A History of Modern France - Vol. 1

A History of Modern France - Vol. 1

A History of Modern France - Vol. 1

A History of Modern France - Vol. 1

Excerpt

'The years go by one after the other; time slips past us without our being aware of it; we grow old like ordinary men and we shall end like them': thus Louis XIV in his declining years, conscious of ineluctable mortality. He had seen all his great servants and a whole generation of his subjects pass away. Within a few months, in 1711-12, his son, grandson, and elder great-grandson died, leaving only an ailing baby to bear the hopes of the Bourbon dynasty. 'This time of desolation left so deep a mark', wrote Voltaire, 'that I have met those who, long after, could not speak of it without tears.' The Sun King's day closed not in splendour but amid dark clouds of domestic sorrow, nation-wide discontent, and foreign defeat. When he had first appeared above the horizon, a boy king, riding on an Isabella barb amidst a glittering cavalcade to the ceremony that was to mark the formal ending of his minority, he had seemed to John Evelyn, watching the procession from the window of his friend, the philosopher Hobbes, a young Apollo. 'He went almost the whole way with his hat in hand, saluting the ladies and acclamators, who had filled the windows with their beauty, and the air with Vive le Roi . He seemed a prince of a grave yet sweet countenance.' This was in 1651. Sixty- four years later the body of the old king was laid to rest in the last of his royal garments at Saint Denis, beside the relics of his ancestors for a thousand years; within a century with them to be exhumed as indecently as the Jansenist remains he had ordered to be scrabbled up at Port Royal and scattered to the winds, while petty attorneys and minor officials exercised more arbitrary and terrible powers of life . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.