Luxury through the Ages: The Exorbitant Lifestyle of Louis XIV [SLIDESHOW]

A behind-the-scenes look at the fashion, food, parties, and more of France’s most notorious monarch…

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Over the course of a reign spanning seven decades, Louis XIV influenced France more than any other leader save Napoleon. Born in 1638, he ascended to the throne at age 4 and maintained the position longer than any other ruler in French history. Believing his authority was derived from God, Louis XIV helmed an absolute monarchy. He was known as the Sun King, not only because of the brilliant Palace of Versailles, but because he envisioned himself to be the center of his kingdom.

A powerful ruler, Louis XIV was a strong and dignified man whose forceful and bold leadership thrust France onto the stage as a global superpower. His shrewd foresight and sharp business deals contributed to improvements in France’s economy, and his masterful hand maintained order in the land. However, more than anything else, Louis XIV was a connoisseur in the truest sense of the word.

His court at Versailles was the height of extravagance. Members of the nobility fraternized at royal balls, dinners, and parties, while commoners in the land suffered a far less exorbitant lifestyle. Whether fashioning the Palace of Versailles into the single greatest wonder of his day or overseeing a fashion luxury-goods service that reshaped the country’s economic standing, Louis XIV made a mark on French culture that endures to this day.