May 14 - Four-year-old Becomes King!

Posted on May 14, 2017

Today's historical anniversary was fairly common, back in the day: a young child becoming the "ruler" of a nation or kingdom. 

It was fairly common because kings and emperors commonly transferred power only when they died, and transferred it to their oldest offspring or, even more commonly, to their oldest MALE offspring.

And sometimes that oldest male offspring wasn't very old at all!

In this case, Louis XIV became King of France when he was just four years old, on this date in 1643. Of course, that didn't mean that he actually started ruling then. Four year olds then weren't so very different from four year olds now! As in other times and places when a child becomes the head of state, a regent did the actual decision making and ruling.

Louis XIII - Louis XIV's father - had established a regency council headed by Louis XIV's mother, Queen Anne. But when the old king died, Queen Anne quickly moved to annul his will and dissolve the council. In so doing, she became the sole regent.

Louis XIV took over the rule of France in his early twenties. He had been taught by his mother that he was appointed to rule his country by God. This concept is called "the divine right of kings." He was so convinced of his God-given right to rule every aspect of his peoples' lives, he became an absolute ruler. 

Louis XIV also moved to make France a nation of more centralized rule. He took an old hunting lodge of his father's and made it into an incredible, lavish palace - the famous Palace of Versailles. And he got a lot of the nobles to come live in that posh place, making them feel more positive about supporting their king. In this way, Louis XIV became one of the most powerful French monarchs ever...and he ruled the longest of any European monarch in recorded history!

Louis XIV ruled for 72 years and 110 days, until his death just short of his 77th birthday.

Today we still marvel at the lavish palace that he built:


Also on this date:

Mother's Day in the U.S.

(Second Sunday in May)

Flag Day

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