Midterm Prep - Midterm Prep One Seventeenth-century France...

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Midterm Prep One Seventeenth-century France has been called the model of royal absolutism. How did the French court create an absolutist state out of the anarchy of the civil-religious wars of the last half of the sixteenth century? Who were the architects of French absolutism, and who was its quintessential monarch? In what ways was his reign both a success and a failure? Religious wars had torn France apart in the late 1500s; kings declared heresy in every direction and religious division was a huge problem. It was not until the reign of Henry IV that the civil wars subsided. Before receiving the title of king, however, Henry agreed to convert to Catholicism. This move was necessary for him to have the influence needed to rule. Henry succeeded in creating a budget surplus for the throne which made the Crown much more powerful; the king now had the funds to put his policies into place. He also brought the Edict of Nantes, a decree granting limited rights to Protestants yet reassuring their subordinate position to Catholics, into place. This risky move invoked more loyalty to him by his Protestant subjects but tensed relations with some Catholics. The Edict would then slowly be ripped apart and eventually done away with by Henry’s successors. During the mid 1600s, France emerged as a dominant force in Western Europe with a massively centralized monarchy at its head. Louis XIII became the king of France at an early age, with his mother Marie de ‘ Medici acting as his regent. However, Louis had many difficulties dealing with Huguenot uprisings and it was not until the Peace of Alais that peace was partially restored. It took away the rights of Protestants given to them by the Edict of Nantes but reaffirmed religious toleration. Cardinal Richelieu was the leading minister for Louis XIII and had a large role in structuring the absolutist French state. He concentrated power into the hands of the monarchy with policies making many citizens fearful yet reliant on the government. The grant of religious tolerance was one of these acts, for example, Protestants despised the constraints placed on them yet were dependent on Crown. Another prominent figure in the crafting of absolutism was Jacques Bossuet, who invented the monarch’s divine right to rule. Still, it did not mean unlimited power. There is no doubt that the quintessential monarch of French absolutist rule is Louis XIV, successor of Louis XIII. When Louis first came to the throne at five years old, his mother Anne acted as his regent. He was eager for an aggressive foreign policy, which fed his hunger for even more concentration of royal power. His greed also led him to draw upon the royal treasury to fund his extravagant palace and court life. This elaborate court life gave all the image and appearance of an absolute ruler. Aristocrats no longer possessed independent political power either, so they lived with the king in his palace. It was not just an image though; Louis XIV had the power and funds to crush revolts in opposition of him. Absolutism was a large reason France was largely free from revolts during this ear. The Crown could
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This note was uploaded on 09/15/2008 for the course HIST 2320 taught by Professor Soper during the Spring '07 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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Midterm Prep - Midterm Prep One Seventeenth-century France...

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