In 1700, Paris was the second largest city in Europe, with London the first. In 1701 it expanded into twelve suburbs (faubourgs), which formed a clockwise spiral within and beyond the old city wall, which Louis XIV (1638–1715) had pulled down and replaced with boulevards. Despite moving his court to Versailles in 1671, the king began a construction programme that would turn Paris into a tribute to his glory. He established squares, built churches, hospitals and the Place de Louis Grand and Place des Victoires. The old city gates were replaced with ceremonial arches. The Louvre was rebuilt and used as an artists’ residence. Although Paris had a governor, it was under strict royal authority. Despite its glorious buildings, the city centre was overcrowded and dangerous, with people dying of hunger and cold. By the time Louis XIV died in 1715, the city’s citizens were weary of his extravagance.
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