Absolutism In France Essay, Research Paper
King Louis XIV of France tamed the nobility by making them the only ones that knew how to behave in the king’s society at Versailles. Thus allowing him the power to grant positions to aristocracy without truly yielding any political power. Louis was a very strict king, and gave up luxuries for beauty. For example he didn’t want the palace to look sinister from the gardens, so he didn’t build up fireplaces, and the smoke pored into the castle. The king’s many rules are present in situations such as how to knock on a door, how to approach the king’s dinner, and where you sit at dinner. In Versailles, it was extremely rude to knock on the door, rather you were supposed to scratch it with the pinky on your left hand; therefore, you had to grow this fingernail long. If passed by the king’s dinner, you were expected to bow to it, having your plume sweep the ground, just as you would bow to the king himself. It was very important that you sit in the right seat according to your rank of importance. For example, Madame de Torcy once sat ahead of a duchess, and this greatly infuriated the king. Consequently when he passed her room that night, he broke into a rage screaming that he had “witnessed a piece of insolence so intolerable that the sight of it had prevented him from eating. He was in such a rage that it took Madame de Maintenon and the Duchess of Burgundy the whole night to tame his anger once again. Consequently it is safe to say that the king was not one to take liberties of, or make mistakes. The king started off the day at about quarter till seven. His servants are all in his room waiting for him to begin his day. First the First Surgeon, First Physician, and the King’s nurse entered his room; rubbed him down; changed his shirt. This was the time the king was most sympathetic; therefore allowing it to be the best time to ask him a favor.
Louis was a magnificent court figure. In the palace of Versailles, etiquette became the “real constitution of France.” It required seven persons, some of them the highest princes of the realm, to put the king’s shirt on him at his getting up (levee) in the morning. A French historian says of Louis XIV: “He was a god in his temple, celebrating his own worship in the midst of his host of priests and faithful.” This extravagance of the court meant a heavy burden of taxation for the common people, who were thereby reduced to a misery so great that they eventually rose up in rebellion and drove the Bourbons from the throne. The Duke of Saint-Simon thought that even if Louis had not been the royal king of France that he would be just as much a gentleman; he would have equally present pleasures, and would be exemplified with the greatest of love. King Louis was five feet five inches tall, and he wore high healed shoes to feel even taller than most people did at that time. His arrogant charm much appealed to the aristocratic ladies of his court.
Being trained since childhood, Louis could sit through many seemingly endless days, and also appeared to be indifferent to cold or hot temperatures. His life was lived like this, and also he survived seventy-two years eating an abnormally large diet.
In order to maintain a divine, absolute monarchy, Louis appointed chief ministers from the middles class. Thus allowing no aristocrats in the government that might attempt to interfere with his monarchy. Also, as a step to keep his power, he allowed none of the aristocrats or nobles were allowed into Louis’ daily meetings where he discussed important issues. Thus, the people could not object to his complete absolute control over everything.
King Louis XIV declared himself the head of the French Catholic Church, and sided with the Catholics; therefore, he organized the demolition of Catholic Churches. Also declaring all children must be raised as Catholics, revoking the Edict of Nantes, and punishing French Protestants were measures taken to try and eradicate the French Protestants.
Letters expose issues faced by King Louis XIV such as tailles. Tailles are taxes that the nobility and clergy were exempt from. In collecting these taxes the collectors would secretly ask for more than should have been, and they kept the profit. This type of corruption was common in the seventeenth century throughout France. In these times there was a lot abuses in the society. For example, the rich people that should be giving the King money are exempt from some taxes and others they use a pyramid system. In this pyramid, the people expected to pay taxes tell the ones below them they have to pay taxes equaling both shares, and this continues down the line until the peasants are reached. By the time the peasants have been reached the money is outrageous; the peasants end up paying all the tax money. Usually, the peasants keep less than half of the money they earn most of it going to the government as tax money. Once the money reaches Louis, he uses sixty percent of it to support the palace of Versailles. Who is located in the palace of Versailles except the upper class nobles. In other words, the peasants are supporting the country, and are growing extremely poor because of it. Louis XIV was the ruler of France as an absolute monarchy. Meaning he controlled all power in France and no one existed equally or higher to