Absolutism in France “L’etat c’est moi”
5 Steps to Achieve Absolute Rule • Subjugate the Nobility • Build an all-pervasive bureaucracy • Collect more in Tax money • Establish a standing, large army • Establish Religious uniformity
Foundations of French Absolutism:Henry IV, Sully, Richelieu Henry IV (r.1589-1610) Inherits A France that is a mess *Civil War in France since 1561 *Poor Harvests Starving Peasants *Commercial “In”activity Steps to establishing royal Power • Issued the Edict of Nantes • Mop up Rebellious Factions of Nobles (They are Loyal to the Holy League) • Hires Duke of Sully as Finance Minister
Sully as Minister • Sells Government offices to the Highest bidder: ProsCons *Raises Revenue *inflation of office *Main source of Revenue *office becomes property of owner • Introduces the Paulette tax Paulette = a tax paid to the king if the officeholder does the job well, they pay the paulette and the office stays in the family.
Richelieu Louis XIII (r. 1610-1643) Very Capable First Minister: Cardinal Richelieu *Puts nobles in non-threatening positions Diplomats, Army Officers, Local administrators *Confronted the armed Huguenots No Longer a “State within a State” No arms just religious toleration How do these two things lend itself to the Rise of Absolute Rule?
Richelieu (Administrative and Financial) • Increased the sale of office: By 1633 this practiced accounted for 1/3 of all royal revenue • France was divided into 32 generalities (districts) • Each district had an Indendant (Appointed by King—Not bought and sold)
Indendants Chief royal agents in local areas Main Jobs: -Transmit certain orders from Paris to generalities -Transmit information from local communities to paris -Recruit Men for Army -Supervise Tax Collection -Preside over administration of local law -Monitor Local Nobility -Regulated economic activity (Commerce, trade, guild
Overriding Purposes of Indendants • ENFORCE ROYAL ORDERS AT LOCAL LEVEL • REDUCE THE POWER/INFLUENCE OF REGIONAL NOBILITY
Major Peasant revolts • 1630 , 1668 Dijon • 1635, 1675 Bordeaux • 1645 Montpellier • 1667-1668, 1692 Lyons • 1685, 1695, 1704, 1711 Aimens ALL HAVE TO DO WITH TAXES What does this prove about the job the Indendants were doing?
Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715) • Richelieu died in 1642 • Louis XIII died in 1643 Left Five year old Louis XIV on the throne. Successor to Richelieu: Cardinal Mazarin
Mazarin faced with crisis • Nobles upset with movement toward Absolute rule, seize the moment to revolt against the king. • Becomes Civil War known as the Fronde
The Fronde begins with the”Nobles of the Robe” • A group of nobles who bought jobs in the government (known for the robes they wore) • 3 demands on Mazarin & government 1) abolition of the indendants 2) stop selling offices 3) Institute a Habeas Corpus law
Mazarin Responds • He has several members of the group arrested • Other aristocratic factions join • Peasants/ Urban artisans join • Violence sweeps through France for 12 years
Significance of the Fronde • Last revolt against Absolutism in France until 1789. • Becomes apparent the government will have to compromise with local bureaucrats & social elites • French economy badly disrupted • Louis XIV effected traumatically
The “Sun King” Louis XIV had two main goals: • He wanted to secure his Absolute power over France • He aimed to make France the greatest power in all of Europe
Move to Versailles • Eternal distrust of the Nobility • Paris seen as dangerous place for the monarchy • Moved the French court to Versailles (Small town 12 miles from Paris) • Versailles was used as a tool for state power, subjugation of the nobility
Versailles used to subjugate the nobility • Nobility invited to live at Versailles for many months of the year (cut off from their power bases) • Under constant surveillance Louis used spying/terror tactics (secret police, informers) • Given frivolous tasks to accomplish at Versailles • Nobles were excluded from councils with access to king and important decision making
Financial Management: Colbert • Things that cost $ • Expanding professional bureaucracy • Court at Versailles • Military Reform • Wars Consult local or Provincial Estates for approval of taxes for particular regions----Hard to collect taxes
Colbert as great Mercantilist • Encouraged French Industry • Enacted High Tariffs • Created a strong Merchant Marine Overall, achieve a favorable balance of trade and make France self sufficient
French expansion • Colbert had 4,000 French peasants shipped off to Canada • Joliet and Marquette sailed down the Miss. River • La Salle claimed vast amounts of land named “Louisiana”
How successful was Colbert? • Textile Industry expanded • Commercial Class prospered However……. Agricultural economy hurt badly *Peasants taxed too heavily + Poor Harvest + Fluctuating price of grain + deflation of currency = Peasants leaving (Major Tax base gone)
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes • To try to achieve Religious uniformity • “One King, One Law, One Faith” Detrimental effects: *Talented Huguenots leave (scholar, business, artists, skilled workers) *Spreads Anti-Louis sentiment among European Protestants
Louis XIV at War • 18 of his last 27 years as king at WAR 4 Goals for War: 1) Establish natural defensible borders 2) Break the “Habsburg Ring” 3) Take over the Spanish Netherlands 4) Defeat Holland and take its trade/wealth
War of Devolution 1667-1668 • Kicked off when King of Spain dies • Louis claims through his wife, that he is entitled to inherit the Spanish Netherlands according to the “law of devolution” • France loses to an alliance of Holland, England, and Sweden
The Dutch War 1672-1678 • Louis’ war of revenge for his earlier loss to the Dutch • France bribed England and Sweden to abandon the Dutch and then invade the Netherlands • The French conquer much of the Netherlands • The Dutch open the dikes and flood French troops off their land
War of the League of Augsburg 1688-1697 • An attempt to conquer German territory along the Rhine • HRE challenges Louis’ claim to theses territories----France invades Germany • The German states join together to defeat France
War of Spanish Succession 1701-1713 • Louis’ grandson had legitimate claim to the Spanish throne when the Habsburg king died. • Holy Roman Emperor’s son has a legitimate claim to the throne as well • FRANCE vs. GRAND ALLIANCE Grand Alliance = HRE, Portugal, England, Austria, Prussia Louis LOSES for the fourth time!!!
Treaty of Utrecht (1713) • Grandson of Louis XIV sits on the Spanish throne • France and Spain may never be united as one kingdom
Legacy of Louis XIV • French Treasury is empty • France gains very little territory • “Habsburg ring” is broken • Peasants of France starving and miserable due to high taxes from War after War Revolts continue for 70+ more years culminating in the 1789 revolution