Siècle de Louis XIV by Voltaire (critical edition by Diego Venturino) - T. 12

Work published with the scientific and financial support of the CRCV.

Œuvres complètes de Voltaire : Siècle de Louis XIV (II) : listes et “catalogue des écrivains”, directed by Diego Venturino, contributors: Nicholas Cronk, François Moureau, Jean-Alexandre Perras, Samuel S. B. Taylor and Alain Viala, “Œuvres complètes de Voltaire” Collection, t. 12, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2017, xxxiii + 528 p., 19 black & white illustrations (ISBN: 978-0-7294-1147-9).


2015 marked the 300th anniversary of the death of the Sun King, Louis XIV (1638-1715), whose reign defined the era of the “Grand Siècle”, and saw France become the major power in Europe. To mark this anniversary, the Voltaire Foundation of Oxford University, in collaboration with the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles, is publishing the Siècle de Louis XIV, Voltaire’s seminal work and the first major account of Louis XIV’s reign. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the political and cultural history of the era of the Sun King.

This new critical edition, edited by Diego Venturino, was published between 2015 and 2019 in seven volumes (volumes 11A, 11B, 12, 13A, 13B, 13C and 13D of Œuvres complètes de Voltaire) with the academic and financial support of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.

First drafted in the early 1730s, published in 1751, revised and amended until 1775, the Siècle de Louis XIV is an outstanding work in the career of the historian and philosopher Voltaire, paving the way for both modern historiography and literary history. The first overall perspective of the reign of Louis XIV, Voltaire’s work remains today the (often controversial) starting point for any reflection on the political and cultural history of the era of the Sun King, and a great example of eighteenth century historiography.

In this volume (t. 12) Voltaire offers a Who’s Who of the reign of Louis XIV, with biographies of prominent individuals at court, in the military, and abroad. He devotes the most space to his catalogue of the producers of culture: writers, artists and musicians who flourished or were born during the king’s reign. They are crucial to Voltaire’s argument that achievements in the cultural sphere constituted the true glory of the reign of the Sun King.

The text is enriched with annotation and commentary, which elucidates Voltaire’s sources and the historiographical context in which he was working. It also benefits from nineteen illustrations, most of which are taken from the rarely seen collections of the Château de Versailles.

Read the presentation of the complete edition.

Read the Voltaire Foundation blog pieces relating to the Siècle de Louis XIV.

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