Louis Xiv: a Machiavellian Ruler?

Topics: Louis XIV of France, Controller-General of Finances, Jean-Baptiste Colbert Pages: 3 (950 words) Published: November 7, 2011
Louis XIV: A Machiavellian Ruler?
Louis XIV followed many Machiavellian teachings but conspicuously disregarded others, due to some of his fiscal policies (or lack of them) and personal tendencies. Louis XIV is the longest reigning monarch in European history, and during his impressive reign, France enjoyed a Golden Age of arts and commerce. He expanded its territories and shifted the balance of power to France becoming one of the most powerful European countries in the 17th century. Machiavelli wrote in The Prince that it was better to be considered miserly than generous with one’s finances as a monarch. This was a prime example in which Louis XIV demonstrated himself an Un-Machiavellian ruler. Machiavelli said that being generous would lead to greed from a king’s subjects and exhaustion of his finances and because of this, it was preferable to be reputed as frugal than hated for bankrupting the state and hurting the people by raising taxes. Louis refused to follow this dogma and built Versailles, a magnificent palace envied by all of Europe. Because of the mercantilistic policies of his finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the country’s economic issues were only temporarily mitigated; once Louis XIV bequeathed the throne to his great grandson, tensions escalated until they resulted in the French Revolution of 1789. Machiavelli spoke of the need to select servants loyal only to their ruler. This policy was one that Louis XIV was keen on following, as demonstrated by the Intendant system. In this system he selected those personally loyal to him and sent them to remote regions of the country, to stamp out provincial rule with royal influence. If they succeeded and pleased the king they would be promoted and allowed to return home. He also used caution when selecting his personal ministers by making sure they were loyal only to him as in the case of Colbert, who worked tirelessly to ensure success for Louis XIV. Machiavelli wrote in The Prince that it was...
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