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Absolutism and Louis Xiv

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An absolute monarch is a ruler by divine right who has control over every portion of his kingdom. The most famous absolute monarch, Louis XIV, had the longest reign of any of the French kings. Louis achieved this as a result of his reformed laws, foreign policy, a smart economic advisor, and his decision to deny power to the nobility. Although some of these ideas could be viewed as having a negative impacting on France, overall Louis XIV's absolute government was beneficial to the development of his country.

By restructuring France's laws into one standard legal code Louis gained public support, by showing that he was a fair leader. "The Code", as Louis labeled it, was applicable to everyone (except Louis, of course), and universalized laws across France. The power to enforce "The Code" was taken away from lords and nobles, and instead given to "Intendants", upper-middle class men appointed by Louis. These intendants, having recently "fallen" into their positions of power, were not used to their positions, and because of this felt indebted and completely loyal to Louis. The lack of criticism and discussion allowed decrees to be passed more quickly. The end consequence of these actions was that the government operated more efficiently.

Louis also gained support from people by reforming France's foreign policy. By adopting an aggressive foreign strategy (to expand France's borders to "the natural boundaries of ancient Gaul"), Louis was able to unite the people within France against common enemies. Although these expansionist actions led to wars with Holland, Germany, Italy and Spain, it gained France better strategic boundaries. These new borders allowed the French civilians to feel more secure in their homes, and generated more tax revenue from the newly acquired citizens. These factors, in combination with harvesting new natural resources from newly acquired land, provided a greater benefit for France than the alternative, that is to sit at home waiting to be attacked.

Another way Louis gained support from his people which positively benefited France was by improving the financial status of France. Louis hired Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a Swiss banker, to reform France's financial situation. By seeking out people who avoided their taxes (for example, people posing as nobles) and reorganizing the tax collection system (Before Colbert the majority of collected tax never even made it to the treasury), Colbert was able to reduce the loses of the treasury by 30,000,000 liras. This, in conjunction with stimulating the economy by reducing taxes, allowing monopolies, and encouraging immigration of skilled workers, boosted the worth of the French economy, and had a positive influence on the country as a whole.

During the reign of Louis XIV, France's stability and success was threatened by the power of the nobility. When Louis looked back at the Fronde, a nobility revolt that occurred during his childhood, he realized the thirst for power the nobility held, and as a result limited their power. To begin with, Louis forced the nobles to move to Versailles where they could cause less trouble, and Louis could keep a close eye on them. Louis achieved



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