Am I In Charge? Absolutely! Special Guest Louis XIV

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Am I In Charge?
Absolutely!
Special Guest Louis XIV
Absolutism
 16th and 17th Centuries
 Political theory that believed in
the “Divine Right of Kings”
 Monarchs received their
authority from God
 They were responsible to God
alone
 Bishop Bossuet established
this in Politics Taken From the
Very Words of Scripture.
Bishop Jacques Bossuet
Historical causes
 Destruction caused by religious wars
[justified strong rule]
 Huge increases in wealth from
exploration
 Conflicted with individualism of the
Renaissance
How to get absolute
power
 Rid yourself of other pesky institutions that have
local control or power [tribunals or nobles].
Centralize your power and administration
 Use secret police to establish fear, quiet
dissenters and maintain order
 Create and maintain standing armies
 Tax, tax, tax and control it yourself using
bureaucracies
 Government administration with employees that
answer only to the King
 Bureaucrats serve the state not themselves or local
interests
Absolutely in charge.
Really?
 Absolutists did not have the consent of
their citizens
 Lacked the financial, military and
technology resources to be total control
Setting up French
Absolutism
 Win the hearts and
minds
 1589 Henry IV
became king
 Sharply lowered
taxes on peasants
 Chief Minister Sully
streamlined taxes
and increased trade
‘a chicken in every pot’
Cardinal Richelieu: Chief
Minister
 Appointed by Marie de Medici,
mother of heir Louis XIII,
following Henry IV’s murder to
advise her son
 Laid the foundation for French
absolutism
 Excluded nobles from the royal
council, leveled castles and
ruthlessly killed any conspirators
 Increased government efficiency
by creating intendants who
answered to the king only and
governed at the local level
 Established the French
Academy
The Fronde
 Civil wars between 1648-1653
 Growing resentment about increased power of
monarchy
 Cardinal Jules Mazarin succeeded Richelieu and was
not the same enforcer
 People refused to pay taxes
 Monarchy would have to compromise with bureaucrats
and social elite
 Convinced Louis XIV that absolute monarchy is
necessary to prevent anarchy
Louis XIV (1643-1715): The Sun King and
Baller



Worked with the nobility to
mutually increase prestige
 Louis won military taxation
from Languedoc in exchange
of his granting nobility
increased social status and
access to him
Palace of Versailles
overwhelmed and inspired,
center of government
Great host of ceremonies and
excluded the most powerful
nobles
"L'État, c'est moi" (the state is me)
The End of an Era
 Louis XIV was one of the great statebuilders of Europe
 Despite this, the peasants of France
suffered as they never had before or
since. This would bring government
welfare as a state function it the 18th
century
 His absolutist policy solidified the place of
France as the dominant power in Europe

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