top-rated free essay

Louis XIV: Absolute Monarch

By alexa91399 Nov 11, 2013 1525 Words
Louis XIV
"L'Etat, c'est moi." Louis is the embodiment of an absolute monarch. He is the chief example of absolutism throughout the second half of the 17th century. Greed is defined in the dictionary as selfish and grasping desire for possession; especially of wealth for one self’s benefit. 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. Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, was not indeed such a good king for France. The reign of Louis XIV was hurtful in many ways to France and its people. Louis XIV financially destroyed France by doing things that he thought would help but just hurt France in the long run. Louis was constantly at war with other countries, which not only hurt France financially, because wars were very expensive during that time, but it also depleted France’s once massive army. He also persecuted the Huguenots causing fifty thousand of them to flee from France, many of them skilled and very well educated; important assets to France’s society and development. It seemed as if the way Louis XIV ruled France was to mainly help/ please himself. The effects of his greed can be seen destroying people’s lives in the beginning of Louis XIV’s reign, during his reign, and after his reign had ended; and even if he did want to make France greater, he failed to do so throughout his reign. He had achievements, but they were overshadowed by his mistakes and negative impacts, making him overall a corrupt ruler. Louis XIV of France ranks as one of the most remarkable monarchs in history. He reigned for 72 years, 54 of those in which he personally controlled French government. The seventeenth century is labeled as the age of Louis XIV; his rule has since been hailed as the supreme example of a type of government: ‘absolutism.’ When Louis died, sources say few of his subjects could remember any other monarch, for he epitomized the ideal of kingship. Louis XIV inherited the throne in 1643 when he was only five. From the moment he entered power and his reign began he had greedy intentions and enormous ideas of divine rule. After various psychological traumas as a child, he was determined to be entirely in control. In 1661, Louis’ chief advisor Cardinal Jules Mazarin died and Louis then decided that he would be the only ruler of France. 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”. 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”. Exposed in this quote is Louis mindset that he had all power. A big political breakthrough during his reign was Louis’ organization of government. It is often seen as one of the first modern governments. It had a system of councils to control the real ruling of the country, intendants - royal officials in provinces gives central control of the entire country, and an establishment of a strong standing army. He used Versailles to bring all the important nobility to his court, the aim was to impress. Half Louis' income went on Versailles but it gave him power and that was all he truly cared about. Versailles and Louis' government were admired in Europe and it was copied everywhere, starting a political revolution. Through that “revolution” French became the language of many courts, and there were “Copycat Palaces” built all over Europe: Vienna/Schonbrunn, St. Petersburg, Berlin. Louis was also on his guard against religious dissent. Like most of his contemporaries, he believed that toleration had no virtue and that unity and control in the state was extremely difficult to maintain where two or more churches were tolerated. After 1678, Louis intensified the persecution of Protestants; churches were destroyed, certain professions were put out of reach of the Huguenots, and Protestant children were taken away from their parents and brought up as Roman Catholics. The notorious practice of dragonnades, the billeting of soldiers on Protestant families with permission to behave as brutally as they wished, was introduced. Thus sternly administering that there may be only one church, one religion, of his choice: Roman Catholicism; again demonstrating his suffocating control over his subjects. Socially, France during this time was broken into 3 estates. The first estate was the clergy. Parishes, Abbots, Bishops, etc. had lots of power and were very wealthy. The second estate was the nobility. There were "new" nobles, called nobles of the robe. These were basically people who bought their titles of nobility. Then there were the "old" nobles, called nobles of the sword. These people were well-respected because they were born into nobility. Then there was the third class, consisting of everyone else. Peasants, artisans, middle class, etc. The nobles had varying lifestyles. Some of the higher nobles, and nobles who lived close to Paris were expected to appear in court very often. Nobles who lived very far and lower nobles only usually appeared in court every once in a while, and sometimes never. These nobles obviously were lower nobles and were usually "new" nobles. Economically, Louis was very fair to peasants and when things were bad he would force merchants to lower their prices on necessities like bread so peasants could afford it. In times of famine, Louis imported tons and tons of food from foreign colonies he took over and distributed it to his people. A positive thing that Louis did was reform his methods on tax collecting. But he practiced mercantilism. To show off his wealth and power he built the palace of Versailles, although a very impressive structure, it was a bit “overdone”. He literally sat on his gold and spent money that France did not have and needed, for small unnecessary luxuries for himself. Versailles was mere pocket change to Louis; he spent and spent; hurting the economy more and more. Nearing the end of Louis' reign, France was very economically unstable and many people blame Louis's building of Versailles is what began to destroy France economically in the first place, it may have triggered the collapse but what killed France economically was Louis constant involvement in war. Militarily he had his accomplishments, many actually. But France could not afford the financial toll wars and armies were making. He fought costly wars in the high numbers of casualties and monetary encouragement, at the drop of a hat. His country was the most powerful, and was very populous. His armies were large in size at peacetime and even larger in wartime. Their strength, though, was no match for the failure Louis faced in wars. His wars left France almost bankrupt. He wanted larger borders, went to any extent to get them, but lost all of the three times he tried. He killed many men, especially in the War of Spanish Succession, which led to the end of his reign. The subject of Louis xiv is an extremely tedious subject. There are many exceptions, assumptions, ifs, ands, and buts that make it hard to define if Louis was a good ruler or not. While Louis was very selfish, controlling, etc.; he had a lot of important contributions to society. Though his political views were extreme, the fundamentals of them were very reasonable, and certain aspects are still alive and working today. Emphasis on certain though. As we all can infer; strict absolutism would not work in today’s society. Louis also broke the social “fences”… people associated throughout different classes instead of being so restricted. This allowed much better flow of ideas throughout France and set a model for other countries. religiousreligiouslysnt unreasonable, for his era that is. It was common for rulers to require either conversion to their own religion, or death/exile/excommunication. Although Louis basically put all of France’s income towards the military, he showed how a united army is much stronger or beneficial then multiple, separated armies. His economic judgment was pitiful, he may have had positive intentions, but it went the complete opposite. He had valid economic virtues, which would’ve been very beneficial if he didn’t engage in mercantilism so strongly. Louis XIV, the “center of all his subjects’ lives”, was undeniably a corrupt king. The supremacy of Louis XIV was undiplomatic in various ways to France and its people. Louis XIV financially devastated France. Louis’ wars were unreasonable, costly, and weakened his military more and more each day. His unfair prosecutions of non-Catholics drove out many people, meaning less income, smaller workforce, etc. Louis XIV ruled France was to mainly benefit and delight himself. His greed was unreasonable, unnecessary, and degrading. Yes, he had successes, but they were overshadowed by his faults and harmful decisions, and wrong tactics; making him generally an untrustworthy, manipulative, immoral ruler.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • The Absolute Monarch of Louis Xiv

    ...The Absolute Monarch of Louis XIV absolutism - a form of government in which all power is vested in a single ruler or other authority The Sun King, Louis XIV of France, inherited the throne upon his father’s death in 1643. Only 5 years old and by law too young to rule, his mother Anne of Austria became Queen Regent and appointed Ca...

    Read More
  • Essay on 3 absolute monarchs: Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Frederick the Great

    ...From 1638-1786, there were three absolute monarchs. Louis XIV, the sun king, built a splendid court at Versailles where he looked over the nobles. Peter the Great, the westernizer, changed Russia from a backward country into a great power. Finally, Frederick the Great, the enlightened despot, was full of tolerance and restraint and had good view...

    Read More
  • Louis XIV

    ...Louis XIV An absolute monarch is a ruler who governs alone and is not restrained by laws, or a constitution. Absolutism is the belief that one ruler should hold power within a country. This could be caused by war , religious conflicts, or simply people wanting stronger leaders or protection of some sort. This lead to limited spread of ide...

    Read More
  • Louis XIV

    ...John HST 102-002 19 November 2014  Louis XIV Louis XIV (1638-1718), known as the Sun King, lasted for 72 years, longer than that of any monarch of a major European history. In that time, he transformed the monarchy, also introduced a golden age of art and literature. He established his country as the dominant European power as well. During ...

    Read More
  • Was Louis XIV A Good Or Bad Monarch To France?

    ...Louis XIV, also known as Le Gran Monarque and the Sun God, was not indeed such a good king for France. The reign of Louis XIV was hurtful in many ways to France and its people. First of all, Louis XIV financially destroyed France by doing things that he thought would help but just hurt France in the long run. Louis was constantly at war with ano...

    Read More
  • Louis Xiv the Sun King Absolute Rule

    ...Louis XIV the Sun King’s Absolute Rule Louis XIV is one of the most famous examples of an absolute ruler. Louis had a complete control over his country. Louis’s father had died leaving France in a civil war. Louis XIV obtained power after his father died and through hatred over the nobility that threatened his life and his mothers, t...

    Read More
  • Louis XIV

    ...the mid 16th century and 17th centuries, two tremendous rulers emerged in France. During the age of rule under both Henry IV and Louis XIV, France obtained an absolutist government, which the majority of citizens supported. Henry IV was more so a compromiser compared to Louis XIV who was at war the majority of his reign. King Henry IV clashes wi...

    Read More
  • Absolutism and Louis Xiv

    ...An absolute monarch is a ruler by divine right who has control over every portion of his kingdom. The most famous absolute monarch, Louis XIV, had the longest reign of any of the French kings. Louis achieved this as a result of his reformed laws, foreign policy, a smart economic advisor, and his decision to deny power to the nobility. Although s...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.