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Greed of Louis XIV

By cammy May 30, 2005 1109 Words
Louis XIV
Greed is defined in the dictionary as selfish and grasping desire for possession; especially of wealth. It is also described as a noun. This definition can be directly related and best describes Louis XIV, the king of France in the sixteen hundreds. The effects of greed destroying peoples lives can be seen in the beginning of Louis XIV's reign, during his reign, and after his reign had ended Louis XIV inherited the throne in 1643 when he was only five (Cairns 103). From the moment he entered power and his reign began he had greedy intentions and enormous ideas of divine rule (Cairns 112). In 1661, Louis chief advisor Cardinal Jules Mazarin died and Louis then decided that he would be the only ruler of France (Spielvagel 1). Louis once expressed, "It is now time that I govern them myself. I request and order you to seal no orders except my command,… I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport… without my command; to render account to me personally each day and to favor no one" (Spielvagel 1). This quote reveals Louis's desire to have power over everything and control everyone around him. Louis used the sun as his symbol of power. He often quoted, "I am the state" (Cairns 35). Exposed in this quote is Louis mindset that he had all power. Using the sun as his symbol of power enforced his belief that he was the center of all things. Author of "Court Described by Duc De Saint Simon," Elena Steingrad, stated the following when referring to King Louis's life, "… he compelled his courtiers to live beyond their income, and gradually reduced then to depend on his bounty for the means of subsistence. This was a plague which became a scourge to the whole country…" (4). The quote shows Louis' greedy intentions, which eventually led to widespread confusion and an economic drop to the country of France (Steingrad 4). Louis XIV in the beginning of his reign was starting to show signs of his enormous, greedy intentions and his belief in divine rule. It was the start of his reign that France began to slowly crumble. In the beginning of Louis XIV's reign he made an enormous decision, which revealed his greed for his own personal needs. The Palace of Versailles that he had constructed in 1682 is an excellent symbol of Louis over usage of the country's money on himself. In Jacques Levron's book, Daily Life at Versailles, the palace is described in detail. Levron quotes, "All furniture was solid silver and tables were covered with crimson cloths fringed with gold. Beds were lined with gold and silver and Louis throne contained some of the rarest marbles in the world" (55). The explanation of the inside of the palace in this quote reveals how Louis had no limitations on how he would spend money; money was lavished on the building (Levron 110). The Palace of Versailles was extremely expensive to maintain (Robiquet 1). Historians say, "… maintained the palace, including the care and feeding of its staff and the Royal Family, consumed as much as twenty-five percent of the entire national income of the country of France" (Robiquet 1). Louis spent such an immense amount of money on this palace that his people were beginning to suffer. He continued to perform ceremonies to emphasize his own importance. He spared no expense on the palace and it became the most magnificent building in Europe (Cairns 254). The life of King Louis XIV was often believed to be one of the causes of the French economic fall. For example, "Hence we have a king who wanders in empty splendor through the vast halls of his palaces , habitually followed by hungry office seekers, all of whom live upon the revenue obtained from peasants…" (Harold 1). Explained in this quote in the beginning of the people of France beginning to realize Louis selfish expenditures. Louis loved flattery and elaborate types of attention, which may be the cause of his extreme spending (Steingrad1). In the middle of Louis XIV's reign he had the Palace of Versailles built. Extreme amounts of money were spent on this building, which was one of the reasons the economy in France was falling apart. Louis spared no expense on this building that was used only for himself and the Royal Family. Another weakness of Louis XIV was his love for war. Louis' military excursions were separated into four conflicts (Campbell 3). The wars were referred to in Military History Magazine. Campbell quotes, "… the War of Devolution with Spain, the Dutch War, the War of the Palatinate, and the War of Spanish Succession- the last of which might be called the first global conflict of the modern age. These wars occurring under Louis XIV's reign caused the amount of people in the military to quadruple in size in times of conflict. Louis love for war cost France money to feed the military, buy uniforms, and equipment yet, people were starving and in turmoil while the king engaged in outrageous wars (Campbell 5). After Louis XIV's death France suffered more than ever. For example, "France's government was in a financial crisis. Originally the king's of France paid the costs of rule from wealth produced on their own domains. But emergencies were not perpetual" (McKelvey 1). This quote shows how after Louis XIV's death the cost of his wars and palaces were now prevailing under Louis XVI. People began to riot and the economy declined further. By 1789 under Louis XVI, France was bankrupt. One example stated, "By 1789 France was still paying off debts incurred by the wars of Louis XIV" (Zumthor 1). Louis XIV's wars cost France to become bankrupt and fall apart. Ultimately Louis XVI was executed because he was blamed for the economic crisis, which was the fault of Louis XIV. At the end of Louis XIV's reign and even after his reign was over his love for war cost France a huge amount of money and kept France in debt for many years. Overall, Louis XIV's reign as king put France into one of its worst economic times in all history. The effects of greed destroying peoples lives can be seen in the beginning of Louis XIV's reign, during his reign, and after his reign had ended. The greediness of Louis XIV can be seen throughout Louis's entire reign and can be directly related to the definition of the word. Greed (n) - selfish and grasping desire for possession; especially of wealth.

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