After twenty-three years of marriage and a series of miscarriages and stillbirths, King Louis XIII and his wife, Anne of Austria, finally see a live heir to the throne of France. Such is the joy and gratitude of the royal couple that they name the boy ‘Given by God’ –Louis Dieudonné, in French. Louis XIV reigns from 1643 (when still a toddler in age) until his demise in 1715, which makes him the longest-reigning monarch in European history. Three centuries later, he still holds that record, outperforming even Queen Elizabeth II of England. This, however, is the least of traits that make Louis XIV an extraordinary king.
10. An incorrigible lady-killer and a caring father
XIR394980 King Louis XIV of France in the costume of the Sun King in the ballet ‘La Nuit’, 1653 (later colouration) by French School, (17th century); Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France; French, out of copyright[/caption]
Louis XIV had several mistresses, both official and unofficial, and he fathered many children by them, providing the best for all of them in education, marriage, and position in society. His first sexual experience occurred at the age of sixteen with one of his mother’s ladies-in-waiting: the Queen, anxious to have her son sexually active and capable of providing an heir, turned to her trusted Catherine Bellier, baroness of Beauvais (notorious for her ugliness), and charged her with seducing the young king. After breaking up with Catherine, Louis formed relationships with not one, but two nieces of his Chief Minister, Mazarin –the sisters Maria (his first true love) and Olympia Mancini– before he finally married Maria Theresa of Spain for political reasons.
Louis XIV had six children with Maria Theresa, only one of which reached a decently mature age, but he was never faithful to his wife. Among his most renowned mistresses were princesses, duchesses, and marquises; rumors went that he also had a daughter with Henrietta of England, his own first cousin, as well as wife of his younger brother. It is said that, after Maria Theresa’s death, he secretly married Marquise de Maintenon, governess of his seven children with Mme de Montespan, and he entertained sexual relations with her until the end of his life.