Bernini’s Louis XIV

Louis XIV by Bernini (1665)

Louis XIV by Bernini (1665)

Some aristocrats were lounging around Louis XIV’s court, watching the old Italian artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, sculpt their king.

‘You are a great talent, sir,’ said one of the aristocrats, ‘but here, you have made the eyes too big and the forehead too high. Your depiction of my king is surely not accurate!’

Bernini turned to the aristocrat and shrugged. ‘My king will last longer than yours,’ he said.

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Clovis I, king of the Franks

Clovis I by François-Louis Dejuinne (1786-1844)

Clovis (c. 466-511) was the man who united the Franks under a single king rather than a group of chieftains.

Clovis’s wife Clotilde was a Catholic and converted Clovis to Catholicism, even though the ruling elite of the Franks were ordinarily Arians. Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is equal to God the Father in divinity whereas Arians believed that Christ was divine but not equal to God. Clovis’s baptism into Catholicism meant that the inhabitants of Gaul would become Catholic and the decline of Arianism commenced.

Clovis was the son of Childeric I, who is considered the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, although it was Clovis who united Gaul.