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Louis XIV: The Days of Elegance
The term ³splendid² is one that most English speaking people are familiar with. To most of those people it has a meaning related to the overall appearance or feeling of what ever is being described. Webster¹s dictionary defines the term as: 1. magnificent and sumptuous. 2. distinguished or glorious. Splendor is more that that. It is an adjective that could be used to describe something so great and breath taking that one is left awed.The word splendid is often associated with the palace of Versailles, which was built Louis XIV. In the production of this grand structure there was no cost spared. It became a symbol of France, and a model by which all other palaces would be judged. Louis XIV received a great deal of criticism from onlookers as he used the French equivalent to millions of dollars to built this outstanding structure. There is still some speculation as to whether or not this was a good investment. It has been argued that the money could have gone to the poor or needy. The palace of Versailles was controversial, but in high insight, it is clear that Louis XIV made a sound decision in its erection. As Louis XIV took the throne, he was faced with several problems. He knew that he did not want to reside and rule in Paris, so against the will of his advisors he chose a hunting chateau as the site of his new palace. He also knew from history that the nobles of his domain had in the past and would continue to cause trouble in the form of uprisings and other conflicts. Louis XIV sought absolute power, and he knew that he would not be able to obtain this if preoccupied by civil conflicts. His solution to this problem was building Versailles and inviting all of the nobles to reside there. This was a brilliant scheme to keep the nobles out of the politics of the country. He preoccupied them with tasked normally associated with chamber maids, thus allowing him to rule as an absolute monarch. The splendor of the palace was a key factor in this plan because with out it, the nobles would not have a willing to leave their homes and move to Versailles. The historical account, The Splendid Century , written by W.H. Lewis is a very useful tool in understanding the life of Louis XIV. It tells of his life, his goals, his motives, and the means by which he achieved those goals. It is blatantly obvious that Louis XIV though a great monarch, cared little for the common people of his country. Regardless of this, it is almost a matter common knowledge that Louis XIV brought France to its peak in terms of its respect and social status in the world. During his reign France became the authority on all that was proper and elegant. All of this seems trivial, but the fact is, it was very important to the people of the upper class, and as always they were controlling the world. There were several qualities that Louis XIV possessed that were found undesirable by his common subjects. His tax system weighed most heavily on the lower class, and they were often called to fight in all sorts of different wars for the extension of the empire. It understandable that he was popular among these people, but their opinion was really not significant on the grand scheme of his plans for France. There is no question that Louis XIV took France to an entire new level in the world view. During his reign, the French empire grew vastly, and was greatly respected. To this day, he remains a French hero, and is widely viewed as the greatest monarch that ever lived. It is not because of his accomplishments that these views are held, but rather his ability to play the part of a great leader. All of this was possibly because of his emphasis on materialistic splendor. He knew that by enticing his rivals with riches, he then could control Europe. When it is said that Louis XIV had an ability to play the part of a great leader there is often misunderstanding. He was a powerful ruler, but more importantly that , he took his role as king very seriously. He was known to be a very handsome man with a well proportioned body. He believed appearances and material goods were an important aspect of royality. He allowed people to watch him and follow him at all times, and he made the responsibilities of chamber maids into honors that certain nobles were allowed to perform. He was always well dressed and concerned with his appearance. In a sense he was a very superficial person, but he felt that he was doing his regal duty. Louis XIV possessed a passion for the splendor of the material world that led him to become the greatest leader France has ever seen.

 



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