Essay Preview: Louis Xiv
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Throughout the entire seventeenth century each European government had one overriding principle that took preference over anything else associated with the running of the government and had never seen so much focus since the later Roman Empire. This was perfecting the faultless public image of their ruler and it was none so apparent than with the French government and how it portrayed its king. As soon as Louis became of age he overtook control of the French government and because of this ruled France as both King and Prime Minister. Louis had a lot to work with from the beginning. He had the materials to construct his image as he wished and it was over the course of his reign that he inherited titles such as Ð²Ð‚ÑšGrand MonarchÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, the Ð²Ð‚ÑšSun KingÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe first Gentleman of EuropeÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. With such an auspicious image developed of him he now had the ability to graft an absolute monarch onto a well-organised and powerful military state. Ð²Ð‚ÑšSuch monarchs as Charles V and Philip II may have ruled over greater dominions but they never attained the prestige and the power that Louis XIV enjoyed Ð²Ð‚Ñœ. With such attention paid to the royal image this gives us the freedom to analyse with even greater depth the propaganda that was associated with every move that he thought and put into action.
Ð²Ð‚ÑšI am the StateÐ²Ð‚Ñœ was Louis most famous statement and this was true as he completely devoted himself to the state in what was also called Ð²Ð‚?the trade of kingshipÐ²Ð‚™. The image that the people of France knew of Louis was one of openness as he always put himself on public show and through this he devoted himself to every qualm of the population. It was easy for him to put himself on show because his image even at an early stage was close to flawless. Ð²Ð‚ÑšLouis XIV invested his court, as he did all his reign, with such brilliancy and magnificence, that the slightest details of his private life appear to interest posterity, just as they were the objects of curiosity to every court in Europe Ð²Ð‚Ñœ. What people knew of him was exactly what he formulated himself and wanted people to think. When he was in Versailles there was an open-policy and this was not just for courtiers. Ð²Ð‚ÑšAccess to the monarch was governed by a court ceremonial, and the immutable rites of the Sun KingÐ²Ð‚™s day drove the entire Ð²Ð‚?courts mechanism Ð²Ð‚™. The leader of the monarch was, by right, GodÐ²Ð‚™s lieutenant on earth. Louis was the quintessence of the absolute monarch and it was this image that Louis portrayed of himself and allowed the population to put full confidence in him. With this title Ð²Ð‚?bestowedÐ²Ð‚™ upon him he was given full authority and the belief that anything he said or put forward was to be obeyed. However, at this stage in his reign it was not unadulterated power as the king still had to attend to the presence of the churchmen, the bureaucracy and the nobles as well as the rest of Europe to achieve his ideal France.
The nobility were seen as the chief opposition to the monarchy so it was up to Louis to reduce their power in France, rather than making peace with them. This action that Louis was pursuing was very much like the work of his predecessors, Cardinals Mazarin and Richelieu. The approach that he took was to fill the high executive roles with commoners. The reason for this is that he could still treat the commoners as nonentities i.e. hire and fire at will. This would enhance his status with the commoners while still destroying the nobles influence. During this process Louis kept on the older aristocracy who would serve him as courtiers, mainly as an insult while the ministers and other higher authority posts were interchangeably every few months withy the commoners. The lessening of the noblesÐ²Ð‚™ power could be seen in such rebellions as the Fronde after Louis XIV. The beauty of the Crowns victory over the nobility was even more perfect to the fact that LouisÐ²Ð‚™ image was not only unscathed but also had been accentuated as he had been helping out the commoners as oppose to laying favouritism with the nobility.
With the influence of the nobility extremely curtailed Louis had to build support from the Church. But much like the battle with the nobility it was not easy for Louis to gain support from those of religious opinion. His image took quite a battering in attempting to win over the majority of the population. He was met with quite heavy resistance which in turn lead him into persecution. Louis policy with the church was quite similar to that of the one he used in political appointments. Louis ignored the Noblesse de Blood when it came to church appointments and appointed men from the Noblesse de Robe. From this move, the people who were hired placed their full reliance in King Louis and when the time came around they backed him in full in the General Assembly. Louis had clashes with the Pope in Rome but when they occurred he got full support, which included financial support from the church in France. Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe conflict of powers which arose with the pope had its origin in a purely fiscal question, that of rÐ”©gale, or right of collecting the revenues of a vacant bishopric, which the king wished to extend to all the bishopric of the kingdom Ð²Ð‚Ñœ. To show how much support Louis had in France he was backed over the problematic question of who was solely in charge of the Catholic Church in France Ð²Ð‚” the king or the pope. Now that the popeÐ²Ð‚™s influence in France had been depleted the king was now able to put forward ecclesiastical laws, most of which were to counteract any regulations put forward by the pope. At this present time any bylaws made by the pope were deemed invalid as they had to reach the assent of the monarch and since Louis just had religious confrontation with the pope it would not bode well for his image if he was to, after those incidents, to accept any regulations made by the pope.
Now that Louis had made amends to two of the three issues affecting his smooth reign he now had to tackle the final issue which was the bureaucracy, and for Louis it would make better sense to use them to his advantage than to drive them away much like the nobility. The importance of making this relation was vital because if it was successful Louis could easily turn France into a military state still with the essence of his absolute monarchy. Louis used his power to bring economic stability to France. By achieving this economic stability France gained many facets which contributed to a successful economy. These facets were tax revenue as well as a strong bureaucratic structure which they used extremely efficiently. In combination with these as well a list of impressive resolutions Louis XIV helped raise France