This moral depravation, naturally, extended downward to the whole court. M. Brentano, who is one of the few French historians who venture to lay disrespectful hands on the grand Roi-soleil, says: "Charles VII was the original source of the crapulous debauchery of the last Valois; he traced the way for the crimes of Louis XIV, and the turpitudes of Louis XV." This, although the higher clergy of the reigns both of Charles and of Louis Quatorze did not fail in their duty, and did denounce openly from the pulpit the sins of these all-powerful monarchs.
On such terms of unrighteousness what we may call “Grand Monarchy” established itself in France. Louis XIV, styled the Grand Monarque, reigned for the unparalleled length of seventy-two years (1643-1715), and set a pattern for all the kings of Europe. At first he was guided by his Machiavellian minister, Cardinal Mazarin; after the death of the Cardinal he himself in his own proper person became the ideal “Prince.” He was, within his limitations, an exceptionally capable king; his ambition was stronger than his baser passions, and he guided his country towards bankruptcy through the complication of a spirited foreign policy, with an elaborate dignity that still extorts our admiration.
Assassination of Henry IV, Rue de la Ferronnerie, may 14, 1610.