The age of Louis XIV (1643–1715), the period of France's greatest magnificence, when it replaced Spain as the dominant power in Europe and established its cultural pre-eminence. The genius of Richelieu as chief minister (1624–42) had established the authority of the monarchy and achieved a far greater degree of internal unity for France than was possessed by its rivals. Europe was impressed by the splendours of the court of Versailles. French military predominance was won by the brilliant victories of Condé and Turenne and the creation of the first modern standing army. The splendour of the Grand Siècle, based as it was on heavy taxation of the poorest classes, and a commitment to expensive military campaigns, gave way after the king's death to the more turbulent climate of the 18th century.
Subjects: World History.