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Age of Absolutism Essay

During the age of absolutism Louis XIV, known as the “sun king”, was a king who absolute power over France. He was named king at age five and ruled until his death in 1715. The kings goals were all focused around one main thing, make France powerful. He wanted to make France the most poewrful country in Europe. He also wanted the rest of the world to look up to France. To achieve these goals he took complete power over everything in France.

The economy during his reign suffered badly. Many monopolies occured during the time such as the French East India Company(Hooker 1). Another problem that occured was poor tax collecting. The king created many taxes but most of them taxed the poor more then the rich. Mercantilism began during the time which used economic means to promote politics. National policies were created that mainly promoted exports over imports.

The government under his rule was very strict. He wanted to keep everything under his order in order to show his power. During his time he made war part of state where before it was a private matter(Regina 1). Regions of France would raise money to build up armies and when the king needed military help he would call upon these armies. Louis saw this as a problem and made the army a part of the government. This made the army much more powerful now as the whole country was behind it. The king took on the name of the “sun king” because he saw himself as the god of France and the sun in his mind represented god(Hooker 1).

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King Louis had a strict foreign policy. He wanted to control the borders of France greatly and become rivals with the countries around him. His attitude led to the War of the League of Augsburg, War of the Spanish Succession, and the War of Devolution.

Louis destroyed regional independence by dividing France into thirtysix generalites. Each generalite was ruled by an intendant, who was generally appointed from the upper middle classes rather than the nobility. No intendant was ever appointed to a region that he lived in. This was done to avoid as much corruption as possible. These intendants were appointed by the king and only took orders from the king. For the most part, the intendents were there to collect taxes.

Religion during his rule was unified. He did this because he beleived it was necessary to strengthen his power. Protestents during this time suffered greatly as his unifying of religion was not in their favor. He destroyed their churches, burned their schools and forced Protestants toconvert to Catholicism(Regina 2). He overturned the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism to be a crime against the state. Many of the Protestents decided to leave France rather then convert to Cathlolicism.

King Louis XIV had many effects on France. He gave France much more power by making it one of the countries main goals. He improved the military by making it a matter of the government rather then a private matter. He made King and State the same thing(Regina 2). He unified the French government to make it be as powerful as possible. He made France an official rival of Britain. Some bad things he did for France though were he taxed the poor instead of the rich, he put France into lots of debt, and the court of Versailles was removed from the lives of the people. Overall King Louis XIV had both postive and negative effects on France, but his reign can be summed up in one word, power.

Works Cited

Maria Regina. “Age of Absolutism Review”. http://www.historyteacher.net/europrojects/examreview/age%20of%20absolutism%20review.htm. 5 March 2002

Richard Hooker. “Pre-Enlightenment Europe”. http://www.wsu.edu/%7Edee/ENLIGHT/PRE.HTM. 6 March 2002

“Louis 14th- “Sun King””. http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/classes/diplo/absolutism.html. 6 March 2002

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