Scandalous Facts About Louis XIV, The Sun King

Louis XIV was King of France for a whopping 72 years. As his sobriquet, “The Sun King,” suggests, Louis came to symbolize the big, bright, magnetic pomp of the French monarchy at its peak.

Behind the big parties and big hairpieces, however, Louis XIV was accompanied by a dark history of intrigue, scandal, decadence, colonial violence, conflict, fashion, and more scandal.

Get your high-heels ready for these decadently fun facts about Louis XIV, the Sun King of France.

1. He Was Born To Rule

You know how they say that some babies are born with a silver spoon in their mouths? Well, Louis XIV was definitely born with one of those, but he was also born with a big, golden ego. His mother, Anne of Austria, was 37 at the time, and she had suffered four stillbirths before. So, when Louis came into this world, a bright, bouncing, healthy baby boy, his parents thought: “Wow, God really thinks this kid is special.”

Louis' improbable survival inspired Anne and others to believe that God had ordained him to flourish and rule. They also gave him the name Dieudonné, meaning “God-given.” Would they pay for this hubris down the line? Oh, absolutely…

Louis XIV Facts


2. His Childhood Was Unusual

Well, imagine everyone’s surprise when Anne gave birth to another healthy baby boy soon after. Since Anne and her husband King Louis XIII believed Louis XIV was destined for the throne, Anne came up with a plan to ensure the brothers wouldn’t fight for it. Anne raised Louis to be the “masculine” star sibling while she raised his brother Philippe to be “feminine.”

Anne encouraged Philippe to dress in girls’ clothing and hair while pursuing the feminine arts, so Philippe would be less inclined towards the military sphere where he might threaten his big brother’s throne. Did it prevent sibling rivalry? Yes.

Did it affect Philippe in other ways? You bet.

Louis XIV Facts

Versailles (2015-2018), Canal+

3. His Father’s Dark End Changed Everything

Louis XIV’s birth might have been “miraculous,” but the situation he was born into was anything but. Louis XIII’s reign was an absolute catastrophe—and when this vengeful king's end came, it was utterly gruesome. In 1643, Louis XIII fell ill with a mysterious sickness. His doctors subjected him to a number of disturbing and unpleasant treatments, including bloodletting.

However, they couldn’t save him, and he succumbed to his mystery illness. Louis XIV was just five years old. Was that too young to become king? Apparently not.

Louis XIV Facts

Wikimedia Commons

4. She Had A Plan For Him

Louis XIII had foreseen his premature demise, and made plans what would happen when his son Louis XIV became king—but they also revealed a harsh truth.

He did not trust his wife Anne, and he made provisions in his will to limit her power over their children. Well, he wasn’t exactly there to enforce them, so Anne got her revenge.

She had Parliament annul his will, exiled a bunch of his ministers, and made herself sole Regent of France.

Was this her attempt at a power grab? Actually, no—she truly believed that God had divined Louis XIV’s right to the throne. However, this did get her in some trouble…

Louis XIV Facts

Wikimedia Commons Anne of Austria