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Louis XIV of France vs. the Stuart Kings of England: Why did the Stuart kings fail, and Louis XIV succeed? William Jefferson Clinton was one of the greatest presidents to govern the United States as opposed to the Bush’s. Clinton proved to the world our preeminence by way of control, economic growth, and policies ranging from Israel to social security. The Bush’s proved to the world that they won the election. Louis XIV and the Stuart Kings also compare in similar ways. Louis XIV was a sound leader whose foresight and character led to the greatness of France, along with delegating authority to great economic and military leaders. The Stuart Kings possessed no foresight or character, many thought of them as stupid and stubborn, and the way they governed their country was reckless. Louis XIV prospered through absolute control, economic growth, and military reform. Where as, the Stuart Kings failure was due to no real control, economic turmoil, and civil war. The most important factor in the success of Louis XIV and the failure of the Stuart Kings was control.
Louis XIV achieved absolute control through supervision, location of nobility, and the image he portrayed to his subjects. Louis XIV always took the time to find out what was going on in public and private matters by means of spies, tale-bearers, and even written correspondences. Even a whisper of wrong doing and Louis would ruin those whom came under suspicion. After the Fronde (1648-1652), a rebellion against the government of Louis XIV, Louis learned that he needed to keep his nobility under control. He accomplished this by requiring his nobility to attend his court in Versailles, where he could watch over the nobles and make them study such things as etiquette. They were too busy learning to plot against him. Besides the nobles, Louis had to have control over the rest of his subjects. Louis portrayed an image of himself as a true king that was capable of performing his office. He also portrayed himself as a gracious and caring king. “Any man could have an opportunity to speak to him; he listened, and almost always replied, “I will see” (see http://history.hanover.edu/texts/louisxiv.html). The people of France obeyed Louis because they believed in him. The Stuart Kings, however felt great enmity during their reign.
First of the Stuart Kings, James I, was welcomed to the throne with hostility. The problems for James I were that he succeeded a legend in England, Elizabeth I, and that he was Scottish. These two things made it hard for James to gain any real favor with his people. Loss of control for the Stuart Kings came during the reign of Charles I. The first to rebel were the Scottish and then came the Parliament who sided with the Scots against the king. Charles complete loss of control came when the army crushed the royalist uprising and he was then, 20 January 1649, put on trial for crimes against the liberties of his subjects. Another Stuart King who really had no control was James II. Religious disagreements between James and Parliament led to the eventual vacancy of the throne. Although control played a great part in the success of Louis and the failure of the Stuart Kings economics was a large contributor as well.
Booming economic growth for France was largely contributed by the fiscal reforms of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Colbert converted a debt of 22 million to a surplus of 29 million in less than six years. He did this by not raising the taxes, but increasing the efficiency in which they were collected (CW, 533). “Colbert cut the cost of collecting taxes, reduced graft and corruption, and adopted an accurate system of bookkeeping” (see http://mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/wc2/lectures/louisxiv.html). Colbert also possessed the insight to increase France’s commercial growth and trade, rivaling the Netherlands. Louis regime prospered greatly through the employment of able minds, like Colbert. The Stuart Kings financial misfortunes started before the first of the kings took the throne. Elizabeth I started to sell off lands to make up for financial troubles, which James I adopted. Selling off lands in return reduced England’s long-term revenues. After revenues started to decline James I as well as Charles I had to rely heavily upon taxation. Subsequently taxation was one of the major reasons why Charles I loss control. Parliament would not approve grants of taxation that Charles needed to raise an Army to suppress the Scottish rebellion. This ultimately led to the English Revolutions. Louis XIV achieved financial stability through innovative new ideas, whereas the Stuart Kings used no creative thought in the search for a solution to their troubles. Along with economics, military reform played a key role in the reason why Louis was successful and the Stuart Kings were not.
Louis was blessed with Colbert as his chief minister of finance. He was also blessed with a great minister of war, Marquis de Louvois. Louvois made great reforms to the French army. The size of the army grew and organization was thoroughly improved. Other great reforms include the distribution of promotions by merit rather than purchase and establishing storehouses of arms and ammunitions throughout France (CW, 533). The Stuart Kings on the other hand made really no reforms to the military other than the military reforming to the belief that they could not oppose their king. Control and reform of the military was another factor in Louis XIV’s success and the Stuart kings failure.
In my opinion, Louis displayed great character and the Stuart Kings displayed great stupidity. Louis was gracious and the Stuart Kings were reserved. Louis had the insight in relying on professional administrators to guide states business and the Stuart Kings relied on themselves. Through control, increased revenues, and military reform Louis succeeded for the majority of his reign. Through defiance, depression, and rebellion the Stuart Kings failed during their reign. Louis accomplished what Clinton accomplished, an era of progression and sustainability. The Stuart Kings proved to the world what the Bush’s proved, how to make a bad situation worse!
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