Louis Xiv Essay, Research Paper
goal the extension of Hellenic ways of life throughout his empire. In this he succeeded. Greek democratic liberty-freedom to think and tospeak, and the duty of the individual to take his share in the government of his city was instituted wherever he became master. After the surrender of the robbers and semi-savage tribes of the mountainous regions of Persia, who had for centuries been a persistentmenace to life on the plains, Alexander founded new towns and improved communications. The so-called “Foundation cities” were built atthe junction of important roads, in positions specially chosen to assist the transit of merchandise and to command the valleys-a precautionnecessary for adequate military supervision. The towns were planned on the Greek pattern, with a market square, school, offices, shops,temple, theater, gymnasium, and often a fountain. The young were given instructions in military methods and in Hellenic culture with its idealsof chivalrous courage. Some records speak of seventy cities having been founded, but only sixteen are certain; those hastily built with mud walls soon crumbledinto dust. Six remain to this day: in Egypt was Alexandria; in Aria was Herat (in modern day Afghanistan); in Arachosia was Ghazni (also inmodern day Afghanistan); in Margiane was Merv; on the Oxus River was Termez (on the modern day Amudarja River in Uzbekistan); andon the Jaxartes was Chodjend. Seven endured a considerable time: among these seven were Susiana, Prophthasia,Alexandria-ad-Caucasum, and Bucephala. The new cities were placed near enough already existing villages to permit association with thenative population, yet so far apart that the Macedonian and Greek settlers could maintain their own custom of life. The new colonists, chieflyGreek mercenaries, old and wounded men, introduced Macedonian methods of farming and agriculture to the mountain tribes. Manymarried Oriental women; thus began the fusing of the nations according to the plan which had been simmering in Alexander’s vision for thefuture since his winter in Egypt in 332-331 BC The free intercourse opened up from the East relieved some of the economic difficulties which had threatened the West. Disputes betweenthe city-states had led to neglect of the farms; at one time food became so scarce in Greece that its pottery had to be sold to pay for importsof corn. The new cities in Asia provided some solution of the unemployed during the time of financial crisis in Greece. Alexander had envisaged vast building projects even during his early experience in Egypt. Many great conquerors had visited the coast ofthat country; how came it about that a youth in his early twenties almost as a first glance grasped the importance of building a town on thesite where he founded Alexandria and foresaw that it would develop into a center for an immense exchange of commerce between Egyptand the western Mediterranean? And later, when he had controlled all the territory as far as Pattala, what far-sighted statesmanship enabledhim to search for and to find a sea route which would encourage trade from India to Babylon? And then, just before his death, What filledhim with a longing to explore the Arabian shore to seek a safe path which would connect Babylon with Alexandria? When density cut short his life he had designs for the construction and the completion of buildings for dockyards, harbors, lighthouses;temples to be restored, new cities to be founded; rivers to be opened out for safe navigation; an efficient irrigation system for Babylonia andfor other derelict land. Wilcken stated that what had been accomplished were “achievements of colossal dimensions.” Bishop Thirlwall summarized the benefits which resulted from Alexander’s expedition in these words: Let anyone contemplate the contrast between the state of Asia under Alexander and the time when Egypt was either in revolt against Persia, or visited by her irritated conquerors with the punishment of repeated insurrection; when almost every part of the great mountain chain which traverses the length of Asia, from the Mediterranean to the borders of India, was inhabited by fierce, independent, predatory tribes; when the Persian kings themselves were forced to pay tribute before they were allowed to pass from one of their capitals to another. Let anyone endeavor to enter into the feelings with which a Phoenician merchant must have viewed the change that took place on the face of the earth, when the Egyptian Alexandria had begun to receive and pour out an inexhaustible tide of wealth; when Babylon had become a great port, when a passage was open both by sea and land between the Euphrates and the Indus; when the forests on the shores of the Caspian had begun to resound with the axe and the hammer… This part of the benefit which flowed from Alexander’s conquest cannot be easily exaggerated. With the advent of Alexander came new methods of government in civil, military, and financial administration. Just as he was swift to alterand modify his tactics in battle to meet new situations, so also did he adapt new political methods to suit the different regions of his empire.Nor did he ever hesitate to throw aside those who were unsuccessful; failure only stimulated him to consider a more practical solution. Thechief positions in government were at first confided to Macedonians, later to Persian satraps; finance and taxation remained in Macedonianhands. In Asia Minor superintendents of finance collected the taxes direct from the peasants and remitted them to the Treasury. In the largetowns, such as Susa, Persepolis, Babylon, and Memphis, a commandant was appointed, directly responsible to the King. In India the chiefprinces and rajahs proved to be loyal allies. Persian treasures were converted into useful coinage, and a universal system of currency wasintroduced, with immediate benefit to trade. Important and far-reaching consequences followed when Alexander adopted Greek as a universal language throughoutthe empire. Confusing mistakes had constantly occurred when financial and business transactions were conductedthrough the medium of interpreters; a uniform currency and tongue simplified commerce and also exchange of ideas.Education in the Greek language extended knowledge of Hellenic culture, so that nations which had followed separatelines of thought, traditions, and customs, became members of a common civilization, citizens of the same world. Just astoday the French language lends itself to express thought with concise precision, so in antiquity clear thinking was bestconvoyed in Greek. Greek became the chief agent of the unification of the East and the West. St. Paul spoke and wrote in Greek; theGospels were written in Greek so that their message could reach a wide public. It can with truth be said that Alexander paved the way forChristianity; without his spade-work its preachers would have made slower headway in western Europe. With a common language Oriental knowledge became more accessible to the West. Rapid progress was made possible when Greek andBabylonian scholars collaborated in mathematics, science, and astronomy. Babylonia had studied astronomy long before Christ; the distanceof the sun and the moon from the earth had been calculated with almost exact precision. They knew that the earth turned on its axis, thatcertain planets revolved around the sun and that the sun was much larger than the earth. As the city-states in Greece remained at variance, some called on Rome for assistance. The reputation of Athens was so high that Romanvisitors regarded it as an honor to be invited to participate in the Olympic Games and to speak at public receptions; some were privileged towitness the Eleusinian Mysteries. Rome gradually acquired much of the refinement of Greece; it adopted the alphabet, the art, the literature,even some of the legal methods of Greece. Alexander’s dream of the brotherhood of mankind was not destined to materialize during the short spell of life allotted to him, and withoutthe guidance of his strong personality none of his successors could undertake the task. When one looks back upon a lifetime one can oftentrace a plan, as of a master designer; behind the scene of the conscious self of the individual a pattern has been woven which during theyears of its gradual unfolding could not be seen or understood. The influence and the example of Alexander lived on, even in the years ofwarfare between his successors. In their different spheres his generals, who eventually became kings, tried to copy his example, not only inwar, but also by encouraging the extension of Hellenic culture and by working for the benefit of their subjects. Louis XIV Patronage of the arts. Louis’s great fortune was in having among his subjects anextraordinary group of men in every area of activity. He knew wellhow to make use of them. He was the protector of writers, notablyMoli re and Jean Racine, whom he ordered to sing his praises, andhe imposed his own visions of beauty and nature on artists. France’sappearance and way of life were changed; the great townsunderwent a metamorphosis, the landscape was altered, andmonuments arose everywhere. The King energetically devotedhimself to building new residences. Little remains of his splendidpalaces at Saint-Germain and Marly, but Versailles–cursed asextravagant even as it was under construction and accused of havingruined the nation–still stands. Versailles was approximately the price of a modern airport; it wasan object of universal admiration and enhanced French prestige. Allthe power of the government was brought to bear in theconstruction of Versailles. Louis XIV was not wrong, as some haveclaimed, to remove himself from unhealthful and tumultuous Paris,but he erred in breaking with the wandering tradition of hisancestors. The monarchy became increasingly isolated from thepeople and thereby assumed a decidedly mythical quality. While Louis watched his buildings going up, Colbert, whosupervised the construction, obtained from him the means to carryout an economic revolution aimed at making France economicallyself-sufficient while maximizing exports. Manufacturers, the navy andmerchant marine, a modern police organization, roads, ports, andcanals all emerged at about the same time. Louis attended to everydetail, while at the same time giving dazzling entertainment andcarrying on a tumultuous love affair with Louise de La Valli re. In 1667 he invaded the Spanish Netherlands, which he regarded ashis wife’s inheritance, thus beginning a series of wars that lasted for agood part of his reign. Louis himself on his deathbed said, “I haveloved war too much,” but his subjects, who often complained of hisprudence and moderation, would not have understood had he notused force to strengthen the frontiers of France. After a brilliantcampaign, the King had to retreat (1668) in the face of English andespecially Dutch pressure. He never forgave the Dutch and swore todestroy their Protestant mercantile republic. To this end he alliedhimself with his cousin Charles II of England and invaded theNetherlands in 1672. The long war that ensued ended in 1678, inthe first treaty of Nijmegen with Louis triumphant.