Louis XIV, King of France and of Navarre


submitted by an anonymous History student

For why this was submitted, read more after the jump.

“Louis XIV was one of the greatest monarchs in history. In the late seventeenth century, France had been the dominant power. He led France through several major wars with much success. During his reign colonies were established and the gorgeous palace at Versailles constructed – if at great cost. It remains one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. He had made the entire country revolve around him personally, and this it did, for the most part.

Yet behind the alpha-male dominant ‘Sun King,’ we can see a softer side, or at least with a softer styling. He had made lavish wigs hugely popular among men of any social standing. He was king at the height of the Baroque period in art and music, known for its more feminine tones (in relation to the macho Renaissance) and he was also a patron of the sciences. Perhaps Louis knew the value of a certain degree of androgyny.”

Posted by on March 7th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

Category: faces, photos, recommendations 10 comments »

10 Responses to “Louis XIV, King of France and of Navarre”

  1. Louche

    What do sciences have to do with femininity? And baroque known for feminine tones – really? The baroque I’ve listened to sounded extremely technical, which strikes me more as a masculine trait. What’s with those wigs, though? The sword and cape don’t go well together at all, from a practical standpoint.


  2. nick

    I would not consider this picture remotely feminine, for his time. Wigs, maillot, high heels. All these things were the pinnacle of masculine dress in his days. A royal gentlemen’s attire. A lady would nver be seen in such attire.
    Hence, I see this picture not as an example of androgyny, but as an illustration of the way in which gender-representation is a social construct that changes over the years.


  3. nick

    There’s a few great books about gender in the period of Louis XIV:
    J. Harris – Hidden Agendas. Crossdressing in 17th century France
    J. Prest – Theatre under Louis XIV: Cross-Casting and the Performance of Gender in Drama, Ballet and Opera.

    Cross-dressing was, in this particular time and culture, an important part of reaffirming gender-norms.


  4. Cecil

    Louche: I find it ironic that you are talking about something being a specifically ‘masculine’ trait on a website dedicated to gender bending. Just sayin’.

    Louis XIV has absolutely great pins in those stockings. Showing a fine calf, he is. In my mind that alone makes this worthy of submission.


  5. Louche

    Cecil, then surely you must also find it bizarre that someone referred to music as feminine. I sense you are singling out my comment just because I used the words “specific” and “trait,” but they were implied in the original comment. Also, masculine traits are implied all over this entire website. Just because you don’t call it “masculine trait” doesn’t mean it’s not saying the same thing. Why else would transmen want to grow facial hair? You can’t “bend” gender if you don’t start with gender.


  6. Louche

    Also, just because gender is socially constructed doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I still don’t understand how baroque music is feminine. And there wasn’t much “gender bending” going on in the time of Louis XIV, as far as I know.

    nick, what you said makes sense to me.


  7. jean c.

    c’mon, you are all missing the crucial point which is:

    Your Armchair and Footstool Must Match Your Personal Over-Garment!

    ferreal though, the reason this image is interesting (to me) in terms of thinking about gender is that it shows how the “attributes” that we associate with masculinity or femininity can change wildly over time. Then, high heels = masculine & ‘kingly’ (& powerful); now, high heels = ultra-feminine & ‘sexy’ (but still powerful – hmm).

    These attributes & ‘traits’ that drastically determine our genders & lives are based in culture & society, which is real and really does affect us, so they are not meaningless! The attributes and the language we use, though supposedly “just societal”, are encoded with tons of meaning, and do influence the way we act in the world — no question about that.

    However, this image – and any image of any culture or time that is different from ours – is a reminder that the attributes are ultimately arbitrary. In 100 years, something that now signifies “maleness” could signify “femaleness”… or vice-versa… or could have become completely meaningless as a gender-marker.

    it’s a relief to realize that cultural metaphors and habits and assumptions do change… and that we can be part of creating that change. that’s why it’s interesting to talk about the traits and their ‘meanings’… and interesting to subvert them. & both of those activities seems to be what this website is for!


  8. Marion

    Louis was a crazy badass fop. Insane wigs and baroque music are crazy and badass and foppish, but in my pompous opinion neither are related to gender.


  9. J.

    Honestly I think a man dressing in an appropriate way for his time and looking so “feminine” now says a lot about gender roles.

    Some of us react with annoyance that we are projecting our own standards of “masculinity” and “femininity” onto a person from another time and place, but every day people from our own era and location are labelled as such for reasons just as subjective and out of context.


  10. said History student

    I wrote this one.

    Above all, I thought it was good food for thought. It really does go to show how much things can change in as (relatively) little as 300 years.

    When I mentioned the Baroque as being somewhat more ‘feminine’ I was primarily meaning in art, which it noticeably is in relation to the preceding Renaissance era. I hope that wasn’t too confusing.

    Building eye-wateringly pretty palaces isn’t a hugely manly thing to do these days, but in the Baroque that was a huge statement of power and grandeur. That was probably a good thing, to my mind. Yet he was THE man of his time, no doubt. Only Napoleon surpassed him in power. The sciences have traditionally been more male-dominated; I mentioned this because his time saw the scientific revolution unfold as well as the beginnings of the Enlightenment.

    At any rate, lookin’ fine, Louis!


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