Siècle de Louis XIV by Voltaire (critical edition by Diego Venturino) - T. 13B

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

Œuvres complètes de Voltaire : Siècle de Louis XIV (IV). Chapitres 13-24,
directed by Diego Venturino, “Œuvres complètes de Voltaire” Collection, t. 13B, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, September 2015, xxxii + 454 p., 16 black and white ill. (ISBN-13: 978-0-7294-1156-1).


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.

This volume (t. 13B) contains chapters 13 to 24 of this seminal work, continuing the history of the king’s foreign policy from 1676 until his death in 1715. The territorial gains of the Peace of Nijmegen are followed by the humiliations of defeats during the War of the Spanish Succession. France’s own borders are threatened by an alliance of powers, and the king is forced to sue for peace. Voltaire finds much to admire in the king’s ability to adapt to circumstances and put aside his pride for the good of his people; and much to admire, too, in the balance of power in Europe which is left at the time of his death. No state, including France, can aspire to be powerful enough to establish total dominance over the continent.

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 sixteen illustrations, most of which are taken from the 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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