Louis XIV was the king of France between 1643 to his death in 1715. He was a powerful
and mighty ruler whose reign was characterised by the remark attributed to him, “L’état, c’est moi” [I am the state]. As a symbol of his sovereignty Louis XIV chose the sun as his emblem. The sun was associated with Apollo, god of peace and arts, and was also the heavenly body that gave life to all things, regulating everything as it rose and set. Like Apollo, the warrior-king Louis XIV brought peace, was a patron of the arts, and dispensed his bounty. The regularity of his work habits and his ritual risings and retirings were another point of this solar comparison. In many ways he was an excellent monarch of his country, but on the other hand France suffered in many ways under his rule.
In the beginning Louis was a very good king. The first twenty years of the king’s personal reign were the most brilliant. With his minister Colbert, he carried out the administrative and financial reorganisation of the kingdom, as well as the development of trade and manufacturing. With the Marquis de Louvois, he reformed the army and racked up military victories. Finally, Louis encouraged an extraordinary blossoming of culture: theatre (Molière and Racine), music (Lully), architecture, painting, sculpture, and all the sciences.