Absolutism in France

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17th Century Absolutism in France

Throughout the reign of the Bourbon dynasty of France, a distinct form of government known as absolutism developed, hoping to counteract the intensifying religious conflicts and the social fragmentation in Europe. Within the rule of the great Henry IV of Navarre, his son Louis XIII, and the prominent Louis XIV, the supreme authority of the monarch of France expanded exponentially, bringing about stability, prosperity, and public order. And through an unsettled, irresolute, and altering relationship with the nobility, the kings of France were able to exercise their immeasurable power over their kingdoms.

During the late 16th century, France suffered from bitter internal wars between Huguenots (Protestants) and Roman Catholics. Through these religious conflicts, thousands of individuals from both sides were killed. In the worst incident, known as St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres, over 20,000 Protestants were killed. Henry IV rose above the folly, converting to Catholicism to please his Catholic subjects. Furthermore, he issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598, which was meant to allow for toleration of the Huguenots and effectively halt the violence. Henry, with the help of his chief minister Sully, was determined to repair and restore public order through the kingdom, hoping to strengthen his country as the supreme power in Europe. Moreover, he profusely desired to centralize the power of the monarch, striving to control the influence of the unruly nobility. Henry curtailed the power of the nobility through persuasion, bribery, and brute force. In one instance, the Duke of Biron was believed to have been rebelling against the king and was consequently executed for treason in 1602. These types of acts imposed his dominance and sovereignty, demonstrating values of a strong monarch. His reign proved to be the foundations of absolutism, the beginning of the transition to a complete monarchy.

In 1610, Henry IV...
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