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Lecture 9: France in the 17th Century

It is true that Louis XIV, like most men who grew up in between 1640 and 16660, was incapable of rising beyond the limits of his education, let alone of taking in, at one glance, the whole of the planet on which he lived, to say nothing of infinite space. A king to the depths of his being, and a dedicated king, he had a concept of greatness which was that of his generation: military greatness, dynastic greatness, territorial greatness and political greatness which expressed itself in unity of faith, the illusion of obedience and magnificent surroundings. He left behind him an image of the monarchy, admirable in its way, but already cracking if not outworn at the time of his death. Like most men, and many kings, he had grown stiff and sclerotic with old age. [Pierre Goubert, Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen (1966)

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Copyright 2002 Steven Kreis
Last Revised -- May 12, 2004
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