Louis XIV

Foreign Policy

Louis strove vigorously for supremacy in foreign affairs. His marriage (1660) to the Spanish princess Marie Thérèse served as a pretext for the War of Devolution (1667–68), which netted him part of Flanders, although the Dutch then moved against him with the Triple Alliance of 1668. Relations with the Dutch were exacerbated by commercial rivalry and in 1672 Louis, determined to crush Holland, began the third of the Dutch Wars, which depleted his treasury.

For the next ten years the king limited his policies to diplomacy. He set up "chambers of reunion" to unearth legal grounds for claims on a number of cities, which Louis promptly annexed. Fear of Louis's rapacity resulted in a European coalition (see Augsburg, League of; Grand Alliance, War of the), which confronted him when he attacked the Holy Roman Empire in 1688. This war ended with the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), through which Louis lost minor territories. Louis's last war, the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), left France in debt and greatly weakened militarily; nevertheless, Louis's grandson retained the Spanish throne.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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