Louis XIV - HISTORY
The reign of France's Louis XIV (), known as the Sun King, lasted for 72 years, longer than that of any other known European sovereign. In that time. The reign of Louis XIV is often referred to as “Le Grand Siècle” (the Great Century ), forever associated with the image of an absolute monarch and a strong. A field guide for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge of French antiques. How to Spot Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI Chairs. A field guide for.
All these events were witnessed by Louis and largely explained his later distrust of Paris and the higher aristocracy. It was not only that life became insecure and unpleasant — a fate meted out to many children in all ages — but that Louis had to be taken into the confidence of his mother and Mazarin and political and military matters of which he could have no deep understanding". The Fronde years planted in Louis a hatred of Paris and a consequent determination to move out of the ancient capital as soon as possible, never to return.
Unlike that which preceded it, tales of sordid intrigue and half-hearted warfare characterized this second phase of upper-class insurrection. To the aristocracy, this rebellion represented a protest against and a reversal of their political demotion from vassals to courtiers. Queen Anne played the most important role in defeating the Fronde because she wanted to transfer absolute authority to her son.
In addition, most of the princes refused to deal with Mazarin, who went into exile for a number of years.
The Frondeurs claimed to act on Louis' behalf, and in his real interest against his mother and Mazarin. The Fronde thus gradually lost steam and ended inwhen Mazarin returned triumphantly from exile.
From that time until his death, Mazarin was in charge of foreign and financial policy without the daily supervision of Anne, who was no longer regent.
While Mazarin might have been tempted for a short period of time to marry his niece to the King of France, Queen Anne was absolutely against this; she wanted to marry her son to the daughter of her brother, Philip IV of Spainfor both dynastic and political reasons. Mazarin soon supported the Queen's position because he knew that her support for his power and his foreign policy depended on making peace with Spain from a strong position and on the Spanish marriage.
Additionally, Mazarin's relations with Marie Mancini were not good, and he did not trust her to support his position. All of Louis' tears and his supplications to his mother did not make her change her mind; the Spanish marriage was very important both for its role in ending the war between France and Spain, and because many of the claims and objectives of Louis' foreign policy in the next 50 years would be based on this marriage.
On the death of Mazarin, in MarchLouis assumed personal control of the reins of government and astonished his court by declaring that he would rule without a chief minister: It is now time that I govern them myself.
You [he was talking to the secretaries and ministers of state] will assist me with your counsels when I ask for them. I request and order you to seal no orders except by my command.
Louis XIV of France - Wikipedia
I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport. Praising his ability to choose and encourage men of talent, the historian Chateaubriand noted: Inthe treasury verged on bankruptcy.
However, Louis first had to neutralize Nicolas Fouquetthe Superintendent of Financesin order to give Colbert a free hand. Although Fouquet's financial indiscretions were not very different from Mazarin's before him or Colbert's after him, his ambition was worrying to Louis. The court was left with the impression that the vast sums of money needed to support his lifestyle could only have been obtained through embezzlement of government funds.
These acts sealed his doom. Fouquet was charged with embezzlement. The Parlement found him guilty and sentenced him to exile. However, Louis altered the sentence to life-imprisonment and abolished Fouquet's post. With Fouquet dismissed, Colbert reduced the national debt through more efficient taxation. The principal taxes included the aides and douanes both customs dutiesthe gabelle a tax on saltand the taille a tax on land.
The taille was reduced at first; financial officials were forced to keep regular accounts, auctioning certain taxes instead of selling them privately to a favored few, revising inventories and removing unauthorized exemptions for example, in only 10 per cent from the royal domain reached the King.
A day in the life of Louis XIV | Palace of Versailles
Reform proved difficult because the taille was levied by officers of the Crown who had purchased their post at a high price: Nevertheless, excellent results were achieved: The interest on the debt was reduced from 52 million to 24 million livres. The taille was reduced to 42 million in and 35 million in ; finally the revenue from indirect taxation progressed from 26 million to 55 million. The revenues of the royal domain were raised from 80, livres in to 5. Inthe receipts were equivalent to 26 million British pounds, of which 10 million reached the treasury.
The expenditure was around 18 million pounds, leaving a deficit of 8 million. Inthe net receipts had risen to 20 million pounds sterlingwhile expenditure had fallen to 11 million, leaving a surplus of 9 million pounds.
Louis XIV of France
Engraving of Louis XIV To support the reorganized and enlarged army, the panoply of Versailles, and the growing civil administration, the king needed a good deal of money. Finance had always been the weak spot in the French monarchy: Consequently, the state always received far less than what the taxpayers actually paid. The main weakness arose from an old bargain between the French crown and nobility: Only the "unprivileged" classes paid direct taxes, and this term came to mean the peasants only, since many bourgeois, in one way or another, obtained exemptions.
The system was outrageously unjust in throwing a heavy tax burden on the poor and helpless. Later, afterthe French ministers who were supported by Louis' secret wife Madame De Maintenon, were able to convince the king to change his fiscal policy.
Louis was willing enough to tax the nobles but was unwilling to fall under their control, and only towards the close of his reign, under extreme stress of war, was he able, for the first time in French history, to impose direct taxes on the aristocratic elements of the population.
This was a step toward equality before the law and toward sound public finance, but so many concessions and exemptions were won by nobles and bourgeois that the reform lost much of its value.
The ensuing war, fought on both hemispheres, lasted from to ; France emerged with most of its territory intact but its resources severely strained.
Descendants of Louis XIV of France
The long conflict plunged a famine-ridden France into massive debt, turning public opinion against the crown. Inthe devoutly Catholic king revoked the Edict of Nantes, issued by his grandfather Henry IV inwhich had granted freedom of worship and other rights to French Protestants known as Huguenots.
With the Edict of Fontainebleau, Louis ordered the destruction of Protestant churches, the closure of Protestant schools and the expulsion of Protestant clergy.
Protestants would be barred from assembling and their marriages would be deemed invalid. Baptism and education in the Catholic faith would be required of all children. Roughly 1 million Huguenots lived in France at the time, and many were artisans or other types of skilled workers.
Although emigration of Protestants was explicitly forbidden by the Edict of Fontainebleau, scores of people—estimates range fromto ,—fled in the decades that followed, settling in England, Switzerland, Germany and the American colonies, among other places. His reign had lasted 72 years, longer than that of any other known European monarch, and left an indelible mark on the culture, history and destiny of France.
His 5-year-old grandson succeeded him as Louis XV.