Absolutism in France

  1. Ancien Regime
    • France's aristocratic, social, and political system from the 15th century to the 18th century (late Valois-->Bourbon)
    • Francis I, Henry II, Charles IX (St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre), Henry III (War of 3 Henrys), Henry IV (1st Bourbon King), Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI
  2. Laying the Groundwork (1)
    Cardinal Richelieu
    • Chief minister (1624-1642)
    • wanted to weaken Hapsburg power (Austro-Spanish)
    • aligned w/ Protestants outside of France during 30 Years' War (persecuted them at home)
    • created a dominant centralized state; secured royal power and weakened noble power; nobles began to resent crown's increase of power
    • Reason of State: well-being and stability of the state (gov.) is most important; all gov. action should be directed to this end; includes actions considered illegal/immoral under ordinary circumstances; Realpolitik or Machiavellian
    • secured French monarchy against internal and external rivals
    • growth of modern French state amounts to transfer of power from nobility of crown
    • Siege of La Rochelle (1628): apex of tensions b/w Catholics and Protestants in France
    • Peace of Alais/Edict of Grace (1629): ends Siege of La Rochelle; brings 1st modification to Henry IV's Edict of Nantes; Huguenots lose their special fortified territories
    • Day of Dupes (1630): Louis XIII chooses Richelieu over his mother, Marie de' Medici
    • Intendants: tax official that works directly for the crown; collected taxes more efficiently
    • "Creatures of Gratitude": people who are loyal to the monarchy because they have been provided with jobs they would usually not have
    • foreign policy for greater glorty of France; sustained effort against Hapsburgs
  3. Laying the Groundwork (2)
    Cardinal Mazarin
    • succeeded Richelieu (r. 1643-1661); continues his policies
    • functioned as co-ruler of France b/c Louis XIV was too young to rule
    • preaches Absolutism to Louis XIV; follows aggressive anti-Spanish policy
    • Both Cardinals' actions spark the Fronde (1649-1652); series of noble rebellions against the increasing power of the monarchy; convinces Louis that his rule must include the support of the nobles
  4. Louis XIV "The Sun King" (1638-1715)
    • assumes total control of gov. in 1661; appoints no chief minister; wants absolute power; wants nobles to like him (they hated chief ministers)
    • marries Marie Theresa of Spain
    • Coutume: legal customs
    • shapes established institutions to his will
    • gov. advisors/ministers=mix of nobles and intellectuals w/o noble blood old aristocratic army commanders are replaced by new obedient professional offers with no royal blood
    • meets w/ regional judicial bodies calledparlements before making laws; represented opposition to king
    • Parlements passed laws that applied to their jurisdictions; they could also appeal national laws that were put in place by the king
    • Parlement of Paris: notorious for refusing legislation in which they disagreed
    • Edict of 1673: requires parlements to register lawsbefore they appeal them; deprived parlements of the ability to remonstrate (complain); most other parlements resented the Parlement of Paris' power and supported Louis' edict; weakened nobles and enemies of Louis XIV
    • all of France feels Louis' rule, but none more than the nobility
  5. Louis XIV "The Sun King" (1638-1715)
    • Versailles: palace built (1676-1708) to show Louis' financial supremacy over French nobles
    • meticulously designed to show grandeur and glory of the Sun King
    • court life organized around daily routine
    • example of Baroque architecture
  6. Louis XIV "The Sun King" (1638-1715)
    Divine Right
    • Jacques Benigne Bossuet: Louis' son's tutor; defended "divine right of kings"; kings=popes (judged only by God); not judged by people or nobles; "L'Etat c'est moi" ("I am the state")-Louis XIV
    • Lettres de cachet: letters enclosed with royal seal; allowed Louis to send enemies to prison w/o a trial; allows him to push national laws past apealing parlements; becomes symbol of abuses of Ancien Regime monarchies
  7. Jean Baptiste Colbert (1)
    • served Louis XIV as controller general of finances from 1662-1683
    • Mercantilist: promote national economic prosperity by maximising exports (expansion of commerce)
    • Mercantilism: economic growth in one state requires a decline in others; economics, like diplomacy,. is a war carried on by peaceful means; nations are seeaking a "favorable balance of trade" (export>import)
    • wealth measured by amount of precious metals in a country's possession (build up France's gold and silver supply)
    • hoped that France would become self-sufficient by manufacturing everything and not relying on imports; high tarifs on foreign goods (mainly Dutch and English)
    • founded East and West India trading companies
  8. Jean Baptiste Colbert (2)
    • attempted to eliminate nobility's economic power; unable to do so (ineffective taxation system)
    • nobles and clergy exempt from most direct taxes (land taxes)
    • main tax burden falls onto peasants to increase France's merchant fleet; Gabelle (tax on salt)
    • need for a good internal transportation network connecting ports to industries increases; revives the corvee (forced labor)
    • despite his effots, France becomes exceedingly impoverished because of Louis' excessive spending on wars and extravagance
  9. Louis XIV at War (1667-1685)
    Louis' Concerns with Expansion
    • secure borders along Spanish Netherlands, Franche-Comte, Alsace and Lorrain
    • frustrate Hapsburg ambitions by securing the South near Spain
    • Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668): settles War of Devolution; mediated by the Triple Alliance (England, Dutch Republic, Sweden); France gains portions of Spanish Netherlands (forced to give back Franche-Comte)
    • Right of Devolution: reason why Louis goes to war in Spanish Netherlands
    • Treaty of Dover (1670): secret alignment with Charles II and England against Netherlands; France had to assist England in rejoining the Roman Catholic Church; England had to help France in the war
    • Dutch War (1672-1678): France wins more territory in the east and northeast
  10. War at Home (1)
    • in Catholic Christendom, French crown has special privileges over clerical establishment in its own boundaries
    • king exercises administrative control over Catholic Church in Frances; recognizes the pope's authority over faith and morals
    • Ultramontanism: opposite of Gallicanism; Catholic doctrine of central papal supremacy
  11. War at Home (2)
    Jansenists and Huguenots
    • Cornelius Jansen: founder of Jansenism; believed political unity and stability require religious conformity
    • Jansenists: Roman Catholics who oppose Jesuit monopoly on education; disagree with Jesuit ideas on free will; favor St. Augustine's ideas about original sin and mankind's inability to influence their salvation; becomes allies with members of the Fronde rebellions (many Jansenists were nobles); Louis XIV enforces papal bull by Pope Innocent X deeming Jansenists heretics (closes their monasteries)
    • Dragonnades (1681): policy to intimidate Huguenots into Roman Catholic conversion/leave France; many seek asylum in England
  12. War at Home (3)
    Edict of Fontainbleau/Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685)
    • Madame de Maintenon: mistress and second "wife" of Louis XIV; staunch Catholic; convinced Louis to go after Huguenots; they were previously protected by Colbert (they helped France financially); after Colbert dies, he pursues them more aggressively; Louis becomes "New Constantine"
    • Louis revokes the edict of Nantes and forbids Huguenots to practice their faith; demolishes Protestant churches and schools; ministers had 15 days to leave France or become imprisoned; Protestant children were kidnapped and baptized by Catholic priests
    • about 200,000 Protestants leave France for England, the Dutch Republic, and Brandenburg-Prussia
    • emigres: French Protestants forced to leave; took skills to new countries; economically helping new countries and hurting France
    • Protestants across Europe consider Louis XIV a fanatic who must be opposed
  13. Louis XIV vs. All of Europe
    England: The Unexpected Enemy
    • Glorious Revolution installs William and Mary; replaces louis' ally James II (William and Mary=Protestants)
    • King William III engineers the League of Augsburg
    • League of Augsburg: formed to defend Palatinate from France; Great Britain, Spain, Sweden, united Dutch provinces, and major German city states
  14. Louis XIV vs. All of Europe
    Nine Years' War (1688-1697)
    • Leage of Augsburg vs. France
    • France attempted to extend its borderrs
    • France supports Jacobite rebellions to reinstall House of Stuart in England
    • France loses war
    • Peace of Ryswick: ends Nine Years' War
  15. Louis XIV vs. All of Europe
    War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714)
    • Charles II: last Spanish habsburg king; Philip IV's son; died without an heir; Spanish territories go to Philip of Anjou/Philip V on the condition that he renounces his claim to the throne of France
    • Philip of Anjou/Philip V: grandson of louis XIV; great-nephew of Charles II
    • Louis XIV and the Bourbon family are the most powerful people in Europe
    • Grand Alliance: Great Britain, Dutch Republic, major German city states; formed to preserve the balance of power against France and Spain
    • Treaty of Utrecht: Philip can be king of Spain; neither he nor his successors can ever occupy the French throne; split of Spanish Bourbons and French Bourbons; Bourbon family is no longer the most powerful
    • Treaty of Rastatt: ended hostilities b/w France and Austria from the War of the Spanish Succession; Louis had to return conquered lands (Spanish Netherlands, Italy, Spain); most of it goes to Austria
    • Both the Nine Years' War and the War of the Spanish Succession severely weaken France
  16. France after Louis XIV's Death (1)
    • Louis dies in 1715
    • succeeded by his great-grandson who becomes Louis XV
    • Philippe Duke of Orleans (1715-1723): regent for Louis XV; handed financial management over to John Law (Englishman); renewed authority of the parlements; French nobility given power in the government again
    • John Law: propsed printing paper notes as a meanst to alleviate France's debt; creation of National Bank; Mississippi Bubble: increase in paper-money not backed by enough silver and gold leads to financial problems (inflation)
    • Bubble: term in economics that is applied to an unusually rapid increase in stock prices/value of some other asset such as real estate
  17. France after Louis XIV's Death (2)
    Cardinal Fleury (1726-1743)
    • chief minister of Louis XV
    • enables fiscal reforms; allow French finances to recover from costly wars of Louis XIV and extravagances of Philippe
    • maintains peace in foreign affiars mainly w/ cooperation of Sir Robert Walpole
    • cannot prevent France from entering the world-wide conflict (War of Austrian Succession) in the 1740s
  18. French Conclusion
    • From 1589 to the early 1640s, King Henry IV and Louis XIII (along with their chief ministers the Duke of Sully and Cardinal Richelieu) established foundations of French absolute monarcy
    • Cardinal Mazarin's success (mid 17th century) in suppressing Fronde marked end of nobility's efforts to reassert its independence from royal authority, although nobles retained some of their traditional privileges
    • King Louis XIV enjoyed virtually unchallenged authority
    • revocation of the Edic of Nantes=blunder
    • wars=extremely expensive
    • when Louis XIV died in 1715, he left a legacy of financial problems for his successors to deal with
Card Set
Absolutism in France
A.P. European History