Luis XIV, and His Selfish Ways

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Luis XIV, and His Selfish Ways

If you were asked to answer the question, “Which king in European history was the best representative of absolutism?”, you would probably answer, “Louis XIV.” If you were asked to identify the king with the biggest palace and the most glamorous court, you would answer “Louis XIV.” If you were asked to identify the king whose reign coincided with the most glorious period of culture in his country's history, you would answer “Louis XIV.” If you were asked to identify what king fought an endless series of wars, heavily taxed his population, set up the pre-conditions for a revolution against his own system and was jeered by his people as his body was taken to be buried, then you would answer “Louis XIV.”

Louis XIV was a great builder; he built many palaces and residences in France. His greatest remaining monument is Versailles, which was simultaneously a triumph and a disaster in the eyes of France. Louis XIV continued the policy of centralizing French government that Henry IV, Richelieu, and Mazarin started before he became King. Louis XIV also was blessed by having a number of very able advisors. Among the most brilliant was a man by the name of Colbert. Colbert was in charge of economic policies and under his direction the French economy expanded greatly. Louis XIV considered the Protestants, also known as the Huguenots, to be a nuisance, if not a threat to his rule. The Huguenots tended to be more urban, wealthier and better educated than the typical citizen of France. Louis had little understanding of the theological tenants of Protestantism.

Some people think that Louis XIV was very important for the future prestige and importance of France. Louis XIV developed diverse manufacturing capabilities, more roads, more ports, more canals, an expanded navy and merchant marine, and all these gave France the potential for greater prosperity. This was looked upon highly by some people, but others were more impressed by the king’s building skills. His greatest remaining monument is Versailles. Versailles was used for residential and government purposes, but it also drew a lot of attention because of its beauty. The palace was filled with a glamorous court.
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