King of the World

King of the World

The Life of Louis XIV


Winner of the Franco-British Society Book Prize 2019

'The ultimate biography of the Sun King' Simon Sebag Montefiore

Louis XIV dominated his age. He extended France's frontiers into Netherlands and Germany, and established colonies overseas. The stupendous palace he built at Versailles became the envy of monarchs all over Europe. In his palaces, Louis encouraged dancing, hunting, music and gambling. He loved conversation, especially with women: the power of women in Louis's life and reign is a particular theme of this book. Louis was obsessed by the details of government but the cost of building palaces and waging continuous wars devastated the country's finances and helped set it on the path to revolution. Nevertheless, by his death, he had helped make his grandson king of Spain, where his descendants still reign, and France had taken essentially the shape it has today.

King of the World is the most comprehensive and up-to-date biography of this hypnotic, flawed figure in English. It draws on all the latest research to paint a convincing and compelling portrait of a man who, three hundred years after his death, still epitomises the idea of le grand monarque.


  • the ultimate biography of the Sun King...a work of scholarly analysis and flamboyant anecdotage, international conflict and sexual politics
    Simon Sebag-Montefiore, BBC History Magazine

About the author

Philip Mansel

Philip Mansel is one of Britain's leading historians of France and the Middle East. His previous books include Louis XVIII (1981), The Eagle in Splendour: Napoleon and his Court (1987), The Court of France: 1789-1830 (1988), Paris Between Empires, 1814-1852 (2001) and Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II (2005). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Royal Society of Literature, the Institute of Historical Research and the Royal Asiatic Society, and in 1995 was a co-founder of the Society for Court Studies, whose journal, The Court Historian, he edited for twenty years. He is President of the Conseil Scientifique at the Centre de Recherche du Château de Versailles and a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2012, he received the London Library Life in Literature Award.
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