Louis XIV

Jean de La Fontaine and the Moral of the Story

Jean de La Fontaine and the Moral of the Story

On July 8, 1621, Jean de La Fontaine, the most famous French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century, was born. He is best known above all for his Fables, which provided a model for subsequent fabulists all across Europe. “History some truths contains, which well may serve  For lessons.” – Jean de la Fontaine, Fables (1668–1679), Book I (1668), Dedication “To Monseigneur the Dauphin”. The…
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Vauban or the Art of Fortress Construction

Vauban or the Art of Fortress Construction

On May 1 (or May 4), 1633, French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban was born. Considered the expert in his field, rivaled only by his Dutch contemporary, Menno van Coehoorn, his design principles served as the dominant model of fortification for nearly 100 years, while his offensive tactics remained in use until the early twentieth century. He made a number of innovations in the use of siege artillery and founded the Corps…
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La Voisin and the Scandalous Affair of the Poisons

La Voisin and the Scandalous Affair of the Poisons

On February 22, 1680, Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin, aka La Voisin, was sentenced to death for witchcraft and poisoning, and burned at the stake. This Affair of the Poisons (L’affaire des poisons) was a major murder scandal in France which took place in 1677–1682, during the reign of King Louis XIV. During it, a number of prominent members of the aristocracy were implicated and sentenced on charges of poisoning and witchcraft. The scandal…
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The Inglourious Death of Jean-Baptiste Lully, Composer

The Inglourious Death of Jean-Baptiste Lully, Composer

On January 8, 1687, French ballet dancer and composer Jean-Baptiste Lully struck his foot with his long conducting staff during a performance of his Te Deum. Because he refused to treat the wound, it got infected and he died from gangrene soon after. Besides this inglourious way of death, Lully is considered the chief master of the French baroque style, who stripped of all Italian influences from French music of the period and…
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The Invention of Financial Politics by Jean-Baptiste Colbert

The Invention of Financial Politics by Jean-Baptiste Colbert

On August 29, 1619, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who served as Minister of Finances under the rule of Louis XIV., was born. Colbert‘s innovative financial politics was one of the basic pillars of French absolutism and was about to change the world into a modern economy. “The art of taxation consists of plucking the goose so as to obtain the most feathers with the least hissing” – Jean-Baptiste Colbert Jean Baptiste Colbert – Early…
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Montesquieu and the Separation of Powers

Montesquieu and the Separation of Powers

On January 18, 1698, French philosopher and political thinker Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, generally only referred to as Montesquieu, was baptized. He is best known for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. “If I knew of something that could serve my nation but would ruin…
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Animating the Absurd – Molière, Grandmaster of Comedy

Animating the Absurd – Molière, Grandmaster of Comedy

(Probably) on January 14th, 1622, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, French playwright and actor who is known by his stage name Molière was born. He is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. The Illustrious Theatre Jean-Baptiste Poquelin was baptized in Paris on January 15, 1622 as son of Jean Poquelin and Marie Cressé, the daughter of a prosperous bourgeois family. His father was one of eight valets de…
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The Marquise de Brinvilliers and the Affair of the Poisons

The Marquise de Brinvilliers and the Affair of the Poisons

On July 16, 1676, French aristocrat Marie-Madeleine Marguerite d’Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers was found guilty of murder, convicted on the strength of letters written by her dead lover and a confession obtained by torture. Her trial and the scandal which followed it launched the notourious Affair of the Poisons, which saw several French aristocrats charged with witchcraft and poisoning. We’ve already had a focus on Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin, aka La Voisin, a midwife…
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Robert Cavelier de La Salle and his Mississippi Expedition

Robert Cavelier de La Salle and his Mississippi Expedition

On April 7, 1682, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi river at the end of his great expedition, claiming the region watered by the Mississippi and its tributaries for France, and naming it Louisiana after King Louis XIV. His last expedition was to invade and conquer part of the Spanish province of Mexico, which failed and cost La Salle his life. René-Robert Cavelier de…
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