LOUIS XIV By Matthew Elton Copyright 2007 Matthew Elton Louis XIV, king of France, declared that his goal was one king, one law, one faith. The steps that Louis XIV took to achieve and maintain this goal have had a great impact on European history. Louis XIV reigned as The Sun King of France for seventy two years, the longest reign of any European monarch. In an attempt to achieve his goal of absolute power, and religious homogeneousness in France, Louis XIV waged a series of wars, including the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Devolution, and The War of the Reunions. Through war Louis XIV gained absolute authority in France, as has become the epitome of absolutist rulers, as reflected in his famous quote I am the State. Louis XIV is considered The Great Monarch of France because he was able to bring France out of the decimation of the Thirty Years War and into a golden age in which famous cultural figures such as Molire, Racine, and Boileau produced great works. Louis XIV began his rule on May 14, 1643, near the beginning of what is known as the Age of Absolutism. To increase his power, Louis XIV disbanded the General Assembly, a legislative branch of the French government that is a prototype for modern parliaments or senates. Louis XIV believed that it was imperative that he maintain absolute control over all French military forces. This would help him to prevent a civil war that could happen as a result of nobles constantly struggling for power, as demonstrated in the Fronde. In addition to complete control over the French military, Louis XIV wanted complete control over the French economy, and even the religion of the French people. This religious intolerance would cause a great uproar among the French people that would kindle the French Revolution that would eventually break out in France. Louis XIV was a devout Catholic, and he believed that everyone in France must also be Catholic. He strongly opposed the French Protestants known as the Huguenots. Louis attempted to make the Huguenots convert to Catholicism by military force. Those that refused to convert were slaughtered without mercy. Louis XIV claimed to rule France by divine right, the belief that monarchs are chosen by God to lead the people. Louis XIV considered it his responsibility as a Catholic monarch to make all of France Catholic, even if there would be bloodshed in the process. Although Louis XIV achieved absolute power in France, he faced many problems. Louis XIV had lost huge sums of money by waging war with other nations. His religious intolerance had caused many Huguenots to flee France, abandoning their jobs and taking with them all their French money. This severely crippled the French economy. Although his actions gained him the support of other Catholic nations, Protestant nations now strongly opposed Louis XIV, and formed the League of Augsburg against him. This led to more warfare, which put France farther into debt, which led to higher taxes in France, which infuriated an already upset public. By his death in 1715, the power of Louis XIV has declined significantly. The power of France as a nation, and the power of the French monarchy would continue to decline until the French Revolution. Although Louis XIV was able to establish absolute authority in France, and come close to his goal of religious homogeneousness in France, it came at a cost. His ambitions threw France into a debt and a public unrest that would serve as a prologue to the French Revolution. Works Cited "Louis XIV - the Sun King." 11 Dec. 2006 .
"Louis XIV." Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. 11 Dec. 2006 . "One Faith, One Law, One King." University of Leicester. 11 Dec. 2006 .