Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch, known as Louis "the Just", who ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1610 to 1643.
Louis was only nine years old when he succeeded his father Henry IV. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority. Mismanagement of the kingdom and political intrigues by Marie de Medici and her Italian favourites led the young king to take power, in 1617.
The God-given heir — result of dedication of France to the Blessed Virgin
On 24 November 1615, Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III of Spain. The marriage was only briefly happy, and the King's duties often kept them apart. After twenty-three years of marriage and four miscarriages, Anne finally gave birth to a son on 5 September 1638, the future Louis XIV.
This birth was regarded as a divine miracle and, in show of gratitude to God for the long-awaited birth of an heir, his parents named him Louis-Dieudonne ("God-given"). Seven months before his birth, France was dedicated by Louis XIII to the Virgin Mary, who, many believed, had interceded for the perceived miracle.
This was a brilliant but sterile union. No children — hence, no future! France, full of alarm, again asked herself, in the event of the king's death, into whose hands the most Christian kingdom was to fall. Prayers were offered, pilgrimages revived. The king and the queen implored the intercession of the most saintly persons — the venerable Mother de Chantal, Blessed Mary of the Incarnation, the humble Sister Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, M. Olier, cure of St. Sulpic, and a host of others — that God would be pleased to send an heir to the race of St. Louis. Finally, as individual prayers did not suffice to avert perils so great, King Louis XIII descended from his throne, went to Notre Dame, and there solemnly consecrated to the Blessed Virgin his person and his kingdom. All France joined enthusiastically in this consecration.
Contemporaries have left us long and curious details of that solemn action; painters and engravers have represented it in a thousand ways. But what is most important to note is its astonishing result. The self-same year in which France was consecrated to Mary, 1637, the child was born who was to be called Louis XIV and who was to reign for two-and-seventy years of the most eventful epoch of our history.