initially directed by the architect Louis Le Vau and, after his death, by Jules Hardouin-Mansart - to whom we owe the converted attic, the attic.

Versailles was not only intended to create the residence of the Sun King, but also to create space for more than 15,000 people from the court. Jean-Baptiste Colbert initially supervised the construction project in Versailles and deployed soldiers to raise the artificial hill, to drain around 15,000 hectares of marshland and to dig lakes and canals. An eyewitness reports that in 1685 - three years after the court moved - 36,000 workers and soldiers were employed on the Versailles construction sites. One can imagine the circumstances under which the farm lived there in the beginning. Colbert repeatedly warned the king of the increasing expenditure caused by the construction projects and tried to raise money by borrowing and increasing income. Colbert died while construction was still going on. The legend tells, as a result of a rebuke from the king. But the workload must have just become too great.

The gardens of Versailles - strolling in the new Olympus

Versailles included not only magnificent buildings, but also sophisticated gardens with 1,400 fountains, countless lakes and canals. The plant was designed by the garden architect André Le Nôtre. Its intention was to create a jardin de l’intelligence, a French garden that would complement the architecture and symbolize the submission of nature to human will. Aligned geometrically and axially to the castle, long avenues luring the view into the distance, loosened up by bosquets, hedges and around 75,000 trimmed trees, the park announced in its own way the fame of the king. Le Nôtre enhanced this impression by adding countless figuratively designed fountains, statues, statues and sculptures to the gardens. Ludwig loved the classic, mythological allusions: Apollo in the sun chariot, Hercules conquering the Hydra. At the same time, the Sun King loved to be portrayed as a Roman emperor, as a triumphant. With these preferences, Louis XIV shaped the style of his contemporaries and descendants well into the 18th century.

Walking through the gardens of Versailles soon became part of institutionalized life at court. In the nineties of the 17th century the king wrote a guide in very dry, unadorned language, which, divided into numbered passages, laid down the route through the gardens in an almost bureaucratic manner. The gardens of Versailles were not only popular with contemporaries. The Duke of Saint-Simon, who had lived at the court of Versailles since 1691, criticized the subjugation of nature and the unnatural nature of the grounds, which did not exactly invite one to linger.

Just like the garden, the nascent city of Versailles was laid out with reference to the palace. All the streets ended in a star shape on the Place d'Armes, which was flanked by the royal stables. In the city itself, the country's princes and nobles had their hôtels built so that they could live at court. "The noble ones were given a bad mark if they did not make the court their permanent residence," reports the Duke of Saint-Simon in his memoirs. "Those who never, or almost never, showed themselves could be sure of complete injustice. If one of these expressed any wish, the king replied with icy pride: I do not know him! If it was someone who only showed himself occasionally, then it was said : I never saw the man! And such a condemnation was irrevocable. "

Living in the Palace of Versailles was not even particularly comfortable. The crowd was too big, the heating didn't work. As little had been done for the hygienic facilities, the corridors and galleries became filthy in a short time. The king himself soon sought refuge in the nearby Marly Palace, his hermitage, where only a very strictly selected group of family members and courtiers were taken with him. To be invited to Marly was considered a special token of favor at court.

Le ballet royal - the ceremonial as an instrument of discipline

The "domestication" of the French aristocracy came to an end through the compulsion that the king exerted on the nobility to reside at the court and to settle there. Whoever stayed at the court of Versailles was largely under his control.

All of the nobles living at court were tied into a system of mutual dependencies that required the utmost attention and where it was important to maintain, if not increase, rank under all circumstances. Since the court represented an almost closed society, the pursuit of a higher rank took on the character of a bitter power struggle. Significantly, in the descriptions of the court of Versailles, comparisons with the art of war appear again and again: For example, the poet Jean de La Bruyère writes: "Life at court is a serious, melancholy game that demands you: you have to use your guns and batteries set up, have and pursue a war plan and thwart the opponent's. Sometimes you have to dare something and give in to a sudden idea, and after all these considerations and measures you are in check and are sometimes checkmated (...) ".

The king himself controlled this system through awards that increased prestige. This enabled Louis XIV to maintain tension and jealousy so that the energies of individual or individual groups were directed against one another and not against the king.

And of course the Sun King himself was fully integrated into the system. He had to submit to unheard-of constraints that demanded etiquette and representation. It was necessary to forego any private or intimate life. The whole existence of the king was aimed at monitoring, securing and regulating the courtly system, so that the sentence: "L'Etat c'est moi" ("I am the state"), with which the Sun King is quoted again and again, is absolutely was true. However, it was proven as early as the 19th century that Louis XIV never said that like that.Nevertheless, the saying characterizes the style of government of the Sun King very aptly.

Versailles offered the Sun King, who loved nothing more than to stage himself, the suitable backdrop for his appearances. Every meaningless act thus received its political effect.

In the course of time, the ceremonies became more and more sophisticated, more and more stylized, until they finally solidified into rituals. Ludwig was able to put his own stamp on these rituals for a very long time; every look, every movement was used.

Whether at the every morning entrée familière, to which only the royal princes, the personal physician and Ludwig's last wet nurse were allowed, whether at the grande entrée, which was reserved for the high nobility, or at one of the three other entrances: Louis XIV distributed himself when washing his hands , when choosing wigs and handkerchiefs, when putting on trousers, shirts and stockings, the favor and mercy that sealed the rise and fall of the courtiers.

Le Roi s'amuse - mistresses at the court of Versailles

The particular style of Louis XIV also included his preference for women. A whole series of mistresses (official title: maîtresse an titre) adorns his reign: Louise de La Vallière, the Duchess of Fontages, the Marquise de Montespan, the Marquise de Maintenon, to name just the most important. The mistresses were an integral part of the king's daily routine, and he had numerous children from them. Despite her marriage, the Marquise de Montespan bore the king seven children, six of whom were later legitimized. At times, several mistresses were in the king's favor at the same time, so that rivalries arose, which the court observed meticulously with great pleasure. There were also spicy situations: The La Vallière, the Montespan and the Queen sat in a carriage while traveling, so that the people began to speak of the "three queens". The Marquise de Maintenon held a special position, raising children who had been legitimized by the king since 1669. In 1680 she finally ousted Madame de Montespan and finally, after the death of the queen (1683), the king even secretly married his mistress - the exact time is still disputed today.

The king withdraws

Under the influence of Madame de Maintenon, life at court lost all the cheerful festivities that had previously distinguished it, and the king developed a penchant for bigotry. The Maintenon was not very popular at court; the king's sister-in-law, Liselotte von der Pfalz, only mentions her in her letters "old zott" and wrote on the occasion of her death (1719): "This morning I find out that old Maintenon died, yesterday between 4 and 5 evening . It would be a great happiness if it happened some 30 years ago. " None of the ministers, writers or generals shaped the atmosphere of Versailles in the later half of the king's life as decisively as Madame de Maintenon.

With the establishment of Versailles, Louis XIV made an important cut: He separated the capital and the seat of government from one another. Since the days of the Fronde, the king had feared the threat posed by Paris and its unpredictable inhabitants. The opposition that came to life in Paris in the nineties of the 17th century confirmed his assumptions. Between 1693 and 1701 he was not once in Paris and until his death he only visited the capital four times. In doing so, the king moved away from his people - it was not for nothing that the people of Paris brought the king back to the capital during the French Revolution.

1610: assassination of King Henry IV in Paris; He is succeeded by his son Ludwig XIII.
1614: last convocation of the Estates General (états généraux); Rise of absolutism in France
1615: Louis XIII. marries Anna of Austria in Bordeux.
1624: Cardinal Richelieu becomes chief minister (until 1642)
1628: La Rochelle, the Huguenots' last security post, is taken.
1635: Foundation of the Académie Française. France openly intervenes in the Thirty Years War. Beginning of the war between France and Spain.
1638: Birth of Louis XIV.
1642: Cardinal Richelieu dies
1643: death of Louis XIII .; He is succeeded by his son Louis XIV. Regent for the minor Louis XIV. Is his mother, Anna of Austria. Cardinal Jules Mazarin becomes French Prime Minister. 1648: In the Peace of Westphalia, France gains territory on its western border.
1648 - 1653: "Fronde" - last uprising of the nobility in France
1651: Anna of Austria's reign ends for her son. Louis XIV is declared of legal age.
1659: The Peace of the Pyrenees ends the Spanish-French War (since 1635); French territorial gains in the south, north and east. The decline of Spain as a great power begins. Beginning of the "French Age".
1660: Louis XIV marries the Spanish Infanta Maria Teresa.
1661: Cardinal Mazarin's death; Louis XIV personally takes over the government. Jean-Baptiste Colbert becomes Chief Financial Officer.
1662: Defensive Alliance between France and the United Netherlands
1664: Colbert combines the northern and central regions of France into one customs unit without internal tariffs.
1665: death of King Philip IV of Spain; His successor is his unfit for government, Charles II.
1666: Anna of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV, dies. Colbert becomes Minister of the Navy.
1667/68: War of devolution between France and Spain over the Spanish Netherlands.
1668: Triple Alliance between the United Netherlands, England and Sweden in support of Spain. The Peace of Aachen ends the war of devolution. The Marquis de Louvois becomes Minister of War and increases the standing army to 170,000 men.
1669: Construction begins on the palace in Versailles according to plans by the architect Le Vau (until 1674).
1670: Louis XIV allies with King Charles II of England in the Treaty of Dover against the United Netherlands; The Triple Alliance is blown up. France occupies Lorraine.
1672: Alliance between France and Sweden.
1672 - 78/79: War between France and the United Netherlands. William III. von Orange becomes governor general, captain general and admiral general of the United Netherlands and Ludwig's tireless opponent.
1672/73: Anti-French alliance between Wilhelm v. Orange, the Emperor and Spain.
1674: The German Reichstag declares war on France.
1678: The Peace of Nijmegen ends the war between France and the United Netherlands and between France and Spain; France claims the Franche-Comté and some border fortresses in the northeast.
1679: Peace at Nijmegen between France, the Kaiser and the German Empire. Louis XIV set up chambers of reunions to legally prepare annexations on the eastern border.
1679-81: Reunions
1680: Beginning of billeting of dragoons with Huguenots for the purpose of conversion.
1681: France annexes Strasbourg. Beginning of renewed persecution of Huguenots in France.
1682: The French court finally settles in Versailles.
1683: Death of Queen Maria Teresa, the wife of Louis XIV. A little later, Louis XIV secretly marries Françoise d'Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon. Death of Jean-Baptiste Colbert.
1684: In the Regensburg standstill, Emperor Leopold I, the Reich and Spain recognize the French reunions for 20 years.
1685: With the Edict of Fontainebleau, the Edict of Nantes is repealed. Elector Friedrich Wilhelm I of Brandenburg issues the Edict of Potsdam. When the Palatinate-Simmern family died out, the Palatinate cure fell to Palatinate-Neuburg.
1687: Conflict between Ludwig and Pope Innocent XI. regarding diplomatic immunity in Rome ("Affaires des Francises").
1688-97: War of the Palatinate Succession; Ludwig XIV. In the name of his sister-in-law Elisabeth Charlotte (Liselotte) of the Palatinate claims the Electoral Palatinate.
1689: The Palatinate is devastated by French troops. Formation of the "Great Alliance" against France: Emperor, United Netherlands, England, Spain, Sweden, Savoy. 1689: Destruction of Heidelberg Castle and parts of the city by the French.
1692: Naval battle at La Hogue; decisive defeat of the new French fleet.
1697: The Peace of Rijswijk ends the Palatinate War of Succession; first loss peace of Louis XIV.
1699: Death of the Bavarian Elector Joseph Ferdinand, the son of Elector Max II Emanuel of Bavaria, who was to inherit the Spanish throne.
1700: With the death of King Charles II of Spain, the line of the Spanish Habsburgs dies out. France and Austria raise inheritance claims on Spain. Charles II appointed Duke Philip of Anjou, the grandson of Louis XIV, as the overall heir in his will. Ludwig accepts the inheritance on behalf of his grandson; Philip of Anjou ascends the Spanish throne as Philip V.
1701 - 1713/14: War of the Spanish Succession; first world war of modern times with scenes in Spain, Italy, southern Germany, the Netherlands, on the oceans and in the North Sea.
1701: Formation of the "Great Alliance" between Great Britain, Holland, Austria, Prussia, Hanover and Portugal. This is joined by the Empire in 1702 and Savoy in 1703.
1702 - 1704: Rebellion of the Camisards in the Cevennes in southern France.
1704: The Allies defeat French-Bavarian troops near Höchstädt. English troops capture Gibraltar.
1706: Allied victory at Ramillies; Eugene of Savoy ends the siege of Turin.
1708: Allied victory at Oudenaarde.
1709: Allied victory at Malplaquet; Famine and severe internal crisis in France
1710: Birth of the later Louis XV.
1712: Death of the new heir to the throne, the Duke of Burgundy and his wife Maria Adelaide of Savoy.
1714: Peace treaties of Rastatt (between France and Austria) and Baden (between France and the German Empire). Philip 1715: death of King Louis XIV in general unpopularity; Burial in the abbey church of Siant Denis. His successor is his great-grandson Louis XV. (until 1774).

In 1682, Louis XIV moved his seat of government to the newly built Palace of Versailles, although the construction work was not yet completely finished. An Italian observer, Primi Visconti, who lived in France and at court for ten years, reports: "The air there [in Versailles] is bad. Furthermore, the putrid waters spoil the air so badly that in August everyone got sick." Dauphin, the Dauphine, the courtiers, all who were there except for the king and me, I believe. Meanwhile, the king insists on staying there. "

In 1689 the palace in Versailles and its gardens were finished. Ludwig de Rouveroy, Duke of Saint-Simon, finds the castle anything but comfortable: "His [the king's] apartment and that of the queen are extremely uncomfortable, with a view of the outlets and everything to the rear and extremely dark The gardens, whose splendor is astonishing but which are difficult to use, are of equally bad taste. To get into the coolness of the shade one must cross a wide and hot area, at the end of which one everywhere either Has to climb or descend, and with the hill, which is only small, the gardens cease. The pavement hurts the feet, but without this pavement one would sink into the sand here and there in the blackest mire. The violence, that of nature here Has been done everywhere is repulsive and involuntarily repulsive.The overabundance of water, which is forcibly brought in from everywhere, makes them green, thick and muddy; they spread an unhealthy one and sensitive moisture, a stench that it is all the more. [...] One would not be able to enumerate the faults of such an enormous and so enormously expensive palace with the accompanying circumstances, which are even more, greenhouses, orchards, dog and horse stables, innumerable servants' houses. This is a whole city where there used to be only a miserable tavern, a windmill and that little garden palace that Ludwig XIII. had built. "

Primi Visconti reports about the residents of Versailles: "I wanted you to see the court. What a mess of men and women. The well-known people have access everywhere. That this people is of a rather frivolous character, so it is a crowd, a Constant coming and going, so that one evening the Duke of Palestrina said to me: This is a real ordell. " Cardinal Maldacchini, on the other hand, when he came to France for the first time and saw all the gentlemen and ladies of the court, exclaimed: "Oh! What a land of milk and honey! What a land of milk and honey!"

There were amusements in abundance at the court of Versailles. The French court became famous for its amorous escapades. Soon after his marriage to the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain (1660), Louis XIV acquired a mistress, Louise de La Vallière, who was made Duchess of Vaujours in 1667. The Parliamentary Councilor Olivier Le Fèvre d'Ormesson describes the King's mistress as follows: "I went to the King's Mass afterwards, who was attended by the Queen, Mr. Dauphin, Monsieur [the King's brother] and Mademoiselle de La Vallière, the latter being the Queen As a courtesy to the king, she was very wise. This lady did not appear beautiful to me at all; she has beautiful eyes and a beautiful complexion, but she is fleshless, her cheeks sunken, her mouth and teeth ugly, thicker Tip of the nose and a rather long face. Indeed, I was surprised to find her so unattractive. "

The king valued Louise de La Vallière because of other qualities, for example the lady-in-waiting was an extremely bold rider. On September 18, 1665, the Prince of Condé reported: "Yesterday the king returned from Versailles, where he stayed for four days. On the first day he shot a red deer and a fallow deer, accompanied by all the women who wore knitted hunting skirts and hats They are excellent horsewomen, especially Mademoiselle de La Vallière with a maid Madames [Henriette-Anne of England, the first wife of the king's brother], they never lag behind the dogs, and no man can be faster than them.
The next day there was a new comedy from a comedy writer named Molière. This man has as much spirit as one can have and, following the example of the ancients, in his comedies he mocks the vices of his time. "

The "vices of this time" also include the homosexual love affairs of Monsieur, the king's brother, which the king disapproved of. When Madame de Maintenon, the king's last lover and secret wife, asked her husband to put an end to these practices at court, the latter is said to have replied: "I would have to start with my own brother." Liselotte von der Pfalz, who was married to Monsieur and so directly affected by his antics, saw things more realistically. In December 1705, the Duchess wrote to her half-sister, the Countess Amalie Elisabeth: "Where are you and Louisse stuck that you know the world so little? Those who hate the world, love the young men, would not be six people here Being able to love [...] It includes all kinds of species; there are those who hate women like dead and cannot love anything but mansleütte; others love men and women [...]; others only love children of 10, 11 years , other guys from 17 to 25 years and they are most of them; others are bellyed, so neither men nor women love and divert themselves, their crowd is not as large as the others. cattle and people, what precompet for them [...] Then you tell, dear Amelisse, that the world is even worse than you never thought. "

Anna was the eldest daughter of King Philip III. "The Pious" (1578-1621, ruled 1598-1621) from Spain from his marriage to Archduchess Margaret of Inner Austria (1584-1611). At the Spanish court the Infanta was brought up in the tradition of strict Catholicism.

In 1615, at the age of 14, Anna was married to King Ludwig XIII in a purely politically motivated marriage. married from France. The marriage, like that of Anna's brother Philip IV with Isabella of France, was intended to consolidate the rapprochement between Spain and France. The marriage became very unhappy; the king felt more drawn to men and treated his wife, described as beautiful, amiable, and very pious, with great reserve. It was only after more than 20 years of marriage that Anna gave birth to her first child, who would later become King Louis XIV of France (1638). Another son, Philipp, who later became Duke of Orléans, followed two years later.

The death of Richelieu (1642) and the death of her husband (1643) represented a liberation for Anna. The queen quickly developed into a statesmanlike ruler. Louis XIII had wanted to exclude her from the government by his will, but Anna had her husband's will annulled with the help of the Parliament of Paris and was appointed sole regent. After this coup it ruled exclusively in the interests of France.So she also waged war against her own brother and refused any compensation that would have been at the expense of France. She appointed Cardinal Jules Mazarin, an Italian, to be Prime Minister. Mazarin and the regent were fond of each other, and some historians even claim that the two were secretly married to each other. However, these claims are unfounded.

Mazarin and Anna were able to book a profit with the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia (1648/49). But soon they were faced with a revolt of the nobility, the so-called Fronde, in their own country. The rebels found a scapegoat in Cardinal Mazarin, "the rag from Sicily", and demanded his resignation and banishment. In February 1651 Anna had to dismiss the cardinal under pressure, but managed - with the help of the cardinal's precise instructions - to divide her opponents. After the suppression of the uprising (November 1652) Mazarin returned to Paris in 1653.

Anna's reign had formally ended in 1651, but she too retained control over Mazarin's influence. After Mazarin's death (1661), Louis XIV insisted on maintaining his sole rule: the Queen Mother was politely expelled from the Council of State (March 1661).

In 1660 Louis XIV married Anna's niece, Infanta Maria Teresa. This marriage was part of the Peace of the Pyrenees that ended the war between France and Spain. After her withdrawal, Anna continued to support the Catholic party at court. In 1666 Anna died of cancer at the age of 65.

The son of a Sicilian nobleman in the service of the Colonna family, Mazarin grew up in Rome, where he attended a Jesuit school. After studying secular and canon law, he entered the service of the Pope, where he was soon entrusted with diplomatic missions. In 1630, during negotiations in the War of the Mantuan Succession, he met Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), the first French minister, whose recommendations enabled him to achieve rapid advancement. Between 1634 and 1636 he held the office of vice delegate of Avignon and extraordinary nuncio of Paris.

In 1640 Mazarin entered French services out of admiration for Richelieu and was naturalized. In 1641 he was promoted to cardinal, although he had never received religious orders. He became Richelieu's closest collaborator. After his death (1642) he moved to his place in the Privy Council. After the death of King Louis XIII. von France (1643) appointed his widow Anna of Austria, regent for the still underage Louis XIV, Mazarin as the first minister of France.

In this position Mazarin dominated the whole of French politics and also significantly influenced the political upbringing of the young king. Mazarin managed to end the Thirty Years War with the Peace of Westphalia very favorably for France. France not only achieved considerable territorial gains, it also succeeded in weakening the emperor in the empire and thus the Holy Roman Empire as a whole.

Mazarin was able to record further significant successes in foreign policy: He ended the war against Spain, which had been going on since 1635, in an alliance with England (1657) with the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659), which he negotiated personally in several months of negotiations with Spanish diplomats. This marked the beginning of France's final rise to hegemonic power in Europe.

Domestically, however, his position was by no means unchallenged. His ruthless tax policy sparked, among other things, the struggles of the Fronde, which lasted more than five years and found support both among the high nobility and the common people in the provinces. Mazarin was therefore forced to leave France twice (1651, 1652/53). In December 1651, the Paris parliament even put 50,000 thalers on his head. But even from abroad he influenced government affairs and was finally called back by Louis XIV.

Mazarin increasingly involved the young king in the affairs of government and helped him with the training and selection of capable employees, such as Michel Le Tellier and Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Mazarin was attacked by his opponents for his avarice and the accumulation of offices and accused in the "Mazarinades" - pamphlets against the cardinal during the Fronde - of a relationship with Queen Anna. A secret marriage between the cardinal and the queen mother could never be proven. The mother of Louis XIV and Mazarin had a close friendship and the Habsburg woman followed the advice of her minister in all matters.

Mazarin was also a lover of the arts. He decorated his palace in Paris (which now houses the Bibiothéque Nationale) with works by Italian artists. He also fashioned Italian opera in France and sponsored several writers with pensions.

In keeping with the tradition of nepotism, Mazarin helped his relatives get rich incomes and arranged influential marriages for his nephews and nieces. His nieces from the Mancini and Martinozzi families were married to the Duke of Modena, the Prince of Conti and the Duke of Bouillon, among others. His niece Olympia Mancini (1640? -1708) married Prince Eugene Moritz von Savoyen-Carignan, Count of Soissons, and became the mother of the famous general Eugene of Savoy. The Countess of Soissons, like her sister, the Duchess of Bouillon, was involved in the affaire des poisons and therefore had to leave Paris (1680).

Maria Teresa came from the first marriage of King Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665, reigned 1621-1665) to Isabella of France (1603-1644).

After the death of her only brother, the Infante Baltasar Carlos, Maria Teresa was the Spanish Hereditary Princess between 1646 and 1657. In 1657 a son was born to her father from his second marriage, Philipp Prosper (1657-1661). His birth and the ratification of the Peace of the Pyrenees between Spain and France (1659), which ended the 24-year war between the two countries, were the prerequisites for Maria Teresa's marriage to her cousin, Louis XIV of France (1660).

Maria Teresa did not occupy any important position at the court of the Sun King. Just a year after the marriage, Ludwig took the first of a series of mistresses. Maria Teresa also gained no political influence; she was helpless in the face of the intrigues at court.

In their 23-year marriage, she gave birth to her husband six children, of which only her son Ludwig († 1711), the Grand Dauphin, survived. Maria Teresa spent most of her time withdrawn and devoted her attention to religious and charitable tasks.

When the Queen died in the Palace of Versailles in 1683, her husband is said to have said: "This is the first time that she has caused me difficulties".

Keyword Peace in the Pyrenees (1659)

The Peace of the Pyrenees was concluded on November 7, 1659 between France and Spain on an island on the Biadossa river in the Pyrenees. He ended the struggle between the two countries, which had been part of the Thirty Years' War since 1635, revised the situation in Europe created by the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) and sealed the decline of Spain.

Spain lost the following territories to France:

• On the border between France and the Spanish Netherlands, parts of the counties Artois, Hainaut, Flanders and Luxembourg as well as property titles in Lorraine.
• On the border between France and Spain, the counties of Roussillon and Cerdaña, north of the Pyrenees. Hence the Pyrenees ridge formed the border between France and Spain.

This allowed France to expand its borders in the northeast and southwest. In addition, the restitution of the Dukes of Lorraine, Savoy and Modena was agreed and a marriage contract was negotiated between Louis XIV and the eldest daughter of King Philip IV of Spain, Infanta Maria Teresa. The marriage was concluded the following year (1660), whereby Maria Teresa had to renounce all Spanish inheritance claims.

The Peace of the Pyrenees ended the Spanish-Habsburg supremacy in Europe and is described as the beginning of France's rise to the leading power in Europe. France was given the starting position for a further advance into the Netherlands and the western border of the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, the Franco-Spanish marriage agreed in the Peace of the Pyrenees established the claims that led to the War of the Spanish Succession. Didactic advice

The Duke of Saint-Simon (1675-1755) lived almost continuously at the court of the Sun King since 1691. His memoirs are considered one of the most important sources on Louis XIV and his court. He writes about the king: “(...) The king was less than mediocre talented, but very capable of education. He was addicted to fame and obeyed law and order. He possessed a natural understanding, which was moderate, discreet, master of his movements and his language, and - as strange as it may sound - at the core of his being kind and just. God has probably enabled him to become a good, perhaps even a great monarch, if it had not been for foreign influences.

As a child he was so neglected that no one dared to feed his apartments. Later he often spoke of this period with bitterness. He said that one evening they had to fish it out of the pool in the garden of the Palais-Royal, the residence at the time. He wasn't even taught properly to read and write. So he remained ignorant all his life and had no idea of ​​the main things in world history, of the events of the time, of monetary and administrative affairs, of the genealogy of the nobility, of the laws, etc. Sometimes he even made the greatest blunders in public.

It could appear as if the king favored the high nobility and promoted their exclusivity. However, this was by no means the case. He feared aristocrats of birth as much as he feared aristocrats of the mind. If someone was both in one person and betrayed this, he was finished.

His ministers, his generals, his mistresses and courtiers soon recognized his mistakes, rather than his lust for glory, after he took office. The ruler was praised and spoiled. This praise, or rather: this praise appealed to him so much that even the coarsest kind guaranteed success and the lowest kind guaranteed at least a gracious smile. Flattery was the only way to incline the king. His favorites owed their advantages not only to their good star, but also to their indefatigability in this regard. The source of the great power of his ministers was that they continually had the opportunity to sprinkle him with incense, pretending that everything that actually came out of their heads came from the king and that he was the high lord and Master, from whom they constantly learned, suppleness, lackeys, salivating and above all the art of dying in the haze of majesty in nothingness and pretending to be everything through his grace and grace - these were the main means to him to please (...)

The king's thirst for fame (...) was closely linked to this weakness. As a result, Louvois found it easy to get him to go to great wars. That the actual cause of war was sometimes nothing more than the desire to overthrow Colbert, or the fear of being overthrown, or the urge for even greater power, that escaped the prince. Louvois managed to convince him that he himself was a greater strategist than all of his generals, both in theoretical and practical fields. (...) The king was extremely gullible in this regard. With astonishing self-satisfaction, he believed the image that was being shown for him to be real (...).

He was extremely polite in words and manners. He knew how to measure and grade his politeness according to age, rank and merit. Any of his answers that went beyond a "we'll see" were extremely authoritative. He put the same gradation in his greeting and the way in which he received the bows of those who came and went. (...) His politeness towards women was particularly admirable. He never passed anyone without lifting his hat, not even in front of chambermaids. (...)

In everything he loved splendor, waste, abundance. It was well calculated that he encouraged the addiction to emulate him in this in every way. He inoculated them into his whole court. Whoever let go of everything for kitchen, clothing, car, household and games won his favor. (...) By making luxury a matter of honor and a necessity for some, he ruined all of them one after the other until they finally depended solely on his grace. In this way he satisfied his arrogance and his ambition. His court was splendid, and the differences in rank disappeared in the general confusion. He has inflicted a wound on the country that eats everything like cancer. From the court the extravagance has seized Paris, the provinces and the army. (...) The consequences cannot be foreseen. Doom and upheaval are on the way. "

The Italian Primi Visconti, who lived in France for ten years, noted in 1673: "Never has a prince been less under the rule of others. He wants to be informed about everything: through his ministers he learns about state affairs; through his presidents, those of the parliaments; through his judges the smallest incidents; through the ladies of his heart the latest fashions - in a word, there is hardly an incident in the day that he does not learn about, and there is hardly a person whose names and habits he does not know. His gaze penetrates everything, he knows everyone's most personal business, and once he has seen or heard of someone, he never forgets them again.
In addition, he is very neat in everything he does. He gets up at eight every day, stays in the council from ten to half past twelve, then goes to mass, always with the queen and his family. Since his desire to keep the affairs of state in his own hands is so powerful and constant, he has become wise (...) His talent is extraordinary, and he can often solve problems that his ministers and their secretaries have been desperate for ( ...) At one, after mass, he visits his mistresses until two o'clock, then he has lunch in public with the queen every day. He spends the rest of the afternoon hunting or walking; usually he holds another council meeting afterwards. From evening until around ten o'clock he maintains conversation with the ladies, plays cards, goes to a theater performance or goes to a ball. At eleven o'clock, after dinner, he visits his mistresses again. He always spends the night with the queen.

In public appearances he is of great seriousness, quite different from in private dealings. I have been to his bedroom several times with other courtiers and have noticed that if he happens to open the door or go out [of his private chambers], he instantly changes his posture and his face takes on a different expression, as if he were stepping on a stage: In a word, he is always aware of how a king behaves (...) If you have a concern, you have to ask him personally, not about others. He listens to everyone, takes the memoranda and always replies: "I'll see", in an elegant, majestic tone (...) "