I.             Absolutism

A.    Definition = sovereignty embodied in person of one ruler (aka. “autocracy”)

B.    Two headaches of autocrats: nobles (who want local power) and money (and how to collect taxes from the people)

C.    Bureaucracies were made to collect taxes. The money was used to build an army.

D.   Absolutism vs. totalitarianism = absolutism was not all-embracing since it lacked the money, military, and technology to do so.

E.    Classics of absolutism

1.    Louis XIV’s remark, L’etat, c’est moi!” Meaning “I am the state!”

2.    Absolutism glorified the state over everything.

3.    Absolutism was expansionist by nature, always going to war.

II.           Absolute France

A.    Henry IV – Background…War of the 3 Henry’s, the religious wars in France, St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, Henry IV converted to Catholicism and allowed Protestants in France, this calmed the situation.

1.    His initial problems as king though…poor harvests, famine from war, rogue soldiers, general disorder.

2.    Henry IV earnestly cared about his people. He appointed Sully as chief minister.

a.    Sully lowers taxes on peasants.

b.    Started the paulette, and annual fee by royal bureaucrats to keep their jobs.

B.    Sully

1.    Started indirect taxes on items. The number of items taxed went down, but the revenue generated went up.

2.    Beefed up foreign trade.

3.    Built a highway system. All of these things are good for the national economy.

C.    Cardinal Richelieu

1.    He was appointed to the council of ministers by the Queen after Henry IV’s death.

2.    His goal was to cut down any noble threat. So…

a.    He destroyed castles, spied out conspiracies.

b.    To replace nobles, Richelieu put royal intendants in local districts. There were 32 intendants in this bureaucracy. They answered to the king, raised the army, taxed, judged, kept an eye on the nobility.

c.    The bottom line – these things made the king stronger in the countryside and the nobles weaker.

3.    Edict of Nantes – (remember, it allowed Huguenots to practice their faith) Under Richelieu, the Edict was interpreted as being only temporary, a time-out from Catholic-Protestant troubles. Richelieu said the goal all along was to return to complete Catholicism in France. (This foreshadows the revocation of the Edict by Louis XIV a bit later.)

4.    A wave of urban protests began.

a.    Why? Fear. Fear of unemployment, high food prices, grain shortages, taxes, oppression, generally anything bad.

b.    The king decided to let them “burn themselves out,” then march in. This Machiavellian plan worked.

5.    Foreign policy under Richelieu held the main goal of combating the Habsburgs on both sides of France.

a.    Richelieu supported Habsburg enemies in the 30 Years War, the German princes.

b.    Richelieu acquired the Alsace region, between France and Germany

6.    Literature – French was standardized.

7.    In terms of money, Richelieu allowed the local elite to share in taxation of peasants. This shows both the headache and reliance on the nobility.

D.   Mazarin

1.    Mazarin was administrator for boy-king Louis XIV.

2.    He tried to increase royal revenues and sparked the Fronde. The Fronde was a series of civil wars (basically, it was war of the classes over taxation).

3.    The effects of the Fronde

a.    The king must compromise with local elites.

b.    The economy was still a mess.

c.    Louis XIV hated the nobles.

III.        Louis XIV

A.    His beliefs were very Catholic and very much divine right monarch (God had made him king). He was molded from childhood by Mazarin to be a calculating ruler. Ie. He would often answer questions with, “Je verrai,” meaning, “We shall see.”

B.    Palace at Versailles – held the goals of being a palace, but also to showcase France to foreign nations.

C.    Louis XIV used Versailles to court the nobles. Since he needed them to tax, he dazzled their attentions with Versailles.

D.   Colbert – he was a “finance guy”

1.    He was a big believer in mercantilism. So,…

2.    He focused on the balance of trade. He tried to make France self-sufficient. It was okay to sell things, but never to buy anything from a foreign nation.

3.    He emphasized government subsidies, guilds, building roads and canals, the merchant marine.

4.    Canada was encouraged. Quebec was settled as a colony to support France. Marquette, Joliet, and LaSalle venture into Louisiana.

5.    However, many peasants emigrate from France due to ceaseless taxes. This cut the tax base of France.