Louis XIV

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University of Toronto St. George
Alison Smith

THE WARS OF LOUIS XIV (1667-1714), PP.17-159 These wars were called the wars of Louis XIV because not only did he cause and influence these wars, but also fought them. They were his wars. QUALITIES OF LOUIS XIV 1. Louis XIV was a proud monarch( He labelled himself the Sun King) 2. Was arrogant 3. He ruled as an absolute monarch (but not as a dictator). His authority knew no limits 4. He considered the privilege and power of existing elites 5. On matters of war, and foreign policy he tolerated no interference from tradition elites 6. He rendered more obedience from the servants 7. He designed the government to ensure absolute authority. Louis XIV limited suppressed independent action from his agents( military commanders in particular) 8. He concentrated more authority at courts which were under the Kings direct supervision. In so doing, he monitored all the activities done by ministers and secretaries. DECISION MAKING AND THE FORMATION OF STRATEGY UNDER LOUIS XIV Exercised completeabsolute authority in decision making (especially in making foreign policies and drafting strategy) His decisions were mostly based on common sense He chose men for administrative post who had legal and administrative background, and who were from only recently nobbled families Seriously punished agents(e.g. finance ministers) to give notice that he will not tolerate even slightest threat to his authority www.notesolution.com He chaired meetings of most prominent nobbles so as to stay in control of all the government affairs. He strictly forbade ministers to meet while he was absent. Ministers fell behind the Kings decision in order to protect their positions In council meetings, he allowed ministers to criticise him but dare not in public. He also allowed open discussions but the final decision was his. He also sought military advice from war experts generals (Turrene, Conde, and Vauban). This however changed after the death of Turrene and the retirement of Conde. (In 1675 He and his civilian advisers drafted strategy and policies Limits of Absolutism: Louis XIVs inability to pay for his wars. Financial weaknesses of the state showed the limitations of absolutism. Louis XIV found borrowing easier than taxing. As a result, financialeconomic problems hit the state. France had many resources, like rich agricultural land and a high population (19 000 000) which would generate income to finance the wars. The problem lied in the inability to manage the available wealth of France. Increasing tax in wartime to cover up warfare demands could result in resistance and rebellion. As a result, Louis XIV opted to borrow (1661). Financial problems and taxation undermined the monarch and strategic options of Louis XIV. The expense of maintaining an army in the field made it desirable to support troops by levying demands on the enemys population. ( sending your enemy to fight on your enemys territory) Financial weaknesses also forced the delay of offensive attacks ( Italy in 1695) Money problems also crippled strategic options ( during the Last war 1709) VALUES THAT GUIDED DECISION MAKING: WAR AND GLOIRE Nobility set the values of the society and those of the King as well. www.notesolution.com Spent most of his time with nobles in the court populated with nobles. The court served as a lens through which he viewed and measured his policies. During the century, combat tested manhood for the king and warfare tested his reign. Young Courtiers were sure to push for vigorous military actions. All they wanted was fame. War was source of fame and pride, hence it was to be sought( As good in itself) Louis XIV realised that he must demonstrate his interest and ability in war in order to command the respect of the social and political elites, hence allowing him to govern effectively War justified legal authority and defined kingship and elites relationship with the monarch. So for Louis XIV to be a complete ruler, he had to represent himself as the warrior king. The proper prise of war was territory; land being a supreme good during that time. Gloire (Renowned reputation or prestige) guided the kings actions in a number of actions: the creation of the academy of sciences, the sponsorship of composer Lully. Policies that benefited people and the state added to Gloire ( the good of one gives to the Gloire of the other) Gloire pushedmotivated the king a monarch to desire war, especially a young monarch in need to establishing his own reputation. Gloire was also a weapon of intimidation. But Louiss Gloire depended on actual achievements just words THE EVOLUTION OF LOUIS STRATEGY Louis XIV reign can be divided into three stages: 1. The first stage (1676-75): Louis IXV aggressively sought to advance his Gloire by conquering new territory for France 2. The second stage (1676-97): French strategy was far more offensive, though often aggressive in its means. ( sought to establish defensive frontiersborders for France) 3. The third stage; (1697-1714): Struggle over the Spanish succession dominated this stage of Louis XIV reign www.notesolution.com
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