Setting in motion events that would ultimately bring his nation to military and fiscal ruin-and his dynasty to a bloody end-Louis XIV also established France as the preeminent and, to this day, unchallenged seat of high culture in Europe. As a leader he simultaneously squandered a dominion's political capital and established a nation's spiritual hegemony. As a man he married brilliance and arrogance, shrewdness and excess.
Ian Dunlop explores the Sun King's many facets in this remarkable new biography. Understanding Louis in the context of his era, one of great strides for French artists, litterateurs, and architects, Dunlop presents the king as an inspirer, an enabler, and a patron of his country's best and brightest minds. But even as his armies of laborers built the magnificent palace at Versailles, Louis' warmongering brought the greatest power in Europe-his own-to repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of more calculating foes. Ironically, Louis' mixed legacy developed a culture that would become the envy of the world.