France in the Age of Absolutism. Catholic and Huguenots. Despite the spread of Reformation ideas, France remained a largely Catholic nation. Of a total of 16 million (in the late 16 th century) 1.2 million embraced Calvinism. These French Protestants were known as Huguenots.
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France in the Age of Absolutism
Despite the spread of Reformation ideas, France remained a largely Catholic nation.
Of a total of 16 million (in the late 16th century) 1.2 million embraced Calvinism. These French Protestants were known as Huguenots.
A large portion of French nobility were Huguenots.
Conflict between the Catholics & Huguenots led to three decades of civil war on religious and political issues.
Son of King Francis I of the Valois line.
Henry married Catherine de Medici at fourteen years old.
When his older brother Francis died in 1536 after a game of tennis, Henry became heir to the throne.
Henry was a large, powerful man; but a weak-willed king.
Even so, he persecuted Huguenots.
Henry II severely punished them, burning them alive or cutting out their tongues for speaking their Protestant beliefs. Even those suspected of being Huguenots could be imprisoned for life.
He was killed in a jousting tournament.
After Henry II’s death in a jousting match, Catherine used her position as Regent to influence her three sons who would serve as king.
Francis II (r. 1559-1560), Charles IX (r. 1560-1574) and Henry III (r. 1574-1589) ruled under the influence of Catherine, but could not stop the spreading Huguenot influence.
Open warfare began between the Catholics lead by the Guise family and the Huguenots lead by the Bourbon family in 1562.
First eight years of fighting ended in 1570.
Catherine still feared Huguenot power and ordered their massacre on Aug. 24 1572.
Following the massacre, Henry of Navarre (a Bourbon) emerged as Huguenots leader.
Henry III attempted to form a moderate Catholic faction as an alternative to the radical Guise faction.
Conflict erupted between Henry III, Henry of Navarre and Henry, Duke of Guise.
Regarding him as a serious threat, Henry III had Henry of Guise assassinated in Dec. 1588.
Guise faction retaliated and had Henry III killed July 1589.
Henry of Navarre was the only one left with a legitimate claim to the throne. He became Henry IV in 1589.
First Bourbon king of France.
Was a Huguenot, but converts to Catholicism.
Brings peace to the warring factions.
Issues the Edict of Nantes in 1598, granting limited toleration to the Huguenots.
Henry IV of France begins the process of restoring royal power.
Appoints the Duke of Sully as finance minister
Sully introduces sound accounting practices to increase the crown’s income.
Did not attempt any major reforms (such as revoke tax-exemptions of nobility & clergy).
Neglected industrial development in favor of agriculture. Built roads and canals.
Promoted mercantilist polices.
In 1610, Henry IV was assassinated.
Louis XIII was only 10 yrs old, his mother Marie de Medici acted as regent.
In 1621, Cardinal Richelieu became king’s chief minister.
Richelieu served as chief minister from 1621 until his death in 1642.
He gradually reduced the influence of the nobility in government.
He established the office of intendant.
When the Huguenots attempted to take advantage of the new king, he defeated their forces at LaRochelle and denied them to the right to fortified cities.
Richelieu revived French animosity toward the Habsburgs, involving France in the 30 yrs. War.
Mazarin succeeded Richelieu as chief minister and continued in the position when the 5 yr old Louis XVI came to the throne.
Along with Queen Anne of Austria he served as regent.
He continued most of Richelieu’s policies.
A series of revolts by nobility and townspeople broke out against royal power led by the Parlement of Paris.
Infighting led to the revolt withering away.
The disorder of the revolt convinced people that strong central power was needed.
Personal rule began in 1661 with the death of Cardinal Mazarin.
"L'État, c'est moi" (the state is me)
Symbolized as the “Sun King.” (Center of France; rays of sun reflect off of monarch onto subjects).
King’s residence and center of government.
Spent vast sums of money on expansion.
Royal apartments were at the center of the complex.
King severed dual functions: that of courtier and that of administrator.
Both functions were aimed at state-building.
The Fronde had taught Louis to distrust the nobility, so he appointed officials from middle-class origin.
He also continued the practice of selling titles.
Served as controller of finances from 1662-1683.
Supported mercantilist policies.
Built roads and canals.
Credited for many of Louis’ economic successes and failures.
Louis enacted absolutist ideas through domination of the central bureaucracy which had greater control of state finances, the execution of laws and the use of armed force.
Increased royal control over the local parlements.
Revoked the Edict of Nantes in in October 1685 and began persecuting Huguenots; over 200,000 fled France.
Through a series of expensive wars Louis slowly expanded French territory.
War of Devolution (1667-68)
The Dutch War (1672-78)
War of the League of Augsburg (1688-97)
Childless Hapsburg Charles II names Bourbon Philip of Anjou as heir.
England, Holland and HRE oppose French acquisition of Spain & territories.
Louis was defeated by the British and Austrians.
Louis XIV was one of the great state-builders of Europe
Despite this, the peasants of France suffered as they never had before or since. This would bring government welfare as a state function in the 18th century
His absolutist policy solidified the place of France as the dominant power in Europe.
In what ways was the rule of King Louis XIV a exemplar of absolutist rule?
In what ways were absolutist policies a fantasy or ineffective in governing the French state?