Louis XIV - The Other Side of the Sun
by Prince Michael of Greece
The message of this new biography is certainly clear and arresting, but whether it is convincing is another matter. Prince Michael sees Louis XIV as a 'sham king' who was able to play his role only by sporting elaborate clothes and building sumptuous palaces. What a contrast with Philip IV of Spain, so naturally royal that he could dress in simplest black! Beneath his gaudy trappings, Louis was unsure of himself and was totally dominated by his ministers. Incapable of love, he lusted after numerous women, but his emotions were always superficial. Thus he could weep over trifles, but could callously resume his pleasures when supposedly dear friends and relations were barely cold on their death beds. His lack of depth extended to his government, where he was incapable of understanding the complexities of politics and religion, and made over hasty judgments about personalities on the basis of his fallible intuition.