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Louis XIV - Essay Example

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Louis XIV was one of the most famous monarchs of French history and under his rule France went on to become a dominating power in Europe. He was an absolute monarch and his long tenure was basically stabilised due to a variety of reasons,not the least of which was his ability to manipulate the nobility.Nobility under Louis was reduced in power due to a variety of explicit and implicit measures he took, and began to largely depend on his favour for their continued sustenance.
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Louis XIV
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"Louis XIV"

Download file to see previous pages Also important was his concept of himself which enabled him to rule by Divine right, and the philosophies of the time that supported his notions.
Louis was five years old when he sat on the throne with the regency of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, against whom the nobles and the Paris Parlement (a powerful law court), rose in 1648 at the beginning of the long civil war known as the Fronde.In the course of this war, Louis suffered humiliation,poverty, misfortune, fear, cold, and hunger, because he had to often leave his place in Paris and go into hiding for his own safety.These early experiences led him to have a lifelong mistrust in the nobility, they taught him that the nobility was one of the greatest threats to a French king and inspired him to set about implementing his absolutist concepts.
Being a devout Catholic, he had no trouble in imagining that he was an agent ordained by God himself to rule the kingdom and made great efforts to cultivate an image for himself that was based on myth and legend, as well as on reason and political legitimacy. Louis chose the sun as his personal emblem, signifying that he was the source of all benevolence in the kingdom and that the entire world, including the nobles, revolved around him, and he soon came to be known across all Europe as the "Sun King".
"On June 5th, 1662, a procession of monkeys, bears, nobles, and slaves, spiralled through the streets of Paris in celebration of the glory of Louis XIV. ......the king was represented as the serene and uncontested master of the world; each noble carried a shield bearing a device which affirmed his absolute subjugation to Louis Dieu-donne figured as the sun." (Lynn, 1998)
Louis' concept received further legitimacy in his status as agent of God in the work of those like Thomas Hobbes and Jacques-Bnigne Bossuet, who argued that monarchy was the most natural and ancient form of government , and since kings receive their power and sanction from God, their authority was absolute and unchallenged.
"The power of God makes itself felt in a moment from one extremity of the earth to another. Royal power works at the same time throughout all the realm. It holds all the realm in position, as God holds the earth. Should God withdraw his hand, the earth would fall to pieces; should the king's authority cease in the realm, all would be in confusion." (Bossuet, 1679)

This belief in absolute authority, a megalomania of sorts, reinforced the monarch's stance on the nobility, as they represented a threat to his power and security on the throne.Nobles before Louis' reign were feudal lords, and had the means to raise private armies. This was because the lesser nobles acted as the king's agents and in his name collected taxes, posted edicts and dispensed justice. They and their overlords, the higher nobility, provided armies to the king in times of war as the kings before Louis did not possess a standing army of their own.

The higher nobles could also build their own fortifications, which gave them the power to hold their ground if they rose against the king.Louis realized that if the nobility continued to hold so much influence, not only will they tend to rebel and create disorder, he himself would be accorded the status of first among equals, and this he found totally ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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