What was the legacy of Louis XIV?


Quick Answer

King Louis XIV of France left a legacy of government reform and art enrichment, but his foreign policy left the country's economy in debt, and his Edict of Fontainebleau alienated Protestants. The edict forced all children to be baptized as Catholics and legalized the destruction of all Protestant churches.

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Full Answer

Although he took the throne as a toddler, Louis XIV didn't rule until his mid-20s when his chief adviser Cardinal Jules Mazarin passed away. He immediately took to reforming the tax laws, which reduced the country's debt. He reduced the influence of the French nobility and refused to take on a new chief minister. His most radical reform was to negate the Edict of Nantes with his Edict of Fontainebleau, which eventually led to a mass exodus of Protestant citizens.

Louix XIV had a passion for art and culture and surrounded himself with the top artists and playwrights of the day, including Molière and the painter Charles Le Brun. He founded the Academy of Inscriptions and Belle-Lettres in 1663 and the Royal Academy of Music in 1666.

However, Louis XIV hurt the country's economy by building extravagant châteaux to impress and seduce the nobility. He further damaged the economy through a series of disastrous military campaigns including the War of Devolution with Spain and the War of the Spanish Succession. He passed away from gangrene in 1715, and his great-grandson Louis XV became king at the age of 5. He was the longest-reigning European monarch in history.

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