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Useful Notes / Louis XIII

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Louis XIII (27 September 1601 – 14 May 1643) was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1610 to 1643 and King of Navarre (as Louis II) from 1610 to 1620, when the crown of Navarre was merged to the French crown.

Louis succeeded his assassinated father Henry IV as king of France and Navarre a few months before his ninth birthday. His mother, Marie de' Medici, acted as regent during Louis's minority. Mismanagement of the kingdom and ceaseless political intrigues by Marie de' Medici and her Italian favourites led the young king to take power in 1617 by exiling his mother and executing her followers, including Concino Concini, the most influential Italian at the French court.

Louis XIII, taciturn and suspicious, relied heavily on his chief minister Cardinal Richelieu to govern the kingdom of France. King and cardinal are remembered for the establishment of the Académie Française and for putting an end to the revolt of the French nobility. The reign of Louis "The Just" was also marked by the struggles against Huguenots and the Habsburg Empire, especially its branch in the neighboring Spain, headed by King Philip IV and his own minister the Count-Duke of Olivares. Louis and Philip were ironically brothers-in-law, as Louis was married to Philip's sister Anne of Austria, who was also Louis' cousin.

France initially only backed the Habsburgs' enemies, but after Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Spain threatened to change the tide despite this support, Richelieu had France enter directly the conflict. Their greatest victory in the conflicts against the Habsburgs during the period 1635-59 came at the Battle of Rocroi (1643), five days after Louis's death from apparent complications of intestinal tuberculosis. This battle marked the beginning of the end of Spain's military dominance in Europenote  and foreshadowed French ascendancy in Europe under Louis XIV, his son and successor, who fully assumed power in 1661 following the regency during which his mother Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin governed.

Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

  • Demoted to Extra: As most of his depictions appear in adaptations of The Three Musketeers where he has a very small role, he's almost always overshadowed by Richelieu and even Queen Anne of Austria.

Appears/gets mentioned in the following works:

  • The Marie de' Medici Cycle stylistically chronicles his mother and depicts her conflict with him.
  • Appears in the 1826 novel Cinq Mars by Alfred de Vigny, about a conspiracy to topple Richelieu.
  • The Three Musketeers (1844) and its countless faithful-to-loose adaptations. His depiction, and the varying levels of Dawson Casting (he's supposed to be 26 in 1627, the year the first book is set in) regardless of accuracy, varies a lot Depending on the Writer.
    • Portrayed by 46 year old Louis Arbessier in the 1953 French film.
    • Portrayed by 40 year old Guy Tréjean in the 1961 French films.
    • Jean-Pierre Cassel played him in the first two films of Richard Lester's version as a bit eccentric, as for instance he plays chess games with costumed little people as the pieces. He was 40-41 at the time.
    • He is quite whiny and both a Royal Brat and a Manchild in the animated series Albert the Fifth Musketeer, which is loosely based on The Three Musketeers and moreso depicts him with clothes, a lifestyle and a court that have more to do with the time of his son Louis XIV than his own.
    • The Musketeers, where he's played by Ryan Gage, also portrays him as a Manchild who throws tantrums when things don't go his way and blames the Musketeers for his own mistakes.
    • He's long since dead in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) but his reputation in it is still unflattering, as D'Artagnan says the Musketeers have long dreamed of serving "a king worthy of the throne" which to date has apparently not happened. Plus in this version he isn't actually the father of Louis XIV and his fictional twin Philippe, since Anne of Austria had an affair with D'Artagnan.
    • Contrasting greatly is his depiction in 1993 film where he's essentially a nice guy who loves his Queen but is manipulated by Richelieu, and he essentially becomes a Distressed Dude at the end along with the Queen. Played by 18 year old Hugh O'Conor.
    • The Musketeer (2001) made him an Upper-Class Twit and a bit of a sexist who demeans the Queen and thinks he can stop a riot just by telling the rioters to stop.
    • The Three Musketeers (2011) made him a Camp Straight guy who despite appearances just wants to get closer to the Queen, and even looks to D'Artagnan for relationship advice.
    • In the British 2023 Three Musketeers film, he's played by Tom Taplin (who was in his mid-20s).
    • He's played by 39 year old Louis Garrel in 2023's The Three Musketeers diptych from France.
  • In Le Capitan, he appears as a teen and target of Concino Concini's conspiracy. Played by Christian Fourcade.
  • In Le Capitaine Fracasse, a Commedia dell'Arte troupe performs a stage show for him. Played by René Charvey.
  • Played by Philippe Noiret in the 1964 film Cyrano & D'Artagnan.
  • Ken Russell's The Devils, a rather controversial film and a fairly unflattering depiction (though Louis XIII gets a better deal than Richelieu).
  • In Louis, the Child King, he is a ghost who talks to his eleven year old son Louis XIV. Voiced by Marcel Bozonnet.
  • The French campaign of Cossacks: European Wars happens under his reign for the most part.