Illustration of soldiers with pikes, drums, swords, and most wearing long curly wigs, marching in battle past a dead enemy soldier.

English troops fight the French in this 1704 battle in the War of the Spanish Succession, one of the many foreign wars of Louis XIV.

As a leading patron of culture, Louis sponsored the French Academies, which set high standards for both the arts and the sciences.

The Legacy of Louis XIV

Louis XIV ruled France for 72 years—far longer than any other monarch. During that time, French culture, manners, and customs set the standard for European tastes. The Sun King made France the strongest state in Europe. In both foreign and domestic affairs, however, many of Louis's policies were costly failures.

Costly Wars

Louis XIV poured vast resources into wars meant to expand French borders. However, rival rulers joined forces to check these ambitions. Led by the Dutch or the English, these alliances fought to maintain the balance of power. The goal was to maintain a distribution of military and economic power to prevent any one country from dominating Europe.

In 1700, Louis's grandson Philip V inherited the throne of Spain. To maintain the balance of power, neighboring nations led by England fought to prevent the union of France and Spain.

The War of the Spanish Succession dragged on until 1713, when an exhausted France signed the Treaty of Utrecht (YOOtrekt). Philip remained on the Spanish throne, but France agreed never to unite the two crowns.

Huguenots Face Persecution

Perhaps Louis's most costly mistake was his treatment of the Huguenots. Louis saw the Protestant minority as a threat to religious and political unity. In 1685, he revoked, or withdrew, the Edict of Nantes.

Facing renewed persecution, more than 100,000 Huguenots fled France. They settled mainly in England, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and the Americas. The Huguenots had been among the hardest working and most prosperous of Louis's subjects. Their loss was a serious blow to the French economy, just as the expulsion of Spanish Muslims and Jews had hurt Spain.

Assessment

  1. Identify What factors led to the rise of absolute monarchies?
  2. Summarize How did Spanish power grow under Charles V? under Philip II?
  3. Identify Supporting Details How did France build a centralized monarchy after the wars of religion?
  4. Support a Point of View with Evidence Would you consider Louis XIV a successful absolute monarch? Give examples from the text to support your answer.
  5. Connect What impact did Spanish king Philip II and French king Louis XIV have on the arts?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments