French, 1638-1715

Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. Louis XIV’s France was emblematic of the age of absolutism in Europe.


There was no court in 17th century Europe that was as fashionable as the Sun King’s at the glittering Palace of Versailles. When he ascended the throne in 1643, France was languishing in comparison to Spain, the most dominant power on the continent. With finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis developed a clothing and textile industry to rival the Spanish. To ensure that his subjects bought French cloth, Louis even made it illegal to import material from other countries. The king also implemented a strict dress code and many nobles bankrupted themselves in order to get their hands on the latest fashions to maintain their place at court.

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