The Fashionista King Who Popularised Red Shoes

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King Louis XIV was the longest ruling monarch in history. The reason was simple, he became King when he was four years old and remained King till he was 77. In fact he outlived most of his descendants. When he passed away, he was succeeded by his great grandson, who was just five years old and he too was King for 59 years. Louis XIV was probably eccentric. But there was a method to his eccentricity. He called himself the Sun God, the reason being he considered himself immortal, just like the sun. He also considered himself God as he was born to his mother after she had four still births.

He had over 1000 wigs, which helped him looked taller. His lasting regret was that he was short, only 5ft 4 inches. Wigs and high heeled shoes were used to make him looked taller when he appeared in public. He had 413 beds and this in itself was testimony to his numerous affairs. He gifted his main mistress, Madame de Montespan a palace so huge that it needed 1200 gardeners. The dictionary meaning of Fashionista is a designer, promoter or follower of latest fashion.

Louis XIV was certainly a fashionista and he popularised red shoes. He loved porcelain and oriental designs and that was the main reason for promoting trade with the East. He was an enthusiastic ballet dancer and participated/performed 80 roles in 40 prominent ballets. Not surprisingly, he played the hero in each one of them. He also promoted French classical writers such as Moliere, who is considered one of the greatest writers not just of French but of universal literature.

Adolf Hitler had instituted the Mother’s Cross, which was awarded on August 12 (Hitler’s mother’s birthday) every year. The aim was to encourage German women to have large families since the German Empire needed a large population. Hence a gold medal was given to women who had seven children, a silver medal to one with six and a bronze medal to a woman with five children. Did Hitler take the idea from Louis XIV? The French monarch had sent 850 beautiful women to Canada and gifted them with fine clothes and substantial money so that they would marry men there and have healthy, strong and white French men.

Louis XIV was a strong and authoritarian ruler. He dispensed with the important post of the Chief Minster so that he could directly interact with important functionaries. He introduced various administrative and fiscal reforms such as an efficient though harsh taxation system. However, all of these were designed not for welfare of the people but to increase his power.

He remains one of the most fascinating personalities of history and has been portrayed in numerous works of literature.