This is a study of royal absolutism in a most extreme form in modern European history, and of the nature of Louis XIV's concept of personal glory and of the embodiment of France as a new superpower. It is a study of political ideas expressed in architecture to establish Versailles as the centre of French world power and royal prestige. It is also a personal story, full of social, cultural, and economic history of the period as seen in the life and work of Louis Le Vau, from a humble family of craftsmen, who was a self-taught architect in the early history of the profession, skilled in technical craft skills and even grand design. He was a major contributor to the architectural glories of Paris including the Louvre, Vincennes, Versailles and the College of the Four Nations. And all achieved despite interference from the great magnates of the age like Mazarin and Colbert and constant mind-changing by the King who wanted every feature in the buildings to reflect his concept of personal, royal, prestige. Le Vau was Louis XIV's First Architect from 1654 until his death and disgrace in 1670. The social, cultural, economic and political backdrop is striking with court intrigue, scandal, corruption, luxury, indulgence and the rise of a rich bourgeoisie, but the main thrust of the story concerns Louis XIV and the royal personal ambition, and the work of a stone-cutter's son who became the Sun King's instrument. The study is good on the more technical features of architectural history - reminiscent of Pevsner's marvellous Buildings of England series.