Henry IV Secures the Monarchy
A monarchy refers to the hereditary mode of governance with all the powers vested in the monarch who is the head of state (Wise Geek 1). The French absolutism began during Henry IV’s rule. When he came into office, the country was in a state of chaos resulting from endless religious wars between the two divisions of the Christian faith in addition to political in-fighting. The popularity of the state had significantly gone down with poor control of government money due to disorder in the country.
Henry IV witfully asserted a lot of effort to turn the situation around. He stopped oppression through encouraging religious tolerance among the conflicting religions. He exercised nobility and showed concern his citizens which endeared them to trust him as a leader. As a way of reforming the economic situation of the state he came up with measurers to help in reconstructing the economy through comprehensive strategies. Through instilling law and order, the country grew in terms of the economy and stability. Henry even envisioned to safeguard France from exploitation by other states and increasing the country’s prestige in the region (Sherman and Salisbury 420).
Richelieu elevates royal authority
Following the death of Henry IV, his wife took over on behalf their son who was too young to rule. It was at this time that Richelieu became chief minister and committed himself to increase the powers of the throne through all means possible. He showed no tolerance to anyone who was opposed to the throne and proceeded to completely eliminate all possible enemies through outlawing their armies. He even went to the extreme of carrying out executions on those who were adamant to support the throne and its activities. All the liberties granted to the Huguenots by his predecessor were stripped off leaving them with only the liberty to follow their religious affiliations ((Sherman and Salisbury 420).
In addition, Richelieu dissolved devolution of power by ensuring that the major administrative divisions were headed by individuals who showed unquestionable loyalty to the throne. He wanted to France to achieve a dominant status in all of Europe and in his quest for authority, he drove the state into many years of war with the states he perceived to be major threats to his mission of acquiring France the status of supremacy in Europe. Though he had raised the status of France in Europe by the time he died, his arrogant way through which he had achieved it didn’t endear him to his people at all with some even celebrating over his demise.
Mazarin overcomes the opposition
Mazarin succeeded Richelieu extending the mode of leadership that Richelieu had used. Rebellions emerged from all over France due to oppression by the government calling for him to flee with other members of the monarchy. These rebellions came to be popularly referred to as the Fronde implying the childish nature of the parties involved. The people’s grievances were over taxation and extreme royal authority. These revolts escalated to a civil war that was characterized with great suffering and disorder in the country. Lawlessness had crept into France once again. There were many conspiracies and alliances whose main purpose was to serve the interests of the parties involved. Mazarin put a stop to the revolts by soliciting from many peace lovers and even by bribing nobles. Finally the authority of the throne was restored but having learnt that comprise is very important for both the government and the aristocrats (Sherman and Salisbury 421).
The sun king rises
The sun king here refers to the grandson of Henry IV who assumed the throne following the death of Mazarin. He was a hard working and responsible coupled with a brilliant memory and these qualities masked his intellectual shortcomings. He had a mission to avert any possible rebellion by aristocrats following his experience of the previous revolts as a child. He had the conviction that he was God chosen to lead France. He pictured himself as a superhuman expecting everyone to obey and support all his indulgencies. Since he needed to delegate some of his roles he made sure that he appointed in his administration only the people he could trust and who were completely loyal to the throne. He opted to work with people from noble beginnings who would support his quest
Louis XIV ended up pursuing projects that promoted the raising of his stature. In his endeavors to glorify himself, he decided to move the palace from Paris to Versailles. He chose Versailles to host his palace on the basis that it was away from commoners and all their tumultuous activities. The Versailles palace became the most prestigious in Europe. He wooed to support his activities through favoritism and rewards. Critics emerged against the state of matters in Versailles arguing that the palace was dominated by people undercutting each other in an effort to get favors from the monarch. Through subsidies to leading artists in France, the monarch managed to coerce them to glorify him through their literature resulting to what came to be known as classical literature.
As the saying goes, “everything has a cost”, for all his indulgencies, Louis XIV, needed finances and he therefore he chose an expert in finances, Jean Colbert, to be his finance manager who saw it as an opportunity to advance himself. Through his well devised strategies, Colbert managed to keep the country’s economy afloat even with Louis XIV’s extravagance. After Colbert’s death, the king came up with destructive policies including intolerance for religious activities and went ahead to revoke the Edict of Nantes initially enacted to safeguard oppression of minority religions. As a result Protestants moved to other nations that were friendly to their faith carrying with them their intellectual capabilities and wealth ((Sherman and Salisbury 425).
Assessing Louis XIV
Up until his death, Louis XIV’s popularity with the nationals had hit an all time low especially among those he had abused. His reign marked the peak of French absolutism. However, he had succeeded in raising the position of France in Europe and outshining other European states in terms of some aspects of development. He had done this by building up on the leadership strategies devised by his predecessors especially Richelieu. His mode of leadership was that of utilizing the power of numbers by ensuring that the majority, nobles, were on his side. His central government became the most powerful all over Europe.
Louis XIV’S rule was very oppressive to the French citizens especially the less privileged due to his extravagance that led to more oppressive taxation. The various wars during his reign also led to many innocent lives being lost. It is out of this experience that other monarch’s who came after him had to work extra hard to safeguard the sanctity of the lives of French nationals (Sherman and Salisbury 427).
Sherman, Dennis and Salisbury, Joyce. The West in the World: A Mid-length Narrative History. 2004. McGraw Hill.
Wise Geek. What is a Monarchy? 2013. Web. 3 0ct.2013.