Why Was Louis XIV Called The Sun King?

Conny Waters - AncientPages.com - The famous French king Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) used the Sun as his symbol, and he felt he had a good reason for doing so.

The long reign of Louis XIV, also known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) lasted 72 years, and during this time the French king turned his country into a dominating power in Europe.

Why Was Louis XIV Called The Sun King?

Left: The Sun was chosen as a symbol to represent King Louis XIV. Credit: Pinterest - Right: Portrait of King Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701. Credit: Public Domain

Louis XIV was a remarkable king who could be hated or loved. Like many other European royalties such as Catherine de Medici, the Medici family or Caterina Cornaro, the last queen of Cyprus, Louis XIV was also a great supporter of arts.

King Louis XIV did not only spent time centralizing and tightening control of France and its overseas colonies. As a monarch who appreciated art, literature, music, theater and sports, he established various institutes for the arts and sciences.

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He surrounded himself with some of the greatest artistic and intellectual figures of his time. Among his friends were great names like the playwright Molière (1622-1673), the painter Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) and the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687). In addition to this, King Louis XIV appointed himself patron of the Académie Française.

However, King Louis XIV had a very high opinion of himself. He considered himself to be the direct representative of God. He believed this gave him a divine right to wield the absolute power of the monarchy.

To illustrate his status, he deliberately selected the Sun as his emblem and cultivated the image of an omniscient and infallible “Roi-Soleil” (“Sun King”). Louis is often remembered for the bold and infamous statement “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the State”).

Apollo: Loved And Feared Greek God Of Divination And Prophecy Who Was Also Seer Of Zeus

Left: Apollo victorious over the Python, by François Gaspard Adam. Credit: Steffen Heilfort, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 Right: Pallas Athene Visiting Apollo on the Parnassus, by Arnold Houbraken. Credit: Public Domain

King Louis XIV identified himself with Apollo, the Greek Sun God who had acquired power over medicine, healing, disease, archery, music, poetry and invented the arts.

Apollo had the ability to ward off all kinds of evils, but if necessary, he could send a plague and then avert it. King Louis XIV felt he was a divine version of the beautiful, feared and loved god Apollo. It often happened that King Louis XIV participated in plays and on those occasions, he used to take the role of the Sun.

Written by Conny Waters – AncientPages.com Staff Writer

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