Louis IV represents the apogee of French royal power and the Ancien Regime. Having restored the nation's finances and rebuilt the army, he embarked on a series of wars of conquest which made France universally feared and respected as the central power of continental Europe. In the age of Moliere, Corneille, Racine et al, French culture blossomed at the court of Versailles. The counterpoint to these achievements was the emasculation of the political and legal institutions that might have limited the exercise of the royal will. In this new history, Geoffrey Treasure explores a unique combination of a personal philosophy, moulded by absolutist thinking and propaganda, and by Marzarin's deliberate training. He examines the influences and traits which permitted the growth of this particular exercise of power and its descent into an absolutism that ultimately set France on the road to 1789.