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Grant number like: FEL-263330-19

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Hall Bjornstad
Trustees of Indiana University (Bloomington, IN 47405-7000)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2019 – 12/31/2019

The Crowning Example: Louis XIV and the Crisis of Royal Exemplarity

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the French king Louis XIV (1638-1715), showing how the concept of absolute monarchy gave way to the modern understanding of the individual and of individual rights.  

For most historians Louis XIV, the Sun King, represents the paradigm of absolute monarchy. My project delves into the complexities of that claim to exemplarity. More precisely, I argue that the logic of exemplarity, as uniqueness and model to follow, undergirds the overarching project of royal glory and is at once the foundation of absolutism and the beginning of its foundering. That is to say, the constitutive excess at the conceptual core of absolutism, from the extravagant military campaigns of Louis’ early reign to the exuberant displays epitomized by Versailles, marks its importance as the beginning of our cultural and political modernity. I seek to show that more than the citizen imagined by Rousseau or the Declaration of the Rights of Man, we must imagine Louis XIV as the first example of what historian Christopher Lasch called “a culture of narcissism.”