Under Louis XIV, France had great influence in European affairs. After the wars of religion were concluded, Henry IV had established a royal authority. Richelieu had solidified the monarchy by depriving the Huguenots of privileges granted them by Henry IV. Cardinal Mazarin died in 1661, leaving the monarchy to Louis. France had come out of the Thirty Years’ War with enlarged territory and increased importance.
Louis’ court at Versailles was known as the model of princely splendor. He also felt the same way James I had felt; that the throne was his by Divine Right. French people were simply not as advanced as the English when it came to the concept of self-rule. The French were more likely to accept the notion that if the King was just, it was because they had earned the goodwill of God. If the King was cruel, they had somehow sinned and were being paid in kind. They relied on a powerful King.
Louis XIV was all-powerful, but he did accept the advice of courtiers. He did not allow a dominant advisor such as Richelieu. The financier Colbert discovered stealing and waste among Louis’ court. He was able to reform the bookkeeping methods. New industries were established in France, and medieval guilds were reorganized. Art and literature of the era was magnificent, as portrayed by Moliere, Corneille, Racine and Madame de Sevigne. The French Academy was encouraged. A magazine, the Journal des Savants, promoted science. An astronomical observatory was built in Paris. 16,000 volumes graced the Royal Library.
Unfortunately, Louis XIV made a number of questionable attacks on his neighbors. He decided to re-capture various lands that had been lost in battles going back to the time of Gaul and the Roman Empire, involving among other places Alcase, the traditional "bone of contention." He attacked the Spanish Netherlands and threatened the entire Spanish monarchy. Eventually, a Triple Alliance composed of Holland, England and Sweden was organized to make France sign a peace treaty with Spain. Louis eventually broke up the Alliance through an arrangement with England. He seized the duchy of Lorraine. 100,000 Frenchmen crossed the Rhine in 1672 to conquer southern Holland. William of Orange opened the dikes and flooded the country, checking the French before Amsterdam could be taken. England deserted Louis and made peace with Holland. The result was that France pulled out, retaining only Franche-Comte. Louis established courts to settle disputes between Germany and France over territories, but vestiges of the old feudal entanglements played out in to the treaties of Westphalia. Then the Turks attacked Vienna.
Religion was dealt with in a brusque manner. Out of 15 million Frenchmen, there were about 1 million Huguenots. They were very successful in acts of enterprise. The Catholic Church still practiced a suppression of heresy. Protestants were subjected to serious persecution. Children were authorized to renounce Protestantism at the age of seven. Offered a sweet or a toy to say “Ave Maria” (Hail, Mary), they might be taken from their parents and raised by Catholic families. Protestant families were pitilessly broken up. In 1865, the Edict of Nantes was revoked, outlawing Protestantism. The result was that many Protestants of great skill, including Huguenots who made up some of the best business minds in France, fled the nation. This caused a “brain drain” that had a major negative impact on the nation. The revocation of the Edict caused disturbances with international repercussions. This occupied Louis’ government for a number of years.
The King of Spain, Charles II, had no children or brothers. When he got sick, Europe was abuzz with rumors of his realm upon his death. Louis had married one of his sisters, and Emperor Leopold I another. The two of them wanted to divide Spanish possessions between the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs. Charles II left this mortal coil in 1700, leaving his 22 crowns to Louis’ younger grandson, Philip, on the condition that France and Spain not be united.
Should Philip accept the hazardous honor, he would be King of Spain. Louis’ family would control all of southwestern Europe, from Holland to Sicily, as well as much of North and South America. It would be the establishment of a mighty empire. William of Orange did not want to see this kind of French sphere of influence. He formed a new Grand Alliance in 1701, consisting of England, Holland and Emperor Leopold. The English general, the Duke of Marlborough, and an Austrian commander, Eugene of Savoy, carried out the long War of the Spanish Succession. The war was wide-ranging. There were even skirmishes between French troops and English colonists in America. This became known as Queen Anne’s War. The entire operation lasted about 10 years, and went against the French. Peace was arranged in 1713.
The Treaty of Utrecht had the most influential on Europe since Westphalia. Much of the Spanish holdings were split up between combatants. The Bourbon Philip V retained Spain and its colonies, the condition being that Spanish and French crowns could not rule. The Spanish Netherlands went to Austria, forming a barrier between Holland and France. Holland was given control of fortresses to secure itself. The Spanish possessions of Naples and Milan became part of the growing Austrian Empire. Austria would retain control of Italy until 1866. England took Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay region from France This was a major part of important English influence in North America that would create ill feelings on the part of the French. When the American Revolution came about some 60 years later, the French remembered and helped us against the British.
England also gained the island of Majorca and the fortress at Gibraltar. The various treaties of this period of history created well-defined international laws, which mark Louis XIV’s reign. The rights of ambassadors and vessels traveling in international waters were addressed. This followed up a treatise on international law published by Grotius in 1625, following the horrific Thirty Years’ War. After centuries of war, men of law were beginning to emerge who had some new, amazing idea – can you believe it? – in which nations could solve their differences without fighting. The ideas purported by Grotius' “War and Peace” (not the Leo Tolstoy version, although that would have its influence) and Pufendorf’s “On the Law of Nature and Nations” (1672) laid down rules of settling conflict that are still in use today.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism