Louis Xiv Foreign Policy

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‘Louis XIV’s foreign policy was entirely driven by his personal quest for gloire’. To what extent do you consider this statement to be true? Upon the coronation of Louis XIV on the 7th of June 1654, Mazarin informed Louis in fatherly tones that “It is up to you to become the most glorious king that has ever been”. Although Louis’ personal reign did not truly begin until 1661, he took this advice to heart and for the early part of his reign his foreign policy was almost entirely based upon his desire to become a renowned warrior king and win honour for himself and his kingdom. After 1674 and the withdrawal of French troops from Dutch soil, however, Louis seemed to mellow and become less hot-blooded, with security being the dominant factor in his foreign policy. In addition, two other factors helped dictate his policy during the later years. Firstly, the desire to create a mercantile sector in his economy by competing with the maritime powers colonially; secondly, on occasion religion played a part, although this is slightly dubious. Nevertheless, it would be incorrect to say that ‘gloire’ played no part after the Dutch War, as Louis was still a proud and aggressive monarch albeit a monarch who had learned some statesmanship. Louis was not by nature a religious man, preferring to use religion for his own ends and only when it suited him; therefore the view that he was a ‘most Christian king’ and was motivated by religious zeal is fairly untenable. It must be pointed out, however, that occasionally it did prick him to action, notably when faced with Protestantism. During the Dutch war he made it clear that he wished to restore Catholicism to Utrecht, and when he took Strasbourg in 1681 Louis insisted the Cathedral be returned to Catholic worship. Nevertheless, Louis’ actions with regard to the Turk threat in 1683 were highly cynical and politically motivated and argue strongly against any religious conviction Louis may have had. Indeed, Louis actively sought the...
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