Intelligent, authoritative, and often surprising, a biography of the most famous of French monarchs, by an acclaimed biographer and historian.??Louis XIVís story has all the ingredients of a Dumas classic: legendary beginnings, beguiling women, court intrigue, a mysterious prisoner in an iron mask, lavish court entertainments, the scandal of a mistress who was immersed in the dark arts, and a central character who is handsome and romantic, but with a frighteningly dark side to his character.??Louis believed himself to be semidivine. His self-identification as the Sun King, which was reflected in iconography of the sun god, Apollo, influenced every aspect of Louisís life: his political philosophy, his wars, and his relationships with courtiers and subjects.??As a military strategist, Louisís capacity was debatable, but he was an astute politician who led his country to the heights of sophistication and power ñ and then had the misfortune to live long enough to see it all crumble away. As the sun began to set upon this most glorious of reigns, it brought a gathering darkness filled with the anguish of dead heirs, threatened borders, and a populace that was dangerously dependent upon ñ but greatly distanced from ñ its king.