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Biography of Louis XIV of France | Absolute monarch

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Embodiment of monarchical absolutism, his reign gave France the European hegemony and extraordinary cultural and artistic splendour.
That was raised to the height of a God above the nobility, as owner and Lord of the person and property of nineteen millions of French, was born September 5, 1638 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. His father, Luis XIII, and his mother, Ana de Austria, interpreted as a sign of good omen that his son was born already with two teeth, which perhaps presaged the power of the future King to dam on its neighbors beat once the Crown. Dead his father in 1643, when the dolphin was four years and eight months, Ana de Austria decided to exercise the Regency and entrusted the Government of the State and the education of the child to Cardinal Mazarino, successor in another valid excellent real favor: the skilful Cardinal Richelieu. Thus, it was Mazarin who instilled the sense of royalty to the heir and taught him that he should learn to please men that they not should serve him. There is no doubt that Luis responded positively to such lessons for Mazarin wrote: "There is in him enough qualities to form several great kings and a great man."

Louis XIV
That privileged infante was going to live an unforgettable experience between 1648 and 1653. The civil strife of la Fronda, so-called by analogy with the playground of the fronde (honda) took place in those years. The mismanagement of Mazarin and the creation of new taxes first aroused protests by the so-called parliamentarians in Paris, prestigious lawyers registered and authorized the laws and were in charge of it were followed. Mazarin did detain Broussel, one of its leaders, causing the revolt of the capital and the flight of the Royal family to the thrust of the crowds. It was the beginning of the civil war.
To quell the rebellion, the Prime Minister called the troops of the Prince de Condé, the Grand Master of France and national hero; MPs give up immediately, but Earl took his success to claim numerous honors. When Mazarin did stop in January 1650, the nobility rose against the court giving rise to the second Fronde, that of the Princes.
The lack of agreement between the rebels would decide his failure, but that didn't stop that for months the populace inherit again in Paris; the Queen Mother and her family, return to the Palace of the Louvre, had to endure a night, after spread the word that the young monarch was there, the mob invaded his Chambers and precipitating into the bedroom where the child lay motionless in his bed, completely dress under the blankets and pretending to be asleep: before the rosy face surrounded by chestnut loops the anger of the people disappeared suddenly and was replaced by a murmur of approval. Then, all left the Palace as good subjects, praying to God with all my heart to protect her young Prince.

Cardinal Mazarino
Those events left a deep mark on the young Louis. Became convinced that it was necessary to move from the Government of the nation the plain people, who had dared to invade your bedroom, as well as the nobility, permanent enemy of the monarchy. As for the notables of the homeland, members of Parliament, judges and lawyers, decided that he would keep them always under the absolute power of the Crown, without allowing them the minor discrepancy.
Louis XIV was declared a major in 1651 and June 7, 1654, after the hurricane of fronds, was crowned King of France at Reims Cathedral. From that moment, his political formation and its preparation in statesmanship intensified. Every day it shipped with Mazarin and together examined the Affairs of State. He realized that he was going to sacrifice her life to politics, but he did not care: "the office of King is great, noble and delicious when you feel worthy and capable of carrying out all the things to which it has committed."
It is not surprising, then, that perfectly understand their obligation to marry the Spanish infanta Teresa María de Austria, daughter of Felipe IV of Spain, because thus the interests of France demanded it. According to the peace of the Pyrenees, Treaty signed in 1659 between the two countries, the dowry of Princess should pay within a certain period. If payment is not made, the Princess would retain their right to the Spanish throne. The wily Mazarin knew that Spain was practically ruined and that it would be very difficult to collect the dowry, which Luis XIV could claim, through his wife, the Spanish Netherlands and even the throne of Spain. The sovereign never met the Queen too prim and devout, but it fulfilled all its obligations and commitments as husband. At least during the first years of their marriage.

Wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Teresa of Austria
March 9, 1661, Mazarin ceased to exist. Had the time to exercise full sovereignty. Louis XIV wrote in his diary: 'suddenly, I understood that it was King. For that he was born. A sweet celebration I immediately invaded". When officials respectfully asked him who was going to be his Prime Minister, the sovereign replied: "I. I ordered them not to sign anything, even a passport, without my consent. They must keep me informed of everything that happens and no favor to anyone."

Absolute monarch

With his words, Luis XIV had just found the absolute monarchy in France, according to a concept whose dissemination would ensure: that of despotism by divine right. Ministerial omnipotence that since 1624, under Richelieu and Mazarin, had laid the foundations of French power, was now subsumed into the Royal authority. Since then, neither the Queen Mother and other dignitaries returned to be summoned to any meeting of the Councils of State. The monarch only invited the ministerial triad formed by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, François-Michel Le Tellier, Marquis de Louvais, and Hugues de Lionne. Inseparable from the King, met two or three times a week on reserved councils presided over this, showing that he had a personality and strength sufficient to control the Central Government bodies. Thus, the year 1661 marked the advent of a new era in France and in Europe, that of the absolute monarchy.
Another great effect of Luis XIV that year coup was the arrest of Nicolas Fouquet, Superintendent of finances of Mazarin, whom the King considered too rich and powerful, and capable therefore become successor of cardinal. In an act of theatrical affirmation of the power, he arrested in Nantes, on 5 September, on charges of embezzling public funds. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the fortress of Pinerolo, Fouquet was since then a warning for those who served or were serving the King. Thus the Royal authority rose even more, giving it the fullness of powers which was Richelieu Luis XIII delegation: the King saw himself as a representative of God on Earth and as a being infallible, since his power came him of God.

A young Luis XIV (oil's)
Charles Le Brun, c. 1661)
Methodical spirit and professional awareness, Luis XIV aimed to incarnate to France in his single person, by means of the absolute centralization, passive obedience and the Royal personality cult. Everything was under his control, from theological disputes until the last detail of the ceremony. The stiff label imposed on the Court was in their hands an instrument of Government. After having starred in eleven wars in forty years, the power of the nobles became dependent on the ability to demonstrate in court to the King. From that moment they would cease to be an essential factor in French politics to crystallize into a social class parasitic, selfish and prone to snobbery. In the same way that Luis XIV century marked the apogee of the courtly life, reduced to nobility close moral and economic dependence of the figure of the King.
His reign was designated by the ostentation and the euphoria, especially in the early years, when they sparkled in the comedy Molière and Lully opera, and the own Luis danced dressed as God of Olympus, for solace of the ladies. The Queen Mother and the circle of devotees of the Court were shocked to see that marriage had not dimmed the passion of the King for sexual adventures. Queen María Teresa, low and plump, spoke with difficulty the French and lived almost ignored, but in Perpetual Adoration of her husband, which would give six children, all who died in childhood, with the exception of the great Dauphin. When the Queen died in 1683, Luis said: «Here is the first despite the fact that resulted in me». All gave him the reason.
The regime of official mistresses had begun shortly after their wedding, when the King established a close relationship with his sister-in-law madame Henrietta, Duchess of Orléans and, to avoid scandal, took lover to a Lady of honour of this, Louise de La Vallière. He was a shy girl and something lame, sixteen-year-old, which gave him three illegitimate children would be raised by the wife of Colbert.

The Marquise de Montespan
In 1667, La Vallière was replaced by François-Athénaïs de Rochechuart, the splendid Marquise de Montespan, who dominated the King and the Court as the real sultana of the celebrations of Versailles for ten years. Their numerous births (seven in total) were subject of the Parliament which legitimized the four sons of bastards who survived. Finally, tired of their Angers and his jealousy, the King separated it when the Marquise was involved in the so-called case of poisons, a dream scandal involving a large number of personalities, who were accused of witchcraft and murder.

Expansionism and war

Louis XIV was always considered the war as the natural vocation of a great King, and it subordinated the national economy, with the ultimate goal of imposing the French supremacy in the West. His Minister Colbert provided him with the material means to their businesses, with reforms in finance and the successful of industry and trade protectionist measures. The economic revolution that took place allowed him to build an army capable of making France the most powerful State in Europe. This task was instrumental in the reorganization of the troops by Le Tellier, which concentrated the military authority to create a true Royalist Army, whose troops rose from 72,000 to 400,000 men.
Since the death of his father-in-law Felipe IV in 1665, Louis had begun a legal battle to claim the Spanish Netherlands in his wife's name, and it had published the treaty rights of the Queen. Shortly after the 21 may 1667, with the formidable machine of war created by Le Tellier, it invaded the Flemish territories, taking over the most important squares of the border, in the midst of a real military walk. Restless before the French thrust, England allied itself with the Netherlands and Sweden in the Triple Alliance, (known by the Nom de guerre of return) race changed course, ending with the 1668 peace of Aachen, by which Spain recovered Besançon and France Lossing of Flanders. This was the beginning of a series of conflagrations that lasted throughout his reign.

Louis XIV in the war of return (oil on canvas by Le Brun)
After four years of preparations, Luis determined the time take revenge on Holland, partly also by hatred to the bourgeois Republicans who monopolized the sea had come. Lionne Minister obtained an active support in English, through the Alliance with Carlos II, and the neutrality of Sweden and Brandenburg, Bavaria. In the spring of 1672 a powerful army of 200,000 men, commanded by the King in person, went through the bishopric of Liège and invaded Holland, conquering it in a few weeks. The effective help of the English fleet contributed to the victory, and Luis returned triumphantly to Paris.
But the Dutch are supported in the main enemy of France, the Prince Guillermo de Orange, who ordered the levees break to stop the invading army, at the same time that Admiral Ruyter defeated the fleet Anglo-French. Netherlands resistance resulted in isolating France from its former allies, which forced Louis to renunciation of their claims about the Netherlands. The long war ended with the Treaty of Nijmegen, signed in 1678, by which the Sun King became the arbiter of Europe: he was resigning to Flanders, but consolidated the borders of North and East, and obtained from Spain the Franche-Comté.

The Christian King

Forty-year-old Luis XIV had reached the height of its military and political fortune. Arrogant as any other sovereign, Paris called it the great and in court was the object of worship. Important changes have occurred in that time. After having separated from Mme de Montespan, fearful of poisons scandal arruinase its reputation, the King openly abandoned the pleasures and imposed mercy on the Court. In his image, the former Libertines became devotees, a veil of decency overlaid ostentation, play and entertainment, who in his (not at all complete) disappearance left place to the boredom and hypocrisy.
The hypocrites are so reacomodaron to the new moderate and methodical Court of Versailles, which was secretly a new sovereign: Mme de Maintenon. She was the widow of the satirical poet Paul Scarron, and had been the housekeeper of the children held by the King with Mme de Montespan, before becoming the new favorite. Shortly after dying Queen María Teresa, in 1683 he married secretly the King in a ceremony blessed by the Archbishop of Paris. The wedding meant a new stage in the life of Luis XIV, which definitively laid head, preparing for an old age worthy and righteous, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

Madame de Maintenon
The influence of madame de Maintenon, Huguenot converted to Catholicism, was instrumental in the devotion of the King, that, despite possessing only a varnish of religiosity (their Christianity was based on «fear of hell»), he wanted to impose on the United unit of the Catholic faith and Protestantism saw as an offense to the King all. A wave of mass conversions, obtained through violence, which, the 18 October 1685, the revocation of the edict of Nantes, which Enrique IV had authorized Calvinism at the end of the previous century is then unleashed. Schools were closed, demolished temples and amphitheaters shepherds, while the exodus of thousands of Protestants to the Netherlands was creating pockets of hostility towards the King. Louis XIV thus joined their natural enemies the world of reform.
England, Germany and Austria joined in the Grand Alliance to resist French expansionism. The resulting war lasted long, extending between 1688 and 1697, years in which Luis XIV was unable to obtain the military victory that sought and Europe was gradually be imposed on France, above all by the determination of Guillermo III, the soul of the coalition. William III had proposed the Elimination of the hegemony of the Sun King in the continent and the implementation of religious tolerance. The peace of Ryswick brought an end to the conflict through a series of covenants which meant the first kick in the imperial road of Luis XIV: Lorraine was restored to Duke Leopoldo; Luxembourg to Spain; and Guillermo III was recognized as King of England, against Luis belief in the divine right of the Jacobo II Estuardo King to the English throne.

The war of succession

The testament of the last King Habsburgo of Spain, Carlos II the Bewitched, who died in 1700, he gave the imperial legacy Felipe of Anjou (Felipe V), grandson of Luis XIV. When the French monarch accepted testamentary clauses, returned to raise the dilemma: hegemony of France or continental balance, and its decision meant a declaration of war. All Europe wounded by the imperialist policy during the last thirty years rose again against the hegemony, and so France had to fight simultaneously against Austria, England and Holland. The fight was designated at the beginning by the victories of the Bourbons, but from 1708, the disasters of the war were so large that France was on the verge of losing all the territories conquered in the previous century, and Luis XIV was forced to ask for peace, especially after the disaster of Malplaquet. Humiliated on the battlefield, the King accepted the Treaty of Utrecht, by which France ceded Newfoundland, Acadia and Hudson Bay to England, although it retained the Crown of Spain.
The sacrifices of the war ruined the French State and undermined the absolutist regime of Luis XIV, already worn down by the economic and social crisis: the other side of the age of the Sun King was exhibited in the carnage, at the begging of the cities, in fear of the peasants to the Treasury, in the frequent riots and hunger and misery repressed with blood, of the desperate people, in the revolt of the servants against the Lords who raged everywhere. The trees bending under the weight of the hanged, commented undeterred madame de Sévigné, and complaints against the privileged rates rose everywhere.

Equestrian portrait of Luis XIV (c. 1704)
But the proud selfishness of the monarch remained immutable, despite the sadness of the military defeats and the great duels of his family: died in 1705 his great-grandson, the Duke of Brittany; in 1711, the great Dolphin; in 1712, his grandson Louis, Duke of Burgundy, the woman of this, María Adelaida de Saboya, and his second grandson, the second Duke of Brittany. As heir to the throne already had no more than a third grandson, the Duke of Anjou, who would reign with the name of Luis XV.
The King was old and took refuge in prayer and in the lap of his favorite. During the winter of 1709, there was a March against hunger between Paris and Versailles. For the first time since the fronds, Luis XIV heard the cries of protest from the crowd. Mme de Maintenon wrote: "the people of the people die as flies and, in the solitude of their rooms, King suffers from uncontrollable bouts of crying". Life at Versailles was soon losing its splendor and the huge halls, once full of laughter, became an icy stagehands without life. In a few years, Luis XIV was transformed into a defeated, melancholy and especially sick man. Thanks to the Journal de santé of the King, happily preserved, we know he suffered from colds, headaches, stomach, diarrhoea, worms, fevers, boils, rheumatism and gout, which gives an account of how his imposing physique was broken. In August 1715 he complained of pain in the legs. At the end of the month some horrific black spots appeared on the calves. Physicians, livid, was diagnosed with gangrene.
The monarch knew that it was going to die and received the news with extraordinary fortitude. After devoting a few days to arrange their affairs and say goodbye to his family, called next to his bed to the dolphin, his great-grandson and future Luis XV. The dying Overlord gave his Kingdom with these words: "are you going to be a great King. Do not imitate my love for buildings or my love for the war. You try to live in peace with your neighbors. You never forget your duty nor your duties to God and make sure that your subjects honor him. Accept good advice and follow them. It tries to improve the fate of your people, given that I, unfortunately, was not able to do it." On 1 September 1715, Luis XIV ceased to exist. His last words were: "I'm going. France is enough." He had ruled for sixty-four years, being his longest reign in the history of Europe.

Louis XIV and Molière, the great playwright
With him disappeared the ultimate example of the absolute monarchy and a King who had momentarily led France to its Summit. His reign, compared by Voltaire to the of the Roman Emperor Augustus, enabled an extraordinary flourishing of letters, which comprised the most different fields of thought and creation: Corneille, Racine and Molière unveiled its theatre; La Fontaine wrote his Fables; Pascal wrote their thoughts and La Rochefoucauld its maxims. The reason, clarity and formal balance were imposed as fundamental criteria for art; from France, classicism would radiate throughout Europe. Louis XIV was the main customer of the artists, and so was born a 'Luis XIV style' perfect harmony; his penchant for decorative geometry prevailed in parks and gardens; the new architecture found its ultimate expression in Versailles, where marble range of spaces and the stranglehold of symmetry were a tribute to the undisputed Royal authority, being that it is recognized as the representative of God on Earth. However, the Bishop Massillon thus concluded the funeral oration of Luis XIV: "God is great!".

Chronology of Louis XIV of France

1638Born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris (France).
1643Death of his father, King Luis XIII. His mother, Ana de Austria, passes to the Regency and entrusted the tasks of Government to Cardinal Mazarino.
1648-53Power uprisings of the Fronde.
1654It is crowned King at the Cathedral of Reims. As his mother, Cardinal Mazarino it delegates the tasks of Government.
1659Clashes with Spain ends with the signing of the peace of the Pyrenees.
1660He married Teresa María de Austria, daughter of Felipe IV of Spain.
1661After the death of Cardinal Mazarino, personally assumes the Government: beginning of the absolute monarchy.
1667-68Return of war.
1668Signing of the peace of Aachen. France obtains part of Flanders.
1672-78War of Holland.
1678Signing of the Treaty of Nijmegen, awarded France territorial and commercial advantages.
1682Transfer of the Court to the new Palace of Versailles.
1683Death of Maria Teresa of Austria. He contracted a morganatic marriage with Madame de Maintenon.
1685It revokes the edict of Nantes, forcing the Huguenots to convert to Catholicism or go into exile.
1688-97War of the League of Augsburg or nine years.
1697Peace of Ryswick. France must return most of the occupied territories during the conflict.
1701-13War of succession.
1713Signature of the Treaty of Utrecht, which liquid French hegemony and restore the European balance.
1715Died in Versailles.

Louis XIV of France and his reign

Lights and shadows of a reign

Pierced glories and disasters, the excesses of the reign of Luis XIV, especially regarding the war, were terrible. However, despite the difficulties and errors and the relative success of the policy of prestige, France managed to take the lead of the European Nations. Longest reign resulted in the development of the administrative absolutism. The State obtained a power of intervention, decision and initiative that subjected progressive effectively to all subjects to an authority exercised in the name of the King, but which actually started the Council and its ministries and that the mayors applied in the provinces. Provincial and municipal institutions lost much of its autonomy for the benefit of the monarchical centralism.

Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV assimilated of the ideologues of the absolute monarchy, such as Bossuet, the divine conception of Regal power. The King considered is the executor of the will of God on Earth. Deeply steeped in these convictions and having assumed the duties involving, Luis XIV strove hard to extend his power in all the borders of his Kingdom and endow itself with a halo of glory that his Majesty rose up to heaven. He was a tireless worker, allowing him to impose a hitherto unusual control over the political and administrative life of the Kingdom, on society, culture and religion. In the exterior he shrewdly took the weakness of the House of Austria, in decline at the end of the 17TH century. This allowed him to spread successfully throughout Europe the notion that France was the new great power world, guided by a dynasty that he fallaciously go back to Charlemagne. To proclaim himself the most powerful monarch with an offensive ostentation for the rest of monarchies, and alarm that ambitions aroused in the rest of the powers, dreams of glory of the Sun King would end up disrupting its audacity.
Symbols of the absolutist monarchy of Luis XIV are unusual splendour of the courtly life and the magnificence of Versailles. The King organized a courtier cult to his person, as a method of public proclamation of his greatness. For Luis XIV celebrations and ceremonials were middle of the Affairs of State and wrote: "the town likes the show. He kept his spirit and his heart". In the ritual of the Court, often the King appeared dressed as their favorite characters: Mars, Apollo, the Sun... This ostentation was, beyond waste, an effective system of domestication of the nobility. The King invited nobles to live at the Court, seducing them with the possibility to get mercedes and enjoy the pleasures of courtiers, pushing them to waste their inheritances on Sumptuary expenses, what did they depend increasingly from the regia privanza. It was necessary to expand the domestic organs of the Court to accommodate the aristocrats who sought to remain in the Court circle. The nobles were dispossessed of the political power in Exchange for decoys of the monarchical cult.
Under his iron rule, France reached dimensions unknown until then. It replaced Italy in the forefront of the artistic creation thanks to the impulse given to the arts since the days of Luis XIII and Richelieu. Louis XIV brought the French art to its zenith: Corneille, Racine and Molière in the drama, Le Brun and Mignard in painting, Le Vau and Hardouin-Mansart in the architecture. Similar to the French Academy, who watched over the purity of the language, other academies were created: inscriptions or small Academy (1663), dedicated to the medals and Epigraphic inscriptions; Painting and sculpture (1664), Sciences (1666) and architecture (1671). The personal glory of the monarch was inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists. Louis XIV became Apollo or Alexander the great works of Le Brun, as an embodiment of the legendary Majesty. This was the time the creation of a truly French style, classicism, arisen from the transformation of the penetrated Italian art of the ideals of the monarchic despotism.

Along with Colbert in Academy of Sciences
Half a century after the death of Luis XIV, Voltaire confessed fascinated by the will to power and the sense of the Majesty of this sovereign. The enlightened philosopher to the famous phrase "the century of Louis XIV", used recursively for the time of monarchical absolutism. For historiography heir to the revolution of 1789, however, Luis XIV became the symbol of the wild and militaristic despotism.

Monarchical absolutism

The death of Mazarin in 1661 March led to Luis XIV to personally assume the reins of power. He was then twenty-two years and willingness to practice directly the State Government left astonished Court. The King wrote in his memoirs for the instruction of the Dolphin that his office was the most "noble, great and delicious", and was resolved to play it without the mediation of the already traditional valid.
The reform of the central administration undertaken by Luis XIV was due to his personal will focus on turning himself and his few colleagues of confidence Supreme government functions. The King inherited from Mazarin his main Ministers: Jean Baptiste Colbert, Michel Le Tellier, Hugues de Lionne and Nicolás Fouquet, who mostly remained in their posts for many years. In the course of his long reign, Luis XIV never appointed a Prime Minister.
The decisions of the King had force of law; they were the law itself, under a Royal absolutism which became paradigmatic, made at a time from the feudal tradition and Roman law. Louis XIV reduced the power of the traditional positions of the monarchy, as the Chancellor or the Constable; She kept away from the power to the nobility of blood and favoured the rise of plebeian officials and the new nobility output in the ranks of the bourgeoisie, earning, thus their fidelity. At the end of his life, the King himself thus explained this policy to his grandson and heir: "no I was interested in take men's most eminent position. First of all, it was necessary to establish my own reputation and to inform the people that, precisely by the rank they had, my intention was not to share my authority with them. What mattered to me was that they not whensoever greater hopes than that I give them, which is difficult for people of high wedge." Officials loyal to the King created real dynasties of bureaucrats who perpetuated themselves in the positions of Secretaries of State.
During the first twenty years of the reign the Court was travelling, the King retained their fear of youth to the tumult of Paris. The greater part of the year the monarch lived away from the capital, between the palaces of Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain or Chambord. Finally, he ordered the construction of a huge Palace in Versailles, near Paris, which would become the symbol par excellence of his greatness and the new aesthetic language linked ideologically to the monarchical absolutism most finished example.

The Palace of Versailles
Ministerial services and the King's House were installed at Versailles. The Court moved to the new Palace in 1682, although the works they didn't by concluded until the end of the reign. The first architectural project corresponded to Le Vau and was subsequently completed by Hardouin-Mansart, author of the famous gardens. The King personally supervised the construction of the Palace, leaving his personal mark on the architectural solutions of the most important work of French classicism. Louis XIV thus established a true aesthetic despotism in which he captured, along with his fondness for Italian art, ideological conceptions of the monarchy of divine right.
Louis XIV became true ministries administrative councils. The Conseil d' Haut or Supreme Council was the principal organ of Government. The Princes of blood and even the own mother Queen were excluded from it. It created new bodies for a monarchy that is increasingly more was a bureaucratic machine: the Conseil de Depeches for relations with the provinces, the Conseil des Finances, the Conseil de Justice or the general inspectorate of finance. To ensure the internal order and the fulfillment of the regia will, Luis XIV strengthened an efficient body of intendants, real instrument of repression of the monarchy. Get obedience to the monarchical authority in the interior and ensure French foreign hegemony and reputation were the essential policy of the Sun King rules.
The Administration
Colbert, former Mayor of Mazarin and man of great political intelligence, was his main adviser during much of the reign. Appointed controller general of finances, was responsible for the reorganization of the Finance Council and received the Secretaries of State of the Navy and the King's House. It depended on the mayors of provinces, Commerce, navigation, waters and forests and outlying colonies. To avoid the concentration of power in the hands of Colbert, Luis XIV delivered ministries of the army of land and foreign policy to other advisors.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Fiscal reform promoted by Colbert in the first years of the reign proved fruitless, the King refused to sacrifice its policy of prestige in order to restructure the finance. The Minister wanted to undertake a modernization of the economic structures of France by applying innovative mercantilist principles: he created the articles of State, gave privileges to private companies, improved management of forests, led to the construction of warships to protect the merchant fleet and the coasts and fostered the creation of commercial companies for the West Indies the Gulf of Guinea and the Baltic. Most of these measures failed to apply a little conducive international economic environment and collide with the traditional concept that the priorities of the State professed the French sovereign. France, however, was the richest in Europe power.
Colbertista policy had major successes domestically. The preservation of obedience to the monarchy meant the continued presence of agents of the central Government (officials and mayors) in all regions of the Kingdom. Thanks to the effective functioning of the system of intendencias, unused control exercised by the central State, public order was imposed that led to a retreat of private freedom and traditional public corporations. This resulted in a strengthening of the administrative character of the monarchy.

Religious policy

The sumptuousness of the Court masking serious difficulties of the internal government, particularly in religious matters. The unity of faith around the Catholic Church represented an essential role in the centralizing policy of the realm, as a guarantee of order and social stability, according to the conception of Luis XIV. Although close to the Holy See, the King wanted to consolidate the traditional independence of the monarchical gallicanism.
The extension to all the dioceses of a right that is reserved for the monarchy, the provision of benefits in certain dioceses raised a serious conflict with the Papacy, while raising the resistance of the Bishops of jansenist tendency. The King demanded that the extraordinary Assembly of the clergy convened for that purpose to collect systematized and expanded the galicana doctrine to deal with the papal claims. Emerged from this Assembly the so-called Declaration of four articles of 1682, condemned by Pope innocent XI and his successors and Luis XIV made to teach the seminars.
Religious unity meant also a new conflict with the Protestants. In the first years of his Government, Luis XIV maintained in force the edict of Nantes, which regulated the situation of Protestants in the interior of the Kingdom since 1598. But since 1669, there were successive measures that restricted religious freedom and met to strictly the provisions of the edict of Nantes, in terms of the limitation of the cultural activities of the Protestants. Apparently, after this sudden religious zeal of the King was its policy of prestige, that drove him to become champion of European Christianity, in competition with the recent winner, German Emperor of the Turks.
Between 1679 and 1685 is issued a series of edicts that liquidated legal guarantees of the edict of Nantes and triggered the military repression against the Huguenots. The provisions of Nantes were permanently revoked in 1685, by the edict of Fontainebleau. The consequences of this decision were disastrous: the social elite of the Protestants embarked on the path of exile, taking with them their fortunes and their know-how to their host, Brandenburg and the United provinces, countries while Protestant countries violently denounced the tyranny of Luis XIV.

Jacques Benigne Bossuet
On another front of action, King began the persecution of Jansenism. The austere moral and religious rigor practice recommended by this doctrine had achieved widespread in the Kingdom thanks to the works of godly writers, as Pasquier Quesnel, who harshly criticized the Royal absolutism. His ascent to the throne, Luis XIV took the papal bull of 1653 declaring the jansenist doctrine heretical. At the end of the reign the persecution escalated and the King asked the Pope the promulgation of the bull Unigenitus, condemning the doctrines of the Quesnel father. Parisian jansenist convent nuns acrimoniously resisted the dissolution of their communities, until in 1709 the last embers Jansenists of the capital were violently removed. The offensive against the moral insightful was led by very close to the monarchy bishops: Bossuet and Fénelon, who also erected a doctrine of mystical character, quietism, which received Royal support in his writings.
Foreign policy
Matter of historiographical controversy has been the issue if Luis XIV followed a program preset in its foreign policy from the beginning of his reign. According to some authors, this would be marked by two precise objectives: the definitive establishment of the borders of the Kingdom and the succession to the Spanish throne after the death of Carlos II. Both goals would aim to achieve the European hegemony for France.
In the case of the succession to the Spanish throne, Luis XIV began claiming the rights of his wife, the Spanish infanta Teresa María, whose dowry was never paid. The prenuptial agreement stated that, in Exchange for the dowry, the infanta would resign all of his rights to the Spanish Empire. Since the death of Felipe IV, in 1665, Luis XIV would seek territorial compensation claiming these rights. The clash with Spain was inevitable given the continuous territorial violations committed against Hispanic domains.

Louis XIV and Felipe V seal the
Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659)
In regards to borders, its configuration was very vague, even after the territorial accords of the peace of Westphalia and the Pyrenees. Louis XIV was desirous to extend his Kingdom up to what he considered its "natural borders", i.e., along all the Rhine to the East and the Flemish coast by the North; It was returned to France the limits of ancient Gaul. Although the King pursued both goals during his reign, we cannot affirm that its foreign policy follow specific lines of action. His biggest concern was undoubtedly his own glory, which identified with France, according to the famous sentence that is commonly attributed: "I am the State". Although Luis XIV never said such a thing, the phrase accurately summarizes their ideology.
Prestigious foreign policy involved the strengthening of the army. The war was the favorite resource of Luis XIV to impose its hegemony and the army claims an essential instrument of its policy. The King entrusted its administration and reform one of his most loyal aides, Michel Le Tellier, which would replace most late his son Louvois. Le Tellier introduced improvements in armament of infantry and cavalry, in the use of artillery and the provisioning of the fortresses. The Army became a weapon in the service of the monarchy and they were eliminated in part feudal ballasts which hindered him. At its head, Luis XIV kept the generals from the end of the reign of his father, Turenne and Condé, men of proven military skill.

Michel Le Tellier
By 1667 the French army, with about 72,000 men, was, both in number of personnel capacity offensive, than the rest of European armies. Successive contests served to test reforms and to start new ones. At the time that perfected the army, Colbert and subsequently his son, Seignelay, gave France a powerful Navy, with the systematic construction of ships of quality in the arsenals of Brest and Toulon. Engineer Vauban introduced in the border towns and ports a new system of fortifications that turned France into an almost impregnable territory. The permanent state of war forced to continuously increase the troops, by using the cams forced, very unpopular among the population. Although survived many of his old vices, Luis XIV army was the most effective of his time.

European races

The first phase of the reign, between 1661 and 1679, was characterized by successes in foreign policy, developed in the sense of the traditional Spanish-French rivalry. When in 1661 Luis XIV took charge of the Government, France had the Alliance outside of Sweden, England and the United provinces. As French sovereign had become the guarantor of the treaties of Westphalia and protector of the League of the Rhine, internal Alliance of several Imperial Princes. It had therefore a powerful clientele in Germany. This situation allowed him to undertake his offensive against the Spanish Empire.
The death of Felipe IV, Luis XIV claimed the Spanish Netherlands as part of the inheritance of his wife, Teresa María, starting in 1667, a war that was invoked the "right of return", so it is known to the conflict as a war of return. Louis XIV took possession of eleven villas border in the North, including Lille. The King sought to isolate Spain with the formation of a triple alliance with Sweden, the United provinces and England, ensuring the neutrality of the Empire. But for reasons religious, political and, above all, economic rivalry with the United provinces was difficult to overcome. The war ended with the peace of Aachen in 1668. Peace was the result of pressure from England and Holland, alarmed by the French successes despite the international isolation that Luis XIV had gotten placed Spain. The agreements handed to France part of Flanders and momentarily returned to Spain the Franche-Comté, conquered during the war.
After four years of diplomatic preparation, in 1672, Luis XIV finally opened an offensive armed against the United provinces. In a few weeks the advance of the French army forced the Flemish to ask for peace. Conditions imposed by France were so harsh that provoked a revolt in the Hague, the fall of the Government Republican of Jan de Witt and the coming to power of the statuder Guillermo de Orange, that would become one of the most Ionians enemies of Luis XIV: in addition to interest you greatly eliminate the French hegemony, William incarnates in his person a parliamentary monarchy in politics and tolerant in what cultural-religioso ideas diametrically opposing absolutism and intransigence of Luis XIV.

Louis XIV before Maastricht (Pierre Mignard, 1673)
A coalition between the United provinces, Spain, the Emperor and the Duke of Lorraine was then formed. The theatre of operations moved from the provinces to the Spanish Netherlands, Franche-Comté and Alsace. The novelty was the development of the French Navy, with the war of brackets and the corso. The Flemish and Spanish fleets suffered serious setbacks in the Mediterranean near Sicily, occupied by French troops.
The war ended with the peace of Nijmegen, which guaranteed territorial advantages to France. Louis XIV obtained the Franche-Comté, numerous places in Hainaut, in maritime Flanders and in Artois, which gave a continuous stroke to the northeast border of France. In Lorraine, Nancy was handed over to French rule and the Alsace region was subject to direct administration. Established a trade treaty with the United Provinces favouring competition in the French market. However, peace followed the violent annexations of territories by France, which invoked the rights proclaimed by the meeting chambers created to this end, and were advised the annexation of Strasbourg and Alsace, as well as numerous Spanish squares. Isolated again, Spain embarked on the war (1683-1684), ending with the loss of part of Luxembourg and other border places, like Casal, in the truce of Ratisbon.

The war of the League of Augsburg

After the first international successes, it is usually noted in the reign of Luis XIV a long period of decline which lasted until the death of the King in 1715. In this period were the two great wars of coalition that would call into question the French hegemony on the continent: the League of Augsburg or the nine years (1688-1697) and the succession to the throne of Spain (1700-1713). Two conflicts of long duration which coincided with moments of economic crisis (famine of 1693 and 1709) and produced unusual military setbacks until then.
After 1684, the triumph of France alarmed the rest of the powers and particularly to the German princes, determined to keep agreements of Westphalia. They began to draw defensive alliances. French Prestige had suffered a severe setback when the German Emperor Leopold beat the Turks threatening Vienna, thus becoming the new Savior of Western Christendom. Papa Inocencio XI had launched an appeal to the French sovereign so join the Grand Alliance of Poles, Germans and Italians and directed, as most powerful Prince in Europe, this new crusade armies. Louis XIV rejected the offer, calculating a dream defeat of the Allied forces which would serve to weaken the military prestige of the Empire. However, the Allied troops defeated the Turks and the glory of Luis XIV was momentarily tarnished by this affair.
The impatience of Luis XIV to transform into definitive territorial agreements what is agreed in the Regensburg truces and their fear that the Empire would be against France after finished the war against the Turks led to the outbreak of war widespread in the continent in 1688. At the time that increased hostility with the German principalities, were deteriorating relations with England. The economic and colonial rivalry of both Nations made impossible an effective Alliance. The progress of French colonization in America and especially in Canada, the competence of the trade in the Islands and the new French commercial establishments in the India did move to England's traditional alliance with France, maintained during the Stuart period.

The army of Luis XIV crossing the Rhine,
of Joseph Parrocel
The 25 September 1688, Luis XIV launched a manifesto calling for the transformation of truces in a final Treaty within the period of two months, at the time who ordered the invasion and devastation of the Palatinate. This led to the union of Europe against France. The promoter of the Alliance was the Flemish statuder Guillermo de Orange, who had raised against his father-in-law, Jacobo II of England, the English revolution of 1688 and had become a recognized King associated with his wife María II. Along with England and the United provinces, the Emperor, Spain and Savoy joined the coalition.
The war was long, and the French obtained the greatest triumphs (Fleurus, 1690;) Steinkerque, 1692; Neerwinden, 1693), although there were also defeats as Boyne in 1690 and the naval battle of the Hogue in 1692, which ruined the French fleet. Brussels was bombed terribly in 1695. The peace of Turin (1696) with the Duke of Savoy allowed Luis XIV the offensive against the Spanish domains; Brussels threatened and took Barcelona in 1697. Previously the French army, led by Vandome, had conquered Ripoll, roses and Palamós. In 1697, Cartagena de Indias was conquered by Pointis.
The depletion of France, despite their victories, the impossibility of inflicting a final defeat of the allies and the Spanish succession problem forced Luis XIV to sign a disadvantageous peace of Ryswick (1697). France handed over the achievements obtained during the war, but retained Strasbourg, key plaza for the defense of the Spanish Netherlands, and got rich Saar Valley. He recognized Guillermo de Orange as King of England and evacuated the fortresses in the Netherlands.

The war of succession

In 1668, Luis XIV had signed a secret agreement with Emperor Leopoldo I which envisaged the future distribution of the Spanish monarchy in the likely case that Carlos II died childless. The emperor would receive the whole of the monarchy; the Netherlands, Navarra, roses, Franche-Comté, Naples, Sicily, the squares of Morocco, and the Philippines would be handed over to France.
The death without heirs of the Spanish King in 1700, the succession of the throne was open. Access to the Spanish Crown would resolve the question of hegemony over Europe, which could lie both in France and the Empire. Few European States were favourable to the establishment of a new territorial hegemony, so monarchies candidates to divide up the loot Spanish traced agreements 1698 and 1700 on the partition of the inheritance of the Spanish Habsburgs.
Finally, the Spanish Council of State decided that Luis XIV was the only one who could guarantee the territorial integrity of the Spanish monarchy and gave the succession to Felipe of Anjou, grandson of the French sovereign, with the condition that the French and Spanish crowns will never join. The testament of Carlos II was challenged by the Emperor, who defended the rights of succession of the Archduke Carlos de Austria. Louis XIV asked opinion to its Council and Madame de Maintenon before deciding whether or not Carlos accepted the testament of the deceased. There was a risk of a war with the Emperor, strengthened following the signing of a peace agreement with the Turks. On the other hand, England could return to the Alliance Française if Luis XIV renounced any territorial advantage in Spain.
However, the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy was a succulent morsel, mainly by the possibilities offered to trade in the Atlantic. Security that the Spanish Empire would be submitted to the French influence with the enthronement of the Bourbons, guaranteeing French hegemony in the continent, displaced in the will of Luis XIV the desirability of avoiding a war that would undoubtedly be long and expensive. The King accepted the succession of Felipe de Anjou, violating provisions of the testament of Carlos II by declaring him also heir to the throne of France, at the time that came to occupy the Netherlands.

William III of England
The rest of the powers lined up to prevent French hegemony. William III of England concluded, before his death, the great Alliance of the Hague with Anthonius Heinsius, great pension in the Netherlands, and the Emperor Leopold i. later Savoy and Portugal adhered to it. At the head of the Coalition, experienced military leaders: the own Heinsius, Prince Eugenio de Saboya, winner of the Turks, and Marlborough, prestigious general and skillful diplomat. However, France could count on the support of Spain and of the Princes electors of Cologne and Bavaria.
Louis XIV tried to take Vienna, attacking from Italy and the Valley of the Danube, without success. French troops defeated the allies in Höchstädt in 1703, but the following year, and in the same place, the franco-bavaro army suffered a heavy defeat from the hands of the Prince of Savoy and Marlborough. Since then followed setbacks for France: Belgium and many of the cities of the northern border, as well as the Milan, were lost while Naples fell into the hands of the Archduke Charles, recognized as King of Spain by the allies and installed in Barcelona.
In the spring of 1709 Luis XIV resigned is to ask for peace, offering the resignation to Lille and Strasbourg. But the demands of the allies were too dishonorable for the Sun King, who decided to continue the war. The battle of Malplaquet took undecided results. In 1710, they returned to initiate peace negotiations that did not definitive agreements. The continuation of the fight was advantageous for France: Spain Vendome got the victory of Villaviciosa (1710) and Villars snatched the Prince of Savoy Paris in Denain (1712) route.
However, the resolution of the conflict took place more by the emergence of a new political situation that by force of arms. In 1711, the election of Charles as Emperor arquiduque awoke the fear of a new hegemony of Habsburg in England if they obtained the throne of Spain. Separate peace and trade agreements obtaining seemed preferable. In Utrecht, in 1713, the Spanish monarchy was partitioned: Felipe de Borbón sit on the Spanish throne as Felipe V and would get the domain of the colonies, while the English got identical trade privileges agreed with France and the occupation of Gibraltar law. Louis XIV was resigning to Newfoundland, Acadia and the fortifications of Dunkerque. Peace was concluded definitively in Rastadt the following year. France recovered Strasbourg and obtained Landau. In Exchange, he had to give up the dynastic union of France and Spain.
The war of succession greatly weakened Luis XIV. The peace agreements constituted a waiver of the policy advocated by Luis XIV, consisting to achieve the natural borders of France (Rhine, the Pyrenees and the Alps). Only partially she got, since the Netherlands and Rhineland escaped to the French domain. The European hegemony of France was so frustrated by the Coalition wars. The new alliance between France and England, the two European powers, could guarantee a lasting peace and neutralize the power of the two regions at which for so long had been the war: Empire and Italy. On the death of the King in 1715, French hegemony was succeeded by the European balance already started in the peace of Westphalia.
The economy
One of the priority objectives of Luis XIV was sanitation and enrichment of the Royal Treasury. His Finance Minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, translated this objective in a mercantilism of imperialist cut that left aside the agricultural progress and encouraged primarily manufacturing and mercantile traffic. The King himself not centered interests in the country's economic prosperity, but in his own aggrandizement, so very often the Minister economic projects were subject to the grandiose dreams of the monarch. Developed by this policy of prestige was enormously burdensome to the coffers of the monarchy and, despite the colbertiano program and the implementation of numerous tariff and monetary Ordinances, the income of the Treasury were entirely insufficient to meet the ambitions of the King. Commercial companies and State-funded manufacturing firms were phased out.
The great economic effort which required the continuous state of war forced the monarchy to look for new sources of revenue. During the war of the League of Augsburg, the lack of liquidity prompted one of the successors of Colbert, the count of Pontchartrain, to carry out several monetary manipulations and to ask for increasingly important contributions of the clergy and the provincial States. A new poll tax was established in 1695 and attempted to distribute to taxpayers in classes to ensure a more equitable and cost-effective tax deal. However, this measure was arbitrary and ineffective. The finances of the King barely could hold the fight for the Spanish succession, despite a new poll in 1701 and some ingenious innovations, like paper money. The creation of income and sales of crafts, with some success at the beginning multiplied.
The economy suffered the consequences of the crises of subsistence that recurred throughout the reign, such as the great famine of 1693, which seems that it affected a significant income from the Royal Treasury. After the war, the resurgence of the country was however fast, encouraged by the growth of trade. Fiscal surveys ordered the intendants in 1697 to provide income for the Duke of Burgundy, eldest son of the Dauphin, allowed the Royal Council to prepare future hacendisticas reforms. These surveys reveal a wide regional economic inequality. In the Atlantic ports were accused during the period a great growth in trade. Although the Treasury was exhausted by the demands of the foreign policy of the King, a slow take-off of the economy can be seen from the beginning of the 18th century, thanks to the assumption of the mercantilist ideas by the major maritime trade.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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