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An explorer’s guide to the “Siècle de Louis XIV”

Getting your bearings

The future of Europe might be a matter for intense political debate today, but in the 17th century, its geopolitical situation was even more complex. A tangled web of alliances, intermarriage between royal dynasties, the thorny issue of religious conflict, and the birth of colonialism resulted in the series of territorial wars which Voltaire chronicles in the first part of his Siècle de Louis XIV (Chapters 1-12 and 13-24) . Since then, new countries have been created through unification or partition, and our map of Europe looks very different from that which confronted Louis XIV when he came to power.

This interactive map offers an overview of Europe in the period.

Explore this interactive timeline showing prominent people and events of the period. Perhaps it’s the sort of tool that Voltaire might have created himself if he’d had access to Wikipedia…

Drag the bottom scale to left and right to find a year; use the vertical lever on the left-hand side to zoom in and out. Original timeline page here.

Created by Dr Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Oxford.