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Absolutism Personified

The Rise of Sovereignty
Louis XIV: Absolutism personified
r. 1643-1715
During the later Middle
Ages, kings and
powerful lords imposed
greater order in their
Where these kings
succeeded, strong
dynastic states
Where the monarchs
failed, as they did in
the Holy Roman
Empire and Italy, no
viable states evolved
until the 1860’s.
Medieval French kings:
Established an efficient
bureaucracy staffed by
members of the bourgeoisie
and lesser noblility
Levied taxes
Maintained a standing army
Served as a unifying symbol
during the 100 Years War
Claimed Divine Right
BUT: could not exercise
absolute power
Francis I (1515-1547)
concluded an agreement
with Pope Leo X
(Concordant of Bologna)
permitting the king of
France to nominate and
therefore appoint his
choice of Bishops to the
French church (the
Gallican church.
• Henry IV (1589“Paris is
well worth a
Louis XIV:1638-1715
Reigned: 1643-1715
The Sun King - from his
own chosen emblem:
The Sun in Splendor
In his memoirs, Louis wrote:
“I chose the sun because
of the unique quality of its
radiance... the good it
does is everywhere,
endlessly creating joy.”
"The State is the
King and I am
the King“ L'etat c'est moi
Louis XIII
Anne of Austria
PM 1624 - 1642
• First modern
Prime Minister
• “raison d'etat”
• Broke power of
the nobility
• Created
• Harrassed
Cardinal Mazarin,
PM -1643-1661
b- Giulio Mazzarini
“Suave and charming”
“Ostentatious to a fault”
Queen Anne, as Regent,
allowed him unquestioned
dominance over young
Le Fronde, 1648-1653
Jean-Baptiste Colbert,
• Favorable balance of trade
• Self-sufficient
• Govt subsidies to establish
new industries
• Abolished internal
tariffs/raised external
• Forbid exportation of
• Built roads and canals
• Expanded navy
• Created “standards of
excellence” of everything
Economic policy of Mercantilism
The Palace of Versailles, 1662-1682
12 miles outside of Paris; took over 20 years to complete with 36,000 laborers
and 6,000 horses- 1400 fountains, 1000 orange trees Louis moved in in 1684
The Hall of Mirrors, 225 ft long!
Scholars today
suggest that Louis'
most brilliant policy
was when he
dismissed aristocrats
as prominent
advisors to him, thus
reducing their
political power and
influence in the
Domestic policies
Edict of Nantes
Lettres de cachet
The “Old Bargain”
Tax Farmers
His absolutist rule functioned
well because he had:
>the complicity of the aristocracy
>the Church's support from the
>an effective and huge military
Foreign Policy-War
The 1st Dutch War, 1667-1668
The 2nd Dutch War, 1672-1678
War with the League of Augsberg, 1688-1697
War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1713
• *** For 46 of his 72 year reign France was at war – goal: secure
natural boundaries (Rhine river)
The impact of Louis XIV:
20% of population died during his reign
Famine and unrest were common
Trade disrupted
Tax system ruined
Treasury bankrupt
• 1469 Ferdinand and Isabella
Purity of Blood
Orthodoxy of Faith/Inquisition
• 1516 Charles V- height of the
Spanish Empire
• 1556 Philip II- wars against the
Muslims, Dutch and the English
bankrupted Spain-squandered all the
gold and silver from Spanish America
• The Hapsburgs- used marriage,
Catholicism and foreign threats to
consolidate power
• Thirty Years War, Peace of
Westphalia, 1618-1648 tightened
Hapsburg control over eastern
states of HRE and control of
Bohemia and Hungary.
• War of the Spanish Succession
(1702-1713) Austria emerged,
along with England, as a major
force in European political life
• 1415- Hohenzollern family ruled Brandenburg
• 1616 Inherited Prussia as a fief from Polish king; began
a dream to unite two provinces… further holdings grew
through marriage and inheritance
• 1653 – Frederick William - deal with nobles: made
serfdom permanent but lost their voice in governing.
• Frederick William I: The Soldier-king: No natural
boundaries emphasized defensive army
• The military class (Junkers) served as the bureaucracy
• Frederick the Great (1740-1786) established Prussia as
a great power
Holy Roman Empire
• Failed to create a unified state- Emperor (a
Hapsburg) was an elected office dependent on
the Catholic church and the nobility
• Emperors preoccupied with Italy and the Pope
• Charles V fought wars against Lutherans, Turks
and French as well as his own fiercely
independent princes
• 1555 Peace of Augsberg granted religious
toleration to each ruling family, (ending any possibility
for religious unity.)
• 1584-1613 “time of troubles” ended with
the election of Mikhail Romanov as
• 1682-1725 Peter the Great
– Copied Prussia's political
arrangement guaranteeing serfdom
to be permanent
– Ignored advice from the aristocracy
– Reformed the army in the manner
of France
– Built a navy- learned ship-building
from the Dutch
– Declared himself head of Orthodox
– Built St. Petersburg- “window to the
The End...any questions?
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