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Absolute Monarchy: Analysis of The Rule of Louis Xiv

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During the 17th century, absolute monarchies became popular throughout European nations. Especially in France, which is the country that is most notable for absolute rulers. In other areas, constitutional government started to form. Absolute monarchies are monarchs in which the king believe that have the sole right to govern which was given by God (this is known as the divine right). Henry IV was, most notably, the king (first of the Bourbon line) that laid the foundation of absolutism in France. After Henry IV, Louis XIII’s reign was an absolute monarch. Louis XIV’s reign was also an absolute monarch. Louis XIV is most notably the definition of what an absolute monarch would be like. Although, Louis XIV was almost kidnapped during the Fronde showing failure of an absolute rule; ultimately, the term absolute monarchy does describe Louis XIV’s rule as seen through the intendants, his narcissistic view on himself, his declaration that the King has greater power over religious institutions in temporal matters, and the public’s discontent.

Louis XIV’s use of intendants allowed Louis to watch the multiple jurisdictions under his reign. Ultimately, Louis XIV controlled these intendants, in which they controlled the jurisdictions. Therefore, showing that Louis XIV controlled all corners of France — a sign of absolute rule. In Bouchu’s report to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, he reports that he has done what he could to “establish the authority of the king”. This shows that this intendant, Bouchu, is asserting the power and dominance of the king; therefore, this would give the king more power and hence showing absolute rule. Claude Bouchu would most likely report this because his job is an intendant, and the intendant’s job includes communicating with his higher-ups to report on his work in promoting the king’s interest — which shows absolute rule. In Arnoul’s (an intendant) report, regarding the efforts to convert Huguenots to Catholicism, he reports that he understands the king’s intentions and he is doing what he can to arrest those that are trying to leave the country without trying to cause bankruptcies. This intendant demonstrates that he understands the king’s intentions and he is actively trying to follow through by arresting them, which is demonstrating absolute rule because he is directly following the directions passed down by the monarchy. Although, it could be argued that Arnoul is hesitant to arrest because of the financial risks; ultimately, he still follows the king’s orders for those that are not merchants.

Louis XIV’s narcissistic view on himself demonstrates that his reign is an absolute monarchy because his obsession with the power and glory that he holds is showcased to the public; hence, saying that his rule is most important. Charles-François Poerson’s portrait of Louis XIV sitting on the throne of the supreme Roman god Jupiter which was displayed at the palace of Versailles shows the power that Louis XIV held. Louis XIV sitting on the throne of the Roman god Jupiter is saying that Louis is on the same level of god. More importantly, Jupiter in Roman mythology is the king of the gods; therefore, signifying the absolute power/rule that Louis held. More importantly, because this was displayed at the palace of Versailles, this means this was a public portrait that everyone saw. This is because Versailles was a palace in which the nobles had to live for a portion of a year. So, therefore, the purpose of showing this portrait is to demonstrate to the public on the power that Louis held, which again demonstrates/asserts absolute rule. Louis XIV’s Memoirs for the Instruction of the Dauphin, showcases his arrogance through choosing the symbol of the sun which shows that everything revolves around him, and that his influence is seen everywhere. This shows that his rule was an absolute rule because by explaining that everything revolved around him, it is essentially saying that everything around him is under his rule. In addition, by explaining how his rule is distributed to every part of the world, he is demonstrating that he is able to rule every corner of the world. Therefore, showing his absolute rule. Louis XIV’s phrase of “I am the state” also showcases that he is an absolute ruler. The phrase gives the meaning that Louis is France, and France is Louis. This narcissistic comment demonstrates he is an absolute monarch because if he’s the state, then he is able to set in any laws he wishes to do so.

The declaration that Louis XIV and his successors have more power in temporal matters over the church demonstrates the absolute rule of controlling every aspect of his country. In the Declaration of the Assembly of the Clergy of France, it was declared that the church does not have any power in temporal and civil matters, and therefore, the king does not have to listen to the church in matters that are not spiritual (Doc 4). This declaration demonstrates Louis’s absolute rule because this assertion gives Louis XIV more power in his country. This is because if there were religious institutions that had civil/temporal power in this country, then Louis XIV would have less control. Whereas when the church does not have any civil/temporal power, then Louis XIV would have more opportunities to assert absolute rule. The purpose of this document is to demonstrate that temporal figures have more power than religious figures in civic matters. So it would make sense for them to declare that religious entities do not have power in temporal matters because this way they can create a distinct separation between the role of religious figures in civic matters.

The public’s discontent demonstrates that Louis XIV has an absolute rule in France because of the content within these documents. François Fénelon’s letter to Louis XIV expressed his discontent to the monarchy in his letter, but he also demonstrates that Louis XIV has divine right which is the core to any absolute ruler. Fénelon’s explanation that God would would help Louis XIV shows that Louis has always been watched by God, and that God is on his side. Therefore, this is showing that Louis’ reign is justified by and protected by God, which is a characteristic of an absolute rule. An anonymous parody of the Lord’s Prayer that criticized Louis XIV circulated in France, in which they demanded food. The demanding for food demonstrates that Louis has complete authority over his country. This is because the absolute rule by Louis XIV contributed to the country suffering economically; therefore, the demand for food as shown in the parody, is a result of the absolute rule by Louis. The document was written during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), which would explain why the author would criticize the government. This is because the course of the war would make France suffer economically.

Although, Louis XIV was almost kidnapped by nobles during the Fronde (1648-1653) which may show that he wasn’t an absolute ruler; it was only because he was a young boy. As he matured into adulthood, he would slowly demonstrate much more absolute rule. During the Fronde, the nobles stormed into the palace, trying to kidnapped Louis XIV. Luckily, he escaped. It can be argued that Louis wasn’t an absolute monarch; however, it is important to understand that in this time frame, Louis was only a child. Later on in his reign, this experience will become a factor for why he would ultimately become an absolute ruler, which can seen by the construction of Versailles, but also Charles-Fraçois Poerson’s portrait of Louis XIV. In both instances, he demonstrates to the nobles that he is the absolute ruler through the divine right from God.

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Absolute Monarchy: Analysis Of The Rule Of Louis Xiv. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from
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