Louis Xiv: An Absolute Monarch Essay

1054 words - 4 pages

Frightfully stimulated as a child from a home intrusion by Parisians during an aristocratic revolt in 1651, Louis XIV realized his rule would be decisive, militant, and absolute (458). His lengthy reign as Frances’ king and how he ruled would be the example that many countries throughout Europe would model their own regimes under. With this great authority also came greater challenges of finance and colonization. In the 17th century, the era of absolute monarchs were the means to restore European life (458).

Louis XIV exemplified absolutism, and his ruling set the example for other monarchs throughout Europe. The aims for absolute monarchy was to provide ‘stability, prosperity, and order’ for your territories (458). The way Louis XIV set forth to accomplish this was to claim complete sovereignty to make laws, sanction justice, declare wars, and implement taxes on its subjects. This was all done without the approval of any government or Parliament, as monarchs were to govern ‘by divine right, just as fathers ruled their households’ (458). In Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet’s Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture, he described that absolution was one of the four characteristics imperative to royal authority, “Without this absolute authority, he can do neither good nor suppress evil; his power must be such that no one can hope to escape him” (460). This was epitomized when Louis XIV sought to control the legal system as well as the funding of the financial resources through a centralized bureaucracy for the monarchy. The church was also brought under control, and Louis sought to do away with all other religions by revoking the Edict of Nantes. Political power was given to noblemen, who were seen as possible opponents, and they were made to reside part of the year at Louis XIVs’ court in Versailles in order to display dominance over them (458–459). Absolutism was on display even in the Court of Louis XIV, from the paintings of him as the ‘Sun King’ and his portraits to ‘demonstrate his personal embodiment of power’, to the ballet performances with him as Apollo, to the Court itself which represented ‘power extended over the natural world…as it did over the lives of his subjects’ (462).

Louis XIV financial minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, was deeply associated with founding mercantilist policies in France, which in turn helped increase Frances’ revenue. Colbert describes in detail in Charles W. Cole’s Colbert and a Century of French Mercantilism the steps taken to make France more self-sufficient, ‘so that Your Majesty can get along without foreigners for the navy and will even…be able to supply them and gain their money in this fashion” (465). Colbert’s policies included regulating its foreign trade, while increasing the revenue by disposing the practice of tax farming and elevating the selling of public offices. Colbert’s mercantilist ideals were undermined by the wars Louis waged; and while Colbert warned...

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