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French Absolutism, Social, Political, and Economical

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Absolutism is the sovereign power or ultimate authority in the state and layed power in the hands of the King who claimed power due to divinity. The government of France in the 17th century couldn’t be labeled an absolute monarchical government because it depended on limited political realities. The king relied on ministers, nobles and peasants, to control people and their control would fall short of the aspirations of the King due to overlapping authorities. In order for absolutism to exist in France the government would need to control the social, political, and economical lives of all the residence of France. King Louis XIV was the closest King to obtaining absolutism, people considered his version of absolutism to be the best but even that could not reach the full pentacle of absolutism.

During the 17th century in France the King Louis XIV’s reign was the best example of absolutism. The social status of French culture, which also included language and manner was visible throughout Europe. Nobility however still wanted to be in control of their wealth which caused friction with the ultimate rule of absolute monarchy. The monarch needed to fully control religious beliefs of all the people and even the King who wanted everyone to be Catholic could change the way people felt about God. The King believed in “one King, one law, one faith” but protestants didn’t have the same faith as him so they undermined his authority. In 1685 King Louis issued the Edict of Fontainebleau, this destroyed the Huguenot Church and closed Protestant schools. After the issuing many people fled from France which weakened their economy and gave power to the States they fled to which formed a group of Protestants against Louis.

The political power of an absolute monarchy allowed them to make laws, administer justice, and make taxes. King Louis XIV relied on Cardinal Mazarin to control the government. Cardinal Mazarin was a foreigner so he had a hard time getting the French to listen to him.

The nobles of France joined up with Parliament of Paris members to revolt. The Parliament was the most influential court in all of France. The members included nobles of the robe, service nobility of lawyer and administrators. The first Fonde of Paris was led by the nobles of the robe and ended in compromise. The second Fonde was led by nobles of the sword who wanted to coup against Mazarin. The fighting gave the idea to people that stability layed in the crown. The fighting caused monarchs to lose political power even though their goal was to each be a political leader.

The government is where the King has absolute power over the economy, no-matter peoples complaints they still had to pay their taxes. Intendants of Ricelieu collected taxes although it wasn’t without conflict of other governors. Despite the efforts of Cardinal Richelieu and Mazarin there was still overlapping authority. Every region had their own laws, courts, and states, nobility with large estates wanted much authority. Towns had privileges and powers they wouldn’t release effortlessly. Local officials obstructed execution of policies they didn’t like which caused absolute power to be taken from the King.

The King of France in the 17th century didn’t have absolute authority over social, economical and political lives of his country. When Louis tried controlling the religious beliefs of his people, they revolted and left cause economic weakening. Louis used Cardinals to impose authority but this led to problems like the nobles of the sword and robe. The conflict didn’t end there he was successful in the collection of taxes, but local governors and nobles undermined the King. King Louis XIV had control over central policy making machinery of government and this gave power over monarchical territories. However, administration of the kingdom was limited by town councils, nobility officials, and Estate representatives. Louis’s ruling over the governments was obstructed and he was undermined which didn’t allow for absolutism.

Bibliography: Western Civilization Combined Volume Sixth Edition,Jackson J. Spielvogel

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