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From the Emperor’s Desk: we left off with the marriage of Louis XIII and Archduchess Anne of Austria, Infanta of Spain.

Louis XIII, King of France and Navarre

On November 24, 1615, Louis XIII married Archduchess Anne of Austria, daughter of Felipe III of Spain, his wife Margaret of Austria, the daughter of Archduke Charles II of Austria and Maria-Anna of Bavaria and thus the paternal granddaughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I.

Voltaire claimed in the second edition of Questions sur l’Encyclopédie that Louis XIII had an illegitimate son, before Louis XIV; adding he was jailed and his face hidden beneath an iron mask or velvet mask depending on the source.

Anne of Austria widow, by Charles de Steuben, Versailles. She never lost her love for magnificent jewellery, and she especially loved bracelets, which emphasized her famously beautiful hands


There is no evidence that Louis kept mistresses (a distinction that earned him the title “Louis the Chaste”), but several reports suggest that he may have been homosexual. The prolonged temporal gap between the queen’s pregnancies may have been a result of Louis XIII’s aversion to heterosexuality, a matter of great political consequence, since it took the couple more than 20 years of marriage before Louis XIV’s birth.

His interests as a teenager were focused on male courtiers and he developed an intense emotional attachment to his favourite, Charles d’Albert, although some say there is no clear evidence of a physical sexual relationship. Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux, drawing from rumours told to him by a critic of the King (the Marquise de Rambouillet), explicitly speculated in his Historiettes about what happened in the king’s bed.

Louis XIII as a Warrior King

A further liaison with an equerry, François de Baradas, ended when the latter lost favour fighting a duel after duelling had been forbidden by royal decree.

Louis was also captivated by Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars, who was later executed for conspiring with the Spanish enemy in time of war. Tallemant described how on a royal journey, the King “sent M. le Grand [de Cinq-Mars] to undress, who returned, adorned like a bride. ‘To bed, to bed’ he said to him impatiently… and the mignon was not in before the king was already kissing his hands.”


Louis XIII died in Paris on May 14, 1643, the 33rd anniversary of his father’s death, Henri IV. According to his biographer A. Lloyd Moote,

“his intestines were inflamed and ulcerated, making digestion virtually impossible; tuberculosis had spread to his lungs, accompanied by habitual cough. Either of these major ailments, or the accumulation of minor problems, may have killed him, not to mention physiological weaknesses that made him prone to disease or his doctors’ remedies of enemas and bleedings, which continued right to his death.”

With Louis XIII dead, the five year old HRH Prince Louis-Dieudonné de Bourbon, Dauphin of France becomes King Louis XIV of France and Navarre. Queen Anne had her husband’s will annulled by the Parlement de Paris (a judicial body comprising mostly nobles and high clergymen).

Young HRH Prince Louis-Dieudonné de Bourbon, Dauphin of France

This action abolished the regency council and made Anne sole Regent of France. Anne exiled some of her husband’s ministers (Chavigny, Bouthilier), and she nominated Brienne as her minister of foreign affairs.

Known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), Louis XIV was King of France and Navarre from May 14 1643 until his death in September 1, 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV’s France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.