As a large and compact country in western Europe, France has always been strong culturally, exerting her influence on the rest of Europe. While Germany and Italy in the middle ages floundered under a fragmentation of political disunity, France enjoyed an integrity unheard of on the continent.
But it was in our (Mel’s) opinion that the advent of French culture, language and food began its true ascent during the reign of the Sun King – Louis XIV (read this link “www.biography.com/people/louis–xiv-9386885” for his Bio). Having inherited an absolute monarchy from his mother-regent, the Sun King set about to bring France to its zenith of power and prestige in Europe.
Colonies were being carved out in the Americas and Africa. And along with the massive taxation of the non-privileged classes, supported him fighting wars across continental Europe. It also supported Louis’s quest for “face” (as the Chinese would call it), building the most beautiful, the most opulent palace in all of Europe. Just to awe the other European monarchs. Versailles as we wrote (read here), would be the centrepiece of this grand vision.
Louis wanted to demonstrate both politically and materially that his dominions were far superior to that of his peers. And in many ways it succeeded. One needs only to be in the capitals of many other European countries today to see palaces made in the likeness of Versailles. That is the true testament of how influential the Sun King was. You know you are fashionable when you have copy cats.
He may have inadvertently bankrupted a nation, but he bequeathed it a stamp of its own that till today fascinates. It’s no wonder the country is the most visited in the world. Have you visited Versailles?
What did you think about Louis’s creation?