THE ARISTOCRATIC BAROQUE The “Aristocratic Baroque” describes that phase of the Baroque style that emerged in the royal courts of Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Most of Europe’s ruling families at this time claimed to hold unlimited, or absolute, political power. Like the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, they governed as direct representatives of God on earth. The most notable of Europe’s absolute monarchs was Louis XIV, king of France (1638–1715). During the nearly three-quarters of a century that Louis occupied the French throne, he dictated the political, economic, and cultural policies of the country, never once calling into session the Estates General, France’s representative assembly. Louis controlled a centralized bureaucracy and a standing army, and he placed the Church under the authority of the state. While the king may never have uttered the famous words attributed to him, “I am the state,” he surely operated according to that absolutist precept. By the end of his reign he had brought France to a position of political and military leadership in Western Europe and the arts to an unparalleled level of grandeur (Figure10.19).