Orbiting Around the Sun King

A little bit of information about the history of Paris

Although my opinions of the ‘Sun King’, Louis XIV are a bit underwhelming , I must admit to being a bit of jealous of the king’s grand gams.526886978

I am also amazed at the legacy he left behind and the influence he had on French history!  So much so, that I believe  there are a few pieces of French history that if you are not aware of, you run the risk of finding your next trip to Paris being less than you might have wanted it to be.  So much of what you’ll see and do will make reference to these events of French history.

Having realized this, I have a plan.  My plan for our next trip to Paris is to discuss a few tidbits of French history with Eddie while standing in the Place de Concorde.  It is not my plan, however, to read him a novel, risk having him drift off mid-sentence, or annoy any surrounding tourists.  That is why my ‘basic Paris history info’ is organized into outline form.  Short and sweet.

And I would like to share with you these morsels of French history that I have learned are basic ‘must-knows’. Hopefully they will aid you on your next trip to the ‘City of Light’!  Here goes:

A. THE LAST MONARCHS:

1) Louis XIV: The Sun King

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*Ruled 1643-1715

*Egomaniac; Military Genius; expanded the borders of France; became out of touch with the people; planted seeds of revolution

*Lived at Castle Louvre

*Built Versailles

*Last and greatest of the ‘Absolute Monarchs’

2) Louis XV:lousi3

*Great-Grandson of Sun King

*Took throne in 1715 at the age of 5

*Beloved at the beginning – despised by the end due to the debauchery of his court

*Died in 1774 of smallpox

                The Place de Concorde was built in 1755 to honor King Louis XV

3) Louis XVI:

louis5*Grandson of Louis XV – took throne at age 20 in 1774

*Married Marie Antoinette (‘let ‘em eat cake’) of Austria

*Shy, introverted, well educated, strong health, indecisive and ill prepared for ruling

*Brought about the Revolution in 1789

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B). THE REVOLUTION:

*Formally began in 1789 with the tearing down of the Prison of Bastille        louis7

*More than 40,000 people were guillotined and over 300,000 were arrested during the Revolution

*The Place de Concorde was re-named Place de Revolution

*King Louis XVI was charged with treason in 1793 and executed by guillotine on January 21st 1793.  His wife Marie was guillotined 9 mos later

*The Revolution formally ended in 1799

The Guillotine used in the French Revolution sat in front of the (present-day) Hotel de Crillon in the Place de Concorde in Paris

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C) NAPOLEON BONAPARTE: louis 8

*Took control of France after the Revolution and crowned himself  Emperor in 1804 (which became considered treason). He married Josephine just prior and divorced her in 1809.  His 2nd wife was Marie Louise from the Hapsburg Empire, and they had 1 son, Napoleon II

*Strong Military leader; initially loved by the people; brought economic prosperity; established order and peace in France; allowed peasants to keep their land; made peace with the Catholic Church; renamed the Place de Concorde; Famous for ‘Napoleonic Wars’; Egomaniac

*Tried to take over Northern Europe, Spain, Russia & Great Britainlouis9

*Defeated in 1815 at Waterloo, Belgium by the Prussians & Britons

*Died of a peptic ulcer in 1821 after being exiled to the island of St. Helena (off the coast of Africa).  His body was returned to Paris in 1840 to be interred at the the Hotel des Invalides

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Wow!  Any expert in the field would shudder at this inadequate and incomplete list of French history bullet points, so I challenge you to do a little more research on your own…

-or…if you are like me –

just be satisfied, head out to take a peek at the Mona Lisa, and follow that up with a glass of wine and a crepe!

jeff004

I do, however, wonder why all the kings in French history were named Louis…

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