Louis XIV becomes king of France
Louis was 23 years old when he took power. Like his mother, Louis was most interested in getting more power away from the rich lords, and making France into one strong united country.
The palace of Versailles
So Louis built an enormous, beautiful palace for himself at Versailles outside of Paris.
Like Tokugawa Ieyasu in Japan, Louis XIV made the rich lords all move to Versailles, where he could keep an eye on them, instead of letting them live on their own land. He made it seem like a huge party – he did throw a lot of parties – but it also gave Louis more power.
Louis also did other things to get more power. He wrote new laws so all of France would have the same laws. He raised taxes and built himself a stronger army, and he made it illegal for the rich lords to have their own armies.
Louis XIV and West Asia
Louis XIV’s imperialism
Early in his reign, Louis fought Spain and got control of much of the Netherlands. He took over the Netherlands’ colony of Mauretania, in West Africa, too. He fought the Iroquois (weakened by smallpox) and took over some of their land.
Later on, by setting his grandson on the throne of Spain, Louis effectively got control not only of Spain but also of Spain’s colonies in North and South America: Florida, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, etc.
Louisiana in North America
Louis also seized land from the Cree, the Mississippians and other Native American people and sent French people to live on their land, which he re-named Louisiana after himself. Spanish and French hunters and travelers reached as far as the Mandan in the West.
Louis XIV in India and China
Finally, Louis sent Jesuit priests to the Empress Xiaozhuan in China. He began the French colonization of South India and South-East Asia. In order to make more stuff in Europe, and buy less from Central Asia on the Silk Road, Louis XIV started the Gobelins and Beauvais factories in France to make luxury tapestries, and the Nevers and Sevres factories to make porcelain. France imported gum arabic from Mauretania to print patterns on to cotton cloth in France.
Who ruled after Louis XIV died?
Louis lived to be almost 80 years old. He died of gangrene from an infection in his leg. He was king for such a long time that all his sons and even his grandsons (except for Philip of Spain) died.