Intellectual Life
Louis XV., 1715-1774
Intellectual Life
Louis XIV., 1661-1715
the Economy
Louis XIV., 1661-1715
Foreign Policy

France under Louis XIV. : Intellectual Life

Louis XIV., by moving the court from Paris to VERSAILLES, ostensibly established a new cult and cultural tradition, focussing on the person of the king. The palace of Versailles, constructed between 1661 and 1668 by architect LOUIS LE VAU, was admired and imitated by monarchs all over Europe. The palace had 200 rooms (no toilets) and a large garden, where trees and bushes were cut to form precise geometric shapes. In 1700, around 10,000 men lived in the palace respectively adjacent facilities.
At Versailles trends were set in (aristocratic) fashion; court life with its BALLS, MASQUERADES, performances at the OPERA, BALLET, court THEATRE, events where appearance was mandatory to the members of the court, set the tone for courts all over Europe.

Portraits, particularly of the monarch and other high standing persons, were the typical objects of painters. Architects built palaces, opera houses, theatres to facilitate the court life; operas were commissioned by the king or persons at the court; a rich court culture or official culture developed.
MOLIERE's comedy TARTUFFE, first performed in 1664, attacking hypocrisy, was immediately banned; yet by 1669 the ban was lifted, the book published and the comedy again performed - the event marks a weakening of the ecclesiastic censorship. Moliere (1622-1683) was favoured by Louis XIV.; in "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" (1670) Moliere portraied a caricature of the influential, yet unpopular Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Other celebrated writers of the time include JEAN RACINE (1639-1699), LA ROCHEFOUCAULD (1613-1680), JEAN DE LA FONTAINE (1621-1695, fables), JEAN DE LA BRUYERE (1645-1696), PIERRE CORNEILLE (1606-1684). The COMEDIE FRAN&CCedil;AISE was established in 1680.
The writers contributed much to the standardization of French orthography and grammar; the ACADEMIE FRAN&CCedil;AISE (est. 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu) began with the publication of the DICTIONARY in 1694. The Academy assumed the function of setting the standards for and of preserving the French language.
Louis XIV. created additional academies, of dance (1771), of science (1666), of architecture (1671), of music (1672). JEAN-BAPTISTE LULLY (1632-1687) became the King's composer; BAROQUE was the style of music of those days. JEAN-ANTOINE WATTEAU (1684-1721) was the leading painter of his time.
In Paris, the DOME DES INVALIDES was constructed in 1706-1708, after a design by JULES HARDOUIN-MANSART.

Comedie Francaise, Histoire
Louis XIV., the Dancing King, from Streetswing
Operas et mascarades en France sous Louis XIV, by Jerome de La Gorce
La Cour de Louis XIV, by J.B. Ayoub
Biography of Moliere, from Site Moliere, bilingual English/French
A brief history of Moliere's Tartuffe, from Theatre de la Jeune Lune
Biography of Jean-Baptiste Lully, from hnh.com
Chateau de Versailles, official site, English version
Biography of Jean de la Bruyere, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Biography of Francois la Rochefoucauld, from Books and Writers
Biography of Jean de la Fontaine, from Books and Writers Theatre History
Jean-Antoine Watteau, from infoplease
Hotel National des Invalides (Dome des Invalides), history, from paris.org
DOCUMENTS The Duc de Saint Simon : the Court of Louis XIV., from the Medieval Sourcebook
two portraits of the sun king, from assumption.edu
Louis XIV et l'avenement de l'absolutisme, several French-language source texts posted by The Duchess of Orleans : Versailles Etiquette, 1704, from the Modern History Sourcebook
Painting : Louis XIV., 1678, from BNF
Title page of the Dictionary, scan from Univ. of Chicago

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 9th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz