Louis XIV and Religion
Louis XIV was a devoted Catholic. Even so, his wish to centralize and unify France caused conflict between France and Rome. Like his ancestors before him, Louis and the clergy of France upheld the tradition of Gallicianism, control of the French church by the throne. On of the most serious of these conflicts involved Louis' claim to income from vacant positions in the French Catholic church. Out of this conflict came a document known as the Four Gallican Articles, which reaffirmed the throne's supremacy over the pope, even in doctrinal matters. At one time relations between Paris and Rome were so strained that it seemed as though the French church might break away completely from the church in Rome. Louis, however, made some concessions to Rome in order to gain the support of the Roman Catholic church against hostile Protestant forces.
Louis persecuted two religious groups in particular. The first of these groups was the Jansenists, a faction of the Catholic church that believed in the doctrine of predestination. Although this group was protected by the pope, Louis believed them to be dangerous to both church and state and persecuted them severely. Another group persecuted by Louis XIV was the Huguenots. During Colbert's lifetime, this group was protected because its followers made up a large percentage of France's skilled workers and leaders in commerce, industry, and banking. After Colbert's death, however, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes, which protected the religious freedom of the Huguenots. Huguenots were no longer free to worship as they pleased for fear of being thrown into prison as an enemy of the state. This policy proved to have a very bad effect on the French economy because many Huguenots fled France to escape religious persecution.
The planting of colonies was part of Colbert's plan for improving the economy of France. Frenchmen were encouraged to move to Canada to conduct the lucrative fur trade there. Colbert recognized that colonies were an important source of raw materials for French industries and that they provided a market for French goods. Inspite of Colbert's position toward exploration and colonization, Louis XIV passed up opportunities to build a French empire in America and India,
instead concentrating on domestic matters and expanding France's immediate borders.
The parlements were the law courts that were at the center of the power of the nobility. Louis rendered the parlements powerless by decreeing that his laws had to be recorded at once. The parlements could no longer debate constitutional policy. Objections could only be heard after the law had been recorded. The parlements at court were in awe of "The Sun King" and did nothing to prevent this loss of power. Louis made the traditional French court, once powerful instruments of political ambition and noble privilege, subservient to him and successfully...