France Lecture 1

Cultivating an environment ripe for revolution louis

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Unformatted text preview: executing laws, waging war and providing defense, and (largely to pay for the previous task) raising money—became the responsibility of the French kings ! •Monarchs initially allied with and—as its autonomy grew—ultimately employed each relevant class, or "estate," in carrying out its duties ! Estates 1. The Catholic clergy, responsibility for administrating the legal system. ! 2. The landed aristocracy, prosecuted the kings wars ! 3. Financiers from the mercantile elite, made up of commoners ! ! ! Estates General and the Centralization of Power •The French crown in the fourteenth century established a rudimentary assembly, or parliament of sorts, known as the Estates General, with representatives from each of the three estates in order to co- opt these groups •By the fifteenth century, Louis XI had sufficiently centralized his authority such that he could: 1.Wage wars, doubling the size of his kingdom (to roughly the current borders of France), 2.Raise taxes to pay for the wars 3. Weaken the influence of the nobility 4.And largely ignore the Estates General. ! The Reign of the Sun! •The pinnacle of this absolutist authority came during the rule of Louis XIV, who dubbed himself the Sun King and famously declared that he was the state • Although an overstatement, the absolutist French state of the seventeenth century was remarkable •France had a standing professional army, a mercantilist state- run economy, a ruthlessly efficient tax system, and the extravagant palaces of Versailles. •In fact, the Sun King never even convened the Estates General. Why bother? Why, indeed. ! Poverty, Corruption and Revolution! War and the extravagant court life combined with the proficient system of taxation by the eighteenth century had reduced the French commoners to famine and, in turn, had bankrupted the French state. Cultivating an Environment Ripe for Revolution •Louis XVI convened the long- dormant Estates General in 1789 •Each estate was to have one vote (allowing the more conservative clergy and nobility to override the commoners) •The more numerous representatives of the Third Estate argued th...
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This document was uploaded on 02/24/2014.

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