Louis XIV pp 199-221 | Cite as

A Tolerably Great King

  • Duke of Saint-Simon
Part of the World Profiles book series


LOUIS XIV was made for a brilliant court. In the midst of other men, his figure, his courage, his grace, his beauty, his grand mien, even the tone of his voice and the majestic and natural charm of all his person distinguished him till his death. He reigned, indeed, in little things; the great he could never reach: even in the former, too, he was often governed. The superior ability of his early ministers and his early generals soon wearied him. He liked nobody to be in any way superior to him. Thus, he chose his ministers not for their knowledge but for their ignorance; not for their capacity but for their want of it. He liked to form them, as he said; liked to teach them even the most trifling things. It was the same with his generals. He took credit to himself for instructing them; wished it to be thought that from his cabinet he commanded and directed all his armies. Naturally fond of trifles, he unceasingly occupied himself with the most petty details of his troops, his household, his mansions. This vanity, this unmeasured and unreasonable love of admiration, was his ruin. His ministers, his generals, his mistresses, his courtiers soon perceived his weakness. They praised him with emulation and spoiled him.


Tolerably Great Good Night Grand Chamber Holy Water Stag Hunting 
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© John B. Wolf 1972

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  • Duke of Saint-Simon

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