Presentation on theme: "France. After a period of religious conflict, peace was restored to most of France when Henry IV was placed as king. Henry IV was King of France from."— Presentation transcript:
After a period of religious conflict, peace was restored to most of France when Henry IV was placed as king. Henry IV was King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was also King Navarre, which was formally Pamplona from 1572 to 1610. Pamplona is the capital city of Navarre, Spain. He founded the Bourbon dynasty which maintained an absolute monarchy that was imitated by other monarchs throughout Europe.
Henry IV was a Protestant, but he converted to Catholicism to quiet his Catholic opponents. However, he still allowed Protestant worship to continue in areas where the protestants were a majority, but barred Protestant worship in Paris and other Catholic strongholds. This action ended religious strife and enabled France to rebuild itself.
With the help of his minister of finance, Henry restored the Crown’s treasury, repaired roads and bridges, and supported trade and industry. When Henry was assassinated in the 1600s, his 9 year old son, Louis XIII, became king. However, Louis’s mother, Marie de Medici, ruled the kingdom over him for the next 7 years. But, in 1617 Louis gained the throne by force and exiled his mother from court. A few years later, he gave power to one of her advisers, Cardinal Richelieu.
Gradually he gave complete control of the government to the Cardinal, who set out to build an absolute monarch in France. In doing so, he reduced the power of the nobles and the Protestants. He destroyed their fortified castles and stripped them of their local administrative functions. The nobility retained the social prestige, while authority in local government affairs was given to special agents of the Crown known as intendants.
The Cardinal also sought to take away the military and territorial rights given to the Protestants. Having weakened the monarchy’s internal enemies, he sought to make France the supreme power in Europe. He strengthened the French army and took steps to build up the economy.
When Louis the XIII left the throne after his death in 1643, Louis XIV came to power. Louis XIV is recognized as the most powerful Bourbon monarch. He became king in the mid 1600s at the age of 5. At first, France was ruled by his mother, and the Cardinals successor. Eventually, he announced he would run his own government. He was then 23 years old.
The 72 year reign of Louis XIV was the longest in European history. It set the style for European monarchies during the 1600s and 1700s. He set up a lavish court and surrounded himself with pomp and splendor. Louis’s monarchy had power as well as style. Although he relied on a bureaucracy, he was the source of all political authority in France.
Louis emphasized a strong monarchy because of his fear of disorder without it. Louis’s feelings about absolute monarchy were later supported by church officials of France. The church officials defense of the divine origins of monarchy became one of the most famous justifications of absolute rule. In fact, according to them, subjects had no right to revolt even if the king was unjust. Kings need to account to no one except God, but they should act with humility and restraint because God’s judgment is heaviest for those who command.
Louis lived outside of Paris. He moved his court and government to a new palace that he built at Versailles. The Palace of Versailles was a large, splendid structure. No expense was spared, for Versailles was to demonstrate the wealth, power, and glory of France.
Louis continued the efforts of Henry IV and the Cardinal to strengthen the power of the monarch and the state. He followed the tradition of the Cardinal and chose his top advisers not from the nobility, but from the middle class families. Although Louis was an absolute monarch, he was not able simply to change the traditions of his country’s feudal past. Legal systems varied through out France. Private tolls and customs were levied on goods moving from one province to another. Weights and measures were not uniform. There were separate authorities and districts for financial, judicial, religious, and administrative affairs.
If Louis had tried to change these practices, it would have disrupted the kingdom and endangered his throne. Instead, the king kept the traditional ways, but added to them new administrative offices and practices.
While reforming some aspects of government practice, Louis failed to adjust the complicated and unjust tax system. The poor carried most of the tax burden, while nobles, clergy, and government officials were exempt from many payments. Independent tax collectors often made large profits from their work, but they were allowed to continue this practice since the money they provided was needed to support the army.
The unreformed tax system heightened the economic differences between the regions of France. In fact, the tax system encouraged people to move from heavily taxed regions to regions with lower taxes. As a result, heavily taxed regions became poorer.
Louis regarded the Protestants as a threat to his absolute monarchy. They faced mounting persecution from Louis’s government. In fact, in the late 1600s Protestants could no longer practice their religion and their children had to become Catholics.
Louis pursued a bold and active foreign policy. His goal was to extend the glory and power of France. However, after the War of the Spanish Succession – a conflict between England, the Dutch, Netherlands, and Austria which led to a Grand Alliance of European nations against France and Spain- France lost Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to England.
France did enjoy one of its most brilliant cultural periods under Louis. However, Louis building projects and his wars left the country near financial ruin. And the ways in which Louis weakened the French nobility also had their costs. The nobles lost their ability to govern, but not the desire for power. The peasants and the middle class resented the privileges and wealth of the nobles. The nobility would eventually sought to expand its power under Louis’s grandson, Louis XV. However, conflicts between the nobles and the middle and lower class would bring France to the brink of a revolution.